europe: sleeping in the car

Saturday, August 7, 1999

….clipped a parked car, side view mirror to side view mirror.

Sorry about the delay, but lots of things happened. To fast forward a bit, I’m now sitting on the floor of a hostel-and-breakfast waiting for my turn to take a shower in Inverness, Scotland.

After Rosie clipped the mirror, we argued a bit and I took over the driving. We parked and after walking a bit found a nice B&B. We settled in and caught a bus into town to explore the city.

As I was saying earlier, Oxford is a college town that is packed with tourists during the summer months. Most residents either bike or take the bus, which is privately owned and run by a couple of different companies (which seem to share similar paths and prices).

The colleges in Oxford are spaces apart, about a 5-15 minute walk. After paying the requisite fee (from ₤3 to free), we walked through the colleges. Their lawns are gorgeous; sort of like Wimbledon or a really nice golf course. The town is a shopping bizarre with at least 2 Oxford university stores per block.

In one of the free colleges, we were able to watch a drama class practicing an acted out poem. No different here, education-wise, then any other class I’ve witnessed; except, of course, for their funny accents.

We explored Oxford for that day and half of the next day, leaving for Shakespeare’s birth place at around 12pm.

Stratford-upon-Avon was an interesting town. We had hoped to catch a Shakespeare play there, but the only tickets they had left were for standing-room only, and Rosie didn’t want to stand for 3 ¼ hours. We did visit the house he was born in, his granddaughter’s house, and his doctor-friend’s house, all for the affordable price of ₤6.50 (read as around $11). The history of Shakespeare was interesting, as was the old furniture and paintings. For another 50 pence we were even able to see the spot where Shakespeare was buried in his hometown church. While the theories on his education was interesting, and the actual writings were cool to look at, the overall Shakespeare experience seemed like a good way to suck tourists’ pockets—and there were plenty of pockets to choose from. The town that rose around the birthplace has all the shops and restaurants one could hope for—all in celebration of one of the greatest writers ever—one would think.

After having a light dinner we hit the road for Scotland. We tried to get a room for the night at Edinburgh, but all the B&Bs were booked. At 11pm we made a fearful choice: we decided to spend the night sleeping in the car. This choice was made partly because of the ₤30 we spent to fill the car’s gas tank ¾ of the way (i.e., $50 for ¾ of a tank). We pulled over to a rest area and spent a fruitless 5 hours trying to sleep in the glaring parking lot lights, with me in the passenger seat, and Rosie in the backseat under a tent of blankets.

At 6am we washed up and headed for Inverness, the home of Lochness. The ride took about 4 more hours from our sleep-spot. After showering we’re going to explore this seemingly unfriendly and cold area of Scotland.