YAS. Another Europe blog post! I read this article recently and was like, omg I wish I would have known #3. Picture this: Two little Americans (Brandon and I) both carrying massive duffle bags in the busy London “tube” (that’s train system in London terms) and standing on an escalator that’s for real about 200 feet long. Terrifying, right?
It gets worse.
We’re lugging about 35 pounds of our stuff AND THEN people start budging us while walking up the escalator. Like, what the heck man? I’m about to fall to my death here if you knock me over.
Come to find out, it’s a thing. You’re supposed to stand on the right side so people can walk up the left on an escalator that’s about two feet wide. Sounds stupid, huh? IT IS. So be careful on that.
1. DON’T BLOCK THE ESCALATORS
So, that’s number one. Don’t even think of standing in the middle, the left, or slightly into the middle. Still unsure how you can properly position luggage without breaking this rule. If anyone has a trick, please, fill me in.
2. YOUR MIXED DRINK COMES IN TWO
Now, this was a delightful surprise. They are so classy across the pond that when you order a mixed drink you get the alcohol on the rocks and the mix still in the glass bottle! I guess I’m too used to Barry’s $2 Fireball shots, but this made me feel ultra clazzy. It happened in Ireland too! The only downfall to this is that I did feel a bit gypped on the amount of alcohol I received because of this.
3. DON’T TREAT YOUR COINS LIKE PENNIES
Save them and don’t forget to use them! Their coins (AKA pence) are worth more than what we’re used to in The States. We kept forgetting to use them and we had about £6 worth of coins! That’s not a lot, I know, but seems like a ton when you’re used to your coins all creating a whopping $1.13. Also, the paper cash is actually called “notes”.
4. WHAT YOU SEE IS WHAT YOU PAY
This is GENIUS. I actually despise the U.S. for not doing this once we came back home but over there the price you see listed is actually what you pay. The tax is already wrapped into the price tag, so you don’t have to worry about not knowing the exact amount of cash you need. Beware, though, I feel like it made me buy things easier because, to me, it looked cheap because of the currency difference and the fact that it’s the entire price up front. For example, an awesome souvenir would be £10 which seems like $10 to me but it’s actually almost $13! Which is not bad, but it’s totally deceiving.
5. IT MIGHT BE WEIRD TO ORDER SHOTS
Okay, take this one with a grain of salt but I was alerted about this before going to Europe and apparently (I could be totally wrong here) shots aren’t as common as they are in the U.S., especially what we’re used to good ole’ Nebraska. We never ordered a shot from a pub while abroad because it never felt like we were supposed to and I didn’t see anyone else getting them. Gotta say, we never had a hangover either. Wonder if that had anything to do with it… :smirk:
Don’t let this stop you, though! I’m sure it goes DOWN in the hostels!
6. THERE ARE A LOT OF TOURISTS AND YOU’RE ANOTHER ONE
I mean, this is a complete duh! but for real, it is crazy packed with tourists. We went in April which isn’t necessarily a slow time if they even have those, but it’s not the busy season. The thing about this though is that you really need to plan out where you’re going and when because there will be a ton of tourists like you thinking the same thing. The early bird totally gets the worm on the hot spots in London.
One other thing: Being from The U.S. I did feel like people would look at us when they would hear us talk (WE HAVE ACCENTS AND I AM SO HAPPY ABOUT THAT DISCOVERY). Sometimes when we were sitting at a restaurant I noticed people looking at us but then I thought, ya know what? I practically stare if I hear a British accent in Nebraska. So I get it. There was only one time that I felt like being from The States was a bad thing when I could hear someone in a bar loudly talking about how crappy America is, which I don’t believe but I felt like “hey man, I’m mad about the U.S. stuff you’re talking about too…” So it felt pretty crappy, but that only happened once. I’ve heard similar stories from friends traveling in other places but other than that everyone is really friendly! Even in London, I never felt that “snobby” vibe. It was actually quite the opposite!
7. THE FOOD MIGHT SOUND WEIRD
And I know travelers to the U.S. think the same thing about us! There were some weird things, though. Like the fact that french fries, ahem, I mean chips, came with the steak and I know that isn’t weird but how it was presented was by the steak basking on top of the fries which seems like a meal someone just threw together without even thinking. I also discovered gas station (without the gas) pre-made sandwiches made of tuna AND CORN. Hell yes. I loved this combo. Can’t believe I haven’t thought of that one myself. Also, they have some brands that are the same as they are in the U.S. but have different names. Like Lays potato chips and this isn’t food, but they have “T.K. Maxx” instead of T.J. Maxx and it’s totally the same store!
When you’re eating and order a soda, that’s gonna cost ya more than it does over here and oh, want water? You’re going to have to specify that you want “tap”, they will automatically assume you want bottled and remember the difference between still water and sparkling. I hate sparkling water and we accidentally bought it so many times because it’s right next to the still bottled water. It was pretty annoying. Why they so fancy?
In conclusion on the food topic, the food was on another level from what I’m used to, it was SO good! Loved every bit of it and those fish and chips really are somethin’ delicious.
I almost forgot to mention the meaning behind “Mind the gap”! It was a saying over the intercom on the train when there would be a gap between the tracks and the platform and omg one time, the gap was like a straight up foot and a half! Not sure how we survived that. I even hoisted up my big ole’ duffle bag across it!
*Please note: I’ve only traveled to London once in my life so my opinion is one to take lightly. I could be totally wrong about some of the things I mentioned. If you’ve been there, you already know, but if you haven’t you should probably go book your plane ticket ASAP!