Travel Tips

Maps and Guides | By Air | Cars, Trains, etc. | accommodation
Climate and clothing | Not only megaliths | Other Web sites

Beauty itself doth of itself persuade the eyes of men without an orator.
So wrote William Shakespeare in 'The Rape of Lucrece'. And so the beauty of England persuades the eyes of any visitor. Open to any kind of traveller, from the young person travelling cheaply with a sleeping bag to the wayfarer who can afford a noble night in a castle, England doesn't need a long tourist presentation. In these short travel tips, we only want to give some advice, enriched by our personal experience; the simple experience of a travelling couple with only a few pounds and a lot of curiosity. It's up to you to discover the beauty of England, from the middle of a stone circle or inside a crowded pub, 'without an orator'.

Maps and guides  In order to better plan your journey, we suggest to buy and examine a map of England in advance: in Europe it's easy to find the right Michelin map (sheets 402, 403 and 404, 1:400.000). They have got a good index, a lot of road and tourist indications (megalithic monuments included), a nice price and they are easy to fold up. However, the key is in English, French, German, Welsh or Dutch, but not in Italian, Spanish and Portuguese; after a journey under the inevitable British rain they will be drenched with water and hard to be read near the creases. We suggest also buying more detailed maps locally. You can find them almost everywhere.
If you have no problem with the English language, we suggest buying a good guide in Great Britain, where you can find various very good and updated ones.

By air  Usually, a charter flight is the cheapest choice. But take information about airports and timetables: for example, arriving in UK, from Luton airport to London you have to take (and pay the fares of) coach, train and tube. And if your return charter flight is scheduled early in the morning, you have to stay and pay for one more night in Britain. In other words, look at all the possibilities. Among national airlines, we have appreciated both the efficiency and the kindness of British Airways a lot more that of Alitalia.

Cars, trains, etc.  We rented a car in London. It is possible to rent a car in England (remember that in an airport it costs more than in town) or to buy a 'fly and drive' offer from a tour operator in your country. This second choice helps save time and trouble as soon as you have arrived (the car is ready at the airport). Cars, even small, are good; they usually have a radio and cassette player, so be prepared to take some music cassettes with you. Be careful: British drive on the opposite side. We suggest you take great care particularly in the first days and always at roundabouts. And don't forget your seat belt: in Great Britain it's not considered an option as in Italy and in other countries.
Another little tip: take from home a parking disc. They don't give it to you with the rented car, but it is very useful in parking areas in town. After the first fine, we prepared such a handmade message: 'The car is rented. They didn't give us a parking disc. Please, don't give us a fine. We are coming back as soon as possible. Thank you!').
It is also possible to travel by train or coach. For both a variety of reduced fare tickets and travel passes of various validity are available. And they are a good way to meet and talk to local people. However, trains are pretty expensive and it is better to make a reservation on long distance ones.

accommodation  We have always slept in Bed and Breakfasts. Often located in splendid places, not expensive, B&B's are almost everywhere and they help in meeting local people. A lot of foreign travel agencies offer vouchers you can spend in B&B's and country houses. We liked better choosing our B&B's daily, in order to be free to go step by step. Even if we were in England during the most crowded period of the year (on Summer), without any reservation, we always managed to find a room.
Some tips on etiquette: in case of 'vacancies', ring the bell and ask to have a look at a the room; if you don't like the place you are always free to say goodbye and look for another B&B (we never did). Usually it is better to look for a room before 6/6:30 in the afternoon. They will ask you at which time you'd like your breakfast (generally it will be served between 8 and 9:30 a.m. so forget lazing in bed in the morning). Breakfast is plentiful: cereal with milk, orange juice, tea or coffee, toast, butter, jam, eggs with bacon and tomatoes or baked beans. At last, never forget you are a guest in a private home: your manners are a kind of message you send about your country.

Weather and clothing  British people go around in short sleeves and enjoy any faint ray of sun, but for us Mediterraneans England is cold and it rains unbelievably often. In a megalithic expedition we suggest wearing warm and comfortable clothing. Special regard to shoes is important to avoid slipping and for walking easily for a long time in soggy soil. In summer, it's better to dress in a so-called 'onion style', that is several layers of clothes. A K-way or a waterproof jacket is a must, even if there are no clouds at all in the sky. Try and you'll see.

Not only megaliths  Stonehenge, several archeological monuments and a lot of castles, abbeys and historic buildings are in the care of English Heritage, a conservation association that preserves more than 400 historic sites. Another well known, similar institution is the National Trust. To enter some monuments you have to buy an admission ticket. If you plan to visit more than one monument in your wanderings, you'll do better buying a pass. Both English Heritage Overseas Visitor Passes and National Trust Touring Tickets are available for single adults, children or families and for various days. In 1996 an English Heritage 14 days pass cost 12 pounds. Anyway, in our opinion it is a wonderful way to preserve a country heritage: we appreciated very much the excellent work that these two associations do.

Other Web sites  If you'd like to know more about travelling in England, we suggest visiting the following Web sites:

Back to the Stones of England

All photographs © Diego Meozzi (