Wednesday, July 21, 2010

finally blogging...

hello everyone I love and miss you all.  We are currently in switzerland but I will start from the beginning of our trip.  I hope to give much advice when traveling or interesting experiences with different cultures. 

LONDON.  Are you okay?  ... That is what the English say in comparison to how the US say, hey, whats up or how are you?  The awkward moments are when you do not realize that.  One morning when I was walking down stairs for breakfast and a person asked me if I was okay.  I smiled and answered yes but in my mind I was wondering if I had done something wrong or I did not look okay.  Lo and Behold,  he was just askin WhatZ Zup. 

Never be timid to ask too many questions, just make sure they are to the right people.  It is much better to know you are on the right train than the wrong one.  Once we arrived in London July 13 around noon, we did not get details of the correct routes to take to the families house we were staying with so we ended up riding multiple busses and about 7 hours later we arrived in Stevenage, UK which should have been about an hour ride.  Ya live and learn, it is an interesting journey.  The buildings and scenery are beautiful.  The toilets and sinks are interesting- to flush the toilet, you push a button on the toilet or the wall behind it and some of the sinks have a cold spout and a hot spout for water.  I am so thankful we were with a helpful and friendly family at our first destination because they showed us the ropes of the train and bus stations.  I do not usually like tea but the tea in London was great, along with a Nigerian rice dish- with excellent sauce and chopped peppers mixed in.  Before I left for Europe, I was under the impression that most of the culture was in the major cities in Europe but now I think it is moreso outside the large cities where tourists do not effect the towns character.  In London, all the price tags looked that same as they would be in America but you have to remember that is in pounds.  The UK one pound equals the US $1.50 so you have to remember to add half the price on top to realize what you are actually paying.  Also, at the exchange rate companies- whoever exchanges your money takes about a 5% commission out of what you wanted to exchange so good luck not being bitter about that one.  An awesome thing about London is that there is no tax and it is not necessary to tip any waiters etc.  I am pretty sure the tax is already added in, but it is nice when you purchase something-and it comes out to the exact amount you added up in your head.  Waitresses and other works do not need tips bacause they tipically already make a nice hourly wage.  Europe is incredible in the mind set that if you can not afford it now- do not charge it.  They are not in debt from credit cards and everyone seems to be more humble.  It is just a different mind set.  In Arizona, if you do not have a car and ride the trains or busses it could mean you are financially hurting but in Europe way more many people take trains and busses, I can not tell you how many business men with suits, classy old ladies, to your average college student I saw on the trains and busses. It is not a Lesser Than mind set, I think it is a I Am Smarter Than The In Debt Americans mind set.  When traveling, bring tennis shoes because you will do more walking through all of Europe than you have through out your life.  Also, a light jacket because the weather changes before you know it.  I think it is smartest to bring one of those Camelback water backpacks and drink that through out the day because 2.50 pounds for 1 water bottle is crazy and you will just end up not drinking water and getting dehydrated.  The fashion scene was not as intense as I had dreamed but I think I just did not hit the correct locations.  Picadilly Circus in London is amazing and all the fashion stores are 2 to 3 stories high.  It is a learning experience bargaining with the brandless or tourist stores.  Wait to buy what you see the first time, because it will probably be cheaper around the corner, or you can always walk back to get what you first saw.  Whenever I heard an English accent it was so hard for me to not smile and laugh a little because they sounded so funny and I have come to the conclusion that it takes much more effort for them to speak because they are so proper and have to take many more breathes when speaking. 

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