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|UNITED KINGDOM |
London and the English Countryside - FAQ
With such a rich and varied itinerary and so many aspects to touring England, it's easy to feel overwhelmed and unsure about where to start preparing for your London and the English Countryside tour. We are here to help. Below, you'll find some useful information you'll need as you get ready for your English adventure.
The United Kingdom follows Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), which is 5 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time, with British summertime lasting from the end of March to the end of October. For most of the year, including summer, Britain is 5 hours ahead of the time observed in the eastern United States. Because of different daylight-saving-time practices in the two nations, there's a brief period (about a week) in autumn when Britain is only 4 hours ahead of New York, and a brief period in spring when it's 6 hours ahead. But most of the time, when it's noon in England, it's 7 a.m. in New York and 4 a.m. in San Francisco.
There are many great souvenirs to bring back with you from England, so make sure you have space left in your suitcase and pack light. You do not need formal clothing for this trip. We'll be dining at several upscale restaurants and attending a play in London, and we only ask that you do not wear athletic clothing or footwear to these. For the rest of the trip, the weekend casual clothing is the most appropriate. Since we'll be walking a lot, please make sure that you bring your most comfortable walking shoes. And since it is England, don't forget your umbrella!
Visitors from the US, Canada and Australia need a valid passport, but visas are not required for Americans, Canadians or Australians visiting for less than 3 months. Your passport must have at least 2 months' validity remaining. The immigration officer may also want a proof of your intention to return to your point of origin (usually a round-trip ticket). You must complete an entry form on arrival at the United Kingdom. Before traveling abroad it's a good idea to make two photocopies of your passport, your driver's license and your credit cards. Leave one copy at home with a trusted person and another in your suitcase. PLEASE NOTE: The United Kingdom is scheduled to leave the European Union on October 31, 2019. The entry requirements may change at that time, and the updated information will be provided here.
|ARRIVAL AND DEPARTURE INFORMATION |
This tour starts at 1:00PM on Wednesday, July 15, 2020 at the Millennium Bailey's Hotel in London, and a private airport transfer will be provided to the hotel. Your flight should arrive no later than 11:00AM on Wednesday, July 15, 2020. That means that you'll probably depart North America on Tuesday, July 14, 2020. If you are prone to jet lag and travel fatigue, we recommend arriving a day early.
On the last day of the tour, we'll have a private group transfer to London Heathrow International Airport, where we'll arrive around 10:00AM on Thursday, July 23, 2020, so your flight should leave no sooner than 12:00noon on Thursday, July 23, 2020. If you need help with your flights to London, please feel free to give us a call.
England is 5 hours ahead of the Eastern Standard Time zone. To avoid jet lag, drink plenty of nonalcoholic fluids and eat light meals during your flight. Upon arrival, get exposure to natural sunlight, exercise and readjust your schedule (for meals, sleep and so on) as soon as possible.
The England tour group is limited to the maximum of 16 women + the tour director. The minimum group size is 6 women + the tour director. However, because we have only 11 rooms available on this tour, if there are a lot of people requesting a single room, we may have a smaller group. In addition to the tour director, the travelers will be assisted by private local guides, museum docents, and bus drivers, who will be sharing their insights about England with the group throughout the tour.
No special vaccinations are required or recommended to enter the United Kingdom. English food generally is not spicy, so gastric sensitivities are rarely triggered by the national cuisine. However, we'll have one Indian meal, which may be spicier than you're used to. Restaurants serving vegetarian choices are commonplace, especially in London. With the recent weather changes, we've seen quite hot weather in summer, but some rain should be expected at any time.
Tap water in the United Kingdom is pollution-free and safe to drink. If you would rather have bottled water, it is commonly available at grocery stores, convenience stores and vending machines.
British restrooms are marked by Public Toilets signs in streets, parks, and tube stations; they are the standard Western-style toilets and many are automatically sterilized after each use. The English often call toilets "loos." You'll also find well-maintained lavatories in all larger public buildings, such as museums and art galleries, large department stores, and railway stations. It's not really acceptable to use the lavatories in hotels, restaurants, and pubs if you're not a customer, but many people break this rule. Public lavatories are usually free, but some public toilets may require payment, so you should always have some coins in the local currency with you to pay for them.
Like all big cities, London has its share of crime, but in general it is one of the safer destinations of Europe. Pickpockets are a major concern, though violent crime is relatively rare, especially in the heart of London, which hasn't seen a Jack the Ripper in a long time. In London, take all the precautions a prudent traveler would in going anywhere, be it Los Angeles, Paris, or New York. Conceal your wallet or else hold onto your purse, and don't flaunt jewelry or cash. Local law-enforcement officials in Britain have a long history of being fair and impartial to visitors. Unlike Germany, England seems to practice great tolerance, more so than parts of America. There is little racial, ethnic, or religious discrimination, including that of sexual orientation.
Women traveling alone in the United Kingdom encounter less aggressive or so-called macho behavior than they will find in such countries as Spain and Italy. Of course, discretion is always advised, as anywhere else.
During the London and the English Countryside tour in England, we will travel by a private bus, by public transportation in London and on foot. To be able to fully enjoy the tour and participate in scheduled activities, you need to be able to walk, including uneven surfaces, at a leisurely pace, up to 5 miles throughout the day. You need to be able to stand unassisted for up to 30 minutes, you need to be able to climb stairs, get in and out of vehicles without assistance and manage your own luggage without assistance. While in London, we’ll be walking quite a lot, as well as taking the underground. Some stations do not have elevators or escalators, so there may be only steps to get to the train level. Overall, this trip is not strenuous, although it is busy. If you have no mobility issues and your fitness level is average or higher, you will have no problems keeping up with the group.
Weather is an enduring English obsession, the weather reports are the third most watched TV broadcasts, and the weather keeps the English on their toes. Whenever you travel, the good old British weather is bound to play a part in your travel plans. The hottest and driest weather, that in England means temperatures between 70 and 80 degrees (F) is generally reserved for July and August, and the summer sees England at its liveliest, but still, with the recently changing weather patterns around the world, it could be raining a lot or not at all.
England's cities have Internet access available in internet cafes, hotel lobbies and in some public places. Internet access in rural areas may be available, but it varies widely. Cellular phone coverage is generally very good in England's cities and metropolitan areas, although expect limited coverage in remote or mountainous areas. All hotels where we’ll be staying have WiFi Internet available for their guests.
British electricity is 240 volts AC (50 cycles), roughly twice the voltage in North America, which is 115 to 120 volts AC (60 cycles). American plugs don't fit British wall outlets. Bring suitable transformers and/or adapters.
Britain's monetary system is based on the pound Sterling (£), which is made up of 100 pence (written as "p"). Britons also call pounds "quid." Scotland issues its own pound notes, but English and Scottish money are interchangeable. There are £1 and £2 coins, as well as coins of 50p, 20p, 10p, 5p, 2p, and 1p. Banknotes come in denominations of £5, £10, £20, and £50. In England, ATMs offer the best exchange rates. Avoid exchanging money at commercial exchange bureaus and hotels, which often have the highest transaction fees. Chip and PIN represent a change in the way that credit and debit cards are used. The program is designed to cut down on the fraudulent use of credit cards. More and more banks are issuing customers Chip and PIN versions of their debit or credit cards. For the time being, both the new and old cards are used in shops, hotels, and restaurants, regardless of whether they have the old credit and debit card machines or the new Chip and PIN machines installed. Get a four-digit PIN from your credit card's issuing bank before leaving home, or call the number on the back of each card and ask for a four-digit PIN.
Restaurants', drivers' and guides' gratuities are included in the London and the English Countryside tour price. While dining on your own, a 10% to 15% gratuity is expected in upscale restaurants. Otherwise, it is considered polite to leave any coins from your change on the table in cafes and restaurants. A small (1GBP) tip for other service providers (taxi drivers, hotel maids, bellmen) is the norm. For cabdrivers, add about 10% to 15% to the fare on the meter. However, if the driver loads or unloads your luggage, add something extra.
Whether you're looking for museum-quality antiques or simply fun junk, England has the stores and the markets. You can shop the fanciest of upmarket shops, browse through antiques shows, markets, fairs, buildings, arcades, warehouses, jumble fairs, fetes, and car boot sales (the British version of a yard sale). Focus on goods that are manufactured in England and are likely to cost much more when exported. These include anything from The Body Shop to Doc Martens, many woolens and some cashmeres, most English brands of bone china, antiques, used silver, and rare books. Other purchases to consider are aromatherapy products, rain gear, designer clothing, royal collectibles, tapestry and knitting.