Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Some Parting Thoughts Before Saying 'Cheerio'!

It's now been almost a month since we've returned from that mighty, but tiny nation across the Big Pond. Long enough to distance ourselves, but not too long, so we can still bask in its glow.

All in all, we had a delightful time in England. Much of it is similar to the U.S. People are generally the same everywhere, but it's their culture that marks them as different.

These are differences I noted. They are not necessarily wrong, just different:

- although the British drive on the left-hand side (and move through a 'roundabout' clockwise), the escalators in the Underground and at the Airport are on the right. The exceptions are the rail stations, which have signs to warn you to 'keep left'. Funny thing is, in a city, everyone walks on the right, except for tourists like us, who are trying to be consistent and 'keep left.' Very confusing.

- the gas prices were almost double to that of the U.S. They have unusual makes of car, like the Vauxhall, which I hired for our 5 day trek into the Yorkshire wilds.

- make sure you have plenty of coins. You pay for parking EVERYWHERE.

- there was not one bit of straight road in all our travels other than the expressways (A4. Etc.) and in London.

- the road signs are not straightforward. At times, we would see a sign directing us to a landmark, but then they would disappear, leaving us to figure out things for ourselves.

- thankfully, the British were very kind in responding to our many questions about direction to and from a place. Everywhere!

- everything is smaller there: roads are narrower, hotel rooms are minuscule (especially in London), the cars are tiny. They need to be in order to navigate the roads.

- Afternoon tea is just that. . .served in the afternoon. And don't expect a tearoom to be open after 4:30pm. . .or to find a single scone in a shop after 4pm. And come to think of it, unless you are in Devonshire or Bath, you won't find a single plain scone anywhere. Full stop (Period). They all have currants, raisins and/or sultanas. I tried. Believe me.

- expect to have the absolute best cup of English Breakfast tea you've ever tasted. ANYWHERE in Britain. It is a consistently great beverage. Haven't figured out if it's the water, or the way they brew it. My favorite, though, is still the Yorkshire Brand. Each 'shire' has its own brand.

- eating out is much more expensive than in the States.

- they have the most powerful hand dryers I have ever encountered. Consistently, like the great tea. Most of them are Dysons (you get the idea).

- dogs are allowed everywhere. In shops, restaurants, on trains and on the grounds of beautiful estates and national parks. I did not see one person with 'doggy bags', except on our walk to Brontë Falls in Haworth, where they were stuck in the crevases in the stone walls. That was shocking.

- museums don't always communicate closings of their galleries or tours clearly on their websites. Even when you ask at the desk, they don't always have that information at their fingertips.

- If you have a choice, don't visit England during a bank or half-term holiday. The streets and sights are swarming with people (especially the country's own).

- toilets (as they call them), are not everywhere, nor are they on every floor of a department store as they are in the States. You may find one on the ground floor, and that's it. Usually there are only a few stalls, too. In a park or on the city streets you'll have to pay. . . remember the coins I mentioned above? Well . . . And drinking fountains? They are as rare as hen's teeth. Well, not quite, but almost. Rubbish bins are almost non-existent on the streets, and even in public buildings, at least in London.

- there are no dangerous critters, big or small, in England. It's refreshing to know one will not be attacked, bitten, or eaten at night. Okay, I was stung by a wasp, but that's besides the point. ;-)

-England (I'd say the entire U.K.), has the most idyllic scenery in all the world, next to (maybe) France. It's a small country, but they pack lots of wonder-filled things in it. Especially the history. Can't beat it.

- the British walk everywhere. It's the exercise and the humidity (never falls below 50% I'm told), that gives them the 'healthy glow'. Does wonders for the skin!

- I love the Royal protocol. It's nice to know some things never change. Really.

- the Tube is a well-planned and executed form of transportation. It is regular, sensible (with maps posted everywhere), and not too expensive with a pre-loaded 'oyster card'. And rather fun, I'd say! 

Take The brown Bakerloo line from Paddington to Oxford Circus then change to the light blue Victoria line, getting off at South Kensington. Now you are at the V&A. When you have finished your visit, get back on at South Kensington, and take the Victoria line to Hoburn, where you exchange for the green Piccadilly line to Covent Garden. Now you are in the theatre district. 

- Sometimes, to make connections, you just walk on the same level through a tunnel. Other times, you take a steep escalator down to the next level. Sometimes two escalators in a row. Other times, it's an escalator AND an elevator. I'd love to see a cross section of the tube system. And, you always see folks with suitcases on every line and every train along the way. 

Our time truly was idyllic. . .a holiday to remember. Feel free to look at my last two weeks of posts. . . the sights are amazing!

There is so much more to say about this lovely country. But, we will say, "Cherrio" for now. 


I would love to have you comment...thanks!

Journey into the Promised Land

Journey into the Promised Land
From Egypt to Israel