Heading "across the pond"? Check out everything you'll want to know before your first trip to England!
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First trip to England?
Why do I keep going back to England? It's a question I've been asked many, many times...probably because we'll have taken a total of 3 trips to England (plus one to Scotland) during our first 5 years of being married! And my husband lived there for 6 months before we were married.
Anglophiles? You bet!
Well, I've decided to do a combo post to address both the above question and another of my frequently asked questions: what do first time visitors to England need to know before their trip? So let's talk through what you need to know before your trip, and why you will *love* every moment of your trip to England.
Throughout this post, I've also compiled a ton of links to full articles on other topics that I've previously covered, such as specific regions within London and day trip outside of the capital. For example, if you're looking for some more general tips on traveling to Europe from the US (including plug adapters and other practicalities), check out A First Timer's Guide to Visiting Europe.
So grab a cup of tea, turn on one of your "favourite" British Detective shows, and let's "have a go!"
First Trip to England: Pubs
Oh pubs. Perhaps my favorite place in the world is "sat" in a pub (the English do that verb differently - they presumably had it first; no idea why we changed it), pint (or half pint!) in hand, fire in the grate, giant turtleneck on, eaves dropping on someone else's conversation and pretending I'm in an episode of Midsomer Murders, minus the murders, obviously.
To unpack my passing "half pint" reference - in England, if it's lunch or you just aren't feeling like having a giant beer, you can order a "half pint," which comes in an adorable, small glass, so you can fit in at the pub, even if you aren't a big drinker! For my teetotalers, orange or tomato juice are the go-tos of the non-drinking-yet-in-the-pub crowd. And yes, I love pints so much that I gave them first billing in my blog name. Now *that's* love.
Pubs are great for many reason. They're neighborhood or town gathering spots for locals, a bit like Cheers, but cozier, and for visitors, pubs offer a window into the "normal" life of the English. They visit on Christmas, after work, weekend afternoons, and for a casual dinner.
Let's discuss just a few points on pubs before we move on - this will help you avoid awkward interactions on your first trip, if you're never been in a pub before! Pubs are significantly different from restaurants. You don't have a "waiter." Walk in, and select a table, or sit at the bar. Unlike in American restaurants, if you're just having a drink, you can still grab a table - since there aren't waiters, it isn't considered rude. One more note on tables - if you don't make it clear you want to keep your table, someone may take it. For example, if you leave the pub, taking your drink, to smoke, the table will appear empty and get snapped up!
OK, so you've found a table. Now, you go to the bar to order drinks and food. You can order them separately, should you wish, and you may need to ask for menus if they aren't on the tables. You'll wait for your drinks at the bar, while the bar tenders "pulls" them, but your food will either come up at the bar as well when it's ready, or sometimes they'll give you a number and bring it to you.
Definitely make time to explore Britain's pubs, especially in small towns and on day trips. They're cheaper than full-on "restaurants" and more relaxed, and they're pretty much the coziest place I've ever been. Stop by on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon, and you'll see whole families just chilling in the beer garden area. It's the best. Check out this list of England's 8 Oldest Pubs.
First Trip to England: The History
English people reading this will say this 'goes without saying,' but to American who've never been "across the pond," the sheer breadth of English history is just incredible. As my English friends well know, we've only been around for a short portion of your history, and the oldest building I'd ever been in before I went to England was built in the 17th century - and it wasn't my home/church/city hall/pub - it was a *museum* and I couldn't touch anything.
History in England oozes from its pores - a gleaming new office block stands next to the tiniest pub you've ever seen that's so squeezed between buildings that it could be Grimmauld Place, just appearing before your eyes. Modern restrooms have been crammed into the basements of buildings never meant to accommodate such "amenities," and half the random fields you pass have plaques discussing battles so old you'll likely have to write them down to look up later.
Love British TV? Check out the best shows on Acorn TV and Britbox!
First Trip to England:
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