United Kingdom

There is so much to discover in the United Kingdom

This land of historic cities,

Breathtaking moorlands and gentle rolling pastures, cathedral cities, unrivaled theatre, country lanes and the quintessential English garden. With a population of seven million, London is Europe’s largest metropolis. The city’s reputation for trend setting has never been so justified as the designer boutiques and hip clothes shops of the West End attract as many visitors these days as the famous monuments, galleries and museums. If you want to visit the most stimulating, historic, lively, and creative city in the world, come to London. Parks and greenery, spectacle and ceremony, shops and scenery, London has them all. The U.K is made up of four countries: England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, each with its own distinctive landscapes, traditions, history, architecture and people. From the Welsh valleys to the bright lights of London, from the tip of Scotland to the unspoiled coasts of Cornwall, you’ll have a wonderful time exploring Britain. There are also many islands off the coast to visit such as the Isle of Wight, Orkney, Shetland, Isle of Man, Isle of Mull and Oban to name but a few. Each area of England offers something new and unique: Cornwall’s quaint fishing villages in the South of England-Shakespeare country in the Heart of England-Cathedrals, castles and gardens in the East of England-Spectacular mountains and lakes in the Lake District-the historic cities of Chester and York in England’s North Country. Scotland is a land steeped in history, whose folklore, and romance combine to provide a spectacular destination. Unspoiled, wild and dramatic scenery with castles, battlefields and ancient settlements combine with sophisticated, cultured, lively cities. Wales is the land of legend, fire-breathing dragons, and undisputed natural beauty. In Northern Ireland a country just 85 miles long and 70 miles wide, you’ll find a remarkable variety of scenery; majestic mountains, farmland, lakeland, forests, and spectacular coastline, including the legendary Giant’s Causeway. Belfast, the capital city, offers museums and history, grand Victorian and Edwardian buildings, shopping and, of course, great nightlife.

Restaurants and Food in the UK

Every major town has its top-range restaurants, many of them boasting awards for excellence, while it is possible to eat well and inexpensively thanks chiefly to the influence of Englands various immigrant communities. However, the pub will long remain the centre of social life in England, a drink in a traditional local often making the best introduction to the life of a town. Also on the rise in the major towns are vaguely French brasseries, informal bar-restaurants offering simple meals. Of the innumerable types of ethnic restaurants offering the good-value high-quality meals you will find Chinese, Indian and Bangladeshi specialities in every town of any size, with the widest choice in London and the industrial cities of the Midlands and the north. Other Asian restaurants, particularly Thai and Indonesian, are now becoming more widespread, French and Italian places by far the most popular European cuisines, though most cities have their share of more-or-less Spanish tapas bars. Japanese food has been one of the success stories of recent years, with diners and sushi places joining the expense-account restaurants that have been established for some time in the business centres of England UK Restaurant Recommendations – Breakfast at the Lido cafe by the Serpentine, Hyde Park

Accommodation in the UK

There is no formalized nationwide system for grading Hotel accommodation in England, but the tourist authorities and various private organizations classify hotels on a system of stars, crowns, rosettes or similar badges, typically with five stars being the top rank. The grades used by the AA and RAC are the most reliable, as they combine evaluation of facilities with a degree of subjective judgment. At the lower end of the scale, it is sometimes difficult to differentiate between a Hotel and a Bed and Breakfast (B&B) establishment. At their most basic, these typically English places are often known also as Guest Houses in resorts and other tourist towns are ordinary private houses with a couple of bedrooms set aside for paying guests and a dining room for the consumption of a basic breakfast. At their best, however, B&Bs offer rooms as well furnished as those in Hotels, delicious home-prepared breakfasts, and an informal hospitality that a larger place could not match. B&Bs are graded by the same organizations mentioned above, but using diamonds instead of stars. For a great source of information on the UK go to the British Tourist Authority Web Site United Kingdom Tourist Board

Events in the UK

For the sporty, the traditional Oxford/Cambridge University Boat Race is held in London on the River Thames in late March; the famous but gruelling Grand National steeplechase takes place at Aintree, Liverpool, on the first Saturday in April; the FA Cup final takes place in May; Lawn Tennis Championships, complete with strawberries & cream and tantrums by major players, take place at Wimbledon in late June; the champagne-quaffing set head for the Henley Royal Regatta at Henley-on-Thames also in June; and the Cowes Week yachting extravaganza pushes off on the Isle of Wight in late July If you are not interested in sports, check out the Chelsea Flower Show at London’s Royal Hospital in May; the Trooping of the Colour pageantry on the Queen’s birthday in London in mid-June; the Glastonbury Festival music extravaganza that swamps Glastonbury’s paddocks in June; and the outrageous (in the best possible sense) Caribbean carnival in London’s Notting Hill in late August. Country United Kingdom Languages spoken English Currency Sterling GB Pound Visa requirements for the UK EU citizens may live and work free of any immigration controls. Citizens of all the countries of Europe, other than Albania, Romania, Bulgaria and the republics of the former Soviet Union (with the exception of the Baltic States) can enter Britain with just a passport, generally for up to three months. US, Canadian, Australian and New Zealand citizens can enter the country for up to six months with just a passport. All other nationalities require a visa, obtainable from the British Consular office in the country of application.

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