One of the first rules of traveling is to know your destination. Of course you probably will not be able to absolutely fit in in the span of two days or even two months. But it’s good to have some conversation starts with the locals and to know what’s a conversation ender. In order to know what to do in Rome to do as the Romans do, you have to have done a little research on local customs and peculiarities. So I’ll be lightly touching on some interesting things I’ve learned about each of my destination cities and surrounding sites. At the same time I’ll be able to update my itinerary to include lot’s of famous and cool spots.
Here’s London! Part 1: Before the trip.
This is the Queen’s official residence in London. St. James’s Palace remains the ceremonial residence of the Monarch (which is why Ambassadors to the UK are accredited to the Court of St. James’s. Queen Victoria was the first monarch to take up residence at the Palace. Although the Queen lives there, the Palace serves a dual role, housing her office as the Head of State.
The Palace is home to 30 species of bird and over 350 kinds of wild flower, some being extremely rare. When a royal death or birth occurs, a notice is posted at the Palace railings. For eco-friendly people like myself, you’ll be happy to know that the Palace uses LED lighting to reduce electricity consumption and has onsite recycling for its garden (99%). One of the most interesting features for person’s from countries without monarchies perhaps, is the Royal Standard. This official flag of the currently reigning monarch is flown atop the Palace when the Monarch is present and the UK Flag (Union Jack) is flown when the Monarch is absent.
So what’s in the palace?
Things like a chapel, post office, swimming pool, cafeteria, doctor’s surgery and cinema to name a few!
Does the Queen own Buckingham Palace?
As an individual, the Palace is not the private property of the Queen. The Queen, as Sovereign has use of the this and a few other royal residences such as Windsor Castle and the Palace of Holyroodhouse.
Who’s been to the Palace?
Prominent visitors include:
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (when it was still Buckingham House, and he was only a seven-year-old
Johann Strauss the Younger
Alfred Lord Tennyson
American Presidents including Woodrow Wilson and JF Kennedy
Mahatma Gandhi (who wore a loin cloth and sandals to tea with King George V)
Earphones are absolutely necessary when you’re traveling long distances, especially the ones to and from your destination country. That part of the journey is usually when peopler are most anxious. Sitting aboard a boat, in a car, or on a plane (like I will be) for more than 4 hours will be very boring after a while and perhaps highly stressful if you don’t bring things along to keep you occupied.
I have fallen asleep on EVERY plan ride I have ever been on… except for two that were between two nearby islands that lasted nearly 15 minutes. This one, I think will not prove the exception, but seeing as my naps usually only last between 2 and 4 hours, I sure will need some music, games, and writing to occupy me. Well, what would I do if my earphones stopped working?Hey, weird things happen to things when you need them most!
So I’m making sure not only to have my trusty old earphones, but I order some cool new red skull candy ones for 1/3 the price thanks to http://www.ebags.com! So if one gets lost or broken, I’ll still be able to jam both ways across the Atlantic and in between!
Going to Spain? Want to expand your Spanish vocabulary in the meanwhile? Me too! So, we’ll help each other out. I’m making lists of words I think are important or interesting to know for a trip to Spain. Do you have any words you think that I should know in Spanish? suggest them and I’ll follow up.
In linguistics, the name used to refer to a place in a foreign language is known as an exonym. The name used to refer to a geographical feature in its native language is an endonym. When visiting a foreign place it would be helpful to know both. Here’s a brief list of toponyms (names of places), some of which I plan to use while I’m in Europe!
Got a train pass for continental Europe like the Eurail passes?
Sorry to inform you that it won’t work in Great Britain. If you want to travel the Island with unlimited train rides, then one of the Britrail passes are your best bet. I am not sure why the British national railway chose not to accept the pass and enter the combined rail system like most of the other European states. Also, even if you want to cross the tunnel that runs beneath the British Channel (dividing France and Great Britain) known as the chunnel, you should know that neither of the regional pass systems will cover your travel cost. Instead, you will need to invest in another fare: a Eurostar ticket. However, there is some silver lining as a discount is offered for both the Britrail pass system and Eurostar tickets for Eurail passholders.
I had been looking at the travel and oyster cards (prepaid cards used to cover bus fare) and decided that a pass was probably better to use due to the large amount of traveling I have planned. The single fare prices, though low, would add up over time to being more in comparison than the pass. But, if your are staying for less than two weeks and don’t plan to do lots of traveling, then the travel card or oyster card will do well for you.
Once again statravel.com offers some discounts for those of us who are under 25.