Tuesday, April 17, 2012

No challenge too big or too small.

My flatmate, Kate, knows that I still have trouble crossing the road (yes, even after two months!), so what in the world would possess her to trust me with getting us safely to Larnach Castle in the rental car?

It came down to it being a beautiful day in Dunedin and us having three hours left before the rental company would come pick up the car.

Besides, what could go wrong when you have great little reminders to "Keep Left"?

I'd like to say that I adjusted quickly to driving on the left side of the road, but that would be lying.  Luckily, the only casualty was a little piece of curb when I lost concentration trying to figure out how to attempt a traffic circle.  Kate tolerated my slip up well.

It took a great deal of concentration to keep my side of the car as close to the center line as possible.  On the left side of us was just about a foot of shoulder before the road dropped off into Otago Harbour. 

For reasons unknown to me, every cyclist and his brother was out that day.  Eventually, we found ourselves in a worst case scenario: cyclists on my left, car on my right, and cyclists to the right of that car.  There were way too many people trying to share the same width of road, so I took the next logical step. I braked to a full stop.  Kate tried to coerce me into applying pressure to the gas pedal, but I didn't trust my ability to stay perfectly straight.  Soon, all was well with the world and we found a place to pull over and catch our breath.

In no time, I was in a driving "zone" - Kate didn't have to wave me back to the center of our side of the road and I even mustered up the courage to drive around a tractor chugging along at about 15 kilometers per hour - hot damn, I was a rebel without a cause!  

We arrived at the castle and expected to be able to hop out, take a picture, get back in the car and be back to Abbey in time for Sunday brunch.  Alas, there was a $12.50 charge per person to get out and walk around the grounds.  Being a self-proclaimed cheapskate, I winced at the thought of parting with the money, but did it because I just knew that people reading my blog would love to see what the heck we were trying to drive to.

So, here it is:

No, really, that's it.

I think the best description for it is "cute".  Hey, they can't all be Neuschwanstein Castle.

At the very least, it had a nice view.

I believe we spent a grand total of 22 1/2 minutes on walking around taking pictures.  That's because it was very important to get back for brunch.  They serve the most amazingly crispy/greasy/delicious hashbrowns every Sunday for brunch - they are just not to be missed. 

The ride back was uneventful. 

Interestingly, and annoyingly, the one thing that just had to be done when we got back was lock the keys in the car (car rental company rule).  This was easier said than done.  Just why we had so much trouble is beyond me.  When I don't want the keys locked in the car I have no trouble locking them in, but on this particular day when the keys needed to be left in the glove compartment and locked into the car it was a real P.I.T.A.  

Kate tried and tried. I tried and tried.  We had all sorts of combinations going on with the locks on the doors and the lock on the driver's side.  Nothing worked.  Luckily, a fellow Abbey resident walked by and I figured he could outsmart the car.  And, he did.  Yes, at first he gave us a quizzical "You want to do what" look when we asked him, but the sense of relief on our face when the keys were finally locked inside left him with a sense of satisfaction.  I think I saw him puff out his chest with pride due to the fact that he could do what we couldn't.

Oddly enough, after our adventure Kate said I'm ready for the campervan on our grand finale trip in November.

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