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

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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

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.

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 top 10 tropical islands in the world

emerald colored sea and a view of the beach

What is a better depiction of paradise than a tropical island? And what are the top 10 tropical islands in the world? It’s a tough choice. Long stretches of white sandy beaches, the sun reflecting off the crystal blue sea, the soothing sound of the waves crashing the shore and the smell of salty water combined with coconut scented body lotions. Can it possibly get any better than that? Tropical islands are dream destinations for many honeymooners, adventure seekers and world travelers hooked on the intoxicating thrill of visiting new places. If you are looking for some inspiration for your next holiday, you may be interested in the following destinations.

1. Ko Lipe

Thailand used to be a go-to place for those looking for seclusion. However, exploiting this mesmerizing destination for the film industry has attracted a deluge of humanity eager to experience this place’s wonders. Still, deserted beaches on nearby islands are reachable by longboats. On the way there, you might even spot a shark. The waters are full of life, so snorkeling here could be an experience of a lifetime. What makes this island interesting is that there are few roads, no cars and you can cover it on foot within an hour.

A boat on the calm water at sunset
Explore the islands near Ko Lipe by boat

2. The Maldives

This collection of no less than 1000 islands is located in the middle of the Indian Ocean. Barely above the sea level, it is terribly affected by the climate changes, so hurry up before it’s too late. Although these tropical islands are expensive, it is possible to travel on budget with meticulous planning. The best time to visit is from November to May to avoid the monsoon season. Here, you can indulge in various activities. Diving and snorkeling first come to mind, but whale and dolphin watching is an absolute must.

3. Seychelles

Situated off the east coast of Africa, this group of 115 islands is a paradise for avid lovers of secluded beaches, sun and diving. Since it’s quite expensive, this holiday destination attracts the more upscale crowd. However, it is not a commonly mentioned fact that Seychelles used to be a pirate hideout. So, if you are feeling lucky, venture on a quest to find the legendary hidden treasure.

4. Bali

Surfing, hiking, fantastic food, vibrant nightlife, breathtaking beaches and the friendliest locals – is there anything this place doesn’t have? You can go white water rafting, volcano climbing, scuba diving, or simply sunbathing on either black or white beaches. Yes, Bali has it all. Due to the volcanoes, there are black beaches as well. There are also temples to visit for a more culturally oriented holiday. And that’s not all! Gili island is nearby, so you can easily see them both.

5. Tahiti

The Queen of the Pacific is the ultimate honeymoon destination and the veritable paradise. This is where those stunning photos of luxurious bungalows in the water are taken. In fact, this is the birth home of these gorgeous structures. It is also pretty pricy, so if it is affluence you seek, this is the place to go. But it’s not just romance and luxury you’ll find here. You can enjoy watersports, go on various boat tours or visit historical sites.

A couple holding hands on the beach at sunset
Tahiti is the ultimate tropical island for honeymooners

6. Fiji

Out of over 320 islands, more than two-thirds are uninhabited. With such a selection, it is virtually impossible not to find the place you will like. The waters are teeming with life, so snorkeling is spectacular. You can go diving, sailing, whale watching. Similarly to Bali, this is also an option for those into more active vacations. Therefore, it is more popular with the younger population.

7. Bermuda

Bermuda is the shipwreck capital of the world. Yes, you’ve read well. This heaven for banks and tax-avoiding businesses was first inhabited after a shipwreck in the 17th century. But despite this less than glamorous fun fact, it is extortionately expensive, so should you decide to visit it, you’ll need a sizeable budget. This island is the home of magical pink-sand beaches, warm emerald waters and enchanting landscape. Due to the reefs that ring the island, Bermuda is among the world’s unrivaled diving destinations.

8. Curacao

The moment you arrive in the town, you will notice the recognizable Dutch style. This island country is located in the Caribbean sea, home of many more idyllic locations. It has stable weather throughout the year, which is something its owner, The Netherlands, can’t brag about. If you are looking for a lot of sunshine and picturesque beaches, this is the place for you. If it’s fun and parties you want, Curacao is one of the go-to tropical islands. And it is no wonder, given that it is famous for an orange-flavored liqueur by the same name.

Palm tree and sun lounges on a tropical beach
Enjoy the picturesque beaches of Curacao

9. The Galapagos Islands

Much like the Maldives, the Galapagos is drastically affected by climate change. It’s one of the lushest places in the world with incredible wildlife. This is the home of the endemic Galapagos penguin, and probably the only place where you can see penguins in the wild. The fact that 97% of the islands is a national park, definitely says something. Unfortunately, because the ecosystem is fragile, if you want to enjoy the unspoiled nature and serenity it offers, hurry up.

10. The Cook Islands

The Cook Islands are another lush destination, rich with life. The South Pacific group of islands is less visited by tourists and has few amenities, making it a perfect choice if you wish to escape the hectic modern life. It doesn’t get more remote than this. The deep jungle, coral reefs and pristine beaches add to a more rugged tropical landscape than the other destinations.

Few things can make you feel more rejuvenated than treating yourself with a vacation to one of the tropical islands. If you have an adventurous spirit, you may want to consider making one of these places your home. Just imagine waking up to the sound of the waves, salty smell tingling your nostrils while the tropical breeze gently caresses your skin. Moving to such a place is a dream come true and a fantastic opportunity to reconnect with nature and enjoy life to the fullest.