October 19, 2012 (Friday) – Continuing from where we last left off, we had arrived in Aberdeen and walked to our hotel. After spending half a day touring around London the day before and then sleeping on the train, we were eager for a quick shower before proceeding to the Glenfiddich Distillery. Alas, we were too early and no rooms were yet available. We had to make do with the bathroom in the lobby. At least the full-flowing faucet was better to splash the face with than the trickling one on the train.
Having left our bags with the concierge, we next proceeded to the car rental, located inside a shopping mall on Union Street. The rental was a bit hard to find: we circled around the mall a few times, the directory had no indication of any car rental place, and there were no signs. Eventually, we checked with mall management and they called the car rental guy for us. Turns out that there was no storefront yet because it was a new branch, so they just had a guy in the parking office doing the rentals.
Once that was figured out things went smoothly from there. We signed the papers and got into an Audi A4 diesel wagon with GPS (a nice surprise, considering the fact that you don’t always know what car you’re going to get with a rental). I spent some time getting acquainted with the vehicle and getting used to being on the right. One would think that everything would just be the opposite of being on the left, but for some reason I’ve always thought that the viewing angle of the left mirror is steeper* when sitting on the right side. When driving LHD, the angle of the right mirror doesn’t seem as steep.
*This is how I judge if a mirror is “steeper”: as a passenger in LHD cars, I can look into the right mirror and see traffic behind us. As a passenger in an RHD car looking into the left mirror, I see the car itself. I can’t remember a time when this wasn’t true.
Getting out of the parking garage was good practice for driving RHD. The exit ramps were narrow and steep, and I told myself that as long as I kept close to the right where I could see how close I was to the curb (kerb), the left (far) side of the car would be fine. This rule-of-thumb later worked well on the road, especially in two-way traffic.
Now, we were on the streets of Aberdeen headed northwest for Dufftown. It was a nice, leisurely drive through the city and then the Scottish countryside. Like a crazed man, I kept telling JC, “We’re driving through the Scottish Highlands! We’re driving through the Scottish Highlands!” I did have some minor difficulty entering my first RHD roundabout, but since there were so many of them I quickly got the hang of it and learned how to proceed smoothly with the flow of traffic. At one point, I even drove behind an Accord Euro (the European version of the TSX):
A little over an hour later, we were at the Glenfiddich Distillery!