LeVeL's UK trip 2019

LeVeL

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Greetings, FG brain trust! The Mrs and I are heading across the pond in the fall and I've started putting together an itinerary. The plan is to see London, head west past Stonehenge towards Swansea, then north towards Newcastle, then further north to Edinburgh and Glasgow. I also really want to visit Islay for obvious reasons.

Question right off the bat - does it make the most sense to rent a car, given the distances we'll be covering, or rely on public transit? Unfortunately we won't be doing a race between the two.
 

MWF

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Rent a car - I would suggest diesel for fuel economy as UK fuel prices are the raep, and slushbox unless you are comfortable changing gear with the "wrong" hand while driving on the correct side of the road. At least for the parts outside of London. Stonehenge doesn't have a railway station for a start.

Why Swansea? Also why Newcastle? Both are a bit grim to be honest.

Also heading north from Wales take the M5 and M6 from South Wales up the western side of England and divert to the Lake District. Some seriously pretty scenery and roads. It's like the Rockies, only pocket sized.
 

LeVeL

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Swansea - basically just driving past it on our way from Bath to Pembrokshire Coast National Park.

Newcastle - Hadrien's wall and Victoria tunnel.
 

MWF

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If you're interested in Hadrian's wall then this is where to go - http://www.vindolanda.com/ - and it's on the A69 en route from the northern edge of the Lake District en route to Newcastle. I just noticed that you're coming over in the autumn which is the best time to visit "The Lakes".
 

CrzRsn

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As far as shifting with the “wrong” hand goes, its not that big of a challenge. At least for me, it took about 5 minutes in a city enviroment to get comfortable enough with it and another 5 minutes for it to become practically 2nd nature. I’d imagine remembering which side of the road to aim for when negotiating turns would be bigger challenge.
 

DanRoM

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I'm not from the UK, but I've been to both Wales and Scotland as a tourist, so I'll try to give some advice.
  • Rent a car. Train connections in the UK are not the best, and by contrast, their roads can be marvelous (Wales, Lake District, and Scotland, at least north of Glasgow/Edinburgh). If you're daily driving a manual at home, doing so in an RHD car won't be much of a problem neither.
  • Wales: Swap Swansea for Cardiff, it's more beautiful. Also, do not miss the opportunity to go through Brecon Beacons National Park. Gorgeous landscape, even better roads.
    If your timeline allows it, don't go back on the motorway on the Southern coast of Wales, but take a route right through the heart of Wales. That will also bring you past Aberystwyth: If weather permits (I've been there in summer; I imagine in autumn it will be less sunny and quite a bite rainier...), stop there and take the Vale of Rheidol museum train going to Devil's Bridge Falls. The train goes along the side of the hill all the way up the valley - absolutely spectacular.
  • Scotland: Well, looks like you won't go up to the Highlands proper, which is your loss. Although the drive up to the Isle of Islay (whatever you want to do there) should already be good.
    • Glasgow: Glasgow Cathedral and right next to it, Glasgow Necropolis. Must see.
    • Edinburgh: The Old Town is a highlight and I hope for your sakes that it won't be overrun by tourists when you're there. Do visit the castle, Camera Obscura (right next to it) and depending on your tastes, the National Gallery and the National Museum are very much a recommendation too. In general, just wandering around Old Town and New Town is plenty to fill a day.
 

ahpadt

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Swansea - basically just driving past it on our way from Bath to Pembrokshire Coast National Park.

Newcastle - Hadrien's wall and Victoria tunnel.
I lived in Bath for 4 years. Can highly recommend spending a day or two there. Imo, trains are fairly good in the UK if you stay outside of rush hour. It's worth considering.
 

Andeh

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I'd hire a car for sure, and as MWF suggests, visit the Lakes and take the trip on the west rather than the east. You can see Hadrian's wall from the west side, and avoid Newcastle!
 

public

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  • Edinburgh: The Old Town is a highlight and I hope for your sakes that it won't be overrun by tourists when you're there. Do visit the castle, Camera Obscura (right next to it) and depending on your tastes, the National Gallery and the National Museum are very much a recommendation too. In general, just wandering around Old Town and New Town is plenty to fill a day.
I'd try and avoid any obscure(d) cameras...
 

bone

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why doesn't anyone ever do a roadtrip around belgium??

i'm sure it would be a fun afternoon! :D
 

Hok

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Hey I wouldn't mind spending some time there. I'm trying to gauge how I should spend my time after ringmeet. :D
It's not far from the ring to Spa. Another historic track to visit.
I actually like visiting Belgium. Not only for the beer.

To not derail the thread even further I recommend Level to rent a car when traveling around the UK. Not much recommendations on what to see unfortunately since I have mostly been there on business trips and not had the time to do much touristy things outside of London.
 

LeVeL

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Thanks for all the great tips!

Any reason not to rent from Turo? Seems like there are more interesting cars for less than the standard rental companies.
 

93Flareside

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You're driving somebody's actual car compared with driving a car from a faceless corporation and the convenience of a shuttle bus isn't there.
 

CrzRsn

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Thanks for all the great tips!

Any reason not to rent from Turo? Seems like there are more interesting cars for less than the standard rental companies.
Both times I’ve used Turo it was a massive inconvenience. You have to arrange some sort of pick up with the owner that fits both your schedule and their. You have to arrange some sort of drop off. If something with the car isn’t up to your standard when you get into it initially, good fucking luck. If something goes wrong with the car, good fucking luck.

The last car I rented through Turo reeked of cigarette smoke, had the check engine light on and had a wheel bearing on its obvious last leg. Called Turo before I even accepted the keys from the owner because of the smell and CEL, but they basically said “deal with it.” Called them again after driving off and hearing the bearing noise, and again, the reply was “deal with it.” No clue what would’ve happened if it died on me, but my interactions with customer support were not filling me with hope. Meanwhile that Jeep I rented from a major rental agency that did die? 2 hours later I was towed to a local office and given a replacement car no questions asked.

I find all these new Silicon Valley based industry disruptors interesting, but many of them are very half assed in their implementations and lack the support capabilities of the establishments. Had a moldy house rented via AirBnB, their reply was essentially “well that sucks.” Currently having issues with tax forms with one of the new-age investment apps I use, and their reply is “nah, its cool” when it clearly isn’t. Not that disruption is bad, but I just wish it was more thought out.
 
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CrzRsn

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Hijacking this thread for a quick question to FG Brits.

I'm spending a day in Birmingham in June. Well, closer to 6 hours. My plan is to take the train from the airport to City Centre and go to a pub for a bit for some drinks before going back to the airport. Don't want to exchange cash to GBP for such a short stay, how widely accepted is plastic for purchases as small as a few pints. Went to a few bars in various smaller European towns last year and most were apprehensive to take cards, but what about a major city?

Also if there are any UK FGers around Birmingham not at work at 2pm on June 17th (a Monday), drinks?
 

Andeh

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You're absolutely fine paying for anything by card pretty much anywhere in the UK now. Even in rural arseville where I live, I pay for individual pints on contactless/Google Pay. Plastic is pretty much the norm for most people my age, I don't really use cash at all.

Just don't bring an Amex, you'll struggle with that.
 

CrzRsn

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You're absolutely fine paying for anything by card pretty much anywhere in the UK now. Even in rural arseville where I live, I pay for individual pints on contactless/Google Pay. Plastic is pretty much the norm for most people my age, I don't really use cash at all.

Just don't bring an Amex, you'll struggle with that.
Sweet! I still run into bars here that refuse to take cards. Have yet to see a bar take contactless.

Interesting comment regarding Amex. On my last 2 Eurotrips I didn't have a problem with that - it was either all cards including Amex or no cards at all (which was nice since my Amex is my primary travel card).
 

Kiki

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+1 for contactless (Google Pay).

From a tourist's perspective, Blind and I were in the UK last year, and we stepped off the airplane and just used our phones to pay for everything from pints (there were so many) and public transpo (since we were visiting London, we created our TFL accounts weeks before the trip). It was sooo convenient - contactless is just starting to catch on here in the US, but we really appreciated the convenience. We did end up hitting the ATM for some cash when we were getting street food, but I was surprised - even the small towns in the countryside accepted contactless easily.
 

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Sweet! I still run into bars here that refuse to take cards. Have yet to see a bar take contactless.

Interesting comment regarding Amex. On my last 2 Eurotrips I didn't have a problem with that - it was either all cards including Amex or no cards at all (which was nice since my Amex is my primary travel card).
It's the same thing here as well. Paying by card is the standard, even in small places. But Amex is hit or miss, as it needs a separate contract.
 
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