Road Trip

Trip Start Sep 07, 2005
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of United Kingdom  ,
Monday, January 30, 2006

So, I finally decided to rent a car for the weekend and go exploring! I had been carefully observing from the passenger seat, concentrating on which way to turn, staying in the correct lane, and of course those crazy roundabouts! Feeling quite confident, I set off for Oxford.

The deceiving thing about the road map is it showed that tit's relatively strsight from Southampton to Oxford, which made me feel better because as long as I could find my way to the highway, I could surely make my way there. I had enough to concentrate on, with remembering to keep to the "wrong" side of the road, shifting with my left hand, and trying to keep a few inches between my car and the break-neck drivers coming the other way. I didn't want to add intense navigating to the list.

What the road map doesn't tell you is that between the two cities there are approximately 487,000 roundabouts (or traffic circles)! Which means that at each one you have a one in four chance of getting the right exit. Multiply that by the total number of roundabouts, and my chances of ending up in Scotland were looking pretty good.

Thankfully, exits are well-signed in advance, leaving enough time to get in the correct lane and wing your way to the proper exit. Over the course of the weekend, I'm sure I went through at least 50 of the things, and only got honked at twice! Once, fair enough, I cut a guy off. Beginner's mistake, so sue me. The second time was because my light was green (yes, to add to the confusion and chaos sometimes they add traffic lights!)and I hesitated. The guy on my right came whipping around the corner and looked like he might not stop. This was of no concern to the car behind me, as hesitating is surely more of a sin here than acutally crashing.

And you thought they drive like maniacs in Vancouver - ha! Try flying along at 70 mph (about 120km), on a one lane, narrow winding road in the dark. That's adrenaline for you! In the end I made it to Oxford fine, in one piece, and didn't get lost once. It is a beautiful city, rich with history. The university dominates the entire city, with a total of 39 colleges spread throughout, and over 16,000 students. There is also a polytechnic school with 16,000 students as well, so you can see how rental accomodation would be hard to come by.

I took a brilliant walking tour, which took in many sights including two of the colleges. For the Harry Potter fans out there, there has been much filming of the movies in Oxford, including Christ Church dining hall and the Bodleain Library. After spending Friday afternoon to Saturday morning there, on Saturday afternoon I headed for Bath. Along the way I stopped at a few of the Cotswold villages, including Stow-on-the-Wold, the Slaughters, and Bourton-on-the-Water.
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