The Andrew Turnbull Network

Travels to the United Kingdom and Beyond

A Few Concluding Thoughts

[Routemaster bus]

Before I left home, I wrote down this statement about the upcoming trip:

"I really have only a few clear-cut expectations. The people will speak in British accents, the scenery will be memorable and beautiful, traffic will drive on the left side of the road, the food will be terrible, but otherwise nothing too extraordinary will happen--apart from experiencing the experience of my life thus far."

The majority of my predictions were true, but I dispute a few of the statements now. While some of the food indeed was terrible (keep reading for more about that), some of it in England and Scotland was actually quite good. And, I do find the trip and the sum of the activities I took a part in to be an extraordinary thing.

My favorite part of the trip was likely the day-long visit to Dover. It was downright surreal to see the white cliffs of chalk, and relaxing to walk around their scenic surroundings for several hours.

I also enjoyed visiting Scotland, and gaining a nearly exhaustive overview of the London area. Some parts of the trip I liked a bit less, of course: The Wales trip I found to be a slight disappointment (in part because I was sick at the time, the weather was rainy, and we had to walk roughly five miles in the first day alone). I also think the Paris trip on the last weekend could stand to be improved with more preparation, coordination, and supervision, and I would have likely found an alternate trip of my own option to be more enjoyable. I'm still kicking myself for not finding a way to visit Manchester when I may have had a chance to do so.

I'm sorry, but in terms of provisions and accomodations, Schiller schucks. The bed I was provided was too short for my body and too clammy for the weather, the main shower on my floor was out of order for the entirety of my visit, the computers were nearly unusable, the cafeteria was understaffed by a single person, and the ham sandwiches they inexplicably gave us roughly two dozen times in a row were absolutely disgusting. That said, I must give them some credit for the location of their facility, which was conveniently located on the South Bank near features such as Waterloo Station and the London Television Centre and wasn't far from the city center. [Pepsi Max]

A few other miscellaneous thoughts and observations:

One thing that I found curious when walking around London were all the signs in apartment windows carrying the statement "TO LET." It took me a while to figure out what that meant, at which point it became obvious. (And no, it doesn't mean that a toilet is available and that "I" was off to lunch.)

Urinals in the U.K. usually lack a flush lever. Just how they empty themselves is a bit of a mystery I have yet to figure out...

Greg Mitchell introduced me to the soft drink at right, which is not sold in the United States. The label's claim of "Maximum taste, no sugar" is right on the mark...this is surely the best sugar-free beverage I tasted before, with practically no aftertaste apparent; far better than my Aunt Jean's Tab which tastes like carbonated cough syrup! I still think that Pepsi is slightly better with sugar, though.

[Cardiff Central Square]

I found it interesting to see that my 'favorite' fonts, specifically Arial and Comic Sans MS, were used on exterior signage and other unexpected applications far more often than what I've seen where I live in the US. Whatever the implications of this are I'm less sure about (Are people in the UK less picky about graphic design? Do they have shallower pockets to spend on fonts?), but I will admit that the prevalence of annoying typefaces in instances such as these lessens the visual "sting" of seeing them somewhat.

The United Kingdom was a great place to visit and experience. In fact, I probably wouldn't mind living there someday. Aside from a few setbacks, I enjoyed my trip immensely, and it's an event I won't forget any time soon. That said, I'm VERY glad to be home once again!

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