Welcome to British Isles Friday! British Isles Friday is a weekly event for sharing all things British — reviews, photos, opinions, trip reports, guides, links, resources, personal stories, interviews, and research posts. Join us each Friday to link your British-themed content and to see what others have to share. The link list is at the bottom of this post. Lift a pint and join our link party!
We had a big party for British Isles Friday last week. Check out the book reviews, book lists, this post about Brick Lane, about both the novel of that title and the actual street in London, with photos.
When Tanya of 52 Books or Bust, a regular British Isles Friday participant, visited The Bookshop in Wigtown, Scotland, she found the perfect postcard for me as I’m planning my trip to England. It’s made from the cover of an old guidebook. How old? I’m not sure, but a long time ago if five dollars a day was enough for a tourist. Today, that might buy you lunch. If you’re careful.
This would be a good day to describe the modern-day guidebooks that I’m using to plan my trip. I still like physical books for big confusing projects like planning a trip. Of course, I use the internet all the time as I’m making plans, but the guidebooks help me keep my thoughts organized.
The DK Eyewitness Travel guidebooks are my favorite for armchair travel with their timelines, maps with photos of sites, and cut-away diagrams of museums and historic buildings. I own DK Eyewitness Travel books for places I’ve never been to! They are perfect for dreaming about places that I may yet travel to one day. My well-traveled copy of Paris was a companion at home and abroad for last year’s trip to France.
When I realized that London was going to be the biggest chunk of our trip, I decided I needed a guidebook just for London, so I went with my other favorite guidebook publisher, Rick Steves. The best thing about Rick Steves is that he thinks like an American abroad. Vital questions like How much cash do I need and how do I get more, if needed? are answered most fully in Rick Steves’ books. He’s also great for little tips like: speak quietly on the Tube because that’s what Londoners do.
The Rick Steves’ England is a library book. I’m glad that I didn’t buy it without looking at it first, since it doesn’t cover Birmingham, where we’re staying for 7 days.
My favorite thing of all, though, is to find things that aren’t in any of the guidebooks, like the Benjamin Franklin House. We might be the only American tourists at the Annual Steam Gala at the Crofton Beam Engines site, to watch the oldest steam engines in the world still performing the job they were built to do. Since it’s Steam Gala weekend, we’ll also get to see lots of other antique steam equipment, lovingly restored and displayed by their owners and brought out for events like this. That’s not the sort of thing that shows up in a guidebook, but it’s one of the things we’re looking forward to the most. I found it by browsing websites about steam engines in England.
What are your favorite resources for planning trips?