I've just recently returned from a bus tour around the island of Britain. I made a few notes about the experience that might be of help to any other RTA people visiting there.
1. Look Right! Anywhere in the UK, its a good idea to "Look right, look left, and then right again" before crossing the street. They drive on the otherside of the road and Americans are like deer in the headlights looking the wrong way. In London, many intersections have Look Right painted right on the street. There were major delays one day when an American stepped out in front of a bus. I didn't see this warning on the pavement in the smaller towns. It's best if you look both ways all the time.
2. Hotels. We never saw anything called a motel, no matter what the size, they are all called a hotel, Figuring out how to operate the lights can also be fun. In one hotel, you had to insert your room key card to get it to operate.
Outside of London, we didn't stay at any hotel that had room airconditioning, a problem compounded by the fact this was the hottest its been there in 90 years. Usually the lobby, restaurant, and hotel bar would be airconditioned.
Most hotels are rather expensive. A room for 50-60 pounds is considered a great deal. That's $100 to $120 US. Ouch!!!! There were a lot of bed & breakfasts.
3. Pubs. Many have the traditional facade with the name running across a ledge above the door and windows. Many have lots of hanging baskets and window boxes and are quite beautiful. Don't expect to find any airconditioned either. I strongly suggest a visit to any of these.
There were many, many White Swans, perhaps a chain. Some of the pubs are owned/sponsored by a particular brewery and only sell their products. Some are called freehold (or something with free in it) and will carry brews from anybody.
Of course, I strongly suggest that you drink the local brews which were quite good and I never had any warm beer, always at least cool, but usually cold. Their beer also has a higher alcohol content. Why would you go somewhere and drink or eat what you can get in the US? Two different pubs hand pumped the beer out of the tap. The bartender would pull the tap down several times in filling the glass.
4. US money. I regard it as being essentially worthless. By the time you get through converting it, it is essentially two US dollars for one pound. That wouldn't be so bad if prices were in half, but everything was more expensive, partly because of the 17 and a halfpercent Value Added Tax that the EU puts onto everything. A Big Mac goes for 2.5 pounds. Bring lots and lots and lots of money. It's a great trip, but will be very EXPENSIVE.
4. Drinking. In most pubs I visited the price of a pint (which I believe to be bigger than a US pint) ranged from 2.8 pounds to 3.5 pounds, that's $5.60 to $7!!! Ouch!! Needless to say, I didn't drink a lot. The Ivanhoe Pub in Edinburgh did have a 1.8 pound special on a Thursday night (along with a trivia contest). Even pop will run you 1-2 pounds.
Prices for a case in grocery stores were about 15-18 pounds, $30 to $36. I wanted to buy some good Scotch whisky (no e in a true Scottish whisky) but they were 20-25 pounds!!
5. Back to the Value Added Tax (VAT). It is great to buy something and not have tax added onto the price, but you're already paying the tax. Visitors can get a form to fill out to get the VAT back at the end of the vacation. However, it is your responsibility to ask for it and fill it out. It was suggested not to hassle with it for less than 30 pounds.
6. Petrol, as they call their gas, goes for around a pound a liter, with four equalling a gallon. That's $8 a gallon for any of you counting. Perhaps we ought not to complain so much about $3 plus gas. But I still will, as things are not as far apart as they are here in the US.
7. In the UK they don't take vacations. They take Holiday. It is not A holiday or THE holdiay, just Holiday. "I'm going on holiday." British schools get out in the middle of July, when the biggest part of holiday begins. Finding rooms, especially at seaside resorts, might be very difficult. Students are off for six weeks.
8. They drive on the left side of the road and the steering wheel is on the rightl. However, distances are measured in miles. In the rest of Europe, they drive on our side but measure in kilometers.
Which side of the road you drive on goes back to history. Part of this goes back to the old French-British rivalry. I heard that when Napoleon took over most of Europe and determined the side of the road you traveled and how you would measure it, England decided to go differently. The American Revolution is the reason we drive on the right like the French and not like the British.