Here are some tips for Olympic visitors hoping to get the most out of their experience.
WHEN IN DOUBT, QUEUE
British lines are usually orderly, often elaborate and full of gallows humor.
Be patient and don't try to barge ahead — all attempts at queue-jumping will be met by glares and furious tut-tutting.
DON'T LIKE THE WEATHER? WAIT FIVE MINUTES
Britons have learned to cheerfully accept that all forms of weather are bad news.
It's best to prepare for the worst and treat the weather as a useful conversation-starter — though once on the topic, many Britons find it hard to stop.
DRIVE ON THE LEFT, STAND ON THE RIGHT
British cars drive on the left. When walking, remember your mother's advice and look both ways before you cross the street.
In London Underground stations, the same rule applies: keep left while moving. This is especially important on escalators — nothing annoys commuters more than tourists blocking their progress.
GET A ROUND IN
Britons take great pride in their sense of fair play. Many visitors will encounter it in pubs, where each member of a group is expected to take a turn buying a round of drinks for everyone.
American visitors are advised to pare back the amount they tip for services in Britain. In restaurants, it's customary to add 10-15 percent to the bill. In pubs where you order and pay at the bar, tipping is unnecessary.
ACCEPT SLIMMED-DOWN PORTIONS
Like tips, restaurant portion sizes are often smaller in Britain than in the United States and some other countries.
AVOID EYE CONTACT
In common with many big-city residents, Londoners scrupulously avoid acknowledging strangers on the street. This is especially true on crowded buses and subways.
Exceptions: Buses, trains and subways full of people who have had a few drinks will often be full of boisterous but generally friendly banter.
ENJOY THE WORDPLAY
North American visitors will quickly learn that many common, everyday items have different names in Britain — fries are chips, a sidewalk is a pavement, pants are trousers and underwear is pants.
"Pants" is also slang for bad, rubbish, lame — just one example of the delight Brits take in coining new words and phrases.
YES, THAT MAN REALLY IS THE MAYOR
Above all, Britons love an eccentric. That may explain the popularity of London Mayor Boris Johnson, a disheveled, bicycle-riding, Latin-spouting figure with a shock of blond hair who was re-elected to a second four-year term in May.
Johnson's behavior at Friday's opening ceremony is one more unpredictable element in an evening of surprises.
Bookmaker William Hill is offering odds of 33-1 on the mayor accidentally setting his hair on fire with the Olympic flame.