Here are my top four:
1. Public restrooms, or "toilets," are not free.
This was shocking to me, each town we visited had a public toilet with a coin-operated entry. There was even an employee at the door to give change if you didn't have the right coins. Using the restroom costs 20 pence, which is about 26 cents in American currency. The U.K. is willing to employ someone to give people change at a restroom. Let that sink in.
2. Hotel beds only have one sheet.
Those of you who know me well know that I love Hampton Inns. I can't explain it, I just do. So when I first arrived at the Hilton London Metropole I figured I knew what I was getting into. However, I soon discovered that no matter what city I was in, one thing was the same. The bed only had one sheet--the comforter. No top sheet, no light blanket, just the thick, heavy comforter. I about died from heat stroke my first night.
3. Turning on the lights is a multi-step process.
You walk into your hotel room to turn on the lights, you press the switch (yes press not flip), and nothing happens. You notice then that next to the light switch is a place to insert your hotel room key. You insert the key and the lights come on. You think you're in the clear and remove the key, a few seconds later the room is pitch dark. You realize then that you must leave your key in the slot the entire time you want the lights on. Why is this necessary?
4. Breakfast is an event.
I'd heard of the famous "Full English Breakfast" before, I am a Gordon Ramsay fan after all, but I didn't think that it was an everyday thing. Each hotel had a buffet of eggs, bacon, toast, pastries, grilled tomatoes, mushrooms, fruit, yogurt, juices, coffee, teas, oatmeal, etc. As someone who has a hard time eating much before noon, eating such a heavy meal each morning was something I was definitely not accustomed to.
I had my moments of culture shock but it was easy to adjust after a couple days. This is a great place for anyone who wants to go overseas for the first time. Stay tuned for a more lengthy post about all the places I went and for photos.