What Tourists should know before Visiting England
"Money" by Rob Wiltshire
Things to know before visiting England
Tourists should always research the country or countries that they are visiting before they travel. English speaking tourists often feel that, since England’s people speak basically the same language as their own countries, they need not research England before their visit. However, they are ill-advised to follow this course, since England is an idiosyncratic nation and those unprepared will not enjoy their visit as much as if they had researched a little before travelling.
Whilst the United Kingdom is a member of the European Union, it does not use the Euro as its currency. England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland the component countries of the U.K. all use the pound sterling, Eire or Southern Ireland is a separate country and does use the Euro.
Exchange rates fluctuate and you should check them regularly before and during your stay, so that you know what you are spending. There are one and two pound coins, five, ten, twenty, fifty, and one hundred pound notes. 100 pence make one pound and there a 1, 2, 5, ten, twenty and fifty pence, one pound and two pound coins, which are thicker than the lower denomination coins. The fifty pence coin is a many sided, rather than a round, coin.
Etiquette and Manners
Manners, in England, are generally similar to those in other English speaking countries. However, there are subtle differences. British people take manners and politeness seriously. Thank-you is traditional at every stage when buying something in a shop, for example. British people are more reserved than their American and Canadian cousins, and tend to misunderstand the outspoken manners of Americans and Canadians. English people are not as effusive as Americans, it does not mean that we do not like you; it just means we have a different way of showing it. British people shake hands on greeting someone they do not know very well. Men do not usually hug other men, unless they know one another extremely well. Female friends may kiss one another on meeting, but usually not unless they know one another very well.
As in other countries, it is polite to give up your seat on public transport to pregnant women, elderly persons or those struggling with shopping or young children.
British people queue or wait in line to be served in shops, at bus stops. Patience is a virtue in England and those trying to push in front of others will arouse anger. Complaining about the wait, when standing in a queue, is considered bad form, enduring the wait with patience and good humour is the British way.
On escalators, especially those in the underground railway or “tube” (metro) or on the ordinary railway, stand on the right, leaving room for others to walk by you on the left. Commuters rush down the left hand side of escalators and will not forgive those disobeying the rules.
Tipping in Restaurants
English people do tip waiters and others in restaurants, but not as lavishly as Americans do, 10% or 15% for really excellent service is about right. Tipping more than that guideline seems like “showing off”.
Do not tip cinema or theatre ushers; lift (elevator) operators, or pub bar staff. The correct way to tip bar staff, should you wish to, is to offer to buy them a drink. Also it is not usual to tip staff in clubs, unless you are served at your table.
Pubs are not usually bars; they are meeting places, community gathering places, conversation areas, public living rooms and sometimes restaurants, where friends gather to catch up with one another’s lives, discuss the government’s latest misdeeds or just to enjoy one another’s company. In country places, pubs are almost the village hall. It is ok to order soft drinks, tea, or coffee in pubs. These days pubs choose their own hours. Typically in urban areas 11am-11pm, last orders are called about twenty minutes before closing time, the landlord or manager will either just shout “Last orders” or may do so after ringing a bell, sounding a klaxon, or blowing a whistle. Country pubs may close for a period in the afternoon.
In England, as in the rest of the UK, people drive on the left hand side of the road.
In different parts of England you may be surprised when shop assistants and other call you dear, flower, guv, son, chuck, or other names. It is merely the way of speaking to one another and is quite normal.
English cuisine has a terrible reputation, which, these days, is undeserved. You can find food of international standards and quality. Pub meals are generally good value and excellent, although there are exceptions. As in any country, look to see which pub the locals go to for lunch or dinner.
The full English breakfast is bacon, egg, sausages, toast, tomato, and/ or baked beans, to which may be added mushrooms and black or white pudding. English people do not, of course, usually eat this every day now, but as a special treat.
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England is not what you Think
Unlike the impression given in films (movies), there are no peasouper fogs, and few people wear deer stalker or bowler hats nowadays. However, English people do talk about the weather a great deal, because it can be changeable. We are an island nation and therefore subject to the vagaries of the weather systems in the seas all around us. Pack accordingly, layers of clothing that can be added or removed as necessary are best.
England is more than London.
London is the capital city and it is interesting from many aspects. Its history, theatres, restaurants clubs, museums, galleries, and visitor attractions are worth visiting. However, there is more to England than London and you will miss much if you just stay in London. The counties, towns and cities, and countryside outside London are well worth a look too. There is much to see and do.
There are many things a tourist should know before visiting England; these are merely a few pointers. Doing some research, before you arrive will pay dividends in helping you to have a happy holiday visiting England.
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