Hello-hello-hello and welcome to the BigAppleSchool podcast, the weekly English show where we speak about everything under the sun. The major goal of this show is to help you improve your English by listening and of course, learn something new. My name’s Katya, I’m your host, and today with me…
And Stephen, also from England.
John, Stephen, can you please tell us something about yourself for our new listeners? Where exactly are you from and how long have you been living here in Siberia?
Well, if I may start, I have been in Siberia for about 15 years.
I originated from Manchester. And have lived in France for many years also, but I came here about, a I say, about 15 years to teach. And I’ve taught in BigAppleSchool for several years.
Well, we’ll talk in detail about this a little bit later, but right now a reminder to our listeners – please, remember, what we do we do for you, so we try to be as useful for you as possible, and we would like to get some feedback about it.
I’ve been in Novosibirsk for just over a year now, I had been here a couple of times of times before – I came and tried to learn your language, but to prolong the experience, I decided to stay for bit and teach mine to you.
Originally I was born in, well, near London, but moved around quite a lot, hence I don’t have much of a regional accent. And at the moment I live in the south-west of England in the country called Wiltshire.
Which, if I may add, is a beautiful part of Great Britain. Beautiful villages and buildings.
So, subscribe to our pages on Apple, Yandex, Google, VK – any other platform, and let us know what you think about our show. Rate and review our podcast, give us stars, leave us comments, ask questions, feel free to send your ideas about our next episodes.
It won’t take much time or effort, right? But it’ll help us a lot to be even better. So and now, gentlemen, are you ready to talk about travelling? Amazing. So you, as far as I understand, you come from different parts of England. So’ you’re from Manchester, which is in the North of England if I’m correct?
Yes, it’s certainly in the North of England, although I was not actually born in Manchester, it’s a close city. I was born further south in the midlands, in the town called Mansfield.
How many people are there? I mean, how many people live there?
In Mansfield about 25 thousand people. It would be considered rather a small village in Russia. But in England it’s rather a normal-sized industrial town.
I thought that more people lived in Mansfield that that.
Well you may be right, it may have had a baby boom since I was there last. But I would say it’s about that, maybe a little more.
So since we’re talking about travelling in our countries versus travelling abroad I can’t but ask the main question – so have you travelled around England much?
Yes. In short answer. Quite a lot. I was born near London, went quite a lot in the south-west when I was 7 or 8, Devon actually. Then moved up to the north-west near Manchester and live there for20 years or so.
And went to university in Leicester, and then moved round quite a bit, cause I was in the navy, but finally settled on Wiltshire where I live now and have done for about 30 years. But apart form that, I have holidayed in all sorts of parts of the country. I think the only part that I haven’t been to is Northern Ireland.
Would you like to change that?
Stephen, what about you? Have you travelled much around England?
Yes. Well I think for the first 30 years of my life I was rather living in a boring situation – I lived mainly near to the place I was born. I was at University in Sheffield which isn’t too far from Manchester and Mansfield.
I taught in a village school in Derbyshire for 10 years and then after that I went down to London and taught for 10 years. But now, after that, I have travelled a lot in England and also very recently in Scotland.
Oh, what do you think about it?
Well I’ve been very much taken with it as we say in England. It was a country I knew nothing about except what I’d read until I decided to visit it three years ago. It’s very beautiful islands and highlands of Scotland. And I intend to do a lot more travelling there.
I’ve heard that the landscapes there are fantastic. But what about the language? Cause I heard a lot about Scottish accent being very difficult to understand.
Well, the Scottish accent is… There are several Scottish accents, there’s basically the Edinburgh accent, which is the received pronunciation of Scotland, it’s considered the purest English with the purest vowels in the British Isles.
If you think of Miss Jean Brodie and the films made around that time. But the highlands or the hielanders of Scotland speak mainly dialect which is very difficult to understand. And of course if you go to Glasgow, nobody can understand them at all because they just speak in a very strange way as John would probably know.
Yes, I have been there once or twice and Stephen’s right about the highlanders, the teuchters as they are sometimes referred to. Some of them don’t just speak sort of peculiar accent in English, some of them actually speak a completely different language called Gaelic, which was the original language of the Scottish highlands. Not the lowlands, cause the lowlanders have always spoken English of a form.
You know, this is something very difficult to comprehend to, well, to Russian citizens, because we have one language. I mean, Russian is the same wherever you go, be that the Far East or the Western parts, or the Siberian parts and whatnot.
And that is why to me this is something fascinating that, you know, there are so many accents and dialects in Great Britain. And that you can even understand where a person is from by the accent, is that so?
That’s very true, and I remember when I was a boy, you could tell a rival gang from a village 2 or 3 miles away, say 4 kilometers, by the way they spoke. The accent changed so much so in such a short distance.
This is very… This is hard to believe. Okay, we drifted off from the topic of travelling somehow. So is it common in Great Britain to travel around the country or is it more common to go abroad?
Well, since the advent of the coronavirus lots of people aren’t going abroad and they holidaying back in the UK. And lots of people always have holidayed in the UK, I certainly did as a child, usually in the south-west of England, Devon and Cornwall.
But they are usually the target for a lot of people going on holiday. The A303 is the highway to the sun as it’s called, which is the main arterial route from London to the south-west. But also there are certain towns on the coast which have a history of being the destination for holiday-makers back in the 30s.
Yeah, 30s. For the first time, people were given the whole weekend off or a week plus they would have annual holidays, and they would all head to Blackpool and Skegness and where else?
Eastbourne, Brighton. I think a lot of Russian people will know about Brighton because it’s a place where many Russian students have summer schools.
No, I can just nod and absorb all the information that you give I’m afraid. So is it easy to travel around?
I would say it’s quite easy if you have a car. Public transport in Britain, I don’t know if John agrees, if not as good as it used to be.
No it’s not. Trains are expensive, inefficient, late.
Always late. Every time I get a train from where I live to London it’s always late. And they are overcrowded. And also the railway network isn’t that extensive anymore. Getting around by road is the way you have to do it.
Unfortunately, the roads are very congested. If you try and go to the coast on a bank holiday, you’re wasting your time, since you’ll spend more time sitting in your car rather than reaching your destination.
It sounds a lot like the US, cause in there if you don’t have a car, it’s very difficult to go to neighboring states or neighboring cities. And I remember in September we wanted to see the foliage, because I lived in New England which is known for the foliage.
We spent 4 hours in a car in a traffic jam. That was something I could not believe. I mean, how? So and I am as surprised to hear about England right now, cause I would… I don’t know what kind of association or, I don’t know, a stereotype or whatever I had in my head, but I would think of the railway as being very efficient, always on time. Oh, okay.
I think this is the stereotype that of Britain before 1947.
When the railway was nationalized. They became very efficient. Well they were very efficient before the war but after the war they were nationalized by British railways and were quite efficient and for a time.
And then they just sort of ran out of money. And everything became capitalist, so everything that didn’t make any money was withdrawn, like public transport for the villages and that sort of thing.
So basically if you don’t have a car and you live in rural England for example, then you either spend a lot of money on the train or you just don’t go anywhere?
It’s not quite as bad as that. I mean I live in a rural village. My wife doesn’t drive anymore, and she manages. You just have to plan ahead. You just take, so she wants to visit her father in Bristol once a week. Bristol is 50 miles, 65 kilometers away.
By car it takes an hour, an hour and a bit to get there. But she will use two-three buses, sometimes a train as well. And to do the round trip in a day means that she actually only spends two hours with her father, the rest of time she’s travelling.
So that’s the reality of it. Often the transport’s there, but it’s not particularly well-arranged, it doesn’t connect up. But of course rural transport is always gonna be like that cause not many people use it.
So she’s often on the bus on her own. With the driver presumably.
Wow. I just… I’m comparing it all with the Russian situation, because we have, well, to my mind, quite a good system of public transport – we have a lot of trains, you know, those commuter trains, buses and whatnot, so it’s quite easy to get to places.
Whereas if you wanna travel to some further parts of Russia, then you have a choice of plane or train. And the surprising thing is that train is sometimes more expensive or just as expensive as the plane, but it would take 2 or 3 days. So which is nonsense.
And I know that a lot of people in Russia they want to travel to some parts of Russia, like the Far East, like Kamchatka and Vladivostok, but it’s just so expensive. Not many people can afford it. And I remember several years ago my parents suggested me going to see them for a new year.
But I realized that it was way cheaper for me to go London for a week, you know. And I had what, four flights? Novosibirsk – Moscow – London – Moscow – Novosibirsk. And it was still way cheaper than going to see my parents in Sakha republic, which is like four hour plane, flight.
Transport in Britain is also very expensive for a lot of people, especially trains. If you want to go from London to Edinburgh it’s a very expensive journey, unless you manage to get a cheap deal which you sometimes can, on discount websites.
But it’s a problem for people because they don’t have the money. In London of course it’s an exception. Pensioners have free transport.
Is that right Stephen that bus passes for instance, you can only use them after the sort of the rush hour in Wiltshire. I think it might vary from county to county. So is the public transport free all the time in London?
As far as I understand it, for pensioners it’s free all the time, but not for people who buy discount tickets. You can get a discount ticket after 9:30.
That’s when the rush hour’s finished.
Kinda early but... Alright, do you think that is why a lot of people prefer to go abroad? Because I know that nowadays there are so many low-cost airlines and you can get tickets from, let’s say, London to Barcelona for, let’s say, 20 euros.
They’re quite rare, those deals. They do happen admittedly, but you have to be quite lucky, at the right place on the right time to get one of those. But yeah, the low -cost airlines have made travelling to the Mediterranean very cheap, very quick, at lots of regional airports.
But the main reason people go is the weather. Because if you have saved up your time and your money for your two weeks annual holiday and you head to Blackpool, why you would I cannot imagine, but if you did…
And you got there and you’ve got and you spent all this money and it rains for a fortnight, you can’t guarantee the weather. So many people think I’m not doing that again, I’ll book a cheap flight to somewhere like Tossa del Mar or somewhere and stay there for a fortnight. It’s also quite cheap once you’re there, so yes, it’s the weather that does that.
And they set up the places of little England in these countries in Spain and the south of France.
Well because English people they don’t want to go to Spain, as John says they want to go to the hot weather. So nothing would be worse than having to speak Spanish or French…
Or eat Spanish food. Or be torn away form their favorite tv programs. I have actually seen in a place called Fuengirola a couple of bar and cafes selling fish and chips, kidney pie and appetizing all the British beers are on the sale plus they would show all the regular soap operas that are on back in Britain on the tv. So why bother going abroad in the first place I ask myself.
So basically a lot of people want to be in Britain but with good weather?
It’s true. I remember when my grandmother and my grandfather used to go to Spain in the 60s and they sometimes used to take me. It was completely different. You had to speak Spanish, you had to, you actually went to Spain, you didn’t go to little England in Spain. And it was very unusual to go abroad.
Wow. Wow. So you have travelled quite a lot around England or the UK. So what is your favorite place? What is the place that you want to come back to? Oh guys, I wish you could see John’s face right now.
Well maybe while he’s thinking I’ll say that mountains of Scotland, the hills of Derbyshire, the rolling of South Downs of Sussex and Surrey. Because England is such a varied country. You could go anywhere in the world and you would not see such a variety of scenery.
I rather like where I live actually. Wiltshire or the next counties Dorset and Devon and Somerset. I think they quite do for me. But again I think that certain cities are worth visiting like Oxford or York or Saulsberry even. And there are certain places I would avoid I must say.
I mean I don’t really like big cities much. I mean, yeah, London’s interesting, once you’ve seen the sights, get out. Birmingham – I just go through it on a train. Liverpool and Manchester – give it a miss.
Why? Just because they’re big… So you don’t like the hustle and bustle of a big city?
Not particularly. And the things that I’ve seen, so I don’t wanna see them again particularly. It’s all like parking your car and the hotels are expensive, and the pollution all the rest of it, so no. The best holidays I’ve had in England have been on the canals.
Oh yes, I would agree with that actually. I went on canals with my family when I was a small boy. And there are very… There is now a very good network of holiday canals where you can hire a longboat.
Narrow boats Stephen. Longboats are what the Vikings arrived in.
I could probably hire a long boat then.
So Stephen, is there any place you would advise to avoid?
Well I wouldn’t like some parts of London, I agree with John. I think that London is quite a dangerous place in some respects.
I feel much safer walking around in Novosibirsk than in London or Paris.
A lot of big cities, I feel much safer in Novosibirsk than Manchester, Liverpool or Glasgow.
I’d even walk in Rechnoy Vokzal in preference to parts of London at night.
Wow. Maybe I was a stupid tourist when I was in London. But for some reason I felt safer there than I do in Novosibirsk. That’s interesting. I mean, of course I didn’t go to the places where I was told not to go, so I mainly… I was mainly sticking to the Northern part where my student residence was.
Oh yes, Highgate, a very classy place.
So I was told that it’s a very safe neighborhood. And for some time I lived in, I don’t think it’s the south-south, but it’s Elephant and Castle station.
Oh the Elephant and Castle, that’s was a notorious place years ago, the policemen use to go round in pairs around Elephant and Castle.
Oh! I don’t know, it was relatively safe. I didn’t have any problems or troubles or something like that. But yeah. Alright, so do you think… No. Why do you think so many people these days prefer to travel abroad rather than travelling in their own countries? Cause there is a tendency that people, like, generally prefer to travel abroad.
I think now over the pat 10 or 20 years, because foreign travelling have become I suppose cheaper for British people, they wanted to go abroad, not only the type that go to Spain for their little England experience, but a lot of people genuinely have wanted to travel to see different countries.
Maybe go to the colonies to Australia to dominions in Canada. Usually it’s English-speaking countries are quite popular. French-speaking countries tend to be avoided by the English. Because a lot of English people don’t speak French anymore.
Says the person who has lived in France for quite a while.
Yes. Yes, but I mean I learned French at school and we had to learn French at school. But now it’s not compulsory. Very few people… I don’t think John agrees.
Well foreign language teaching has declined in Britain of all languages. I think Spanish is more popular than French now simply because more people go to Spain perhaps. And more people speak Spanish in the world than French.
And it is an easier language to learn, Spanish.
Oh I agree, I agree. So do I get it correctly then that the most popular tourist destinations for people from Britain are Spain…
No, France. Italy a bit, yeah. France. Used to be places like Tunisia and Egypt were quite popular. Used to be. And Florida.
Florida? Wait, this… What? Why? This is so far away!
Oh yeah. Yeah, but if you’ve got two weeks off, pack your kids onto the plane and go to see Disney.
There is Disney in Paris!
But it’s not the same. No seriously, you see 2 million people each year go to Florida from Britain.
Wow! I mean, I… wow! Cause I think… It’s gonna be about 10-hour flight?
8. You know, not that much better. But 8-hour-flight, the heat, the humidity.
Yes, the British people just want to sit in the sun all the time. Mad Dogs and Englishmen if you remember the…
You know, there is this situation, or rule, call it whatever you want, but a lot of Russians especially from the eastern part, from the northern parts, from those parts where there is not much sunshine and there are, you know, nine months of winter.
When they go to some countries like Thailand or any other place that has the sun basically, even though people know that they should, you know, avoid the sun at midday or 1pm, they know that they should put the sunscreen on, they never do that.
So you can easily spot a Russian from the northern part of Russia or from the eastern part cause they get a sunburn, you know, of the first day of their holiday. Everyone does this, everyone makes this mistake. Do English people have the same..?
Absolutely, absolutely. Yes, you see the lobsters lying by the swimming pool. They usually drank a lot of beer and fallen asleep in the sun, and then they spend the rest of holiday in pain.
And they often give the wrong impression of English people when they go abroad like this. The worst kind of behavior I think. I think native French people get this impression, and the Spanish people as ill, because the English are always drunk, whereas French are never drunk. They only drink at lunchtime.
You know that sounds like…
But the French lunch usually lasts like 6 or 7 hours, that’s the thing.
That’s true, especially on Wednesdays.
Because it’s a half-day. Schools don’t function on Wednesdays, and so it’s a day when everybody goes to the family and…
And have lunch for six hours.
So you know this impression of British people sounds exactly like the impression of Russian tourists in some countries.
Mm-hm. So I know that in a lot of places like Thailand, Cyprus, Egypt, they have this stereotype that Russia tourists usually need nothing but to drink, to have the all-you-can-eat buffets and basically not going to see the sights but just lying on the beach or by the pool.
Sounds just like a lot of British package tourists.
Well those are quite widespread in Russia, the package tours. So yeah. Alright, and do you think it’s important to travel abroad? So should we do that? Or should we stick to our own countries? So what’s your attitude?
Depend what perspective you’re looking at it from. If you’re from the perspective of the environmentalist then you should stay at home. But if you’re looking at it from the perspective of broadening your mind and the experiencing the different cultures, then you should travel.
I agree, but I think there are very good ways of travelling, for example, I always prefer to travel by train if possible. And I’ve also liked travelling by ship. I’ve crossed the Atlantic twice on a cargo ship.
5 days from England, from Liverpool to Montreal.
I would expect it to be way longer, 5 days?
And that’s quite a slow journey because they go to France to pick up cargo, and then it’s five nights after that.
Five days sounds reasonable.
And they put the clock back one hour every night, so it’s very comfortable.
It doesn’t sound like that long. I thought it would take around two weeks maybe.
No, cause you’ve got the ship moving 24 hours a day.
Fair enough. I just don’t know much about travelling by ship. Just because I’ve never experienced that. I would also be terrified of that. Well, cause I’m a little bit afraid of the ocean, you can imagine…
You watch Titanic too often.
But think about it! You have no land, you can’t swim to places, you know, if there is a crash or something like that.
But there are life boats.
Still, I don’t trust, I don’t know, I don’t trust the ocean. When I was going from one part of Florida, from Naples, to what’s it called? The southernmost part of the US…
Key West! It is. So it was a boat trip, a ship, so we went by ship. And still I was feeling very uncomfortable. Wow, but 5 days, amazing. Cause I remember the trip my parents and I took from Yakutia to Novosibirsk by car, and that was 5 days. So. 3/10.
That would be hell, 5 days in a car.
Well, you can also imagine 1000 kilometers being without actually a road, so it was just stones and stones and stones, so. After 400km one of our tires just got torn, so yeah. That part was not really fun. But you get to see a lot of landscapes, different ones. But still, very difficult to if you don’t stay in different motels but sleep in a car. That was difficult.
Well I mean, both of my parents got vacation for a month.
So for a holiday you decided to travel on a dirt road for two weeks and sleep in a car.
That was several times cheaper than taking a plane.
Yeah I was just thinking back to the original question. Is it very important to travel? I would say so, to try to discover new experiences, new cultures. Because for example if I’d never come to Russia I wouldn’t have known all about Russian people. I wouldn’t have known anything about the Russian culture, just what we were told at school, that everybody wore a shapka-ushanka and carried a bear in their arm.
And played balalaika, something like that. Yeah, so. I agree, I think that people should travel to different countries just to, you know, get rid of the stereotypes in our heads and to broaden their horizons and whatnot. So, I think that’s important.
Three years ago I went to the US for the first time as a part of an exchange program, Fulbright. So I was a cultural ambassador, so I was supposed to tell my students in the US about Russian culture, so they would, you know, get rid of the stereotypes they had about Russia.
And that was fantastic! A lot of things were surprising to them. So, yeah. So, speaking of the US actually. Whereas there is a tendency throughout the world to travel more abroad rather than in your own country, the US has the exact opposite situation. They do not travel abroad, they do not even have passports cause they need. They don’t need to.
I heard about 40 percent of them don’t have passports?
They just have their driver’s license or their ID enough for traveling around the US, but they don’t even have passports. So why do you think is that?
So I think for starters some of the Americans are quite inward-looking. If you stay in an American hotel, kin the morning as you have a newspaper shoved under your door called America Today. And you an open this paper up and it has some news which will be all about America.
And they have football and the other sport, and the tv and there will be nothing whatsoever in it about any other country at all. I’m using the example how perhaps inward-looking they are. Their tv new programs focus entirely on domestic things.
So a lot of them don’t see the need. And after all, they have a continent to themselves with good road network, good rail network, extensive internal flights are cheap, so you can go to any sort of climatic region, see lots of different things without ever stepping outside of your own country.
And outside of their own country they think theку are gonna be murderers cause there are terrorists standing around every corner trying to kill them. And I’m afraid the American news media reinforces that all the time.
They have this travel advisory.
It’s true and I would go even further than John and say that not only do they not travel outside their country, many American don’t even travel outside their own state.
But why? Okay, if we understand now the reasons why they don’t travel abroad, but why not travel to other states?
Well they’re still fighting in some ways a civil war in America that prevents some going to certain parts of America. I found that when I visited, some of my friends wouldn’t go into certain states.
Interesting, cause I was… I remember being shocked and surprised when I asked the Americans how many states have you been to, what places did you like, did you not like. And they said oh I visited let’s say my state and the states around So and then they asked me.
Oh I’ve been to 17 states so far, but I definitely don’t wanna stop, I want to travel to more states, maybe even all of them, just to see what they are like. And for me that was a little bit surprising cause as you said, well, a lot of them would just stay in their own states.
And they still use, I mean, not so much now, but they still use the term abroad in America to mean going outside your own district. The original English term I’m going abroad means you’re just going out.
You can sometimes ear I was abroad earlier this morning.
Yeah they do actually. Conservative Brits.
I remember being surprised that they don’t travel abroad even though they don’t need to have a visa! So I was telling them you have such an opportunity, such a treasure basically as your American passport that you don’t need a visa!
Cause for Russians for example, we can’t go to any, basically any country except for China, Thailand, India maybe, Vietnam. But to go to any other country we need to go through this hell of bureaucracy to get a visa. Agh!
Oh well, I know about that, cause getting one to get to Russia is pretty difficult.
No, I wouldn’t say it’s difficult, there’s a lot of paper work, but it’s not all that difficult I think. Maybe at the moment it’s difficult to get a tourist visa, I don’t think you can get tourist visas for Russia at the moment.
I don’t think you can get a tourist visa anywhere at the moment I’m afraid.
And I don’t think you can get a visa from France to Russia. Cause I had to return to England not through France.
Well I mean, this is not the best time in the world right ow to travel anyway, so yeah. Alright, and so have you travelled much in Russia?
Yes. Well, probably not as much as Stephen cause he’s been here longer than me.
Well I’ve been to not so many different places. When I first came, 15 years ago, I spent some time in Tomsk.
Because I was working in the university there and I found it a very interesting place. And very friendly. People were very friendly there.
This is exactly the way I would describe it.
I’m still in touch with many people from that town. I’ve not been further than Krasnoyarsk. I’d like to go to Vladivostok. Of course I’ve been to Moscow and normal places along the Trans-Siberian route.
So what was the place that maybe surprised you most out of those places that you’ve visited?
I think originally it was Tomsk, because it was rather romantic and beautiful town. And so friendly. Because 15 years ago in Moscow it was a very strange situation. Moscow was not so friendly I think in those days after the fall of the Soviet Union. There were many problems but Tomsk seemed to be, well, a bit crazy. And interesting.
And was there any place that you didn’t quite like?
You mean ion Russia? I didn’t like Moscow when I first went, it was very dirty and with people on the streets and a lot of corruption, but now it’s much much better. You can walk in the streets without any problems.
Even people who do not know any Russian would manage well in Moscow I think. But I can understand from a friend in Moscow, police in Moscow had some special training for the, what was that called, the World Cup, yes. To be very polite and to English and foreign visitors.
I’ve been hugged by a Russian policeman.
Yeah. He was very friendly, he was hugging me, I was his best friend. He was drunk I must say. There was a smell of alcohol in his breath. He was in his uniform and he was armed, but he was drunk.
Oh my goodness! Wow! What an impression you must’ve had! So John, what places have you been to in Russia?
Well, apart from St Petersburg and Moscow I took a slow journey home from here about a year and a half ago. I went to Ekaterinburg, Samara, Kazan, Nizhni Novgorod, Moscow, St Petersburg, all that way.
Well Kazan is rather beautiful.
I love this place! I love this place! Have you ever been?
I’ve been on the platform at Kazan vokzal, not two months ago, was it a month ago when I came here by train. But I was told by the provodnik who was from Kazan that I must take a stop there some time.
You must, you must. It’s a beautiful place. And very friendly too. But yeah, just so beautiful. I remember being there several years ago and I just didn’t wanna go anywhere else. At some point I even thought about moving there. But I never did.
They say it’s much cheaper to live in those parts than Novosibirsk.
Maybe. Maybe the rent is a little bit lower, but in general it’s around the same. Okay. So and I would like to talk a little bit more about places you recommend visiting in England. Well, in Britain. And the way we’re gonna do this is – I have done my research and looked up the list of top ten places, like top ten tourist destinations in the UK by Telegraph.
So I’m gonna tell you the place and you will tell me whether you would recommend going there or not. And we’ll start with the obvious – London.
Well it’s a place that everybody needs to go to I think but I would tell people as soon as they’ve been to London to get out and see other places as quickly as possible.
I heartily agree with Stephen’s sentiment. Yes, go see the sights, go see the things you need to see, there’s a lot to see.
I feel embarrassed right now.
But if you could avoid staying there, I would, cause the hotels there are so expensive.
I feel so embarrassed right now because I’ve been there three times. And I’ve never been anywhere else in the UK. I don’t know, there is just something, I don’t know, something.
Well it’s like Paris is not France and London is not Britain.
Fair enough. Like Moscow is not Russia and any capital is not, you know, the country itself. Alright, number two would be Edinburgh.
Definitely I would go to Edinburgh.
Because of the culture and the language. You’d have no difficulty understand it, the language we spoke about before. And it’s such an old city. There are very interesting sights. A very small city, I don’t think it’s even half a million people. But from Edinburgh you could hire a car and drive out to Highlands of Scotland, to the island very easily.
So it’s not really a place where you would spend, let’s say, a whole week?
No. It has Edinburgh castle and some old buildings and shops, but I think if you were to stay there you would like to go out and see Loch Ness and…
It’s quite a drive though from Edinburgh to Loch Ness.
So what is quite a drive in your opinion?
Well, it’s probably gonna take most good 5 or 6 hours to get from Edinburgh to the Ness, what do you think? Probably six hours.
Something like that, because the roads are not very.
And of course sometimes you have to go down the Loch about 40 miles and come around back again, because there are no bridges to cross.
I have actually done that journey once in my car to sail up and down the Loch Ness which is definitely worth doing, but you can never guarantee, because the weather is a lot worse in Scotland than England. And you could go up there in the middle of summer, and think oh, lovely, get a boat and cruise up the Loch Ness and spend the whole week being soaked and cold in a really cold weather.
It’s a very changeable weather cause it comes up off the Atlantic.
So my, well, not my but telegraph’s number 3 is Bath.
Yes, that’s the nearest city to me. And I can get there in 40 minutes by bus and it’s definitely worth a visit. Can get a bit crowded in the summer with tourists, it’s two-days worth of sightseeing in Bath easily.
So what is it famous for?
Baths. Roman baths. It’s the natural spring there and it’s a Roman city, Aquae Sulis as they called it, and aqua being water. And they turned natural hot springs into some baths which are still being used.
Sulis is the god of the water if I’m not mistaken. But the water is terrible to drink.
They do drink it, they say it’s good for one.
Just a little bit, you know, off the topic, but is tap water in Britain drinkable?
Very much so. Water that comes out of the taps in my house is very good for you, it’s full of calcium. So it’s very good for your bones, but it’s terrible for your washing machine.
And the kettle. And the heating system.
Fair enough. Fair enough. Okay, number 4 – Stonehenge.
I would say that’s a bit fake if you look into it. 150-200 years all the stones that are now set up in beautiful circle were just lying flat on the ground and it’s been…
Is that true? I thought it was always pretty much like it is.
Well, we’ll have to look that up but I believe so.
I think you’ve been reading one too many conspiracy theories. They’ve been moved around. People used to take bits of them as a souvenir and a stop was put to that about 200 years ago. Fortunately, I used to be able to drive right past it and to see it from the road, and it’s free. Now they altered the roads so that you can’t do that, you can’t get…
You have to pay and it costs quite a lot of money. So I think it must be…
There isn’t really that much to see.
So don’t you think that it’s a little bit overrated for the price?
Yeah, 20 pounds it is. If there’s a family of you, a hundred quids say, pack your car and then go look at some old stones. You can go to Avebury and wonder through mountains and all for nothing.
Fantastic. Whoever’s travelling to England, please, take a note of that. So number 5 is Windsor.
Yes, I spent a lot of time teaching near Windsor. Windsor of course is famous for Windsor castle, the Queen’s main residence at the moment, and the place she spent most of the war.
The oldest inhabited castle in the world.
Yes, it’s complete and inhabited, it’s not broken or… And the town is really… the surround area around the area.
The Windsor great park you mean.
The Windsor great park and the Eton college, the boys’ school just over the river, a very famous for that.
So is it more of a place for, let’s say, getaway trip for the weekend or?
So it’s not, again, the place you would spend a…
Well you could actually do that while you’re staying in London if you got to.
You take a train from Paddington station to Windsor-Eton riverside, and you could spend enough to roam there.
It’ll take 20 minutes, that train.
no, it’s a bit more. Paddington to Slough and then Slough to Windsor.
Okay, well, it’s not that long anyway.
For us Russians especially. So number 6 is… Oh I hope I read it correctly Cotswolds and the Lake District.
Well you can’t do them both at the same time cause they’re geographically separated by 100 miles.
Oh really? They were in one line in the article.
Right. Well Cotswolds is sort of in the south-west part in the Southern half of the country whereas the Lake district is in the north-West, which is about North of Manchester.
But both are very much worth seeing. Cotswolds… Well both can get a little crowded in tourist season, as can most tourist attractions.
Well that’s why it was top-ten tourist destinations.
Well there are… The article said pristine countryside, one of the most photographed corners. Tourists flock here to experience the true taste of rural English life.
Well it sounds a little romanticized, but I suppose it’s true in a way, but I would say that Cotswolds, not the Cotswolds, the Lake District is not as generally beautiful as the Peak District of Derbyshire which is below it.
So and what is the best season to go there? Is it only summer? Is it worth visiting in the fall? In the spring?
You can go any time of the year really. Churchill said there’s very few days of weather in Britain when you can’t go something outside. So you can go to Cotswold any time of the year Id’ say. The lake district – probably best avoid winter because lots of rain and low cloud, you won’t see anything, it’ll just be fog.
Yeah and I would expect there to be wing, very strong wind.
I would say early December would be a good time to go to some parts of England because of the Christmas celebrations and festivities which I think would interest a lot of people. Fairs and the traditions of Christmas.
Sounds fantastic. So number 7 would be York which you have mentioned.
Yes, I would definitely go to York but the only problem is I’d try to avoid weekends.
No, because it’s become a mecca for stag and hen weekends. There’s sort of a growing trend now for people who are about to get married to have instead a stag night, to have a stag weekends when the groom and his friends go out and get drunk.
Well it’s one of the places they’ve targeted. York, Newcastle, Amsterdam, the three capitals of the Baltic states, Prague, Barcelona. York’s one of the popular ones for people doing it in England and they come for the entire weekend.
When you have groups of young men dressed up in suits staggering around on a Saturday afternoon. And groups of women, cause it’s the hen party as well. Quite often one of them is wearing a wedding dress staggering around drunk on a Saturday afternoon.
I have never seen so many police in an English city than I saw in York when I was last time on a weekend. So you keep order when the things get out of hands later. So avoid the weekends.
But I would say about York – if you’re interested in historical architecture and buildings that York is as London was before the Great Fire of London, 1666.
Because it was, London was burned and then it was bombed during the second world war. But there are such beautiful buildings in York, medieval buildings. And the walls of York I wouldn’t say exactly complete. Bu they are very original.
Wow. But that was very surprising and unexpected to hear about the…
Yeah, go at the weekdays. Lovely place to see, lots of things to see, but go during the week.
Okay. The next one is Liverpool and Manchester. So they were in one line, so they were mentioned…
They are quite close together, aren’t they.
00:52:03 S: About 30 miles I think.
And the East-Lancs road links them.
But as John has already warned people against going to Liverpool and Manchester, I might just say that it is more or less my hometown. Not Liverpool so much. I think Manchester is a very interesting place. It used to be the center of… the culture of the North and the Northern culture. Working class culture has been lost a lot now. But there are some of interesting concert halls. It’s an industrial town. And it’s not.. It’s not without its interest.
So how much time would you advise spending there?
Well I’d go and spend the day in the city, and then hire a car and go out and see the surrounding areas. You could even drive to Liverpool if you were so-minded.
Alright. And the last place on my list is Cardiff.
My sisters lives in Cardiff, she seems quite like it.
They claim to be the capital of Wales, but it’s only been a capital for about 40 years I believe. Welsh seemed to have an idea that they are a separate country, but it’s… It’s some sort of…
I heard that the bridge that connects England and Wales is not a free, so you have to pay.
And there have been a lot of arguments about that and people being very unhappy about it.
I think they discontinued the charge some months ago, didn’t they? I’m not sure about that.
I don’t know It’s two bridges now, aren’t there?
Oh well, I don’t know, but I drove to Northern Ireland, not drove to Northern Ireland, drove through Wales to the ferry port and had to cross that bridge. And I can’t remember the paying.
It used to be the old, the original bridge was built in the 60s. You used to have to pay… You only paid in one direction I think, you had to pay to get into Wales, but it’s free to get out. Which of course lots of English people used to resent. Why should I pay to get in there?
You can drive round, but it’s long.
Wow. Alright, so that was…
Is it top ten? It doesn’t seem very..
What is there in Cardiff? I don’t even know.
I think, I think, maybe, maybe, Cardiff was put there just so there would be all the parts of the UK.
Northern Ireland hasn’t been represented as the Giant’s Causeway for instance.
And Belfast is a very interesting city, you must travel to Belfast.
Go and see where the Titanic was built, the dock is still there, the shipyard is still there.
And the museum was built in the shape of the hall of the Titanic.
Wow! So this is something that was not on the list by Telegraph.
And Dartmoor, and Exmoor, and Portsmouth – these are interesting places. Go see the ships that ran the victory, the Mary Rose, the Warrior, and… can’t remember what it’s called… Newcastle’s interesting. What else, Stephen?
Well I’d certainly agree with you about Portsmouth and the south - there’s a lot along the south coast, there’s a lot of interest. Like Exeter, and Devon. Of course Devon used to be a separate country until, well…
Beautiful countryside in Devon. Yeah you see the Cotswolds – why go to Cotswolds when you can go to any county really and find rural England pretty much apart from perhaps South Lancashire which is one big urban sprawl between Manchester and Liverpool. South York is the same. Many of the counties there are pretty cottages, pretty villages.
Yeah and especially Derbyshire has a very wide variety, it has the Peak District, mountains, lakes. It has Rolling countryside, it has market towns. I think visiting an English market town is…
I would advise to go to Newcastle, a market town, you got 29 lochs, Kennet and Avon canals Broery, enough to do there for a day.
I would call this podcast kind of a travel advisory to England. A guide to England. And that was fantastic!
Thank you so much for telling me and the listeners about England and travelling in England. Alright, so that was the BigAppleSchool podcast and today we discussed travelling in our own countries and travelling abroad.
Well, we mostly talked about traveling in England, because this is something a lot of people do not know. We tend to think that it’s only London and maybe Edinburgh worth visiting, but there’s so much more to that.
So thank you for listening and remember, if you struggle to understand our conversation, you’re always welcome to our website which is Bigappleschool.com/podcast. You can find full scripts of each episode and you can read them while listening.
Also if you wanna get more content which will help you learn English you can follow us on social media such as Instagram, VK, Youtube, Telegram and so on, by searching our name, which is, again, Big Apple School. So that was Katya and my guests for today were…
Stay tuned and we’ll see you around!