Saturday, March 29, 2014

Dream Vacation - Day 15

So I was up early today, I had to check out of my hostel by 10am. I had spent four days in Edinburgh and was ready to head south. As I mentioned in yesterday blog I had done a pre-run to the car rental place but that didn't mean it was a piece of cake. I dragged my two large luggage down the cobble roads and through crowds of people and after a 30 minute struggle and several resting points I made it to Hertz.

The woman behind the counter was extremely friendly and began processing my order. I had ordered an economy class automatic car. She asked if I wanted to do any of the insurance plans and because of bad planning by me I forgot to check with my own insurance company and see if I was covered over here. We tried calling but realizing that it was the wee hours of the morning in the US I knew no one was going to be there..  so I opted to get the full insurance coverage. It cost me about 578 pounds for the 17 days but the car would by 100% covered and peace of mind was worth the money.

As I mentioned the woman and I chatted like old friends so she pulled me aside and said, I'm going to give you an upgrade, this car has good gas mileage and a GPS built into the car so no extra cost to rent one. I was very thankful. She brought around the Nissan Juke (I considered buying this car at one time). As I got in to go over how it all works I noticed three pedals on the ground and then looked over at the gear shift and saw that it was a manual transmission. I pointed this out to her and she apologized and said that she would go and get the other automatic that they had in their inventory.

About ten minutes later she comes out and says that the four cars that they have in their system marked as automatic are actually manuals. They do not have any automatics at this location. I informed them that I could not drive a manual (I could but didn't want the hassle, especially driving on the opposite side of the road). Her boss got involved, a Polish man with a thick accent. He informed me that they did have an automatic in another store and it would be here in 30 minutes.

The two employees were very friendly and apologetic. I kept informing them that it was all good as I was in no hurry. Around 30 minutes later another gentleman pulls up in a small little white car. He goes over how it all works and I was ready to go. The boss came over and apologized one last time and said because I had to wait that this car has an internal GPS built in and I would get it at no extra charge... so woohoo!!

So I was ready to hit the road, as I mentioned in previous blogs this is the thing I was worried about the most. First of all the driver seat is on the opposite side of the car as to the US cars and then they drive on the opposite side of the street.

I strapped in, adjusted the mirrors and pulled away from the curb. I had put in the city to where I was heading next and the GPS started to direct me. About five minutes into driving it was as if I had driven here all my life. I actually did a quick video while driving (don't worry I was at a light and was barely moving). 

It was a very cloudy and grey day. There wasn't much to see on the road so I pretty much just drove.

After an hour or so I saw this cool bridge to my right so I decided to pull off the road and take some pictures. There was actually a street that took you to the base of a river that the bridge ran across. This was the main reason why I rented a car instead of taking the train. I wanted to be able to see this off the beaten path kind of place. I don't know if this bridge had a name or not all I know is it was extremely beautiful and I wanted to take as many pictures as I could.

About a half hour from the bridge I came across a ruin that I wanted to check out. It's called Jedburgh Abbey, it's a ruined Augustinian abbey which was founded in the 12th century, is situated in the town of Jedburgh, in the Scottish Borders 10 miles north of the border with England at Carter Bar.

It cost me something like 6 pounds to walk the grounds but it was well worth it. A lot of it was gone but some of the main halls were still intact. Every time I stand in the middle of something like this it just amazes me that it's been standing here for over a thousand years.  

After I spent about an hour walking around the Abbey I got back in my car and continued my trek south. About fifteen minutes later I came to the Scotland/England border. To my surprise there was this little food vender truck sitting literally on the line between the two countries. It is called The Borderer and on one side it has the Scottish flag and on the other, England's flag. I was lucky as they are normally closed during the winter and this was there first day back. I chatted with the lady who was working there for a bit. I also picked up a burger and hot dog for lunch. 

There is also this big stone that stands as a marker for the England/Scotland border, on one side it says England and on the other Scotland.  

My final destination for tonight was in the city of Durham. I booked a hotel for a few days in the city of York but knew I wasn't going to get there today so this morning I booked a travel lodge in Durham. 

Most of the drive down was in the middle of mist and fog, could barely see the countryside. I drove roughly 125 miles from Edinburgh to Durham with some stops here and there. It was nightfall when I got into Durham and my GPS wasn't cooperating and I had a tough time finding this Travel lodge. After driving around the city for what felt like forever.. I finally found it and checked in. 

This was the first bed I was sleeping in since coming to the UK and it was amazing. I ordered some pizza for dinner, turned on the local TV and just relaxed the rest of the night. Unfortunately this Travel lodge had a bar attached to it and it seemed to be the happening place so I got to listen to thumping music until the wee hours, but I didn't care as I was in a nice soft comfy bed and with my ear plugs I quickly feel asleep. 

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