2nd Stop in England: Canterbury
Updated: Oct 18, 2019
And just like that, we were off! This wasn't my first time driving a manual transmission on the other side of the road. And I can say that sitting in the driver's seat and having control of the car is MUCH easier than being in the passenger's seat- you can ask Ash this and I am sure they will agree.
Having the smallest car possible is a fantastic idea for the narrow roads that you find all over England. We were very lucky to be assigned a little red Fiat... full coverage mind you... that could zip this way and zag that way. Hedgerows did not stand a chance against us. As a U.S. citizen driving in England, I did not need an international license. I am not sure the rules for people with citizenship in other countries, but you can always visit this website as a starting point with this question. We picked up our car from a rental service located in city center London. This was a mistake. Don't get me wrong, they were wonderful, but trying to drive in and out of London when you are not used to the traffic, the congestion, or the left side of the road is completely nuts. Don't do it. Taxi to a rental place outside of the city and start your journey from there.
Once outside of the city limits, we were fine. Driving the highways and country roads of England is a breeze. We spent two hours on the M2 heading southeast towards our first stop: Canterbury. The city is small, but charming. The brick roads are lined with Tudor houses straight out of a Shakespearean play. Here you will find your big name chain stores mixed in with local specialty shops.
We mosied around the city, popping in and out of shops, taking pictures of the local building architecture, and getting some fantastic shots of Ash inside the iconic red phone booths. The feel of Canterbury is much different than London. London is loud with crowds of diverse people filling the streets. As a tourist, Canterbury comes off as quiet, quaint, and traditional. We did get more "looks" from people as we held hands in the streets, but tried our best to ignore them and enjoy our time.
One piece of advice I can give to those traveling to England in July is that it doesn't get very warm. Ash and I did not plan properly, and ended up going to a Primark in Canterbury, (much like the U.S. Forever 21) to purchase some warmer attire.
We did enjoy our time in Canterbury, but chose to stay in the small country village of North Elham about 30 minutes south. Again, we found our accommodations on AirBnb, and for one night we stayed in the "Hayloft," which was a cozy little studio owned by a lovely family. Although we were only there for a night, Ash and I really enjoyed our time. The village seemed to have one main road that contained all the necessary shops for the residents. Ash and I chose to eat at the Abbot's Fireside Inn & Restaurant and were so happy that we decided to eat here because it ended up being one of our favorite restaurants from the entire trip. They sat us at a table in close proximity to a fireplace. Ash was seated in a cozy chair, and I sat in the booth across from them. Other than one family, we were the only two in the restaurant. The ambiance was perfect and we had a very romantic dinner by the firelight.
I think that if we were to do it again, we would love to explore Kent a little more. Seeing Canterbury and staying in North Elham was a treat, but I know that this area has a lot more to offer. If you have visited or lived in this area, I would love to hear about your experiences. What must-see things would you recommend? Is there anything you would avoid? Or, do you have more questions about our experience? Please share your thoughts with us!
I do ask that this stays a positive and safe space for readers, so please, no hurtful language or remarks about other's experiences. Thank you.