Ten Great British Experiences

  • 11 Aug 2012
Black Cab

1) London Black Cab Drivers – The World’s Best Tour Guide

London taxi drivers are known around the world for their incredible knowledge of the city, their great sense of humor, and their grasp of a uniquely London language, Cockney. Did you know they typically spend 34 months preparing for a test known as ‘The Knowledge’ which was developed in 1865 and has changed little since? It is the world’s most demanding training course for taxi drivers and ensures that all London black cab drivers are experts on London and have an intimate knowledge of the city. Applicants usually need at least 12 appearances (shots at taking the test) to pass the examination.

2) British Afternoon Tea

As Henry James once proclaimed, “there are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.” Afternoon Tea is a time honored British tradition upheld in magnificent fashion at London’s most elite and respected establishments. Enjoy quintessential English tea at one of London’s oldest hotels such as the The Cadogan, The Langham, or Claridge’s.

3) The Great British Pub

A British food and drink institution, the public house owes its origins to the Roman taverns and inns that were established as accommodations for travelers two thousand years ago. Nowadays pubs are not only associated with beer, ale and gin, but excellent food, thanks to the rise in ‘gastropubs’. There’s nothing better than an afternoon at a pub!

4) The Real Downton Abbey – Highclere Castle

After picking up several statuettes at the last two Emmy Awards, Downton Abbey is now one of the most popular shows on television in the US and around the world. Highclere Castle in Oxfordshire (about 1.5 hours from London) is the set for Downton Abbey and has been home to the Carnarvon Family since 1679. The present Earl and Countess of Carnarvon are currently living there.

5) London’s West End “Theatreland” – Britain’s Broadway!

London’s historic ‘theatreland’ is concentrated in the city’s West End, with 40 theaters showing world class musicals and plays. New smash hits include Sweeney Todd and Singin’ in the Rain as well as the Olympic-themed, Chariots of Fire. The autumn will see the release of the Beatles themed musical Let it Be and the much anticipated new Spice Girls musical, Viva Forever. Viva Forever is written by Jennifer Saunders of Absolutely Fabulous fame and is the brainchild of Judy Cramer, producer of smash hit Mamma Mia.

6) Wales, The Coast Path

Coastal Wales is the greatest region on Earth to visit in 2012, according to Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel. Wales is the only country in the world where its entire coastline can be walked. The Wales Coast Path, which opened in May 2012, includes 70 sweeping beaches, 15 picturesque ports and innumerable secret coves. Whether an avid walker or up for a new adventure, visitors of all walking abilities will want to explore the Wales Coast Path, 85% of which is within the National Parks.

7) London’s Amazing Markets

London is home to many famous markets – from Notting Hill to the Columbia Road Flower Market. With the resurgence of London’s East End, Old Spitalfields Market has emerged as one of the absolute must-dos. Discover great food, fashion and antiques in one of London’s finest Victorian market halls.

8) Fish & Chips / Pie & Mash

Britain is synonymous with Fish and Chips, London’s third ever ‘chippy’ opened on this site in Covent Garden in 1871. Today it caters to both office workers and visitors with mainly take away, as there are just a few tables. Another famous British food staple is Pie & Mash. As a favorite of soccer superstar David Beckham, he even included it in his top tips for visitors coming to London this summer. His recommendation? Tony’s Pie & Mash in the East End: “And here’s an insider’s tip for a real East London food experience – you’ve got to try Pie & Mash (Tony Lane's Pie & Mash shop in Waltham Abbey is a favourite)."

9) James Bond & The Duke’s Hotel – Where to get the best Martini in London

2012 marks the 50th anniversary of the world’s most famous spy: James Bond. Not only that, but September will see the release of the latest Bond Film, Skyfall, starring Daniel Craig. While in London, why not visit the famous bar that is said to be the inspiration for the line, ‘Shaken not stirred.’ Drinks at Dukes Bar in Mayfair (just a hop, skip and a jump to Buckingham and St James Palaces) is something of an occasion and the martinis are rumored to be the best in London! Judge for yourself when you’re here. Aside from the classic gin and vodka martinis, Alessandro Palazzi has created “Fleming 89,” a new martini which celebrates the link between Dukes Bar and James Bond. Created in partnership with London-based perfumery Floris, whose “89” Eau de Cologne was famously worn by James Bond, the flavor and smoothness of the martini is a sophisticated complement to the aroma of this quintessentially English gentleman’s fragrance.

10) Scotland – Edinburgh Castle

From magnificent city landmarks to mysterious ruins, Scotland is renowned for its iconic castles. Whether you are looking to explore the largest in the country, follow a regional trail or seek out those hidden gems, there is plenty of history to uncover as each castle has a fascinating tale to tell. Scotland’s capital is home to
Edinburgh Castle, which overlooks the city from an extinct volcano. See the nation’s crown jewels before admiring some of the oldest Renaissance decorations in Britain in The Great Hall.

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