UK Trip 2014 – Road Trip South England

I took the train back to London. It was cold comparing with the barmy 22 degrees in Edinburgh a few hours ago. Nevertheless, I was so excited. Here I come, road trip to south England!

1. Love The Car

BMW-M135i
My BMW-M135i

First thing first, I needed a car! It was booked a month ago with Avis. The Avis branch can be found inside the St Pancras Station car park. St Pancras Station is cross the road from the King’s Cross Station; one is international and the other is domestic. From the main departure information hall, follow the signals to the Car Park passing Boots, Patisserie Valerie and Pret A Manger. It took me a while to locate it because the office was small, shared with other rental companies (so do not just look for the Avis sign like I did) and it was at the entrance/exit of the car park.

I booked for a base model 4 door auto and they gave me a BMW M135i! Apparently that was the only available car they had on the day. Well, I would not say no to a free upgrade with a nav system.

The car was fantastic to drive and was very comfortable. I hated its build-in navigator though. It was not a touch screen and I could barely hear it with the maxi volume! I Googled it but apparently, that was just how it was built. ! Yay 🙂

2. Driving in UK

Driving in London was a bit scary at first especially when I was facing the 6pm traffic. Back home, both George and Chris told me that it was not easy to drive on those small roads in Scotland, so I booked a tour over there. They said that I would need a car while traveling in south England. I listened to them. I was definitely cursing them while trying to drive out of central London. 🙂 It took me an hour to drive from King’s Cross to M3. I came from a place where there is no traffic so that little drive was killing me. At one stage, it took me 5min to drive through one traffic light. OMG!

I was amazed that Londoners seemed to have a mutual understanding on when to give away to the traffic. It took me a bit to get use to seeing a double decker bus heading towards me on a one lane road with high speed. I had no idea if I should give away or not! I was pretty freaked out for the first few times then I slowly channeled in to their frequency. I would just go if the opposite side traffic stopped for one second.

I really enjoyed driving in the English country side though. Not only the lush fields looked fantastic in the sun or after rain, the hedges were so high that they became green caves. I love to drive through them! [singlepic id=156 w=300 h=300 float=left]

travel-south-england-mapUpdate: In a way, I could blame myself for picking up the car fro St Pancras Station. I leant from others later on that I should have booked a car outside of London. That would mean that I had to drag my luggage with me around. It was not a win win situation for sure.

Update: Later, I also realised that George and Chris must have meant that it was difficult to drive when it was raining or snowing in Scotland. After experiencing driving in south England,  I actually found that it was easier to drive in Scotland! 😮 In Scotland, the roads are more open and they often have space on the side of the roads for cars to overtake.

3. South England

folkstone
historical hotel at Folkestone by the beach.

The plan is to drive from London to Folkestone -> Canterbury -> through Ashford to Rye -> Hastings -> Bodiam Castle -> Brighton -> London

I stayed in Bed & Breakfast and pubs along the way – just the thing you do there. All the accommodations were fantastic except the one in Brighton.

Folkestone was a small town but full of history. I visited a family friend and it was great to catch up. I could see the French coastline across the English Channel on the beach in Folkestone.

I spent a day in Canterbury. It was just nice to walk around to see the castles etc. I had the best Italian lunch at a small cafe in one of those side streets. Yum!

Rye is a pretty small town in East Sussex, England. It sits on 3 rivers and the Rye Harbour is not far away. The town was full of antique shops. I had to keep telling myself that anything I bought would add weight to my luggage. I stayed in a little pub called The Ship Inn. The food there was very nice and they gave me free local beer to try. 🙂 I called that great customer service! Make sure to visit the little 200 years old antique house. I would not fit in through the door! LOL! Here is a little cool map of RyeRye was a great place for a stop over.

Hastings for lunch and Bodiam Castle for afternoon tea were all worthy stops.

I did not have a great impression of Brighton. It was difficult to drive and park in Brighton. It took me a while to locate my hotel even with a nav system. I was lost in words when I saw the hotel. It was sht. I told myself that I would put up with it because it was for one night’s sleep only. I went out to see Brighton but nothing special struck me. I was a bit disappointed with Brighton because before I arrive, I read somewhere that Brighton is the London on the beach. MMM… The beach was full of pebbles. It was the night when England played in the 2014 World Cup. There was a big screen setup on the beach. I joined the crowd to watch the game for a while but all I could hear was the sound the pebbles made when people walked on them. It was crazily loud and I couldn’t stand the sound. I watched from a stand off the beach. England lost the game. People on the beach were either too drunk or too upset by then. The breakfast in the morning was also sht. I found a parking fine on my car. So, I did not like Brighton!

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