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Great Britain
Great
Britain has several different names. Some people say Britain, or the United
Kingdom, or just UK. There are four different countries in the United
Kingdom: England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland.
Altogether more
than 56 million people live in Britain, many of them in big industrial cities
like London, Liverpool and Manchester, but people are often surprised by how
much of Britain is open country, with lonely hills and woods, quiet rivers,
lakes and farmlands.
Many people
think that the weather is cold and wet in Britain all the year round. But it
isnt! True, it sometimes rains and even snows for days and days, but every
year there are weeks of beautiful sunny weather then the British take off their
sweaters and go out to sunbathe.
Britain is only
a small country, but every part is different. Scotland is a land of mountains,
lakes and romantic castles. The winters are cold, with plenty of snow, but the
summers are often warm and sunny. Most farmers keep sheep, and theyre many
small factories, which make fine sweaters from their wool. In some parts of
Scotland, there are very few people. Deer live in the hills, and the rivers are
full of salmon. But Glasgow and Edinburgh are both large and busy, with all
that is good (and bad) in modern cities.
Northern Ireland
has it problems, but it has beauty, too. In the warm, wet climate, the grass
grows a brilliant green, and much of the land is farming country. Belfast is a
large industrial city with many fine buildings and big port from which ships
come and go to Scotland and England. But Belfast has had many difficulty years,
and it is not the busy place it once was.
A hundred years
ago the north of England was industrial heart of the country. From the
factories came cloth, wool, machines, engines and china. The old factories came
have gone now and the workers have to look for jobs in the new high-tech
industries. Outside the towns, much of this part of England is beautiful
countryside, with green hills, lakes and sandy beaches. Fishing is still a big
industry in the North East, and every night (except Sunday) the fishing boats
go out to sea.
The centre of
England (the Midlands) is also an important industrial area, especially near
the huge cities of Coventry and Birmingham, the centre of the car industry. But
everyone, even in the heart of the modern city, there are buildings from older
Britain cathedrals, castles, and houses built hundred years ago.
Wales is a
special place, a country of high mountains and pretty valleys. But Wales has
plenty of industry, too, with many factories and coal mines.
The west of
England is rich farming country. It produces milk, cream, butter, cheese and
apples, which go to make cider, a popular drink. In the villages, country
people often grow their own fruit, vegetables and flowers.
Some areas of
Britain are very crowded. Around Manchester, in north west England, and
Glasgow, in Scotland, are large city areas of houses and factories. The south
east of England, too, has many towns and cities, including London, the giant
capital. But quiet near London there are still some quiet villages and peaceful
farms.
Britain is an
island, of course, and you are never far from the sea. Some of the coast,
especially in the west, is wild and rocky, with small, sandy beaches, and
romantic old harbours. Other parts are industrial. The East Coast of Scotland,
for example, is busy with oil rings and fishing boats. The most popular beaches
are near the many holiday towns on the south coast, where the weather is
usually warmer. It is here that Londoners come to relax.
London
London has been
a capital city for nearly a thousand years, and many of its ancient buildings
still stand. The most famous of these are the Tower of London (where the Crown
Jewels are kept), Westminster Abbey and St. Pals Cathedral, but most visitors
also want to see the House of Parliament, Buckingham Palace and the many
magnificent museums.
Once, London was
a small Roman town on the north bank of the Thames, but slowly it grew into one
of the worlds major cities with more than seven million people. Fewer people
live in the centre now, but the suburbs are still growing.
Places now in
the heart of London once stood in the middle of green fields. Many small
villages, like Hampstead, Chelsea and Mayfair, became part of London, but they
still keep some of their old atmosphere. Different areas of London seem like
different cities. The West End is a rich mans world of shops, offices and
theatres. The old port area is now called Docklands. The great ships have
gone, and the area is changing very fast. There are huge new office buildings,
and thousands of new flats and houses.
Other parts of
London are changing, too. Some of the poor areas have become fashionable, and
people with money are moving into them.
A hundred years
ago, the river was crowded by ships, leaving for Java and Japan, New Zealand
and New York, but now people travel by air, and Londons main airport,
Heathrow, is one of the busiest in the world.
Like all big
cities, London has streets and concrete buildings, but it also has many big
parks, full of trees, flowers and grass. Sit on the grass (youre allowed to!)
in the middle of Hyde Park or Kensington Gardens, and you will think that
youre in the country, miles away.
Many people live
outside the centre of London in the suburbs, and they travel to work, in the
shops and offices by train, bus or underground. The trains are full and
expensive and the roads are crowded with cars, but every day a million people
come from far out of London, even from the coast, and spend up to four hours travelling
every day.
Most people work
from 9 am to 5 pm. From 8 till 10 every morning, and 4.30 to 6.30 every
evening, the trains are crowded with people, and after the morning rush hour
the shoppers come.
By the day the
whole of London is busy. At night, the offices are quiet and empty, but the
West End stays alive, because this is where Londoners come to enjoy themselves.
There are two opera houses here, several concert halls and many theatres, as
well as cinemas, and in nearby Soho the pubs, restaurants and nightclubs are
busy half the night.
Many people
think that London is all grey but in fact red id the Londons favourite colour.
The buses are red, the letterboxes are red and the mail vans are all bright,
bright red. London is at its best when people are celebrating. Then the flags,
the soldiers uniforms the cheering crowds and the carriages and horses all
sparkle in the sunshine if its not raining, of course!
Travelling by train.
Modern life is
impossible without travelling. Of course the fastest way of travelling is by
plane. But many people make their choice on travelling by train as with a train
you have speed, comfort and pleasure combined. Travelling by train is of course
slower than by air but it also has its advantages.
If you are going to travel by train
youd better book seats beforehand because many people are fond of travelling
by train. There are some reasons why people choose railroad. Train is the cheap
means of travelling. If it is summer outside it will be better to think of your
trip before the vocation starts. To understand how true this is, you only have
to go to a railway station. There you will see hundreds of people hurrying to
catch a train. Youll waste a lot of time standing near the booking-office
trying to buy a ticket.
Modern trains have very comfortable
seats in all passenger cars, and there are sleeping-cars and dining-cars which
make even the longest journey enjoyable. You can buy first-class, second-class
and third-class sleepers in a separate compartment. If you are early before the
train starts you can leave your suit-cases in the compartment and walk up and
down the platform. Some people forget when and from which platform and track
their train will be off. They can always ask for the track, platform and train
numbers at the railroad station information bureau and also get information
about next trains and their schedules. There are express, slow and
long-distance trains. If you want to go somewhere and get there as quickly as
possible youd better know that express trains only stop at the largest
stations while slow trains stop at all stations. You can get to far countries
only by a long-distance train.
Once you are in your compartment you
have to ask the guide to bring in the bedding. There are usually two lower and
two upper berths in a third-class sleeper compartment. Some people like to
occupy upper berths because it is more convenient and exciting to travel.
During your way on the train you can read newspapers, books, look out of the
window, drink the tea, communicate with your neighbors or sleep. I prefer to
look out of the window, because you can see the country you are passing
through, and not only the clouds as when you are flying. You can have something
to eat at the stations when the train makes stops.
Though we all seem to agree that the
future belongs to air transport, the railroads today still carry a lot of
passengers and goods.
Travelling by Air.
Modern life is
impossible without travelling. Of course the fastest way of travelling is by
plane. Many people prefer travelling by air as it is the most convenient,
comfortable and quickest means of travelling. Travelling by plane has also its
advantages and disadvantages.
If you are going to travel by air
youd better buy tickets beforehand because many people are fond of travelling
by plane. There are some reasons why people choose that means of travelling. If
it is summer outside it will be better to think of your trip before the
vocation starts. To understand how true this is, you only have to go to an
airport. There you will see hundreds of people hurrying to catch a plane.
Youll waste a lot of time standing near the booking office trying to buy a
ticket.
Modern planes have very comfortable
seats in all cabins, and there are first class, business and economy class
cabins. Inside the cabin the air is always fresh and warm. Before the plane
takes off the stewardess helps everyone get comfortable in the seats and wishes
them a pleasant trip. She also gives all the information about the flight, the
speed and the altitude. During the flight you can have something to drink and
to eat. You can read newspapers and magazines or simply look out of the
pothole. But you will sea nothing outside but the clouds. You can buy
first-class, second-class and third class. You must be in time for your flight
because you must have time to pass custom and passport controls and check in. Before
boarding the plane the passenger must register at the airport. While
registering he is required to have his luggage weighed. If the luggage weighs more
than 20 kilograms you have to pay extra. Sometimes people forget the time and the number of the flight. They
can always ask for that at the airports information bureau and also get
information about next flights and their timetables.
Sometimes passengers dont feel as
if they are walking on good solid ground when on board the plane. They can get airsick
and then travelling by air becomes a real torture for them.
Nowadays travelling by air is one of
the dangerous means of travelling. There are a lot of air crashes and many
people die in them. And I think people prefer safety to comfort on board a
ship.
Though we all seem to agree that the
future belongs to air transport, other means of travelling are still popular
today.
Holidays
Holiday is a day set apart for religious observance or for the
commemoration of some extraordinary event or distinguished person, or for some
other public occasion.
National holidays are
days set aside by official government proclamation to celebrate different
occasions.
The U.S. has no
national holidays. Legal holidays days on which banks, schools, or other
public institutions and most places of business are closed.
Memorial Day is a legal
holiday, observed annually on the last Monday in May in most of the United
States, It honours the nation's armed services killed in wartime. The holiday,
originally called Decoration Day, is traditionally marked by parades, memorial
speeches and ceremonies, and the decoration of graves with flowers and flags. Memorial
Day was first observed on May 30, 1868, on the order of General John Alexander
Logan for the purpose of decorating the graves of the American Civil War dead.
It was observed on May 30 until 1971, when most states changed to a newly
established federal schedule of holiday observance.
Independence Day is an annual holiday commemorating the formal
adoption by the Continental Congress of the Declaration of Independence on July
4, 1776, in Philadelphia. Although the signing of the Declaration was not completed
until August, the Fourth of July holiday has been accepted as the official
anniversary of United States independence and is celebrated in all states and
territories of the U.S.
The Fourth of July is
traditionally celebrated publicly with parades and pageants, patriotic
speeches, and organised firing of guns and cannons and displays of fireworks.
Family picnics and outings are a feature of private Fourth of July
celebrations.
Thanksgiving Day, a legal
holiday in the U.S., was first celebrated in early colonial times in New
England. The actual origin is probably the harvest festivals that are
traditional in many parts of the world. After the first harvest was completed
by the Plymouth colonists in 1621, Governor William Bradford proclaimed a day
of thanksgiving.
In 1863 President
Abraham Lincoln appointed a day of thanksgiving, and since then each president
has issued a Thanksgiving Day proclamation, generally designating the fourth
Thursday of November as a holiday.
New Year's Day is the first day of the year, January 1 in the
Gregorian calendar. In the Middle Ages most European countries used the Julian
calendar and observed New Year's Day on March 25, called Annunciation Day and
celebrated as the birth to the Son of God. With the introduction of the Gregorian
calendar in 1582, Roman Catholic countries began to celebrate New Year's Day on
January 1.
The custom of visiting
friends, relatives and neighbours on New Years Day is one of the Old World
traditions that has taken on a new form in the United States. A favourite place
to see the old year out is New York Citys Time Square.
Christmas is an annual festival, held on December 25, to celebrate
the Nativity, or birth of Christ. The Christmas tree, an evergreen trimmed with
lights and other decorations, is derived from the so-called paradise tree,
symbolising Eden.
Saint Valentine's Day, a holiday
honouring lovers, is celebrated on February 14. There is a custom of sending
greeting cards or gifts to express affection. The cards, known as valentines,
are often designed with hearts to symbolise love. The holiday probably derives
from the ancient Roman feast of Lupercalis (February 15). The festival
gradually became associated with the feast day (February 14) of two Roman
martyrs, both named St. Valentine, who lived in the 3rd century. St. Valentine
has traditionally been regarded as the patron saint of lovers.
Washington
Washington is
the capital city of the United States. It is located on the north bank of the
Potomac River.
George
Washington, the first President of the USA, after whom the city was named,
selected an area for the capital. A hundred square miles were taken from states
of Maryland and Virginia. It was called the District of Columbia. The city is
divided into four sections: NW, NE, SW, and SE. Numbered streets run north and
south: First Street, Second Street Lettered streets such as A-street, B-street
run east and west. Bear in mind that every section has an independent street
system. If youre looking for Third Street, you need to know what section of
the city it is in.
Washington is one of the most beautiful
and unusual cities in the United States. It has little industry, and only one
million people. One reason Washington looks different from other cities is that
no building in the city may be more than 40 metres tall. There are no
skyscrapers, because they would hide the citys many monuments from view. One
can easily find a park, a square or an open area there. The most impressive and
the best-known ones are the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument.
The heart of Washington is the Capitol,
which is connected with the White House by Pennsylvania Avenue. It dominates
the city of Washington.
All the tourists begin sightseeing from the Capitol and
see the Senate Chamber, the Hall of Representatives, the Statuary Hall and some
others.
Thousands of
tourists visit Washington every day. People from all parts of the United States
come to see their capital and the monuments to those who in past centuries
struggled for the independence of their country. The Washington Monument, the
tallest stone structure in the USA, is in the Potomac River. It was opened to
the public in 1888. It is 555 feet tall, is called the Pencil because of its
shape. It is three blocks south of the White House. There is an elevator, which
will carry you to 500-foot level observation windows. The Lincoln Memorial is
in the west of the Washington Monument. It is designed like a Greek temple. The
dominant figure is the realistic figure of Abraham Lincoln seated in the centre
of the open temple. The Jefferson Memorial is worth seen, too. It is situated
south of the Washington monument near the Potomac River. The Library of
Congress contains millions of books and manuscripts. People are also interested
in churches and cathedrals. The Washington Cathedral is on Massachusetts
Avenue, and the Arlington National Cemetery is outside the city limits just
across the Potomac River near the Pentagon in Virginia. The famous Tomb of the
Unknown Soldier is visited by millions of people every year.
Washington is
the place where mass demonstrations take place against unemployment and racism,
for democracy and civil rights.

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