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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8 common travel myths that are wrong

A man with a backpack ready to travel
Photo by Archie Binamira on Pexels.com

In 2020, the COVID-19 virus pandemic became a part of our reality. False information about the coronavirus can spread even faster than the virus itself. Almost every day, new myths are born and spread online in the blink of an eye – amongst them you will find plenty of common travel myths. With the right precaution measures, life must continue, as well as economic growth, so join us as we debunk some of these urban legends.

Time to move forward with our lives and our habits

The travel industry, much like every other industry, will persevere, though it too will need to adapt. With this article of 8 common travel myths, we will help you recognize false information about the virus. We’ll give you the knowledge you need to feel comfortable traveling again, safely, both for business and pleasure. 

Myth #1: If you’re traveling during this pandemic, you’re almost guaranteed to “catch” the virus

Fact: As long as you’re acting responsibly, taking the necessary precautions, and following the official instructions of the place(s) you’re in – your chances of catching the virus are minimal. The risk will of course always be there, but there’s a lot you can do to reduce the chances greatly.

Myth #2: All tourist attractions are closed due to the pandemic

Fact: In many cases, quite the opposite is true. With many people choosing to avoid traveling altogether, some of the places which are typically packed are now inviting visitors to explore them free from the usual crowd and noise. Neat discounts can be found too.

Myth #3: When traveling, wear a mask only indoors

Fact: You should wear your mask outdoors if you are visiting crowded places, parks, and public gatherings. You will protect others that way in case that you unknowingly have the virus, and vice-versa.

Hands holding a mask on a globe
Travel safely – wear your face mask to protect yourself and others

Myth #4: The COVID-19 virus cannot be transmitted in areas with hot and humid climates or extremely cold climates

Fact: There is no scientific evidence to support that claim. While some viruses (like the flu) have their “seasons” depending on the climate, many others are not so easily affected by external temperature. What we do know so far is that Covid-19 has spread to nearly all countries in the world, regardless of their environment. Don’t count on the weather keeping you safe – keep yourself safe instead.

Myth #5: Airports and airplanes are dangerous, and the risk of infection there is high

This is among the most common travel myths, yet also happens to be among the least true. Every airline company and every airport in the world is constantly working on improving safety measures to protect their employees as well as every single passenger.

Fact 1: Due to the circulation and advanced air filtration systems on airplanes, the risk for virus transmission is very low. Did you know there is a complete changeover of air every two to three minutes in an airplane? Of course, you still must take care of hand hygiene and respect all protocols.  

An airport waiting area
All airports are employing physical distancing measures

Fact 2: Airports have UV cleaning technology, enhanced sanitization, and many contactless solutions for all needed procedures. Wear a mask and maintain physical distance as required. Airport staff will take your temperature and hand sanitizers will be available everywhere around you. Onboard announcements will remind you of the necessary protocols.

Myth #6: Travel insurance will not cover medical expenses in case you get infected in a foreign country. It will cost you a lot,  better not to travel at all.

Fact: Most major insurance companies are updating their travel insurance policies to cover a part or all of the costs if you get infected abroad. Ask your insurance provider to explain your rights and responsibilities regarding travel insurance. The most important thing (now more than ever) is to keep yourself healthy, physically as well as mentally. Don’t neglect your physical shape – exercise, and spend time outside in fresh air.

Myth #7: When traveling, restaurants and street food should be avoided – you should prepare your own food

Fact: Hygiene measures are always important wherever and however you choose to eat. If you enjoy preparing your own food even while traveling – go for it! But if you’re only doing it to avoid restaurants out of fear, think again. Restaurants and fast food joints have tons of rules and protocols they need to follow, especially now – they’d be out of business otherwise. Common logic still applies, so before ordering a meal or grabbing some street food, make sure the place looks clean and maintained and that all precautions are taken.

Myth #8: Travel will never be the same, coronavirus will destroy tourism industries

Fact: Freedom to travel is a crucial part and a key driver in the international post-pandemic recovery. Tourism will survive. Firstly, for economic reasons and secondly because of the unique joy of travel itself. There are numerous innovations and automation in travel procedures which are making travel easier, safer, more convenient, and more enjoyable.

The impact of COVID-19 on the travel industry is enormous, but every possible step is taken so that you can travel again while staying safe and protected.

Airline companies are now giving more affordable rates and more flexible fares than ever, to encourage people to travel again. They will offer you more flight change possibilities than before (even for free). Along with that, they offer refund possibilities if your plans change due to the impact of the virus, or vouchers for future travel. Even bus and train tickets are offered with many flexible solutions – so don’t hesitate to explore the conditions, and do not be afraid to ask questions before buying them.

After debunking common travel myths- pack your bags and go, the world awaits you 

With all this in mind, traveling now may feel safer than going to your local food store or partaking in any other daily activity. The air in a plane is probably cleaner than the one circulating in your office. Airplanes are usually cleaner than our own living space, as they are constantly and thoroughly cleaned with enhanced solutions – even before COVID-19.

If you’re still wondering whether it is the right time to travel again, remember this: the desire to travel is in our DNA and that can never change! Tourism can’t be stopped. Travel can’t be stopped. You, dear reader – can’t be stopped.

Signpost on the road
Traveling will help you relax and reduce stress

As the world opens for you again, you will also be more open to the world! Traveling will help you relax, reduce stress, and make unforgettable memories. You’ll have fun, see and do something new, strengthen relationships, learn more, grow, and eventually improve your life. So don’t be afraid to get out there!