Most of you know, I recently returned home from an incredible month in the United Kingdom. That country stole my heart forever. Here are some of the top reasons why I absolutely adore the United Kingdom, and why you should go visit for yourself as soon as possible:
I just love all the lil British expressions. There are SO many phrases and terms they use here that we don’t use in America. Sometimes when I am telling stories to my family I feel like I am almost TRANSLATING (cause you know, I don’t wanna be that girl who thinks she is so cool cause she came home talking British after one month). I think my all-time favorite phrase is “cheers!” Instead of saying “goodbye” or “have a nice day” at the end of a conversation, most people I talked to just said “cheers! It is a perfect way to acknowledge someone or to say farewell to a casual new acquaintance or stranger.
2. The Playgrounds
When I say my first British playground, my jaw literally dropped. Thanks to America’s litigation culture, about 95% of the really fun playground equipment has been declared illegal. Not so in the UK. They had giant rope thing-da-bobs to climb on that soared far above the ground. They had slides longer than I had ever seen before. They had legit zipline things that went more that like two feet long. They had all sorts of whirligigs and doodads to climb on and balance on and fall over. Seriously, those playgrounds were adventurous and awesome. I probably spent way more time on them than would be considered healthy for the mental health of an 18 year old pretending-to-be-grown-up.
I love how tea is such a set drink. Here in the U.S., if someone asks for tea a host will generally bring out a basket full of green and white and herbal tea selections. In the UK, when I asked for tea everybody knew exactly what I meant. No selection. Just the best of the best of English black tea with a bit of milk. NOM!
So I love thrift shopping. However, the UK brings it to the next level. Instead of having one ginormous Goodwill or Salvation Army in each town, many cities in the UK have a main street lined with itty bitty “Charity Shops.” Each charity shop has a little bit of everything. They are decorated nicely and are much more manageable to sort through then a HUGE Goodwill outlet. My favorite part is that each shop has the name of the charity they support in the name of the store. So you know if your money is going towards homeless pets or children with cancer.
5. ALL THE DAIRY
I don’t know what it is about the United Kingdom. Fewer pasteurization laws? More rain? Green grass? Pixie dust? Whatever it is, those people know how to dairy. The dairy section of any grocery store is like a party room. SO MANY KINDS of cheese and yogurt and cream and other things I’ve never tasted before. And it all tastes so good. I know it sounds crazy, but their dairy is just BETTER over there.
There are sidewalks and public transportation options almost everywhere. Every single place I visited had adequate accommodations for walkers. And (contrary to my experience here in my suburban American home), I wasn’t the only one walking. In fact, walking is kind of a thing. HALLELUJAH!
Every time I got to an airport I couldn’t believe the prices lining the walls: how about a 60 euro roundtrip to Istanbul or hop on a super cheap train to Germany, etc… Once you cross the pond the opportunities to explore the rest of Europe are endless. Imagine taking a casual weekend trip to Paris!
8. Middle Eastern food
If you know me, you know my favorite cuisine of all-time is Middle Eastern. Middle Eastern people and Middles Eastern restaurants are EVERYWHERE in Europe. And you know what? I am not complaining. I saw more variety and quality than I had ever seen before.
9. London Public Transportation
You just load up an oyster card and then swipe it to use every kind of public transport in London. Could it be easier? From Romford to Kingston and Central London to ANYWHERE. London is a huge area, but the public transport is super easy to navigate and use. Not to mention the fact that there is no better place to people watch than on a subway/tube
On my first bus drive from the airport I was overwhelmed by the beauty of countryside dotted with medieval abbeys and an occasional castle. In the UK CASTLING is a verb. It means spending the day touring castle after castle. Throughout my trip I just couldn’t get over the fact that we would be walking through a village or driving through the country and casually pass architecture that was hundreds of years old (if not a thousand). Where I live, written history didn’t even begin until the 18th century. So the idea of living in a house that was made in the 1700s is just overwhelming. In short, history is everywhere there. They don’t just look at it and coo like I do. They live in it, walk around it, and use it every day. One bit of Roman fence might be behind glass in a museum in the U.S., but in Scotland it is still being used to keep sheep from the road.
There you have it. My very favoritest things about the UK. Although, this is certainly not an exhaustive list. I could go on all day.
However, in order to be balanced… (Balance is important my friends!)….I have decided to write another post about the parts of UK culture/life that I had trouble with. Stay tuned on the blog to hear about those little things that really got me frustrated while traveling. It should be lots of fun : )