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.
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.
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.
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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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!