Visiting the UK. Random Thoughts.

Before leaving for the airport in the morning of December 27th, we ventured out to find a breakfast place that was open in London Shoreditch area…

Did you know that almost everything is closed in London between Christmas and New Year’s? We discovered this the hard way the night before when the only place to get dinner was our hotel.

Breakfast Club is a chain of restaurants in London and according to their website and Google Maps they were supposed to be open at 7:30am that day. We showed up at 7:59am and were informed that they open at 8am. Lucky us. And all other tourists that showed up right after us. Everything else was closed…

Guess what we had for breakfast?

I must say though, haggis was better at Dalmunzie.

As we approached the end of my first journey through the UK, I made a list of things that stood out.

  • Hard to find a 24-hour store, at least in the center/tourist areas
  • Most of the cafes and coffee shops open after 8am
  • Don’t travel to London between Christmas and New Year’s unless you have friends to stay with because
  • Everything is closed on Xmas and Boxing day and potentially the whole week between Xmas and New Year’s
  • Make reservations ahead of time for dinner
  • But don’t trust 100% open hours on Google or Open Table. Calling places doesn’t always work either because they frequently don’t pick up and don’t have any helpful pre-recorded messages
  • Cocktails are weak in terms of liquor content. Stick to wine or beer. But!
  • Real ales don’t taste good. They are flat and warm.
  • Many everyday words are different: Give way, Way out, Toilets, Hillwalkers, Smash, Car collection, porridge
  • Look down before crossing the street. There will be a sign telling you where to look
  • Most of museums are free (at least National Gallery and Tate Modern)
  • Regular breakfasts and lunches are cheap (cheaper than New York). For £6 you can get a huge delicious meal
  • Coffee is Americano, almost never iced, almost always small
  • Hot and cold tap water don’t mix in Scotland. Don’t ask me how to wash your hands without getting them cold or burned…
  • Ask and you’ll be given. People were very understanding and accommodating without us complaining or really asking: British Airways didn’t charge us to change for an earlier flight even though we had nonrefundable tickets; another airline agent didn’t charge us for checked in luggage (we didn’t know we had to pay); a cafe worker didn’t charge us for water bottles (we had no cash); the bartender ignored me taking that fancy flask (it was used for my cocktail); gym administrator let us in for free because the computer was broken

Might recall more later…

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