AGONEEE! Yet another one. BUT! The second to last. Which is good because I am running out of ways to distract the rest of you and I'll be damned if I stoop to a YouTube of Kitten Waking Up or something. [how that is different from the rest of the random crap I've been linking is a complex and deeply philosophical issue. You wouldn't get it. But trust me] You HAVE seen this cool thing about the discovery of a Mayan queen though, right? [NB, I already baggsied "Lady Waterlily-Hand, Princess of Calakmul" as my nom de plume for my series of frighteningly huge-selling romance novels about a beautiful, naive, deeply sexual young woman with a tragic case of bath-time-prune fingers. You'll just have to think of something else]
ANYWAY today's scintillating topic: transportation! Once again, this is UK specific and, particularly, ME specific. Basically I'mma tell you what I am doing and letting you know if it's working.
Okay, back when I first decided to make this move I also decided I was going to not have a car over here. This was based on a number of things. I knew I was going to be somewhere where that was possible and I wanted to do it as a green option - honest and for true I did - although that was not the main reason. I also was finding driving increasingly irritating and didn't like how dependent on the car I was. But the crashing great huge enormous biggest reason of all? The thought of driving in the UK scared the willies out of me.
Now, there are other good reasons, including the fact that it's expensive to buy, run and maintain a car. Petrol prices over here are listed per litre and I'll be straight up honest that I have no idea what the hell they mean when they say that it's right now 140.9p per litre. How does that compare to dollars per gallon? Ducats per gill? Knuts per dram? I simply don't know. But I have a sneaky idea that it's rather a lot. I read one thing that suggested a new economy car would cost about 40 cents per mile just in petrol alone. Take that with a firkin of salt though.
Now that I'm actually HERE, I'm extremely glad I made that choice. [DISCLAIMER, OTHER LOCATIONS WILL VARY]. The areas I will be spending most of my time actually going to and from are unbelievably car un-friendly. Narrow streets often crowded with pedestrians and, lemme tell you, NO parking, none. My landlady when I informed her I would not be using my parking slot nearly cried when I said she was welcome to use it whenever she needed.
So how am I getting around?
Feet. Walking. Shanks's pony. And thus far I am VERY happy about it. It takes me about 10 minutes to get from my flat to the following: 1) any of three grocery stores; 2) any of two big home-goods type stores; 3) ALL of the city centre with its shops, museums, restaurants etc; 4) the archaeology department where I'm studying. I have at least two bakeries within two minutes walk. There is a butcher's (actually two I think) in the city center along with a fishmonger. Basically I have not yet had a need I couldn't fill by walking a very short, very scenic distance.
Also? Most of the major big grocery stores deliver, usually without charge, and (unless you're really late out of the gate) on the same day. I haven't used this service yet as I'm enjoying the walk, but I'm sure I will as study heats up and the weather cools down.
I was considering having a bicycle as well before I got here but I don't think I'll end up getting one. Two simple reasons - one, I don't need it because I found a flat that's close to everything; two, my flat, while admirable, has only an external and unsecured bike lock-up so storage would definitely be an issue. I may change my mind later, dunno really, but that's where I am now.
I always carry an umbrella with me as does pretty much everyone else, and I have invested in a proper waterproof coat (brollys are fine and good but if it's windy or if it's crowded they're a pain). Rain has not yet been a major issue or even kept me from walking where I want to go. In the wintertime it's likely to get very cold and, more importantly, slippery as many streets are cobbled and I'm near a river. I have excellent boots and decent cold-weather stuff so I'm not anticipating a problem although you may hear some whinging in the future [note to self: go buy those good gloves you've been trying to remember to buy!]
The thing is, even if you do keep a car here, you're going to end up doing a fair bit of walking. Parking, as I said, is often difficult. The older parts of cities are problematic to navigate, and there are whole bits that are so car unfriendly it's near impossible to access them. Just warning you.
There are other options of course. The bus system where I am is admirable. The locals fuss about timeliness and things, but I am still gobsmacked because the HAVE them and they're CLEAN and they RUN and they come OFTEN. I will hopefully be using them more as I work out where I want to explore further out. The train system is also very good, although it doesn't go absolutely everywhere and some runs are rather expensive.
[Note: I haven't yet gone to London but from what I remember of the tube it has lots of stands where your parents won't buy you chocolate and if you're six and you do a magic sort of thing with your umbrella, after a while the train will come.]
I dunno how to sum that up really - have a car if you want, but it's expensive and a hassle? Walking is awesome and free? Oooh, buses with wheels that go round and round?
Survived that? Only one more to go. And meanwhile, CEPHALAPOD!