Saturday, June 18, 2016

The Ireland-UK Trip: Wales Day 1 - Rental Car Woes

We woke in Edinburgh and would lay our heads down to sleep in the Welsh town of Chester West.

First though, I rode the F800R Beemer to the town of Dalkeith to the south of Edinburgh by about seven miles.  No issues with retrieving it from the parking garage or getting google maps to guide me there.

Had a great renting experience with RideTheHighlands motorcycle rentals.  Their representative, Greg, was extremely helpful and ensured a great experience both in picking up and dropping off the motorcycle.  Highly recommended!

Returned the Beemer unscratched....

I rode the #3 (Clovenstone) bus from Dalkeith back to the North Bridge stop in Edinburgh which was a short walk to the hotel.

Packed up my riding gear, and then Martha and I walked the short distance to the Hertz Rental Office off of Picardy Avenue.  The pickup experience at Hertz was a bit less pleasing.

They were extremely busy.  Had issues finding my reservation as well but they got past that.  When I asked about a GPS they said the car I had allocated to me didn't have it; that I'd have to upgrade so I stupidly got upsold to a Nissan Qashqai which had a GPS but of course cost more money.

All well and good I thought, then we got the car and headed out.  Immediately the car felt too large for the streets of Edinburgh and I had a heck of a time keeping it safely within the lane.  Didn't help of course that I was re-learning to shift the manual transmission at the same time.  I'd been promised an automatic transmission with the larger upgrade car but somehow it got issued to someone else so all I got was the GPS.

So, we made it out of Edinburgh in one piece and proceeded down a state highway to the south towards the border with England.  I still felt the car too large and kept having to concentrate way too much on keeping it in the lane, especially with oncoming traffic.

We decided to stop along the way at Carlisle to check out the castle there.  It turned out to be more of a military fortification than a castle, very utilitarian though with a nice little regimental museum for the King's Own Border Guards Regiment.  Damn near got us into an accident while trying to make a right turn while in the town of Carlisle; luckily the traffic from my right stopped in time though there was some angry honking.  Damn American tourists!

 Carlisle Castle
Mary, Queen of Scots, was kept here as a sort of prisoner
by her cousin Queen Elizabeth the First.

The upper floor of the Castle Keep had an exhibit briefly detailing the story of the Jacobite Revolution under Bony Prince Charlie.  It helped me, fill in some gaps, on the stories I'd been getting from tour guides and such.

Today's moto content, an exhibit in the regimental museum.

About an hour south, Martha realized I was not getting comfortable with this car so she suggested we take a slight detour to Manchester Airport to see about getting a smaller car.  So we found the Hertz location at the airport without too much trouble and they were able to exchange cars for us, refunding me the extra cost of the "upgrade".

Note the size difference, the first rental car would be
at home on US roads, but to me, not on British roads!

The new car, a Ford Fiesta, instantly felt better sized to me.  As we continued our drive to Chester West, it just felt nice in the lane and no issues for me to keep it in the lane!  I liked the manual transmission better on the Fiesta than on the Nissan as well, no GPS, but we had google maps and I've a couple of GPS apps on my phone so I think we'll do fine.

Not to much to tell of the rest of this long day, the hotel is a mediocre Holiday Inn next to a American-themed diner which served some terrible hamburgers.  We did not leave a tip.

I hope Conwy Castle tomorrow makes up for today's travel issues and disappointments.


RichardM said...

Nice that you were able to trade the car in for a more reasonably sized model. And to make things worse, a lot of the new models have poor visibility in the name of style. What possessed you to stay at a Holiday Inn? Not many online options?

Andy & Laura said...

We're so sorry to hear of the traveling woes you experienced today but are thankful to know that you're both safe and sound with no loss to life or property. I'm sure a good night's rest is all that you need to rejuvenate body, mind, and spirit and you'll be ready to enjoy this new leg of your epic journey.

Keep the pictures and stories coming! They're terrific and we're having a great time following along on this side of the pond.

SonjaM said...

Well, Dom that a first: An American complaining about the size of a car. But streets are narrow, folks are all driving on the wrong side of the road, that plus driving a stick can turn into a nerve-stretching experience. And the Qashqai is infamous for its limited views, so changing to a smaller model was a great idea. I keep my fingers crossed that the the next day will make up for it.

redlegsrides said...

The Holiday Inn was chosen for easy to find quality as we projected arrival in the late evening.

redlegsrides said...

We're going to stop whining now, Laura and Andy.....more to follow.

redlegsrides said...

Never have liked big cars myself SonjaM and the Qashqai reminded of that. I think I would have eventually adapted to it but why add to the sensory/processing overload I was "enjoying" with all the factors you mentioned right?

Trobairitz said...

Smart move exchanging the car and a bonus they gave you a refund of your upgrade.

I am enjoying these castle pics too.

redlegsrides said...

Trobairitz, Hertz and I would have had issues had they not refunded the "upgrade" cost. Glad you like the castle pics.