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.

Essential tips for essential travel

Airplane seats waiting and ready for boarding

Not everyone is ready to get back in the air, but many people still have trips they need to take. Travel is slowly increasing with essential travel leading the way. If you’re in that boat (or plane, actually) there are some things you should know before you go, i.e. essential tips for essential travel.

Most importantly, you should know that the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) has instituted several measures to ensure your security screening experience is as safe and secure as possible.

Wear A Face Covering

People travelling by plane from and within Canada need to bring their face covering. Face coverings need to cover the nose and mouth, be made of at least two layers of tightly-woven fabric (such as cotton or linen) and secured to the head. (Check out Public Health Agency of Canada’s guidelines, including instructions on how to make your mask.)

Use Hand Sanitizer When Out and About

At major airports, hand sanitizing units have been placed by the checkpoints to be used by the public. You can also have one bottle of hand sanitizer up to 355 mL in your carry-on – that is in addition to the 100 mL bottles that fall under the usual liquids’ restrictions. Keeping hands clean is especially important to help prevent the virus from spreading.

Screening Checkpoint at Security

Temperature screening at an airport in Canada

If you’re flying out of one of Canada’s 15 busiest airports, you’ll have your temperature checked when you arrive at the screening checkpoint. You will not be permitted to proceed through screening if your temperature, after two separate tests, is at or above 38⁰C. Note that if you exhibit symptoms of illness such as a cough or difficulty breathing, you will be required to leave the checkpoint.

While in the queue and the screening checkpoint, you must keep two metres between yourself and other passengers. Hold on to your own electronic or printed boarding pass or other documents of entitlement while they are scanned.

Travel Safely

Travel myths abound but the facts are the facts. Aviation is an essential service, ensuring people and goods get to where they need to go, and CATSA has taken every step possible to ensure this happens safely. You can go to their website for more information, or you can download their app for Android or iOS.

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San Diego – The Ultimate Californian Weekend Getaway

If you’re up for some California dreamin’, there is no better place in the world than San Diego for the ultimate Californian Weekend Getaway. The city’s sunsets and surf is so laid-back that no one would ever believe it to be the nation’s 8th largest city. Still, that’s exactly what it is, and it’s everything you would expect it to be: bikinis, khaki shorts, raucous and ritzy beaches, sunny days and, of course, Legoland. If you’re planning to spend a weekend in San Diego and don’t know how to make the most of it, here are some tips that will help you.
San Diego - The Ultimate Californian Weekend Getaway

San Diego – LaJolla Shores

If you’re looking for the ultimate stretch of sand in San Diego, you must definitely visit the La Jolla shores. You’ll enjoy several different beaches with dramatic cliffs, secluded coves, and sandy expanses. No matter what your interest – swimming, surfing, sunbathing or watching the adorable baby seals, you will find a beach that’s for you. Windansea Beach is secluded and picture-perfect. Couples go to enjoy romantic scenery there, and surfers go to enjoy the waves. La Jolla Children’s Pool is not that convenient for kids (although this was its original intention), but more for families of seals. If swimming, diving and snorkeling are your hobbies, than you should head out to La Jolla Cove. Beautiful and isolated, Black’s Beach is ideal if you want to get a nudist experience.

San Diego - A coastal view of LaJolla Shores
A woman looking at seals on the beach

San Diego – Gaslamp District and Little Italy for Dining and Partying

Great food and fun nightlife are common things in San Diego, but when you have only one weekend in this fabulous city, you want to try only the best. And for that, you’ll have to go to these two neighborhoods.

  • Gaslamp District is San Diego’s historic neighborhood with Victorian-era buildings and skyscrapers side by side. It hosts more than 100 of the city’s retail shops, restaurants, pubs and nightclubs. You can dine fine at a rooftop lounge or try some delicious street food on the sidewalks. Live music and dancing after your belly is filled are a must.
  • Little Italy is, as it name implies, the best quarter in the city to eat authentic pizza, pasta and gelato. This eclectic neighborhood has a number of adorable sidewalk cafes, charming little shops, and specialty stores.
Gaslamp District and Little Italy for Dining and Partying in San Diego

San Diego – The Best Neighborhoods for Shopping

Sure, you can just head to one of San Diego’s numerous shopping malls, but where is the fun in that? Instead, try searching through some of the most charming shopping neighborhoods (La Mesa, Encinitas, Chula Vista, Coronado, Solana Beach and South Park). Who knows how many unique things you can find in the charming local shops? From artisan jewelry to vintage clothing, San Diego has it all.

Shopping in San Diego

San Diego – Visit the City’s Top Attractions

Sometimes, you must do things by the book and be a true tourist. For that you will have to visit some of the best San Diego’s attractions.

  • USS Midway Museum offers not only indoor exhibits, but also local tours around the city’s most famous historic sites.
  • Belmont Park will not only welcome families with kids, but it will also awaken your inner child, when you take a ride at the Giant Dipper Roller Coaster.
  • San Diego Sports Museum is a sentimental journey through the history of the city’s sports.
  • Museum of Photographic Arts reveals fascinating, moving and surprising images which are witnesses to the history of photography.
  • Seaport Village is a charming and quiet part of the town, where you can go to shop, explore art and drink wine.
  • San Diego Zoo is basically a huge park with animals and plants.
The USS Midway ship in San Diego

Two days are not enough to enjoy all the wonders of San Diego, but if you plan everything carefully, you can see the best it has to offer.

This article was written by Roxana Oliver, a travel enthusiast and an occasional blogger from Sydney, Australia.