[TAG] Re: Re: England was nice
Fri Oct 7 02:14:42 MSD 2005
Rick Moen wrote:
>> The countryside is *delightful*.
> Indeed. My favourite ways of getting around Wales and southern England
> in the summer, between bouts of rain, are either by bicycle or by kayak.
> If I could figure out a way to put a kayak in my bicycle panniers and/or
> a bicycle in the kayak bilge, I'd be a happy man.
My friend went on a walking tour along the Wales coast and had a wonderful
time. I'm too much of a city boy for that. I can take the outdoors for
half an hour but then if there aren't people around, I get bored.
> So, though it's late to say so, and I'm not sure whom this will benefit:
> If I had two weeks in southern England, and hadn't been there before,
> I'd allocate a week to just London, just to make sure I had time for
> several of the must-sees: Tower of London (including evening tickets to
> watch the Ceremony of the Keys), Westminster Abbey, Parliament, St.
> Paul's, British Museum, Greenwich & Kew (in the suburbs). "A man who is
> tired of London is tired of life" -- Samuel Johnson. Then, I'd
> have day trips to as many as I could arrange of Hampton Court, Windsor,
> Blenheim Palace / Oxford, Bath, Cambridge, Canterbury, including
> arranged rendezvous with British friends.
If you want to see the tourist sites, plan a week for London. But if you
care more about the people and atmosphere, do what my Scottish-American
friend suggested: spend your token two days in London, then go to the
smallest town in Scotland you can find and go to the local pub. People
will talk with you all day and give you free beers because they don't get
foreigners that often. I never did it because I prefer cities, but in my
last trip I spent most of my time outside London.
> A different but related, concealed, "convenience" ripoff has recently
> been introduced in essentially all European countries: You order and
> eat a nice meal in London. You ask to put it on your VISA or
> Mastercard. The nice waiter comes back with the chargeslip, and you're
> about to reflexively sign it, when you notice something a trifle odd:
> Wait, the bill wasn't in US$, was it? But this charge slip _is_. Hmm,
> how convenient. I guess... VISA?... must be doing currency exchange on
> the fly. How benevolent of them. Gosh, I wonder what rate they're
> using? I was never good at doing maths in my head. Well, bother, it
> must be OK, or why would VISA be doing it? You're in a hurry, you don't
> think much of it, and you sign. _Maybe_ if you're ultra-paranoid, you
> still have the restaurant bill and charge slip when you get back to the
> hotel, and so pull out your calculator to figure the rate -- too late.
> You've been ripped off, and it's no longer possible to even figure out
> by whom.
I've never seen this, although my last trip to Europe was 2002.
>> Alan Pope, one of the few Hants LUG people I'd met previously, met me
>> at the gates exit, and then I really felt like I was in England. He
>> drove me to the Hilton in Bracknell and I got my first taste of the
>> open roads around there and those crazy roundabouts of theirs.
>> They're right, we don't seem to have many of those in the States that
>> I've seen.
> Roundabouts are a very civilised sort of invention, and I've been trying
> to raise awareness of them over here in the land of the semi-free -- and
> of that name for them: The States seems to most commonly refer to them,
> if at all, as "traffic circles", which is among the lamest of
> appelations I have yet heard. _Roundabouts_, fellows!
Well, European roundabouts are either major intersections or rural
motorway exits. American traffic circles are raised platforms in the
middle of small residential intersections, installed to discourage
arterial drivers from diverting to residential streets to avoid the
traffic. You have to slow down to 15 MPH to go around them, so when you
encounter them three blocks in a row it's a pain in the ass.
In Bristol there's a six-way intersection that's a roundabout. It works
pretty well but I wonder how many people can fully decipher the one sign
ahead of it that says which road goes where. If you're looking for a
certain number it's OK, but if you're wondering where all the roads go
there's probably not enough time before you whizz by.
As for motorway roundabouts, I encountered them on a bus trip from
Manchester to Cambridge. They were pretty sweet, although I wonder
whether they cause more accidents due to people not slowing sufficiently.
I'm curious whether they'd work in the US. I suspect our huge traffic
volumes would overwhelm them, although it was difficult to guage their
capacity. Do cars end up queuing up at them in England? Of course, there
are long rural stretches in the US where traffic is not an issue (e.g.,
from Spokane to Minneapolis) but in those cases the current exit system is
working fine already.
-- Mike Orr <mso at oz.net>
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