About one year ago I visited Scotland with a few friends. We flew to Aberdeen, rented a car and drove down to Glasgow. That was my first time driving on the wrong side of the road. I enjoy a good challenge, and definitely saw this as one. I had checked out the route before I left on google maps, the largest roundabouts I had been through in street view and I had studied in detail the exit from the motorway. We stayed at a central hotel without parking facilities, which meant we had to park IN the city centre. I was armed with a gps, printed driving instructions from google, and a friend who is not unfamiliar with maps, and most importantly, who never looses his calm!
I lived in Aberdeen for a few months and have left the city to go south by bus a few times, the first few hours were thus not the most challenging. However, my TomTom is apparently not a fan of fast-food so that when we stopped at a McDonalds, he refused to guide us any further. Truth be told; we only stopped at McDonalds to use the loo, but TomTom wouldn’t listen to us. In fact, he’s still not talking to me! Getting from Aberdeen to Glasgow is easy. We still bought a map to keep track on where in the world we were from time to time. We faced no problems, although we did manage to drive in circles in the city centre of Glasgow (we had directions going TO the hotel, not from) and I was dangerously close to the pavement at one point (no pedestrians there though).
Going to Scotland again now I had to raise the stakes a bit and increase the challenge. The route was new, I had no gps, no maps, I had not looked much at the route before going, and I had no idea how my fantastic travel companions would deal with google’s driving instructions.
Two of the three of us going came to Aberdeen a couple of hours before the third. The wonderful lady I talked about here thus had to suffer through the first minutes and miles spent in a dark Vauxhall. We were heading straight down a road. I’m on the alert, sitting on the wrong side in the car, shifting gears with the wrong hand, checking the blind spot on both sides to be on the safe side and generally trying to breath as little as possible to keep all my attention on the road and the traffic. We knew we were going left in a roundabout, but we didn’t know exactly which one. Obviously, the first we tried was not the correct one. Seeing this, my mind started to race trying to find somewhere to turn around. Then I see the flashing blue lights in the rear-view mirror; an ambulance was coming up quickly behind us. We fond a smaller roundabout, so we turned around and went back up the same road we had just gone down, and were then soon back on track again. I sighed with relief from not having done anything to hinder the ambulance. Then I check the rear-view mirror again. The ambulance has of course also gone all the way around in the roundabout and is coming up behind us again! We made it up on the pavement, we didn’t bulk any cars nor did we hit any pedestrians, and the ambulance did not lose speed. What went through the head of my innocent passenger is, however, something I wish never to know. She was able to talk again only a few minutes later, and the heavy breathing stopped as soon we parked in a parking lot a few miles away.
We picked up the last member of our fearless trio a few hours later, after having had her wait outside at the airport while we took an unnecessary, but interesting, wee ride through the industrial area which just happened to be at the right turn before the right turn we were supposed to take.
An hour north of Aberdeen we decided to look for a supermarket or something where we could find a quick bite. The gorgeous blonde in the backseat spotted Asda on the right side of the road. To exit we had to go through a large roundabout (yes the Brits do love their roundabouts). We entered it and drove turning right. I saw the exit, but there were no cars going in the same direction as us, nor anyone coming from the road we were entering. The scene felt so unnatural and so wrong that I was unable to make the exit. “Rebooting, sorry about the delay!” I said as I took the girls through the roundabout one more time before heading over to Asda.
We were going to visit a friend of mine, but an exit in Dufftown were probably just not aesthetically pleasing enough for us. Instead we drove circles around, perfectly avoiding the wee town, for at least an hour(!). We did, however, reach Drumnadrochit in due time for our dinner reservation at the Fiddler’s. My companions claimed the driving had not scarred them for life before they nearly downed a bottle of wine.