With proper navigation tools in hand (iPad maps with country-wide 3G network) we made our way to Canterbury. I think we ended up arriving at 1:30pm as we had a leisurely morning, late breakfast and were in no particular hurry to do anything. An inadvertent trip into a pedestrian only zone, a wrong turn followed by no roundabout for a bit and finally parked just outside the old city walls near the Cathedral. Thank goodness we arranged for a Chip and PIN credit card in advance of our trip based upon advice from my parents. While you can use a regular credit card in major retail locations and a regular ATM card for withdrawing cash, Chip and PIN is required for pretty much all unattended transaction (parking meters) and smaller retail locations. Self paid parking works just the same on the other-side of the world, but parallel parking is a bit different as your’e either looking over the opposite shoulder or over the normal shoulder but out the window. I did quite well on the first try if I’m allowed a brief moment of self congratulation.
We wandered around old Canterbury a bit, past a Games Workshop store (which I ended up ducking into at the end of the afternoon for a minute) and tried some local refreshments at a Starbucks. Interestingly enough, our iPhone Starbucks app worked just fine to pay for the transaction, charged us in pounds and viola, we had refreshments (much needed caffeine!). Now I need to go see what sort of exchange rate Starbucks provides. Heading out of Starbucks we bumped into a local tour guide. Since we had no idea what to look at we opted for a tour. As our luck had it no one else showed up and the guide, and older woman with grandchildren Layla’s age, provided a wonderful tour of the old city, the Cathedral grounds and various other local attractions. Upon completing the tour we stopped into the local Tourist Information (TI) stall and verified the location of the Viking ship replica we wanted to see in Ramsgate and made our way back to the car.
Two major differences about the cars here (aside from the steering wheels being on the wrong side) was of course the size of cars being generally much more compact and a majority of cars being diesels; at least 2:1. We’ve been averaging just under 50mpg on our journey so far, probably because the threat of speed cameras has kept me to the speed limit, which I found out today is 70mph on the motor ways.
About an hour later we made our way into Ramsgate (with a stop in the middle to unsuccessfully settle Layla’s motion sick stomach…we have determined that round-a-bouts are quite hazardous for those prone to motion sickness) and to Peter’s Fish Factory. Lunch consisted of two large cod, a large chips (fries), a pickled cucumber and a Dr. Pepper. Remember when I reserved judgement on the “best fish and chips” earlier? Well, evidently with good reason. Darcy’s friend has evidently been in the US for some time now as I think his memory has failed him. The fish was good, but completely drenched in oil, as were the fries. Good quality, but hard to taste the food through the mouth of oil. The “dill” pickle was half sweet (not bad, but not what I was expecting) and the Dr. Pepper was sweetened with sugar rather than corn syrup. Unlike Coca-Cola which is far better with cane sugar IMHO, Dr. Pepper is just not the same here as it is back home.
Ramsgate has some really interesting carved stone cliffs (which I think we missed pictures of) but otherwise was rather unremarkable. I guess we should have read the signs when our tour guide earlier asked us why we were going to Ramsgate. Just down the way in Pegwell Bay we took a short hike out to the ocean and saw the cliffs which are a smaller version of the Cliffs of Dover, but easier to see from land, collected shells (Layla’s favorite part of the day), watched windsurfers (using parasails) and checked out the Viking ship replica on display before heading back for an hour and a half journey to Cobham, our final destination for the evening.
Layla slept the entire way (so no barfing!), which was great because she had enough energy to hit the pool for a bit before bed. Once again Hilton delivered for us. With my Gold status Darcy got a complimentary glass of wine at check-in, I got free internet and we were given complimentary access to the fitness center complete with 80 degree pool, hot tub, steam room and sauna. Back to the rooms to clean-up, write this entry, put Layla to bed in an extra roll-in bed the hotel had waiting in the room for us and catch-up on an episode of Game of Thrones before heading of to bed.