Trip recap

11 thoughts on “Trip recap”

  1. Well, if you had gone to Oxford, and you lived in England, you might be brushed off as an Oxbridge snob by the people you meet. It and Cambridge aren’t the only good schools in England, they just have the history.

    Dad went to Oxford, and all he ended up doing was teaching math at Kwantlen. So, it was all downhill after graduation. I wouldn’t trade places.

  2. It’s true – education’s what you make of it. And there’s certainly still a lot of tension between the gown/town crowd.

    I’m just still bitter that my post-secondary experience was lame and mostly uninspiring.

  3. I am so glad to see that you have survived your trip to Britain.
    I am saddened to note that your poor opinion of the UK and its population is based on a flying visit to two of its least typical cities, I am a regular visitor to your blog and find it,often, amusing and interesting but your offensive generalizations in this post do you no credit at all.
    As an example you seem to find the ongoing restoration of St Pauls rather slow and inefficent for your tastes, this is not a quick paint job going on or a couple of slipped tiles popped back on by the builder round the corner for 50 quid it is painstaking, expert RESTORATION and takes time as when things of age and merit here crumble we take care of them we don’t build a glass skyscraper in their place
    Today lady you have offended me….oh and the sandwich is a British invention, brought about by the Earl of Sandwichs’ insistance that he did not want to leave the gaming tables to eat a meal,so I think you’ll find that the bastardization (for better or worse)is all yours.

  4. “but having to interact with us, offer assistance, or (heaven forbid) do their job (even the cashiers at Sainsbury’s and Boots) came across as a huge chore. ” Believe me it is not just tourists that get that!! The customer service industry here is appalling (Boots actually refused to serve me once as it was 1 minute after closing time despite me being already in the store and had been there for the last 10 minutes picking up purchases). And yes the Tube is a nightmare but given its age (bits have been going since 1863), the lack of funding it has received and the number of people it carries (around 2.5 million passenger journeys per day) it’s not doing too bad. it’s a funny old place, the UK. I love living here (been here over 8 years now) but it took me a while to feel at home. It is definitely true though that the smaller, provencial places are friendlier than London.

  5. You are the first person who expressed the same “fuck you” attitude I found in Oxford. I once travelled there shortly after I graduated from University thinking “a university town – what a better place to meet people when I’m on my own”. In the end NOBODY would talk to me – nomatter what pub, cafe, restaurant, etc. I was in, everyone was so aloof. I ended up buying “Lonely Traveller” by Jack Kerouac in the book store and spent most of my time in my B&B reading!

  6. Jean: why are generalizations only funny when they apply to other people? I specifically related my experience to the two cities I visited – it’s certainly not coloured my opinion of the country and people as a whole. I suppose I did make a couple of statements regarding “The English” as a whole – but then, see my first comment.

    I’ll freely admit that I have done zero research into the process of restoring St. Paul’s. However, I have to say that there were more than likely some things “of age and merit” in the rubble beneath that atrocious easter egg thing, and those ubermodern buildings on the south bank near the tower bridge. Besides which, Vancouver is too young and its history as anything but a seat of power and prestige means that we don’t really have much of “age and merit” here.

    Finally, I stand firmly behind my sandwich comment. I’m well aware of the history of the dish, and while a more traditional sandwich of roast lamb, mint sauce and greens in a bun was awesome, Iceburg lettuce, tomatoes, sub-par deli meat and the complete absence of condiments between slices of wonderbread is a crime against humanity as far as I’m concerned – and I found no shortage of places passing that off as food.

  7. Emma & Rita – I’m glad I wasn’t the only one – and you two certainly aren’t the only people to share similar stories.

  8. I’m a regular visitor to your blog, and usually find it to be intelligent and amusing. I find your generalisations about the UK quite surprising and disappointing.

    If you stuck to shopping on Oxford Street, Harrods and Selfridges, it’s no wonder you found the choice uninspiring and over-priced. There are plenty of great shops – you just have to head off the main tourist drag to find them.

    The London underground is an old transport system, and therefore isn’t state of the art in terms of accessibility etc. (although visit one of the new stations in Docklands and you’ll see they’re addressing that now). London Underground do publish a list of routes where you can travel from A to B or change lines without having to climb any stairs and they do provide assistance to wheelchair users.

    As for Oxford, no, the colleges don’t welcome visitors with open arms – they may look beautiful and historic, but they are working colleges, whose students are entitled to live and work undisturbed by hoards of tourists wanting to see how quaint the buildings are. (Sadly security has also become a very big issue in recent years)

    I’m sorry to hear you didn’t really enjoy your trip to the UK, but you were probably in the two most tourism-jaded cities. Try going further North next time – you’ll be welcomed with open arms!

  9. I fully admit that on my whirlwind tour I only had time for a few touristy things and very little independent exploring. Generally it’s not the way I travel, so I’m sure that had an impact on my experience as well.

    I didn’t expect to be welcomed into the Oxford colleges – in fact I admired their respect for students and education over the allmighty tourist buck. I’m just envious of the students’ potential experiences there.

    I’m certainly looking forward to returning to the UK sometime in the next few years, and will be much better armed to visit people and places that are much more representative of the country as a whole. Neil’s mum is from York – any advance info about that area?

  10. Ooh – York is lovely. A visit to Betty’s tearoom ( is an absolute must – the yummiest cakes imaginable, and a very ‘genteel’ experience! Harrogate is an easy trip from there – with a traditional spa, beautiful architecture (and another branch of Betty’s!)
    The people will be much friendlier too!

  11. So Betty’s has a website because it’s not touristy, right?

    This is the problem with travelling places – if the place is tourist-savvy enough to have a website, the “locals” will say you haven’t been off the beaten path. Yet with every little corner B&B getting their own website these days, is there really anything but beaten path?

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