Americans living in or visiting the United Kingdom are encouraged to register at the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in London or at the U.S. Consulates General in Edinburgh or Belfast and obtain updated information on travel and security within the U.K.
The U.S. Embassy is located at 24 Grosvenor Square, London W1A 1AE; Telephone: in country 020-7499-9000, from the U.S. 011-44-20-7499-9000 (24 hours); Consular Section fax: in country 020-7495-5012; from the U.S. 011-44-20-7495-5012. Embassy Website.
England has no season when the weather is predictably wonderful. We like May, June and October, when day temperatures tend to be cool. Other people prefer July-September, when temperatures are about 10 degrees F/5 C higher. English gardens are at their best in late March and April. And we've met still others who like to visit in the winter because there are fewer tourists and, thanks to the Gulf Stream, the weather is often tolerable (although it does rain more, and many sights outside of cities may be closed). Take a collapsible umbrella and sweater no matter when you go.
To call Britain from North America, dial tel. 011 (international code), tel. 44 (Britain's country code), the local area codes (usually three or four digits and found in every phone number we've given in this book), and the seven-digit local phone number. The local area codes found throughout this book all begin with "0"; you drop the "0" if you're calling from outside Britain, but you need to dial it along with the area code if you're calling from another city or town within Britain. For calls within the same city or town, the local number is all you need.
For directory assistance in London, dial tel. 142; for the rest of Britain, tel. 192.
There are three types of public pay phones: those taking only coins, those accepting only phonecards (called Cardphones), and those taking both phonecards and credit cards. At coin-operated phones, insert your coins before dialing. The minimum charge is 10p (15¢).
Phonecards are available in four values—£2 ($3), £4 ($6), £10 ($15), and £20 ($30)—and are reusable until the total value has expired. Cards can be purchased from newsstands and post offices. Finally, the credit-call pay phone operates on credit cards—Access (MasterCard), Visa, American Express, and Diners Club—and is most common at airports and large railway stations.
To make an international call from Britain, dial the international access code (00), then the country code, then the area code, and finally the local number. Or call through one of the following long-distance access codes: AT&T USA Direct (tel. 0800/890-011), Canada Direct (tel. 0800/890-016), Australia (tel. 0800/890-061), and New Zealand (tel. 0800/890-064). Common country codes are: USA and Canada, 1; Australia, 61; New Zealand, 64; South Africa, 27.
British electricity is 240 volts AC (50 cycles), roughly twice the voltage in North America, which is 115 to 120 volts AC (60 cycles). American plugs don't fit British wall outlets. Always bring suitable transformers and/or adapters--if you plug an American appliance directly into a European electrical outlet without a transformer, you'll destroy your appliance and possibly start a fire. Tape recorders, VCRs, and other devices with motors intended to revolve at a fixed number of revolutions per minute probably won't work properly even with transformers. Many laptops can be used overseas without any problems, but check before you plug in.
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