In 2000, I was on my own. I always order a compact car rental and they usally upgrade me for free to something bigger. I also always get a standard shift for cost savings. I wasn't thinking far enough ahead to realize that not only would I be driving on the ooposite side, but that I'd also be shifting and clutching on the opposite side.
I flew into Glasgow Airport , which is close to Paisley. Unknown to me, my whole challenge got even worse because Paisley had just converted its downtown area to one way driving, which even had a lot of the locals confused.
As I got out on the roadway around town, I was very worried and saw a parking garage not far from Paisley Abbey, which was a stop I wanted to make anyway. So I parked and did some tourist things. I was in a museum and asked a man what the easiest way was to get to the road north to Glencoe. He took a brochure and started scribbling some directions, when two other men joined us.
I could barely understand them because of their brogue, but it was obvious they were in disagreement on the best way out of town. They didn't seem like they were going to give up the argument so I took the brochure/map and said thanks.
As I pulled out of the parking garage there was an attendant who I decided to get some last minute advice from. He discounted the map and gave me his own instructions. Now I was a total mess - about to pull out into the world, drive, shift and clutch on the opposite side, and make my way through all the "help" I'd received, to find my way to more wide open spaces.
On my first trip around town I totally missed the sign for Crianlarich, my first destination. During the second trip around this confusing mess of street workers and frustrated drivers, I saw the sign north, but unfortunately it was two lanes over . . . so once more around town and I finally made my way through a roundabout and on the road north. What a sigh of relief.
At my B&B in Crianlarich my host said to not feel too bad about it as most people in Paisley were still finding their way through the new one-way route confusion.
So, the following day I made it to the beautiful Isle of Skye and began taking back roads to find the ruins of Dunscaith Castle. When I finally saw it, as I turned a corner, I literally did a triple take and bounced the left front fender off a small stone wall. On my home movie of the castle you can hear me say, "$250 dollars for a million dollar view."
You see $250 is what I put down for insurance on the car. As it turned out, when I got back to the rental place, they only charged me $67 and the guy laughed and said "I fix that same panel everytime we rent this car to an American."
I've driven in Scotland again, and in Ireland and Northern Ireland, but I still feel like a rank amateur!