Saturday, September 8, 2018

Europe - Day 12

London to Dover

Saying bye to our Flat... we had this unassuming triple above a couple of restaurants. 

The time has come to move again. Today we wander out to the coast - Dover to be specific.
We packed up and checked out of the flat, leaving on the train to Heathrow.. why Heathrow? We are going to rent a car and drive.. in the UK! Hubby enjoys driving in Germany... And thought the challenge of driving in the UK might be interesting. [Editor's note: Even though it was a slight hassle going out to Heathrow to rent a car, it seemed like a better plan than renting a car in the middle of London and trying to navigate the city.]

The train to the airport was great. We went on the TFL Rail instead of the Underground, which was much better suited for suitcases. I would easily do that again if needed. Renting the car was pretty easy as well, just required a bit more patience. As we have rented a number of cars in our days and two already on this trip... the process for renting in UK felt like a lot of hand holding. But we patiently waited our turn and ended up in a clean white Ford SUV. Plenty of room for all our bags (which seem to be multiplying - eeks) and a bit of personal space for us all.

And we are off... driving on the wrong side of the road, in a car that feels a bit backwards. Hubby did great. Every now and then I would say "left", not that he needed reminding, but just to say it ;) It became a bit of a joke. Our destination is Leeds Castle in Kent, to tour about and enjoy the afternoon. [Editor's note: Driving in England isn't horrible. Except for the wrong-side thing, everything seems to make sense. However, it requires constant attention because I could no longer rely on any of my instincts. I admit, however, that the first several times that a car came around a corner from the opposite direction on a two-lane road, I freaked out a bit because "Ahhh, that car is in the wrong lane!" I caught myself quickly, though.]

hands at 10 and 2....  Don't distract the driver

Some interesting vehicles on the highway today. 

The grounds for Leeds are extensive. We parked and walked in. Again, we got passes ahead of time online. The best deal was a family pass, which happens to be good for the year... so anytime we want we can go back - hmmmm, probably won't make it. [Editor's note: Actually, I think that all tickets for Leeds Castle are good for a year. ] We took the tram - which is set up to look like a train, into the main area of the castle. We were told the castle was closing early today, but all the other areas would be open until the regular closing time.

Our plan was a late lunch at Leeds and then to explore, but the early closure of the castle re-routed us. (and again, we are lunching late... it will be the last time, I am almost positive) We enjoyed the independent walk through of the grounds and the castle. It became clear that someone had rented out the space for a wedding today, so things were closing early for that. And as we finished our castle touring, we discovered the wedding party... taking pictures. This threw our young man for a loop.. He thought he was walking right into the wedding party, which was a stressor. But we escaped the festivities and found our way to the restaurant.... which stopped serving hot food while we were touring the castle. Sigh...  I got a chuckle out of that one. We snacked and walked around a bit more before wrapping up our time at Leeds. The area is beautiful and the water fowl are plentiful and fun. I am glad we got to check it out.


Old Castle Walls

Bridge across the Moat

Canada geese and somebody flying by

uber elegant Black Swan

Grey geese in flight... seriously, all the geese are here.

exploring the castle

huge door

view of the dining room, all dressed up for a wedding this afternoon
Bye Leeds Castle

Dinner and Dover are next.
.....almost... we took a rural detour when we missed a turn. Our favorite mapping app thought this route would be better (easier, faster, who knows) than simply turning around. But we ended up on a single lane road in farm land... you have seen roads like this in every comedy movie where the american tries to drive anywhere in Europe and gets stuck by a herd of cattle, sheep, geese, you pick. I was waiting patiently for the animals to come, but they never did. We made it through our detour and back to the highway soon enough. [Editor's note: My priorities while driving in the UK are as follows: First, be safe and don't do anything dumb. Second, go in the correct direction. I'd say that my success rate for the first priority was about 99.9%. My success rate for the second was much lower.]

Our detour. 

We found pizza and sandwiches and picked up a few last minute things. Then found our way into Dover, with the white cliffs in the distance. Dover has the feeling of an older town. And smells of the seaside... take that to mean whatever you like. The kids had some amusing, if not foul ideas as to what the smell might be from. Our hotel for the night is on the marina, but our room faces the other side, so sadly no views of the water from the room. And our room has a funny configuration..... two twin beds and a queen size hide-a-bed. Okay... we can make that work.
Time to rest and relax.

A few last glimpses of the road....


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