Day 1 (November 30, 2009)   Flight to London and driving to Salisbury


   Our flight leaves Girona airport at 1:55 PM, so we need to lunch early and go to there, leaving our car in one of the cheap alternative parking places around the airport, avoiding the high rates of airport parking itself.

   Once in UK, we will take our rented car and drive to Salisbury. It’s around 160 Km we should cover in 2 hours.

   Once we’ve checked in at guesthouse, we would go out to explore the city, visiting the Cathedral and taking some dinner before going to bed.
Route for day 1 in UK


   We eat a sandwich before 12 PM and leave for driving to Girona’s airport, where we park the car in an alternative space, not paved and open air. We board to a short flight of three hours with no issues to reach the United Kingdom Island.
England from the sky
   The island is completely covered by clouds and we cannot see anything from it until the plane goes down, lower than that white sea. Then, English land appears with its eternal green carpet. When you see this vast grass area is when it’s easy to understand why British made up the sports played over grass like football, golf, etc… They even play tennis over grass here!

   We leave the plane and can feel the cold, but we even expected more than this. We go directly to the parking following the indications we received from the rental car company and find, just beyond bus stops, the GreenMotion van.

Gatwick Airport

   When we already are in the highway I just get in mind I should pay attention to the way as I am going to drive it myself, but I think it’s too late for that.

Hotel Copthorne    We get into an area of garden with some lower houses, as all around, and are addressed to the lounge of a hotel. This is the Copthorne Hotel. It’s in here where the rental car office is located.

   After all the procedures I’m delivered a Volkswagen Polo in silver and join to the streets of this area. Now it’s when our travel begins: it’s 4:30 PM and is already dark. This beginning is slower than expected as, after some failing attempts of finding the highway, I end parking in a supermarket to get some snacks and indications.

   As use to happen we’re further from the highway than we were at the beginning. I’m a bit upset because I use to take more time in getting lost and this time it has been immediate. I follow the indications until, with a bit of luck, finding the highway M23. Finally! It’s now when our travel begins!

   Once in M23 I’m not comfortable as I’m not reckoning the names I’m reading in the signs. Could we be going in the wrong way? I leave the highway, ask to someone and yes, we are getting further from London to who-knows-where. I get lost for a bit but manage to get M23 in the right way. Are we going to begin our travel anytime? It’s 5 PM and I scheduled reaching Salisbury at 6:30 PM. I wish we were already there! When I pass by Gatwick airport I want to cry.
Map of Salisbury
   I’m very concentrated in order of avoiding more mistakes. I’ve brought a map with the way I must follow but this landscape around, with no sea or mountains to take as reference makes all the cardinal points looking the same. When I leave M23 highway I take M25 and the M3 after it to Southampton. Running by the left side of the road is not a problem to me, but driving is: my right hand keeps hitting with the door when I want to change gears.

   We haven’t stopped in anytime when the exit of the highway is pointing to Salisbury, but we still will need to cover some kilometers, though. We’re going to end this trip in one hour and a half, as expected. Around 6:30 PM we get into Salisbury.

   Salisbury is a small city, but I can get lost in it anyway. The darkness of the night is not helping on finding reference points and the map I’ve brought of the hotel area is too small. Also, I cannot find the names of the street we’re driving through. I finally stop in a petrol station and beg for help. I’m crazy about arriving as I’m sick of getting lost that much.

   We just need to go up… but I’m coming from there!. It results the guesthouse is in a hidden street. At this point I want to burn the car down and enjoying it slowly, but everything pass out when I finally see the guesthouse building. Finally! It’s 7 PM and I’ve been more time lost than knowing where we’re going. It’s quite impressive!

   At map above the 0 marks where the guesthouse is, the gas station when I get indications is in the green roundabout below at right. 1 is Market Square and 2 is where the Cathedral is.

Rokeby Guest House buildingRoom of Rokeby Guest House

   The picture of the Rokeby Guest House is obviously from tomorrow, at daylight, and the car on it is ours. We love the rooms. The kind woman who welcomes us explains everything we need to know and asks me for moving the car to allow pass out to the cars already parked. When I sit in the car at darkness and with the key at hand, just for a second, I believe the wheel has been stolen. Then I look at my right and remember what country I am and call myself dumb.

Market Square by night

   It’s late, but we want to go out for dinner. We want to see something apart from unknown roads. It’s cold, but not a polar one. There is nobody by the streets and it’s only when we reach Market Square and we see the lights of the open places when we think we’re really being able of eating something. We pass by a Spanish restaurant with tapas, but it is not for us. Between the Christmas lights I the street we choose the restaurant – or pub – Market Inn. It’s in a classic building and we get a very good meal by salmon salads and burgers in big plates with all the sides. I would recommend, but it got in fire in 2011.

Market Square in SalisburyMarket Square in Salisbury

   Once back in the street we still don’t want to go to bed. This look of the buildings in this city, so medieval, makes us to walk around exploring the area a little bit, in absolutely calm and loneliness. We love it, it is like walking through an ancient town. We find a remarkable structure made of stone and in purple lights, it is the Poultry Cross, from century XV, and is the one in the picture below, from tomorrow.

  It is too late as per going to the Cathedral but as we like so much everything we’re seeing we promise coming back tomorrow morning. We will need to wake up early as tomorrow already was a busy day.Poultry Cross

   We’re amazed as it’s like everything around is 500 years old. This city was just a practical stop in the plan, but now we think it should be a highlight for any travel in England.

   The walk back to the guesthouse is as cold and lonely as when before dinner, but we know how comfortable are our beds for today, so still one more pleasure for tonight.

Exploring Salisbury by night