Exploring London’s Underground Secrets

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Over the past century and a half, London’s Underground has seen two world wars, millions of passengers, and more secrets than we could begin to count. The “Tube” is used by Londoners and visitors to the beautiful city every hour of every day, but most are unaware of the history they’re traveling through.

Once you learn of the 150-years’ worth of secrets and history housed below England’s capital, you’ll earn a completely new appreciation for this feat of engineering and human-kind.

Underground History

In the early 1800s, London was booming. The influx of people bustling about quickly made it apparent that a better method of mass transportation was needed, and fast. The Metropolitan Railway took on the immense challenge of constructing the first underground line below the city. After months of construction, the 3 and three quarter mile railway carried 38,000 passengers safely to their destination on the inaugural ride on January 10, 1863.

soldiers parading on the streets of London

For the following five decades, London’s Underground saw changing ownership, builders, and thousands of passengers. However, once World War I began London saw its first air raid, and the tube was transformed into much more than a transportation system. The safe-haven continued on into the World War II.
Image Source: BiblioArchives

abandoned bomb shelter

Initially, British government officials tried to prevent the tube stations and lines use as bomb shelters. But, after their attempts to keep people from taking shelter there were decisively ignored, they decided to regulate the shelters instead. Trains continued to run on certain lines, bringing supplies, food, and other Londoner’s seeking shelter. A number of unused stations were converted into factories for wartime productions.
Image Source: secretlondon123

While the Tube was considered by many to be the safest haven, no place in London was completely protected from German Blitzes. Hundreds of Londoner’s lost their lives when the tube was hit by German bombs in 1940 through 1943.
Even in the times of crisis and tragedy, the Underground has remained as a point of togetherness for the people of London. It’s an unmistakable symbol of the ingenuity and strength of Britain as a whole.

Traveling the Underground Today

The Underground lines cover nine zones and stop at more than 200 stations. Even though there are nine zones, tourists typically stay in Zones 1 and 2 because they cover Central London where many of the major tourist attractions and hotels are located.

These days, 11 Tube lines transport locals and tourists throughout Britain’s capital:

  • Bakerloo Line
  • Central Line
  • Circle Line
  • District Line
  • Hammersmith & City Line
  • Jubilee Line
  • Metropolitan Line
  • Northern Line
  • Piccadilly Line
  • Victoria Line
  • Waterloo & City Line

Generally, the Underground runs are between 5:00 a.m. — 12:00 A.M., Monday through Saturday. Sunday times are reduced by a few hours with later starting times and earlier stopping times.

Secrets Along The Stops

We alluded to the importance of the Underground during the World Wars, and proof of that is beneath 8 of the 11 Tube lines. For under these lines sit deep-level air-raid shelters. The construction of the shelters took place between 1940 and 1942. Originally reserved for government officials, 5 of the 8 shelters opened up to civilians as bombing intensified.

abandoned tube station in London

Image Source: secretlondon123

The shelters that were constructed include:

  • Chancery Lane
  • Belsize Park
  • Camden Town
  • Goodge Street
  • Stockwell
  • Clapham North
  • Clapham Common
  • Clapham South

After the war ended, several of the shelters were still used by London’s military. The Goodge Street shelter was used by the army until the 1950s. The Chancery Lane shelter was used for the Kingsway Telephone Exchange during the Cold War years.

Recreated World War 2 communications room

Image Source: Shiny Things

In addition to the secrets you’ll uncover while traveling the Underground, you’ll also see all of the most iconic sights of the region.

Circle Line – Tower Hill Station

Tower Bridge – Built 120 years ago, the Tower Bridge is an engineering marvel and arguably one of the most recognizable attractions in the world. If you’re feeling brave, trek out onto the high bridges suspended between the bridges towers.

Tower Bridge in London

Image Source: spacedust2019

District Line – St James’s Station

St. James’s Park – Millions of visitors flock to the beautiful St. James’s Park every year. It’s the oldest of London’s eight Royal Parks, and it includes The Mall and the Horse Guards Parade.

View of St. James Park, London

Image Source: foshie

Jubilee Line – Westminster Station

Big Ben – Is there a more iconic London sight than Big Ben? Lucky for visitors, this sight is right along the Jubilee Line outside of Westminster Station. Whether you’re a history buff or just want to check it off of your bucket list, you need to stop by Big Ben.

Night view of Big Ben and Parliament Buildings

Image Source: Nan Palmero

Northern Line – Waterloo Station

London Eye – The London Eye is a larger-than-life Ferris wheel on the River Thames in London. From here, you will be treated to the most spectacular views of the city and a ride you won’t forget.

The London Eye at night

Image Source: Altug Karakoc

Piccadilly Line – Covent Garden or Leicester Square Station

Covent Garden – The district of Covent Garden in London is a hub for local shops, delicious food, and incredible street performers. Once you hop out of the Covent Garden station, you’ll have a tough time fitting everything you want to explore into just one day.

Covent Garden

Image Source: Aurelien Guichard

Parts of the Tube’s storied history are somber, but the incredible spirit of London persists and prevails. For once you wander the stations and secret passageways hidden beneath the surface, you’ll never think of London the same way again.

The Best Destinations for Digital Nomads

A woman working on a laptop in the middle of a street

The conventional 9 to 5 is slowly becoming extinct, and remote jobs with flexible working hours are steadily taking its place. When your job’s only requirements are a functional laptop and a reliable Internet connection, it’s not long until the comfort of your home office chair turns into numb legs and back pain. At this point, wanderlust is probably kicking in, and you’re wondering whether you’re suited for the digital nomad lifestyle. While that is a question that only you can answer, this list of the best destinations for digital nomads might give you a much-needed boost of confidence that will help you make up your mind.

Lisbon, Portugal

For digital nomad newbies, the capital of Portugal, Lisbon, is a good starting point. Portugal will make you feel at home while still allowing you to learn and experience new things. If you’re nervous about communicating with the locals, you can relax as most people here speak English very well. The variety of food from all over the world allows you to play it safe while also having the option to taste unique new dishes and local delicacies. Boredom in Lisbon is out of the question since this bustling city has plenty of beaches, restaurants, museums, and other spots where you can meet new people or have fun by yourself.

A street in Lisbon
Lisbon’s unique-looking streets are what makes this city irresistible.

While Lisbon is a very hilly place that will provide much-needed exercise after long working hours, you most likely won’t even notice your legs are on fire as you’ll be too busy marveling at the beautiful architecture and scenery around you. A big community of digital nomads will make you feel safe, and you might even pick up a few tips and tricks from more experienced travelers you’ll meet along the way.

Taipei, Taiwan

If you’re looking to experience a city unlike any other, Taipei is the way to go. The capital of Taiwan has been known for a while as one of the best destinations in the digital nomads’ community, and for a good reason. The Internet is fast and reliable, so you won’t have any trouble working. However, you might find it difficult to focus on work as Taipei is an extremely lively and busy city with something fun happening on every corner. You could probably spend most of your time on night markets exploring food and drinks you’ve never seen before. The friendly Taiwanese people will help if you have any questions, and you won’t have to gesture much as most of them speak good English.

Taiwanese red paper lanterns
Taipei is famous for its rich culture and hospitality.

When choosing to move far away from home, many people are worried about leaving their possessions behind, since traveling long distances is much cheaper and more convenient when your luggage is light. Renting a storage unit where you can store your belongings while away is a good idea because it will give you peace of mind knowing your things are safe and sound while you’re having the time of your life exploring the streets of Taipei.

Mexico City, Mexico

Tacos and tequila are probably the first things most people think of when Mexico is mentioned, but this part of the world has so much more to offer. Mexico City is the perfect combination of megacity features and affordable living costs. With that said, you will have to be extra careful not to pack on the pounds as delicious street food is literally on every corner, and the low prices certainly don’t reflect the quality. The pleasant weather all year round and the opportunity to explore the Caribbean on your days off are certainly a plus as well.

Budapest, Hungary

Budapest is the perfect choice for those who want to stay on a budget while at the same time enjoying the charm of big European cities. Its rich history is impossible to miss since there are plenty of museums, churches, and galleries that are well worth visiting. The architecture makes the city feel very luxurious, and the endless cafés, restaurants, and clubs balance it out with their youthful and friendly energy. There are plenty of weekend getaway options as well.

Before you know it, you’ll be hopping off to a different European city every other day as Budapest is surrounded by them, and the cheap and reliable transportation options are something you wouldn’t want to miss.

Ubud, Bali

Many people are convinced that Bali is one of the best destinations for digital nomads, and the reasoning behind that is not hard to understand. Ubud is one of the few places in the world where you can rent Instagram-worthy accommodation without going broke. You won’t have to imagine yourself working on your laptop with your feet in the pool or overlooking the lush green rice fields because that is exactly what you will be doing in Bali.

An Indonesian temple surrounded by greenery
Bali’s friendly atmosphere and gorgeous landscapes make it the best destination for digital nomads.

A big yoga scene will make it easy for you to work on your flexibility and health while also addressing the back pain you brought from home. And if living on a beautiful tropical island isn’t enough for you, Ubud’s friendly residents and a vast digital nomad community can help you feel at home. There are many co-working spaces and internet cafés so finding a good place to work from is super easy. Some might consider the number of tourists and visitors a bit off-putting, but if you put a little effort into staying off the beaten path, you’ll get to meet the country’s true mentality and culture.

Conclusion

Whichever place you choose, make sure to research the visas, transportation, prices, and other essential things. Don’t be afraid to leave your comfort zone because that is where amazing and life-changing things always happen. Remember that the best destinations for digital nomads are the ones where you can keep up with your work duties while still living your best life. Respect the locals, their culture, and mentality, and you are guaranteed to have the time of your life no matter where you go.

Plan a Driving Tour to See These Majestic Covered Bridges

There are lots of different ways to theme a road trip in order to see an eclectic collection of sites. For example, some people like to see how much of the historic Lincoln Highway they can drive. Others make a list of roadside diners that offer a slice of Americana to guide them on car adventures. Still others turn to historic items in order to create a cohesive vacation. One that might be interesting to try? Covered bridges.

These old-time slices of previous American modes of transportation are a window into how we used to live life. The reason for covered bridges is that covering the bridge helped it last longer and also enabled engineers to be able to build longer bridges. Luckily for us, engineers started discovering this in the early 1800s and people devoted themselves to saving them. Want to dive into these on your own? This graphic offers some good steps.