I’ve finally managed to find an internet café near our hotel in London (we’re near Victoria Station), so am checking in for the first time in a week. I love this city, and because of the generosity of my in-laws, my expenses are much lower than they might have been. I’ve spent $628.93. That’s less than my $700 weekly budget, but more than my $350 weekly target. Most of this money was spent in three large bursts:

  • $100 on a lousy Chinese buffet near Leicester Square on my first turn to buy dinner
  • $205 for a good Italian restaurant in Dorchester on my second turn to buy dinner
  • $120 for admission to the H.M.S. Victory for the group

I know that $20/person for a Chinese buffet seems expensive, but it’s actually par for the course. We figure that it costs $70-$80 for the five of us to eat a meal in a pub; anything else is generally costs more. England is expensive for an American tourist. Even a cheap breakfast costs more than you’d expect.

The other morning I walked four miles through the countryside around Wells, returned to look at the Cathedral, and then bought myself a cup of hot chocolate. It cost $4! Yesterday before we returned the rental car, we paid $92 to fill the gas tank. That’s right — as much as we moan about gas prices in the United States, they’re almost four times higher in England. You don’t see many SUVs here.

England is different from the United States in other subtle ways. Two differences that are relevant to this site: there is far less advertising, and television isn’t nearly as ubiquitous. Advertising and television are certainly present, especially in London, but they don’t dominate the culture. In fact, we just returned from a three-day road trip through the countryside, and I’m hard-pressed to remember advertising outside the city. I do recall some billboards in Portsmouth, and I know many buses had advertising, but that’s it. It was refreshing to not be constantly bombarded by ads.

My favorite part of the trip so far: Avebury

Skimming the comments here, I see that FMF’s exploration of the Bible and money caused a ruckus. Folks, nearly every post between now and early August is from a guest author. Beliefs and opinions expressed by guest authors do not necessarily reflect my own. I often encourage guests to explore topics that this blog otherwise would not cover. Many of you are worried that FMF’s article represents some sort of sea-change at Get Rich Slowly. It does not. I do not (and will not) use this site to espouse my world view. (Well, aside from “spend less than you earn”…)

There are a couple of additional posts that may prove controversial in the next two weeks. I encourage you to hash things out in the comments, but to remain civil, and to take these guest articles in the spirit I intend: as a chance to hear from other voices in the personal finance world.

Now it’s time for me to ditch this expensive internet connection. I want to find out if it’s possible to see a pre-season football match today. I have no idea where to begin. I should have researched before coming to London!

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