By Ted Thornhill, Mailonline Travel Editor

08:43 08 Jun 2024, updated 09:31 08 Jun 2024

An American couple who’ve visited the UK extensively have revealed the 10 things that surprised them the most about the country.

And the list contains some entries that may also raise a few eyebrows among the native British population. It turns out they should be quite proud of the standard of their public toilets, for instance.

Cara Atwell and Jeremy Davis – currently in Portland, Oregon – posted a video to their ‘Magic Geekdom’ YouTube channel in which they list the 10 surprising things loosely in order from least to most surprising. The video has so far garnered over 300,000 views.

Read on for the full ranking – and vote in our poll at the bottom for the items in the list you think are the worst aspect of Britain.

10. Not needing a car

Click here to resize this module

Cara says in the video: ‘I assumed you needed a car in the UK. And that’s not the case. You can get around so much easier with public transportation in the UK than you can in the U.S. You don’t need a car – we learned that the second time. We didn’t rent a car at all and it was lovely to travel by train everywhere.’

9. Narrow roads and car parking

‘They can be kinda scary and intimidating,’ says Cara, ‘compared to our big, wide roads in America. I was also surprised at how difficult parking can be.’

Jeremy added: ‘There’s not very much free parking at all.’

Americans Cara Atwell and Jeremy Davis (above) posted a video to their ‘Magic Geekdom’ YouTube channel in which they list the 10 things that surprised them the most about the UK

8. Many people only go to London

Jeremy says: ‘Most international travellers only go to London. We love London, but there’s so much more to see. Some of our favourite places are smaller cities and towns and villages.’

Cara adds: ‘And we’ve had people in the UK tell us that we’ve been to places they’ve never been.’

7. Footpaths

Cara and Jeremy loved Britain’s network of public footpaths. Above – Doghouse Hill near Seatown in Dorset

Cara says: ‘British footpaths are an extensive network… that allow you to walk on private land and take in all the different kinds of scenery. One of my favourite memories… I treasure the fact that we got to walk through a field of cows in Dorset. It was so amazing.’

The site was extra interesting for the couple as it features dinosaur footprints embedded in an area of rock.

6. Being treated nicely as Americans

Jeremy says: ‘People told us that in certain cities people wouldn’t be nice to Americans, but I feel that we pretty much had a positive experience everywhere we went.’

Cara adds: ‘Yeah, Americans travelling internationally can be a precarious thing. We’re not well-liked in many places.’

5. Hot and cold taps

Cara admits that when she first experienced hot and cold taps, she was unsure how to use them, wondering if she should ‘quickly run her hands back and forth from one to other’

The couple reveal that they’ve rarely come across separate hot and cold taps in America. Cara admits that when she first experienced hot and cold taps, she was unsure how to use them, wondering if she should ‘quickly run her hands back and forth from one to other’ or ‘just use the hot one and hope it doesn’t get too hot’.

4. Service levels and asking for the bill

Click here to resize this module

Jeremy reveals that the first time they went to a non-fast-food restaurant in the UK they were baffled by the fact that the bill wasn’t presented to them automatically.

He says: ‘We finished what we ordered and we were just waiting and waiting… ‘

Cara adds: ‘It was alarmingly weird. It was like, “Where is everyone? Where did our server go?” We spent 30 or 40 minutes just sitting there, waiting for them to bring the bill. Because that’s what they do in the U.S.’

3. Portion sizes

Jeremy says: ‘The UK portion sizes can be drastically different from the U.S – in a more healthy way.’

Cara adds: ‘When we got to the UK, it was a little bit surprising seeing a regular portion of food. And not have this huge plate of food that you really don’t need to eat. It was pretty shocking at first.’

2. Efficiency

Cara explains that the UK has ‘little things’ that ‘makes me feel as an American like we’re kind of behind the rest of the world’.

One example is contactless pay – another, the trains. Cara was impressed at how you can just hop on and ‘there’s nothing to it’.

She adds: ‘In the U.S we have to make things more complicated than they need to be.’

1. Public bathrooms/toilets

Cara and Jeremy were impressed by the standard of public toilets in the UK. Above – Victorian public toilets on Hampstead Heath, London

America’s public bathroom stalls are labelled sad and ‘flimsy’, says Cara, with doors that you can often see through.

She adds: ‘I mean, you can see somebody doing their business if you want to and I don’t think I experienced that a single time in the UK.’

Cara told MailOnline Travel: ‘The public toilets were the most shocking thing from the moment we arrived in the UK. After spending most of our lives using the flimsy, exposed dividers that are common in the US, it was so refreshing to experience a higher level of privacy.’

Is there anything in the UK she would like to see in the U.S?

Cara said: ‘I wish that the US had better public transport and walkability, reducing the need for cars, especially in cities.

‘I also wish we could implement contactless pay in more places. It’s very common in the U.S to hand employees your credit card in restaurants and many other situations. I would love to see that end.’

And are there any areas where the UK has room for improvement?

Cara said: ‘The main thing that took some getting used to was the restaurant service style and having to ask for the bill. At first it felt strange compared to more attentive American-style service. But over time, we came to appreciate the UK approach as allowing a more leisurely, unpressured meal.’

Cara and Jeremy post on social media as The Magic Geekdom. They can be found at;;; and

Source link