Monthly Archives: October 2017

London - Seen & Done

Hidden London: the Clapham South Subterranean Shelter Tour

Imagine it’s pitch black, loud air sirens are booming and you’re rushing down a endless metal staircase… Having grown up in a war zone bunker – in my case a cellar – this was as normal as your weekly visit your grandparents.

It took me over two years to get tickets for one of London Underground’s Hidden Tours. Tickets go on sale only a few times a year and sell out quicker than a spare tube seat gets taken in the rush hour. I was glad to head down after such a long wait, but it did strike a chord with me and my past back home…

When I booked the tickets I didn’t read into it too much so I thought we’d be seeing a closed off platform at a station, but it turned out this was a massive underground complex specifically built for the Blitz  – bombing attacks of the UK by Germany from 1940-1941, there was a LOT to see and you could have easily got lost with the guides.

The tour guides show you around the little underground village that includes a medical station, a canteen that dished out top notch sandwiches and tea, and a recreational area (apparently getting frisky was probably the only sports activity ;). The shelters housed up 10,000 people so you can imagine it wasn’t just a place to stroll in. If your house was destroyed or if you were visiting London you could get a ticket. To get in you needed a pass with a bed number and each bed was allocated to a specific person, plus it was BYOB (Bring Your Own Bedding).

The first time was scary and no one knew what happened, but overtime it got … almost boring. I hated them during the day because it meant we had to stop our hide and seek or tag game, I was scared of them when I was at school or on my way to school as I was away from my mom and brother, but when they came at night it meant I didn’t have to sleep and could play with my friends and cousins

Once you walk down the stairs you step into the tunnels that are full and full of the actual beds that people slept on, some are made up and one had a Ludo game on it, something I had actually played during while killing time in what seemed like another life.

Then, it’s a long walk back up to daylight, I was thinking of my mom, my aunt and other people in town. While they were worried in what state the house or the animals would be I was proably more frustrated about the Ludo game I had lost.

After WW2, the underground tunnels became a kind of youth hostel, then it housed labour migrants from the Caribbean and the military before it was turned into archives – all that top-secret info and what not!

What the future holds for the tunnels is unclear (they want to expand), but similar sites are currently being used for mass hydroponics – growing all sorts of vegetables that turn up in the supermarket! To think your shiny orange carrot may have never seen the natural light of day until you take out outside in your shopping basket!


Would You Rather: Travel Edition

Way way back I got stuck into the whole Would You Rather‘s and today I’m returning to theme to dole out more of these dilemmas just for you.

Q: Would you rather get one free round trip intercontinental plane ticket every year OR be able to fly continental anytime for free?
A: Hmm….one free intercontinental plane ticket every year! Because if I were to go to go for an continental trip every (other) weekend accommodation, food and other costs would add up, plus the charm of free flights whenever fade after a while – how sick would you get of airports right?

Q: Would you rather have an everlasting phone battery or unlimited Wi-Fi wherever you go?
A: I’ve been stressed way more often about my little phone spluttering out, screaming and dying on me than no Wi-Fi so I guess an everlasting phone battery would save me some stress, but maybe not being able to always use your phone at all is a plus…

Q: Would you rather stay in an all inclusive resort where you are waited on hand and foot but can’t leave the vicinity OR embark on a 10-day cruise where you are able to island hop? (borrowed from Atlas Adrift)
A:  Island hopping on a cruise doesn’t sound too bad actually, I’m even fine to go on those quick excursions and it means I could finally have my ‘King of the World’ moment. And the less said about those cruise norovirus incidents the better…

Q: Would you rather never be able to leave your own country or never be able to fly in an plane?
A: I’m happy not to sit in a flying tin can again, sure it would take forever to get to certain places, but it also has its charms and it’s not like I’m heading to exotic destinations three times a year. Plus I would get so much good karma when it comes to sustainable travel that it would be worth it, right?

Q: Would you rather be fluent in all languages and never be able to travel or be able to travel anywhere but never be able to learn a word of a different language?

A: It would be a challenge, but I would go for travel anywhere but never learn a work in different languages. I’m so lucky that with my language skill and with the miming act I can bluff myself around most of the Europe and it wasn’t until I was in Japan that I felt lost and stupid and finally understood why tourists walk around like zombies. I quickly learned that the only thing was to accept it and give an extra smile to anyone who took the time to help.

Q: Would you rather have an unlimited international flight ticket or never have to pay for food at restaurants?
A: I’m happy to support the food and hospitality industry (they put up with a LOT) so in this case I would like to go for the tickets.

Q: Would you rather sit in a first-class window seat with a view of Tahitian islands or a last-row aisle seat with a view of Ryan Gosling’s back-of-head in front of you?
Reading this all I’m thinking about is: last row aisle seat equals people queuing all the time for the toilets so I’m definitely going for first class window … even if the view was rain/fog/cloud. I can always sneak into the back aisle and accidently spill my drink on him to start a conversation right? Plus, wouldn’t it be better if Gosling was looking at the back of my head ;)?

Q: Would you rather travel across the US from east to west by train or by car?
A: A car combined with random motels would be the dream, but a train is more realistic and ever since seeing the bizarrely compelling Great American Railroad Journeys is has gone up on my wanderlist.

Q: Would you rather spend the night in a castle or a tree hut?
A: Castle! Provided it’s nice and warm with tons of fireplaces and candles, especially as it’s cold and raining as I write this. But if it’s warm and sunny outside then maybe nature could beckon me…

Which of these is YOUR biggest inner dilemma? If you are sharing your answers of the tag on your blog, leave a link as I would love to read them.


July – September or Things I’ve Been Doing While Abandoning This Blog

It’s October, which basically means the year is pretty much done, dusted and banished to a shallow memory only retrievable via social media posts. But before we get down to the fun end of year things (and last minute presents stress) let me catch up on what I’ve been doing offline.
Been There 
UK:  Brighton: to visit friends
Netherlands: Amsterdam – Dullsville: to visit friends and family
Germany: Aachen to visit some more family
Done That
I faced my slight fear of heights over the summer, with not just one but three daredevil stunts:
1. Braved a treetop rope course + zip lining, complete with several hyperventilation moments.
2. Let it all go and screaming my heart out on a crazy rollercoaster in Brighton.
3. Last but not least –  the highlight was a swing in Amsterdam, not just any swing, but the highest swing in Europe. When you are heading to Amsterdam and are looking for something different to do than it should be your go-to activity (followed by drink at the bar).
I spent an afternoon in Aachen, Germany where lots of my family live and many a childhood holiday was spent. We took a walk down memory lane and went to the park we used to play, got ice-cream from our favourite place and stumbled upon a tour while finally learning what this creature is! It’s called a Bahkauv and it’s supposed to be a calf with sharp teeth that lived in the dirty waters of the river in the Middle Ages and the story goes that it would jump on drunk mens shoulders and demanded to be carried which made the men get home way to late. Also if the men prayed or begged it got heavier and heavier, but it turned lighter if they would curse. Women and kids have nothing to fear as it would leave them alone, so I’m all for bringing them back!
Looking through my photos I noticed I had a lot of ice-cream this summer, so I feel I can give you a top three round up!
1. The prize for the best idea, but not the most practical goes to Milk Train and their cotton candy covered ice-cream. The soft serve started melting as soon as I walked outside, making the cotton candy way too sticky and creating a giant mess – also the flavour was just not right.
2. The Soft Serve Society was perfect to chow down quickly as they kept it the flavour subtle and if you are into IG trends: they do the charcoal ice-cream – it looks good in any filter.
3. But my number one will always be Chin Chin Labs and their Dessert Bar in Soho does the Avo Taco, which will be the best possible cooled treat you can shove in your mouth this year.
Tea and queuing don’t go well together, I hate waiting when there is not clear communication to what’s going on and last year’s Open House was so drama packed I decided to just skip it for 2017 but I ended up to the old waiting hall at Peckham Rye Station, mainly because there were no queues and it was close to home. It’s so sad that we can’t have gorgeous waiting rooms in train stations where can play billiards, we’ll just have to do with Deli de France and Pumpkin Cafe.
Bucketlist moment?
My favourite thing to do was definitely finally seeing a play at Shakespeare’s Globe. I decided to go for a comedy as I didn’t want to jump into a tragedy immediately.  Much Ado About Nothing was set in the colourful and musical chaos of the Mexican Civil War and was the best entertainment I had seen in a while. If there only was more of it in London.

I blinked and missed a train Summer deal that would allow me to travel to cities Glasgow, Liverpool and Bristol between £22 and £38 on a Friday after work. Still haven’t forgiven myself for that. And my first experience with Luton airport was another low down, it was a Friday evening so you can imagine how busy it was. Due to massive delays and no seats, people were camping out on the floor, there was a 45 minute wait for even the lowly Bella Italia, and to top it off the person who sat next to me was devouring a lot of pungent salmon once we were in the air. I’m pretty sure there is a special place in hell for people who eat smelly food on transportation – preferably next to giant boxes of Durian fruits, for poetic justice of course.

What have been your high and low-lights for the past few months?