Tag Archives: travel England

English Heritage and Travel

As we traveled through parts of England I felt as though I was retracing my English heritage and it brought forth a lot of memories. Before we left I kept hearing from people that ‘England isn’t England anymore.’ I didn’t know quite what that meant but it seemed I should lower my expectations. Too crowded, too much immigration, too expensive etc., seemed to be the common talk but I live near Vancouver so what’s the difference?

In a city like London, for example, the juxtaposition between modern skyscrapers and historic buildings is obvious. Like any large city that attracts both immigrants and tourists you can expect to see a myriad of cultures which constitutes change. However, outside of the big cities, it still seems like the England I remember.

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The fields go on as far as the eye can see and animals graze freely. Winding roads, cobblestone streets, thatched roofs, row upon row of flats, double-decker buses, village pubs and large parks filled with families, make it is as quaint as ever. As we traveled from village to village we noticed that at each place polite people were ready to share historical information about their area.

Horses

As for food there is certainly more to offer. When I was a kid we would eat mostly traditional meals at the traditional times. I never was one to enjoy fish and chips but I know I loved sweets at tea time. With this trip I must admit it was nice not to have to dine exclusively on British cuisine – especially when we craved Indian or Thai or something else that is readily available at home. Between my Aunts great meals and dining out I have to say we ate well.

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seaside

If you are traveling to England consider Bed and Breakfast accommodation. We stayed in a couple and the owners were so nice! They pride themselves on a great breakfast menu and are just the people to help you plan a good day out. Locals, like B&B owners, provide you with details that help save time and money when sightseeing. An added bonus to staying in B&B’s was the conversations we had with other people staying there too.

Drive! Rent a car and drive if you feel that you can. We were able to see so much more than we ever would on guided tours. The signs were clear and besides having to adjust to the other side of the road and roundabouts it was all good. It helped that we went out a few times with family first to watch how they were driving but really if you are thinking about it, just do it! The road less traveled will bring you great pleasure!

Now here is a little advice for when you plan visits to historic sites across the UK or day trips to cities like London:

GET PASSES IN ADVANCE!

  1. English Heritage Overseas Visitor Pass gets you into great historic attractions without the headache of huge lineups. As the name implies you can get this before you travel to the UK.

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  1. The London Pass and The Oyster Travelcard was so helpful in avoiding lineups and entrance fees to most attractions in London. Plus there was the bonus of unlimited travel across London using different modes of transit.

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  1. Buy individual tickets online in advance whenever possible. The value of that was never more apparent than after standing for an hour to get into Edinburgh Castle in Scotland.

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The United Kingdom may look relatively small on the map but know that there is so much to see and it takes time to enjoy it. So, if you are planning such a trip don’t overbook yourself, be clear about the experience you want and research!

Cheerio!

The Joy of Travel Without Technology

For the past 5 weeks my husband and I had been traveling abroad. During that whole time I did not check for information online and not a single email was typed by these hands. I traveled without technology and I didn’t miss it. Less than halfway through my trip I realized I had already forgotten my passwords for email and banking. If I don’t use it apparently I lose it.

Our journey began in New York where life thrives in the heat of traffic, constant car honking, sirens and people move between tall buildings that block most of the light from the sky above. With passersby that made little eye contact and even less friendly service at local establishments the New York I saw was both exhilarating and frustrating at the same time.

It is steeped in history and spoiled with grand places like The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Statue of Liberty, Central Park and Times Square all of which will blow your mind. The lights of Broadway was something we couldn’t miss so we purchased tickets to see the show Jersey Boys and afterward walked back to our hotel with slice of pizza in our hand from an Italian pizza joint. There is so much to see and we had so little time but we do know that should we return areas like Soho, Chelsea and Greenwich Village might be more our speed.

Then it was on to the Queen Mary 2 ship leaving Brooklyn for Southampton, England. This part of our journey consisted of eating way more food than we needed and participating in onboard activities to occupy time. We saw a show at the Planetarium, watched performances at various venues, took in a couple of movies, (one of which I hated) and listened to bands. Most of the people were older than us but they know how to have a good time. The Queen Mary 2 is truly a beautiful ship and for our first cruise we set the bar high if we decide to cruise again. My reasons for picking the QM2 were personal and it fulfilled my dream.

We were picked up in Southampton by my Aunt and cousin which was so nice! I had not been back to England since I was nine years old and I was looking forward to seeing it through adult eyes. My Aunt did such a good job of welcoming us into her home and all the rest of the family did so too. I will talk more about my experience in England in my next post. The only technology used on that leg of our trip was a Sat Nav on loan from my cousin which turned out to be invaluable most of the time but quite often good old fashion signs saved the day.

My husband and I also managed to get to Edinburgh, Scotland. Our hotel was right below Edinburgh Castle and everything we needed was within walking distance. Taking a bus and train we squeezed in a visit with a dear friend and her awesome husband. She and he were a blast to travel around the City of Stirling with as she regaled me with Scotland’s history. Between good family and friends we were well taken care of on this trip.

So back to my offline comment. Life was simpler without that nagging feeling I should check this or respond to that. Nobody will ever miss my tweets or care if I updated my LinkedIn page. All those sites I normally felt inclined to follow never even entered my head once. I thought about this blog but that was really the only thing I thought would be useful from a sharing standpoint. I have already begun to unsubscribe from sites and will likely cleanse even more.

This trip taught me that there is nothing I do online that will ever match the excitement of walking hand in hand with my husband down a village road or sharing a meal with those I have the privilege of calling family.