Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The Traveler's Guide To London: Chapter Two

Welcome back to this weeks guide to travel in Britain. In this installment we will look at British currency.

The base unit of British currency is of course the Pound. Which is also called a Sterling, but can also be called a quid. Which is not short for “quid pro quo” the Latin phrase meaning something for something as any dead Roman might think. It is short for Quidhampton, the place where the British mint their coins.

Apparently, the British like to make Americans feel stupid with their impossible to figure out monetary system. For example, the pound is equal to 100 pennies called pence, and at the same time is also equal to 20 shillings whereby a shilling is equal to 12 pence. This according to my math is 240 pence. Go figure? There are also many coins in the British currency. These coins are the 1 penny, 2 pence, 5 pence, 10 pence, 20 pence, 50 pence, 1 pound, 2 pound and the lesser used Half pence, 6 pence, 12 pence, Farthing, Shilling, Bob, Guinea, and Half a Crown. With all these coins and value discrepancies, who can keep up with them? Exactly! So for that reason, the British don’t really count out change. They just simply give you a small handful of coins that looks like a believable amount of change from your transaction. And like any other stupid American, you just let it go because by the time you get an exact count of the change, you’ve forgotten how much change you should have gotten in the first place. Doh!

So take my advice. Use a credit card wherever you go. That way, you only get ripped off from the horrible dollar to pound exchange rate.

Well, that’s all I got for now. Don’t miss the bus next week when I talk about transportation in London.

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