Our long awaited road trip around New England has sadly come to an end, and we are exhausted but really happy with the last two weeks. I will admit to being nervous about how things were going to go, as neither Husband nor I have ever driven abroad, and we did suddenly realise that spending hours every day trapped in a car together might be a quick route to madness, but we survived (and barely argued at all – hurrah!)
Many more posts are forthcoming, mainly because if i don’t write everything down I will forget, but for now, some random observations:
- For 80% of the time, driving was absolute bliss. We could drive for ages without seeing another soul, and the roads were so wide and smooth (on the whole). Our Tom Tom GPS was great, but took us down some odd routes sometimes. So many places had free parking after 6pm, and even during the day (take note, UK towns!) so it all felt very easy to go out in the evening for dinner and a walkabout. I think going back to driving in the UK will be a bit of a culture shock.
- Signposts were a bit patchy. At times, there were so many that you couldn’t figure out what the hell was going on, but mostly, they were pretty much non-existent. I think we’re so used to having everything pointed out to us, that we freaked out when exits weren’t signposted in time or at all, or when the signs showing the route along a highway vanished.
- Americans are terrible at using indicators. Sometimes no indication, sometimes indicating at the wrong junction, sometimes using hazard lights as indicators (those ones freaked us out – “OMG, why have you switched your hazards on? Are you stopping? No, you’re just turning”). And so many of the cars don’t have orange indicators at the rear of the car which took a heck of a long time to get used to!
- Related to this – roundabouts/rotaries/traffic circles. Holy crap, these were terrifying. I don’t have any issues over here with roundabouts, but the American ones were just insane. For a start, there are clear signs saying YIELD TO TRAFFIC ON ROTARY but that doesn’t stop people from randomly shooting out in front of others. There’s barely any indicating so goodness knows where people are going, and there is no lane management at all. We thought rotaries would be easier to work out than crossroads, but nooooo. They were not.
- It’s really rough being a pedestrian in some of the big towns. Whilst the turn right on a red rule worked great when we were driving, it wasn’t too great when we were at the crossing trying to cross the road on a walk symbol. We were never too sure if the car was going to stop for us! The sidewalks in a lot of areas were terrible as well, with random bits of street furniture dotted around the place and broken paving slabs. I can’t count how many times I tripped. It was also quite off-putting how close people walked behind you. Just before we got to the last bit of our trip, I sprained my ankle (yes, I am clumsy) so couldn’t walk that quickly. Instead of walking passed me, people would just stick so close behind me that I really thought they were pickpocketing! So many times, I physically stopped to make people go passed. So frustrating – I really felt my personal space was being intruded on so many occasions.
This sounds like I hated it, but I didn’t at all. There were so few things we had issue with, and I would go back in a heartbeat. But more of those details in my next posts.