June 2019. We had signed up for a free cruise! Well, we were awarded a credit for the cost of our Panama Canal Cruise in 2018 and used it to purchase a 12 day Norwegian Cruise Line cruise all around the British Isles. I used some United Airlines points to get us there for free. The timing of earning the free points wasn’t great, so we ended up with a flight from Ontario Ca. to San Francisco to Calgary to London Heathrow. We landed in London at 10 am. It took quite a while to get through customs and get our luggage and get the rental car shuttle bus and get to Hertz to get a car. But eventually we got our car and headed toward the coast.
This was my second time driving in England. It takes a bit getting used to. You are sitting on the right side of the car, driving on the left side of the road.. of course they use mostly stick shifts, so I was operating that with my left hand… It was awkward…. but fun.
The first place we visited was the Exbury Gardens and Railway. Everything in England seems to be green. At least from the viewpoint of this California desert dweller…. We enjoyed a leisurely stroll around the grounds and a ride on the little train. I only have 6 pictures so it must not have been all that awe inspiring. But I know we enjoyed our time there.
After visiting the garden we had a half hour drive to another village where we had our hotel reservation. The road went through the countryside and there were few cars. Till suddenly there was a traffic jam! We waited and eventually discovered that there were horses and cattle roaming the grounds and there was nothing preventing them from hanging out on the roadway!
We made our way to the Crown Manor House Hotel – old, beautiful, comfortable, and reasonably priced. I recall we found a pub that had a special on dinner that night. It was early by their standards so we ate quietly on our own.
The next morning we slept in and then drove to Southampton. We dropped off the luggage at the ship, drove the rental car about a half mile down the road to the agency and turned it in and then walked back to the ship… ready for another voyage to begin!