Early morning (read: 10am) yesterday we took a bus to the Euston station to pickup a rental car from the Avis near there. The plan, as decided when we went to bed about 6 hours earlier was to go to Stratford-upon-Avon. We got the car and realized we had (a) absolutely no idea how to get out of London and (b) absolutely no idea once out of London where Stratford was. Well, let’s backup a bit. First, I walked up to the car and realized what they’d given me was a boat. Then, I remembered that this is a driver-on-the-right country and I’ve never driven on that side of the car before. Uh-oh.
When I got in the car, it was really awkward trying to use the clutch and the shifter for a while and by instinct I’d throw my right arm out when I needed to grab the shifter. Needing directions we went Russel Square to the SOAS lab to find directions. As I pulled the car out of the Avis parking lot, I nearly hit the left side mirror and driving the narrow narrow streets of London turned out to be a huge problem.
While waiting for my sister to actually get them at SOAS, we did a few loops around Russel Square and drove past the British Library. En route, I managed to get lost in one dead end, hit the side view mirror of another car to the left of me, stop to avoid hitting a bicycle and end up having him hit the car and kick it. Lovely. Driving in London, I highly recommend avoiding it.
I finally made it back to Russel Square with nobody else injured (except the aforementioned) and we headed to make our way M40 to head north. After about 30 minutes we managed to get out of the craziness of London streets and on to the Ring Road which was a lot more manageable. We drove for about 2 hours up north and made it to Stratford. The town is very cute and the Avon river that runs through it made for some very picturesque scenes. We saw Shakespeare’s House and walked around a lot of the other buildings that he or his family was involved in the area.
The skies were really blue but it rained intermittently so whenever it started to rain we ducked in for some tea or some food, but when the skies cleared, they left a silver lining to the ground and water which made for some amazing pictures. My photos are still syncing from my laptop. In fact, the sync hasn’t even gotten to the pictures from India yet (it’s still on a bunch from Shanghai) and I doubt it’ll finish this week.
After doing the Stratford thing until about 5:00pm, we decided to venture further north to see the bombed out cathedral at Coventry, so we continued north once we met up with the freeway. Coventry was a crazy city and for half the time we thought we were going to die. As seems typical it had tiny streets and crazy drivers. The cathedral was very cool tho. Given that we got there at 6:30pm or so the gate was closed so we could not get inside but we were able to walk around the grounds which was cool. The rest of the architecture around the city seemed very post-modern, especially around the uni and given that it was dark already made for an interesting (if not a bit spooky) visit.
We left Coventry at 7ish and made our way back via M1 to London (because we missed the M40 interchange). People driving on the freeways in England are nuts. I was driving ~80mph and getting passed left and right all morning and night. I started to get up to like 95ish and was still getting passed. Perfectly crazy, British drivers. Once back in London, it took us a long time to find a petrol pump but we finally did and dropped the car back off, took the bus back to home and finished our day by ordering a pizza.