England

England view by CC user t_gregorius on Flickr

Introduction

Being the central country at the heart of the United Kingdom, England has an endless array of attractions to offer, ranging from impossibly heavy stones that were raised by a prehistoric tribe more than 5,000 years ago, to a futuristic biodome that will wow you with their eco-credentials.

From the urban temptation of one of the world’s greatest cities, to the irrepressible charm of its countryside, England will have you coming back for more, in spite of its expense and temperamental weather. You know it’s love when you bear these things with a shrug that would make a stoic Briton proud.

Currency: British Pound

Languages: English

Bath, England by CC user nigel321 on Flickr

What To Do

We could fill this entire article with sights just from the Greater London area, but this section will endeavor to cover attractions in all corners of the country without going on forever. That being said, be sure to visit the Tower of London before heading out of the city into the English countryside.

Built in the 11th century soon after William the Conqueror completed his conquest of the British Isles, it soon became a fixture of royal power in England. At various times, this structure served as an armoury, jail, as a storehouse for the wealth of the kingdom, as well as several other important functions.

Be sure not to miss seeing the Crown Jewels, which are stored here even in the present day, and the White Tower is also worth seeing, as it was considered to be the most complete palace in Europe at the time of its construction.

Once you are outside the capital, make the Roman Baths in Bath your first stop. These facilities are one of the great enduring legacies of the presence of the ancient world’s greatest empire in the British Isles, but the site was first developed by Celt royalty in the 8th century BCE.

The engineering of the baths was dramatically improved after the Romans took possession of the British Isles in the 1st century AD, and much of the building surrounding the baths in the present day was erected during medieval and Renaissance times.

If you are fixing for a dip in the original baths, you might be disappointed by the fact that the waters are off limits to the presence of lead and bacterial pathogens. Not to worry though, as there are two other venues in town (Thermae and Cross) where you can unwind in the same waters without having to worry about the risks posed by the original 2,800 year old site.

Erected by forces unknown as far back as 5,000 years ago, the story behind the construction of the monoliths that compose Stonehenge has baffled archaeologists for generations. While the explanation of how these four ton slabs of rock were put into place by ancient Celt tribes with little in the way of technology or engineering techniques of any sort, was is known is that this site has been used as a burial and religious site for eons by this same group of people.

Even today, pagans gather here at the winter (December 20-22) and summer (June 20-22) solstice to celebrate the end of the waning of the light and the peak of it during the year, respectively, so be sure to head down to Stonehenge is you are in England around those times.

Langdale valley, Lake District by CC user rockabillygirl on Flickr

Continue down into Cornwall, where some of England’s best beaches and castles like Tintagel Castle (the reputed home of King Arthur) can be found. However, don’t depart the region without poking your head through the door of the Eden Project, which are a collection of giant biodomes which contain a massive selection of plants from across the world.

Two domes – one for tropical plants, the other for plants from the Mediterranean, are available for touring at the present moment. There are plans for a desert biome, but the status of this addition is still unresolved at press time.

Those looking for a taste of the great outdoors will find England’s best tract of wild land in the Lake District, where the nation’s highest peaks and most pristine lakes. The latter feature are remnants of the last ice age, where retreating glaciers melted to form the kettle lakes that many Britons enjoy in the present day.

Another popular pastime here is climbing fells (big hills), of which Scafell Pike is the tallest. Bear in mind that the weather here is highly changeable: never forget to bring layers and emergency supplies with you, and if your gut is telling you to turn back as poor weather moves, do so.

Beef Wellington by CC user elsiehui on Flickr

What To Eat

Of all the bite size treats that English cuisine has given us, none get a dinner off to a great start quite like a well-prepared Beef Wellington. This dish is made by taking a piece of filet steak, coating it in spices like ginger and allspice before covering it in a layer of pate. The meat is then wrapped up in a puff pastry and is cooked until its desired doneness is reached.

If you are ever invited to Sunday Dinner by locals in England, we recommend that you snap accept the offer. It consists of a portion of roasted meat (usually beef, but also pork, lamb or chicken at times), potatoes, carrots, green beans, and Yorkshire Pudding. The lineup will vary depending on the family or restaurant, but it will almost always be food that will satisfy your soul.

Don’t snicker, but there is a dish in England called Spotted Dick, and as it turns out, its one of better traditional dishes that you can have for dessert there. A solid pudding that consists of dried fruit and served with a dollop of custard on top, it will be one of the cheekiest and yummy things you’ll have as a final course during your time in this country.

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