England is neat….but I hear the traffic is as bad as Silicon Valley. Our freeways are jammed until about 10 am now! “We need the jobs.” Really? What about the quality of life? Apple, Facebook and Google are hiring like there’s a boom on. Now Google plans to build a 22,000 worker campus in downtown San Jose.
That’s my rant for today…I’m a no-growth guy. The message is to be prepared for traffic heading to Southampton. If you leave in the a.m., you will be wise as the bulk is heading into London.
As promised in the last blog – here’s Part 2 of our tips on getting to Southampton.
Tip 3 – Traffic Circles everywhere. When you get off the “motorway,” i.e. the “M4.” Most of the the arterials like the “A383,” are controlled by “Traffic Circles,” aka “Roundabouts.” The problem for us yanks is that we are driving on the left side and are thrust into a counter-clockwise flow….then need to come out of it to our left and into the next left lane. This can take some thinking. Don’t chew gum and try this at the same time. You may have to continue circling until you have the confidence to get out.
Tip 4. – They use diesel fuel. Before you turn your car in at the port, you need to fill it up. DO THIS on your own. The car rental place will gouge you real bad. Pay attention. Your car is probably diesel. To throw you off, the GASOLINE pump hoses are green. In the USA they are black. This could be a costly mistake.
Tip 5 – When you check out your rental car – be sure to have them mark prior damages. Check the left front wheel carefully. Have them mark the dings on the wheel down. Americans have a tendency to drift to the left. And it’s hard to make turns without dinging the wheel. You don’t want to be charged.
Tip 6 – You need to have an International Driving Permit – not to rent the car, but to show to a “Bobby” if you get stopped. This is the dumbest thing ever – you need to have your normal Driver License anyway. The rental car company doesn’t care –but the cops must. They cost $30 at AAA plus two passport photos. A rip-off!!
All for today – give us a shout!
Many European cruises begin at the huge port of Southampton. This is at the southern end of the United Kingdom. As a trivia item, the Titanic set sail on its fateful maiden voyage.
Typically, your Baltic, Med or North Africa cruise may begin out of here. Another large port is up north at Liverpool (home of the Beatles).
Ok, let’s give you some advice. Most people fly into London after a 5 – 10 hr flight. You will be zoned out upon arrival. Try and get some sleep and don’t watch movies the whole time.
Try the Caribbean – post hurricanes. Prices are cheap. Read the story.
Tip 1. Heathrow is the airport to fly into. It is very convenient to get into. But – it is huge. It has 5 terminals and they have to be 5 miles apart! Good luck on finding signs. They seem to keep a secret on how to get between terminals. You will be recognized as a Yank – we stand out. The men over there are wearing what looks like “too small” suits with tight pants…and those Wizard of Oz pointed shoes. Americans tend to wear baseball caps, tennies and a college sweatshirt. “Hollister?” I live near Hollister California. It’s funny when I see people with them on – “You from Northern California?” Huh?
Get a hotel. You will really appreciate it. I highly recommend the Hilton. The hotel is right in the airport. Warning: You need to get to the hotel in Terminal 4. Heathrow is huge…I mean really big. It’s not a walk. No tram. You need to take a bus….but they don’t advertise how to get to it. You are going to have to ask for most everything. The bus is actually a commercial transit…but if you are going from your landing gate to Terminal 4, it’s free.
Tip 2. Rent a car to get from the airport (even if you are not staying there) Be aware. They drive on the wrong side of the road. Actually – it’s the left side. And manual transmissions are the rule. In the USA, stick shifts are very hard to rent. Automatic shift rentals are a LOT more money to rent. Be careful – it will take you a while to get used to it. And LOOK BOTH WAYS. You will instinctively look left….but cars are coming from the right! Renting is way cheaper than a bus – it’s only 90 minutes away.
See you next week for more handy tips on getting to the English dock.
Drop us a comment – we’ll help YOU get a cruise out of Southampton.
We’ve talked about the Norovirus many times on this blog. It’s an easy topic to write about. It continues to happen.
You may want to refresh on the topic if you forgot or if you are new to this site. Bottom line, it’s the gastrointestinal illness that is spread from e-Coli contaminated objects.
I won’t mention any cruise lines by name, but did you know that one ship has had six (6) norovirus outbreaks since 2010! A different cruise line has suffered through 18 cases of GI sicknesses reported to the CDC since 2010. A very recent ship had almost 10% of the pax get sick!
Here are some thoughts. Five simple ones on why:
If person gets sick, he/she will be vomiting and otherwise spewing fluids. Guess who gets to clean it all up? Yup, the same crew that has all their other work to do.
The CDC monitors all reports of incidents. Cruise ships participating in the Vessel Sanitation Program (VSP) are required to report the total number of gastrointestinal (GI) illness cases evaluated by the medical staff at least 24 hours before the ship arrives at a U.S. port. If the GI illness count exceeds 2% of the total number of passengers or crew onboard, separate notice must sent. The CDC may send staff to investigate.