Easter Sunday - Return Trip
Breakfast was again forsaken in order to speed up our journey. We headed out around 9:30 and drove south toward Manchester. It was decided that Manchester would be a good compromise as a stop on the way back home. At this point the trip becomes less Scottish and more English, but that is what happens I guess.
We drove straight into Manchester and eventually found a decent place to park not far from the city center. We headed into town and found a posted map to give us an idea of things to see. Where we were, the main attraction was the town hall building which was a grand clock tower and was quite ornate. After spending an appropriate amount of time in Albert Square, which is just in front of the hall, we continued our exploration of the city. At this point we were all getting quite hungry and so turned back into what we felt might be a more restaurant rich direction. Given that it was Easter, we weren’t sure if we would find much that was open, but we came across a nice pub/bar which was open and apparently serving food. We entered, took a look at the menu and decided that we would eat there. After everyone got settled, we were a few minutes before realizing that we weren’t going to be served at our table, despite what the signs said in the pub. So I wrote down everyone’s order and became the lunch ambassador. Lunch was quite delicious, and I think everyone enjoyed it. Once we were finished it was pretty much time to head out of Manchester.
Back on the motorway, we circled the Manchester ring road, and then continued on the M6 South. At this point it was similar to the bulk of the drive up, fairly boring. Unfortunately, sitting in the back seat, I couldn’t hear very much from the front, so I would read my book until I was tired and then I think I dozed off a couple of times. Most of the time we would be following the other car directly, but some times, due to traffic we would lose them for a while. One such incident occurred outside of Birmingham. Only in this case we saw their car ahead and got into the same lane since there was a junction. We weren’t positive so I grabbed my phone to call Daniel in the other car. Just as I grabbed the phone, he called me. I quickly asked which lane he was in, and he said center. So we got out of the turn off lane just in time. It turns out there was a decoy vehicle—an identical car with the same colour, also driving ahead of us. Fortunately we managed to avoid complication that time, and we headed off around Birmingham. At one point Q decided to drive into the outskirts of Birmingham, and we stopped briefly. We mentioned that we really didn’t have the time to explore, so we headed back to the motorway.
Settling back into driving we were now in the southern part of England again. We had agreed that we would stop one more time at the service stop outside of Oxford. It was at this point which we were to say our final goodbyes since we would be parting ways. Pablo and I would both be back to Reading again, but Nenad was leaving the next morning back to Montenegro and as such would not see anyone again. As part of our rental agreement we had decided to bring the car back to Heathrow and as such would continue on the M40 after the turn off to Reading. We took a lot of last photos and said farewell.
For the first time, we were not following anyone and that was a mixed blessing. It is easier not to have to keep track of someone ahead of you, but now we were responsible for our own directions. I had a map however, and was back seat navigating. The directions are pretty simple and there are plenty of signs for Heathrow as you drive south on the M40 toward London. We followed these signs and eventually we were at the airport. Of course, we didn’t know where the rental return place was, all I was told when I called was Terminal 1. So we headed to Terminal 1 Departures, assuming that you would be returning the car when you were departing. I went inside the terminal to find the Europcar desk to ask instructions while Pablo and Nenad went to fill the tank as per our rental agreement. I got directions from someone on the phone, and once I was picked up, we headed out of the main terminal area and found the rental return place. They checked the car, and there were no problems. We caught the shuttle back to the Terminal 2 and made our way into the Underground. After the 50 minute or so journey, we were back in West Hampstead.
That ends the Scottish adventure. A great trip, with great friends, at this, the final junction of our program. It was a great way to cap things off. Thanks to Nenad, Pablo, Enrique, Sissi and Daniel for making this Easter weekend one I will remember forever. Cheers.