London Transport Hidden London Tours – On Sale from 21st November 2017

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London Transport regularly run tours of disused Underground stations and tunnels. These are my reviews of three of their tours:

These tours are always popular and usually sell out in the pre-sale to London Transport Museum email subscribers. This is probably one reason why LTM have increased the prices of the tours. For example:

  • Euston Lost Tunnels was £35 in 2016 now £41.50
  • 55 Broadway was £32.50 now £38.50
  • Clapham South was £35 now £41.50

I always wonder where this money goes as the tours are all run by volunteers. Nonetheless, if you want to do the tour then that’s the price.

Tickets for five tours/events will go on sale to LT email subscribers at 10am 21st November 2017:

  • Euston: The Lost Tunnels
  • Euston: The Photography Tour
  • 55 Broadway: London’s First Skyscraper
  • Clapham South: Subterranean shelter
  • Clapham South: Subterranean Screenings

Sales to the general public start 22nd November. My previous booking experience, using the priority link that is sent on the 21st November, was:

  • Click at 10am
  • Find myself in a queue behind hundreds of others and eventually have the chance to buy after 40 minutes or so.

So if you want to go on one of these tours:

Register here: https://ticketfeed.ltmuseum.co.uk/ and ensure you receive an email confirming that you registered.

  • Choose a tour.
  • Decide the dates (see below) when you can make the tour.
  • Check your emails on Tuesday 21st November morning and click at 10am.
  • Don’t forget that tickets are non-transferable and non-refundable.

Here is some detail about the tours and dates:

Euston: The Lost Tunnels

Discover a labyrinth of dark and deserted passageways which were once used by the travelling public and see a gallery of preserved vintage poster fragments that have been hidden for over 50 years. This secret space is located below a busy Tube station that serves almost 42 million passengers each year and Euston national rail station.

Dates: Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday
20 January – 4 February, 14 – 25 February, 7 – 18 March 2018
Times: various
Tour duration: 75 minutes approx.
Location: Euston, NW1 2EA
Tickets: Adult £41.50; Concession £36.50 (+ £1.50 booking fee per transaction)

I personally don’t think this tour is worth £41.50 – see my review here.

EUSTON: THE PHOTOGRAPHY TOUR

This tour is an abbreviated version of Euston: The lost tunnels tour. It will be led by an expert tour guide with additional time structured in for photography. Please be aware this tour is a non-instructional photography tour and there will not be a professional photographer on site for instruction. You will need to have a good working knowledge of and provide your own photographic equipment. You must be self-sufficient in the use of your equipment.

Dates: Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday
7 – 11 February, 28 February – 4 March, 21 – 25 March 2018
Times: various
Tour duration: 150 minutes approx.
Location: Euston, meet at 16 Melton Street, NW1
Tickets: Adult £100; Concession £95 (+ £1.50 booking fee per transaction)

I think £100 is too expensive and unless you need a lot of time to set up equipment, you’d find time to take some good photos on the regular tour – here’s one of mine (taken on my iPhone):

55 Broadway: London’s First Skyscraper

55 Broadway was the headquarters of London Transport and later London Underground until 2016. This Grade I listed structure – London’s first skyscraper – was considered radical and offensive when unveiled in 1929. Now a fabulous example of Art Deco London, visitors will be able to see beautifully detailed offices, grand meetings rooms, and stunning rooftops views.

Dates: Saturday, Sunday
27-28 January, 24-25 February, 24-25 March 2018
Times: various
Tour duration: 90 minutes approx.
Location: 55 Broadway, SW1H 0BD
Tickets: Adult £38.50; Concession £33.50 (+ £1.50 booking fee per transaction)

Clapham South: Subterranean shelter

Opened to the public in July 1944, Clapham South deep-level shelter has over a mile of subterranean passageways that reveal the extraordinary stories of those who sheltered here. Find out how Londoners took refuge underground during the Blitz and how it was home to Jamaican migrants in the 1940s as well as visitors to the Festival of Britain in the 1950s.

Dates: Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday
13 – 26 January, 7 – 23 February, 28 February – 4 March, 14 – 23 March 2018
Times: various
Tour duration: 75 minutes approx.
Location: Clapham South deep-level shelter, SW12 9DU
Tickets: Adult £41.50; Concession £36.50 (+ £1.50 booking fee per transaction)

CLAPHAM SOUTH: SUBTERRANEAN SCREENINGS

Cosy up underneath a blanket 180 steps underground and watch a bespoke Second World War film reel curated by London Transport Museum. See one of 16 sub-shelters in the vast complex of tunnels and learn about the realities of being a Londoner during the Second World War whilst sitting in one of eight deep-level shelters that exists across London.

With first hand oral histories and footage from people that actually sheltered here during the V-weapon raids and throughout the end of the war, Ministry of Information propaganda films, cartoons and newsreel clips of the day, this unique event will transport you to a time encapsulated in history in this shelter hidden deep underground.

Dates: Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday
31 January – 4 February, 7 – 11 March 2018
Times: various
Tour duration: 70 minutes approx.
Location: Clapham South deep-level shelter, SW12 9DU
Tickets: Adult £46.50; Concession £41.50 (+ £1.50 booking fee per transaction)

Win a Pair of Tickets to Aruba and seven nights hotel

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KLM are running a competition with the following prize:

A pair of KLM return flights, with seven nights accommodation and breakfast for two at Amsterdam Manor Beach Resort. Plus return airport transfers with De Palm Tours and a complimentary island tour!

Located on one of the best beaches in the World, Eagle Beach, Amsterdam Manor Beach Resort is a 72 room intimate hideaway with the luxuries of a large resort.

If you were the winner, it looks like your flight needs to depart from the UK, but I can’t see anything in the T&Cs that say you have to be a UK resident.

The link to the competition is here: https://takemetoarubaklm.klm.com/register.php

You need to enter your name, email, gender and preferred UK departure airport. I was actually surprised to see only two choices of gender from the permissive Dutch, considering how many gender-issue news stories are around at the moment. Luckily for me, this wasn’t an issue – I didn’t even need to check!

The next screens ask you to play a video and answer a simple question. The videos are short and mostly entertaining, but if you really don’t have time to watch them, the answers are:

  • Willem III Tower
  • Pastechi
  • Quiet Cove
  • Tumba

The last screen says you can enter multiple times – the questions don’t change.

Good luck!

 

Underground Prague – November 25th and 26th 2017 – Prague, Czech Republic

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11th November 17:10 update: It looks like all tickets are gone.

11th November 10:53 update: The booking system has been open for 30 minutes and tickets are going fast – so don’t be too surprised if you find zero tickets available for some of the locations.

‘Illuminate the Underground’ or ‘The Day Underground’ is running for the second year in Prague on November 25th and 26th 2017. On these dates, numerous hidden underground locations will be open to visitors for free. But you need to book in advance from today (11th November).

The current list includes (with links to the description in Czech):

Crypt of the Church of St. Cyril and Methodius – this is where the Czech paratroopers hid from the Nazis after the assassination attempt on SS-Obergruppenführer and General der Polizei Reinhard Heydrich, codenamed Operation Anthropoid. Resslova 9a near Karlovo námesti metro.

Tunnels 30m below the National Theatre (Národní divadlo).

Crypt of the Church of Our Lady of Victory and St. Antonín Paduánský

Behind the scenes at The Estates Theatre.

Cold War Museum under the Hotel Jalta – Wenceslas Square (Václavské náměstí). I had to pay when I visited and it wasn’t really worth the fee. But go if it’s free.

A former nuclear shelter (Bunkr Parukářka) in Parukářka Park, Žižkov. This looks bigger than the Folimanka shelter where R2-D2 appeared – oddly not open that same weekend.

A storm sewer under Stromovka

The casemates at Vyšehrad – hidden spaces between the castle walls.

After that you’ll need to go out of the centre and choose one of the following – both at opposite ends of Prague

A tunnel beneath Divoká Šárka – Tunnel is 160 m with a width of 2.5 m plus home to 1200 bats!

Tunnel beneath Branická Skála –  Tunnel is 250 m with a width of 2.5 m plus home to more bats!

The booking system is open from today (11th November) http://nadenpodzem.cz/

They also have a Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/events/125753131431333/

Bohemia Boards & Brews, Prague, Czech Republic

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Bohemia Boards & Brews is a café where you can choose from a large menu of board games. There is a fixed fee of 60Kc and then you can play as long as you want. I’m guessing they’d like you to buy at least a drink or two although I’m not sure how they’ll deal with the inevitable spillage of drinks over game boards.

They call themselves a café but I can see pictures of people with beer and wine. Their website doesn’t yet show a menu and so I’m not sure what’s available and at what price.

The location Charkovská 441/18 isn’t far from Satsang restaurant on Krymska – looks like the whole area is getting busy.

I invented a card game https://flapscard.com/ with cards and rules in both English and Czech – so I’ve dropped Bohemia Board & Brews a line to say I’d be happy to donate a pack, plus offer to teach them how to play. I’m guessing they’ll be happy to receive another game for their menu – even though it isn’t a board game.

I’m planning to visit within the next week and I’ll write a review after that. In the meantime, here’s a video interview with the owner.

Bohemia Boards & Brews
Charkovská 441/18
Prague
Czech Republic

http://www.bohemiaboardsandbrews.com/

https://www.facebook.com/BohemiaBandB/

Tuesday to Friday: 16:00 to 23:00
Friday and Saturday 12:00 to 23:00
Sunday: closed

R2-D2 appears on top of a nuclear bunker in Prague, Czech Republic

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I’ve previously written about the Folimanka Nuclear Fallout Shelter (Pražský kryt Folimanka), Prague, Czech Republic – I was there again on Saturday 14th October for one of the monthly openings. Perhaps it was during the opening that some street-art, Star Wars fans decided that one of the exterior air vents of the bunker needed a makeover.

If you exit the bunker, turn right into Folimanka Park, then climb a long series of steps, you’ll finally arrive at the location.

If I’d have known exactly where it was before I climbed the steps, I would have taken the tram to Bruselská then followed Lublaňská street into Folimanka going left at the parking lot on the path that curves around into the park.

There was nobody around today (25/10/17) and so I was able to take some pictures.

I’m not really a Star Wars fan, but it looks pretty good and this must have be planned as the two arms weren’t previously part of the bunker vent.

Latest news is that the Mayor of Prague 2, Jana Černochov has decreed that R2 can stay and won’t be painted over The Mayor said:
“We do not support illegal graffiti, but we like the decor on this unsightly shaft. Where else should this robot be, other than in the part of the city that is so associated with the author of the term, Karel Čapek ?”

For those who don’t know, Karel Čapek  wrote a 1920 play ‘RUR’ or ‘Rossum’s Universal Robots’. He later credited his brother, Josef Čapek as the person who invented the phrase – well took it from an old Church Slavonic word, robota, for servitude, forced labour or drudgery.

Sightseeing in Nuremberg – The Rally Grounds and Documentation Centre

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Yesterday I wrote about Nuremberg centre and the Nuremberg Card. I would say by far the most interesting places to the visit are the old Nazi rally grounds (Zeppelinfeld)and the Documentation Centre. We were staying at the Hilton Nuremberg, which is walking distance to both. If you are travelling from the centre, there is a tram that stops just outside the Documentation Centre – you then need to walk around the lake to the rally grounds.

What is interesting, although understandable, is how the rally grounds aren’t part of any tour, nor are they signposted when you visit the Documentation Centre. Equally, the huge Congress Hall, that the Documentation Centre is attached to, is something you need to find by yourself.

From the Hilton Nuremberg, we turned right, under a railway bridge, then right again to reach the rally grounds.

At the front of the building, there was a sign that said ‘Enter at your own risk’. I suppose because the steps have been left to deteriorate and some are now broken and uneven.

The place was pretty deserted. The old rally grounds now sports fields.

 

It’s amazing how accessible the place is – you can easily stand on the main plinth and imagine looking out on the rallies.

There was a small information poster at the top of the steps.

An image on glass allows you to look back in history.

The building used to have a large swastika at the top – this was blown up by the allied forces.

On either side of the parade grounds are building that provided toilets and a place for the large lights that shone upwards.

Having past the rally grounds, we followed a path around a lake. The Documentation Centre and Colosseum on the other side.

 

The Documentation Centre has a modern entrance.

We used our Nuremberg Cards for free admission (I think normally EUR 8) and took the lift to the top floor. The centre contains some harrowing historical scenes, some posters and memorabilia, a record of war crimes and an art installation that shows the names (on cards) of those sent to concentration camps.

There is also a terrace where you can look out to the Congress Hall.

You exit the centre via a long sloping walkway.

We stumbled into a room behind the café with supporting columns and an alternate view of the sloping walkway.

But someone from the museum appeared and made it clear that this wasn’t open to the public.

If you turn left at the exit, you can walk around to the Congress Hall entrance, again, there isn’t any signposting and you find yourself walking along a deserted portico.

That leads to the entrance.

Inside the place is vast – the plan was to add a roof, but the war was over before that happened.

Here is a 360 video that I took while there:

We retraced our steps and returned to our hotel.

I would definitely recommend a visit. For me the most interesting parts were those that were unpackaged. In fact, if you wanted to skip the museum, you wouldn’t miss that much.

https://museums.nuernberg.de/documentation-center/

 

Sightseeing in Nuremberg – The Nuremberg Card and the City Centre

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Nuremberg is an interesting place to visit, not least because of it’s historical significance as the site for the Nuremberg Nazi Rallies and then the Nuremberg trials. The city is nice enough, but not chocolate-box beautiful like Salzburg. The city’s central square is a giant market and the castle isn’t that impressive. The people are friendly and all seem happy to speak English.

If you’re planning to visit for a full couple of days and plan to take a bus out to the Documentation Centre, it’s probably worth buying the Nuremberg Card. This gives you admission to just about all the museums is also good for all travel on public transportation. If you just plan on wandering around the centre then don’t bother.

The price is EUR 25 for two consecutive days (kids EUR 5). We picked our up from the tourist office just opposite the main railway station. It doesn’t look like you can order the card online, but you can read more about it here: https://tourismus.nuernberg.de/en/booking/nuernberg-card-city-card/

Our only benefit from the card was entry to the Nuremberg Historical Museum (in the centre), the Documentation Centre (about 20 minutes ride from the centre), plus the convenience of being able to ride the metro and buses without needing a ticket – I’d guess we came out about even.

Here are some pictures from around the town (it was Oct 7th and so the weather wasn’t that good). Tomorrow I’ll cover the rally grounds and the Documentation Centre.

 

Hilton Hotel, Nuremberg, Germany

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We booked in for one Saturday 7th October night at a pretty good rate EUR 90 for two including breakfast. The hotel looked close to the old rally grounds and what is called ‘The Documentation Centre’, but is 20 minutes by bus from the city centre.

We arrived to the city centre by bus from Prague and soon realised that we may have been better staying in the centre, just to check in and drop our small bags. After wandering around the centre for a few hours, we found the bus that went to the Hilton.

We almost missed the stop as it was a request and we didn’t press the call button, but the driver stopped several metres further which was nice.

The Hilton is one those classic out-of-the-centre, middle-of-nowhere, Hiltons – ideal when you are driving as the car park was large.

Next door was a local football stadium and I could see their pitch from the windows at the rear of the hotel.

The man on the check-in desk was friendly, helpful and spoke English. We also arranged a late check out 13:30.

Our bedroom was fine for one night. Unfortunately, the bathroom was hot, tiny, drains a bit smelly with a noisy extractor fan.

It started to rain and we quickly realised that eating anywhere other than the hotel bar/restaurant would be impractical.

I think we spent about EUR70 in the restaurant, for a large beer, three large glasses of wine and two main courses.

The sous-vide pork belly.

and a rumpsteak:

The food was okay but nothing special.

Breakfast was impressive, with fresh orange juice, sparkling wine, all the usual pastries and hot food, including local sausages. For those whose rate didn’t include breakfast, the price was EUR24 – which is a bit steep and also unavoidable given the hotel location.

There is no direct bus connection from the hotel to the Documentation Centre – you’d need to head back into the centre and then back out again. It’s about 30 minutes walk, but halfway there you can see the old rally grounds and then walk around a nice lake.

If you are on a driving to Nuremberg then this hotel would be fine – otherwise choose something in the city centre.

HILTON NUREMBERG HOTEL
VALZNERWEIHERSTRASSE 200,
90480, NUREMBERG,
GERMANY

TEL: +49-911-4029 0

http://www3.hilton.com/en/hotels/bavaria/hilton-nuremberg-hotel-NUEHIHI/index.html

Royal China Club Restaurant, Baker Street, London, England

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Royal China Group have several restaurants in London. Royal China Club is probably one of their more expensive, fine dining locations.

The restaurant is just a short walk from Baker Street station.

The interior is nice, although nothing special.

The tables are set with both chopsticks and western cutlery.

For me, the biggest draw, apart from meeting friends, was their Dim Sum menu. I think these are called ‘potstickers’ in the USA.

And the Dim Sum were absolutely delicious. In fact, I wish I’d ordered more Dim Sum as a main course, especially as we were sharing. Here’s what was left by the time I managed to take a picture.

The food prices weren’t bad for central London. The wines were expensive, with the lowest priced bottles at £40.

I had 1/4 crispy duck (£15.50) as a main course. Crispy duck (shredded), with the Hoisin sauce, cucumber sticks, spring onions and pancakes is a classic dish in England – but not easy to find in central Europe – that’s why I went for crispy duck. It was okay, but really not better than any local Chinese restaurant.

Would I return? Well I went to meet friends who really like this restaurant and so would do so again just for their benefit. Next time, I think I’ll stick to dim sum and have a few large glasses of wine before I arrive.

Royal China Club
40-42 Baker Street
Marylebone
London
W1U 7AJ

http://www.theroyalchina.co.uk/rcc.html

+44 207 486 3898
info@royalchinagroup.co.uk

Sightseeing in Salzburg

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Salzburg is a beautiful city, the people are friendly and all seem happy to speak English. The number one item to purchase is the Salzburg Card. This gives you admission to just about all the museums, the funicular, the lift and also the cable car to Geiereck mountain station (1,776 m). The card is also good for all travel on public transportation. Churches are free.

We purchased the card from our hotel Holiday Inn Crowne Plaza reception. You can also buy online here: https://www.salzburg.info/en/hotels-offers/salzburg-card?gclid=CJnZvIzI69YCFQW17QodByEF0A

Yesterday I posted pictures and a video from the Cable Car to Geiereck mountain station. Today a series of photos from around Salzburg and inside some buildings and churches.