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.
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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

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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

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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.

Tried and True Niagara Falls

What’s not to like about tried and true Niagara Falls? Those of us who live in Southern Ontario and Western New York largely take it for granted. Living in Toronto, Niagara Falls is just a short drive down the highway. 90 minutes if the traffic is good; 2 hours or more if its not so good. From Buffalo, Niagara Falls is 30 minutes give or take. Over the years, I’ve probably been to Niagara Falls 25 or 30 times, maybe more. It’s intoxicating.

Niagara Falls USA

Before COVID-19 and 9/11, a quick trip across the border was a semi-regular event. Lunch, dinner, shopping, etc. Buffalo was normally the final destination but it’s always a treat to cross the border at Niagara Falls. Niagara Falls U.S.A. has the American Falls, the Seneca Casino, outlet shopping, hotels & motels. They also have some authentic American food restaurants like Villella’s Italian Restaurant (795 Rainbow Blvd), Buzzy’s (7617 NiagaraFalls Blvd.) and Sammy’s Pizzeria (1400 Hyde Park Blvd).

Niagara Falls Canada

Niagara Falls Canada gives you the full view of both the American Falls and the Horseshoe Falls (the Canadian Falls), 2 casinos, not so great shopping and many more hotel & motels. The better side for falls views and other activities. There are 27 wineries within 20 minutes and several championship golf courses. There always been this “vaudeville” feel to Niagara Falls with the walks, jumps and plunges that have taken place for almost 200 hundred years. In 2012, Nik Wallenda walked across a tightrope from the U.S. to Canadian side and an unidentified man became just the 3rd person to survive an unprotected trip over the falls.

Beyond looking at the Falls, there are a couple of great interactive Falls experiences. “Journey Behind the Falls” takes you down a 150 ft. elevator into a tunnel to 2 observation decks and portal behind the falls. The rushing water and roar of the falls is something else. The other more well known option is the “Maid of the Mist” boat tour. The boat takes you passed the base of the American Falls and into the basin of the Horseshoe Falls. A short walk from the Falls, Clifton Hill and area gives you amusement rides, takeout food and a lot of neon. The glory days of “the honeymoon capital of the world” are long gone but you can still find a motel with a heart shaped Jacuzzi tub.

Summary – Niagara Falls

At the end of the day, it all comes back to the wonder of the Falls. I never get tired of seeing Niagara Falls. It’s the unofficial 8th wonder of the world. It’s well worth the visit any time of year. And almost in my backyard.

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The Adventure Trek of Kasol-Kheerganga

The Adventure Trek of Kasol-Kheerganga

Himachal Pradesh is a place full of adventures. There are a lot of adventures one can do whether they are treks, rafting, bungee jumping, sightseeing, cable car, etc.

One of these adventures is the Kasol – Kheerganga Trek. The trek is one of the most popular treks in India.

Kasol

Kasol is a small village nestled in the hills of  Parvati Valley in Himachal Pradesh. It is a popular spot among hippies, backpackers, trekkers and nature lovers. The nearby village is Malana (famous for Malana Cream) and is deep-rooted in the Hippie culture. Kasol is a hub for Psy parties and every year attracts many tourists from across the World. Kasol is calm and quiet and will give you vibes of OM Shanti!

Kheerganga

Kheerganga is another small village that lies at the end of the Parvati Valley. It offers numerous waterfalls, hot springs, snow-capped peaks, and all-around lush green forests. Parvati Kund or hot spring pool is very famous among the Hindus and Sikh people as they believe the water has sacred healing properties.

Kheerganga offers amazing views of the Parvati River and the snow-covered Lahaul Spiti Valley.

The Adventure Trek of Kasol-Kheerganga

The Amazing Kasol- Kheerganga Trek

The Parvati Valley provides stunning and captivating views of the Himalayas. The trek  starts from Kasol. This 13 km long trek ends in Kheerganga and provides ample opportunities to explore the natural bounties of the region. On this adventure trail, you will pass by Rudranag, a serpent-shaped waterfall. There are numerous captivating waterfalls which are the highlights of the Kheerganga Trek.

The trek is considered as the best trek for beginners. It is a short and easy trek. It will take you through dense forests of rheodordans, oaks, and pines. You will be passing by the village of Barshaini – a small hamlet and the confluence of the rivers Parvati and Tosh. You will be treated to snowclad mountains, breathtaking views, and scenic landscapes of mountains.

 

 

A few of the villages that you will come upon on your trek:

1. Malana

A small village near Kasol, famous for Malana cream ( a drug). The place is quiet and calm with people here following the Lord Shiva. You will also start the Chandrakeni Trek from here. Malana is a village more for backpackers and nature lovers and less for tourists.

2. Tosh

It is located at 2,400 meters in elevation on a hill near Kasol in Parvati Valley. The place is famous for waterfalls and surrounded by Apple Orchards. You will see wooden architecture all over the village and captivating views of Parvati Valley. Tosh village is located close to the base of Kheergange.

3. Pulga

A small Hamlet in the trail near Malana. It is a beautiful place to visit and experience the great views of lush greenery, snowclad view of the peaks and skies landscapes.

After reaching Kheerganga, it is time to take a dive into the hot waters of the Parvati Kund. Enjoy the hot springs and relax your sore muscles after the tiring trek. And enjoy ravishing views of the valley all around.

You will see many local restaurants and cafes in small villages. Restaurants serve German, Chinese and Israeli cuisines. You can also have tea, coffee and snacks at tiny tea stalls.

Camp near Riverside and get close to nature by seeing the beautiful sunrises and starry nights. Or opt for a homestay and get a chance to explore the life of locals and their culture.

The best time to visit Kasol – Kheerganga is totally depended on your own preference. In summer, the weather remains pleasant and calm. In winter, the weather stays chilly with snowfalls. Most of the trekkers opt for the winter. Kasol is famous for rave and Psy parties and attracts many Indians and foreigners. They come here to backpack and explore the Hippie culture. Getting to Kasol is an adventure in itself with different routes and forms of transportation.

Here are some basic tips for beginners who are planning to do this adventure.

  • Beginners are advised to take a trek leader along with the trek.
  • Keep a route map with you.
  • Always keep something to eat with you like chocolates, chikki, energy bars, etc.
  • Follow the instructions of your trek leader.
  • Carry minimum weight.
  • Take necessary medicines or a medical kit with you.
  • Keep yourself healthy and fit.
  • Inform your family in prior advance.

Kasol Kheerganga is just a weekend away. Plan your next trip in the mountains and feel peace all around. Beginners will love their first trekking adventure!

Live. Travel. Explore!