Going to England for our exploratory trip was quite an adventure. While we haven’t specifically found a flat, we’ve narrowed down the places we’d like to live. We have corporate housing for a month which gives us time to find somewhere specific. There were a few things we learned/discovered while we were there:
- Don’t expect a grid system of streets…they don’t exist here. The roads in many of the towns are older than your grandparents.
- Due to the lack of grid system, don’t expect to be able to get around without a map…big mistake on our part. It took 2 hours to find our hotel 😛
- I was led to believe that people in Europe drive small cars because they’re more environmentally conscious than in the US. While that may be true…it’s almost necessary to have a small car because of how narrow the streets are.
- Customer service is NOT as important as it is in the US.
- The concept of a doggy-bag isn’t the norm.
- The train/tube system, while complicated at first, is really convenient.
- We will most likely miss the easy access to a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Most of the towns have a centre street that they refer to as “High Street”. This is normally where all the stores and such for that area are. It may not be named “High Street” but the US equivalent would be a “Main Street”.
- Letting a flat (i.e. renting an apartment) is almost like buying a house, in that you make an offer on the rent as rent is negotiable.
- Living there…is expensive.
The weather was somewhat gloomy, but there were a couple days of gorgeous weather so we took the opportunity to do some sight-seeing.
Joe’s coworker gave us a tour of the area and we were able to visit Oxford. The University of Oxford is the oldest university in the English-speaking world. Lots of old buildings and more history than we were able to take in in our short visit.
Just before we left, we took the opportunity to go into London and visit the Tower of London. Since it was the summer we made sure to go first thing in the morning because it isn’t as busy. Turns out it was a good idea because when we left in the early afternoon, there were long queues and it was very crowded.
The Tower of London was built in 1078 by William the Conqueror. It was resented because it was seen as a symbol of oppression of London by the new ruling elite. Since 1100 it was used as a royal residence and a prison.