The small South American nation of Uruguay, tucked away on the continent’s east coast between Brazil and Argentina, may be not as as well known as its bigger neighbours when it comes to the world stage and the everyday person, but the country is being lauded as a success story that has been financially and politically sound beyond many people’s expectations… and is on the rise.
In the past fifteen years, Uruguay has spearheaded economic growth on the continent with an interannual growth rate of 2 per cent under three successive governments of the country’s centre-left Frente Amplio coalition, bringing new wealth and the attentions of the moneyed and savvy to it and its cities.
The biggest beneficiary of Uruguay’s success has been its capital, Montevideo. A microcosm of old Spanish America with its vintage buildings, alongside the recognisable signs of modern city environments, Montevideo has been voted the Latin American city with the highest quality of life, as well as joining the club of the world’s thirty safest cities. On top of that, Uruguay’s capital is also at ninth place in terms of purchasing power per inhabitant in all of Latin America.
Montevideo not only offers great culture, but also great investment opportunities for those who want a part of the success story. Many of its neighbourhoods, including Punta Carretas, Pocitos Nuevo, Parque Rodo, Buceo and Villa Dolores, are highly sought after by both property investors and people searching for a better standard of life. They have attracted a lot of attention from investors owing to their decent selection of amenities, such as nightlife, transport links, and a high rate of urban development. The city is experiencing massive demand especially for new family sized homes as well as properties for singles and couples, as more people from outside Montevideo and Uruguay are drawn to the city’s prospects.
Montevideo, with its population of only 1.5 million inhabitants, is also a magnet for tourists, who flock to see old colonial architecture as well as the beaches of the Atlantic and the Rio de la Plata region. This massive river forms part of Montevideo’s allure, fringed with nature reserves and protected areas displaying the biological diversity of natural Uruguay. The city is experiencing a quiet boom in tourism, as more people discover its charms and magic.
Perhaps it will take a lot less than fifteen years for little Montevideo to become maybe the new Rio de Janeiro of Uruguay, or even the Barcelona of South America.
Koh Samui – VIJAY SHAH via GEORGIA DIEBELIUS and Metro
A tourist has died after falling a hundred feet while posing for a holiday snap at a waterfall, reports the newspaper Metro today.
Jiri Barta, a man aged 32 from the Czech Republic, was visiting the tourist spot on the popular holiday island of Koh Samui, Thailand with a group of eight fellow travellers. They had reached the Khun Sri waterfall, where Barta and another group member decided to sit at a cliff edge to take pictures. However, Barta lost his footing and tumbled off the cliff, falling 100 feet (30.5 metres) to the ground below. His horrified companions desperately tried to give him first aid, but he did not survive.
Local ambulance rescue teams were called and arrived at the scene. They also attempted to save Barta’s life but later declared him deceased and ferried his body to a local hospital for a post-mortem.
According to a friend of the deceased quoted in the Metro article, Barta was part of a group of five tourists who arrived in Thailand on February 5, and hired five motorcycles to travel around Koh Samui island. The friend, Romana Uassara, told the paper: “We were just admiring the beauty of the waterfall and he walked over to the edge for a picture.
‘The edge is so steep and he fell onto his back. It took a long time for his body to hit the bottom. I don’t know why. ‘
We went down and he was still alive. We tried to do CPR and asked for help from villagers in the neighbourhood”
Tourist police spokesperson Boonchai Wannawatchanasuntorn said that rescuers spend five hours negotiating the terrain to retrieve Jiri Barta’s body. He added “There is a sign in both Thai and English barring people from entering, but tourists keep ignoring it.
Accidents happened often because the slope is very steep, at almost 90 degrees, and it is very slippery.”
Lieutenant Colonel Piyawat Chunwat added: “This is a very dangerous area and we advise all tourist [sic] to stay away and be extra careful.
‘The rescue and recovery of the body was made more difficult by the steep cliffs and dangerous conditions.”
Koh Samui, with a population of 62,500, is Thailand’s second largest island and is popular with budget travellers. The island is famed for its many beaches and mountainous scenery.
A recent poll on holidays and days out choices among British tourists has found that trips to the country’s peaks are the most popular. The scenic Lake District area of north England topped the choices at number one attraction people most want to visit, overtaking the Peak District in the county of Derbyshire and Wales’ highest mountain, Snowdon.
While mountains were the most popular options for communing with nature, the poll participants also voted for seaside locations like piers and beaches, as well as museums. The results were drawn from a list of fifty leading U.K. attractions devised by transport firm National Express. A thousand people were surveyed for the poll.
National Express’ managing director, Chris Hardy, said: “They say the best things in life are free and we hope our list inspires people to get out and explore somewhere new – without breaking the bank.
“It’s great to see that Brits appreciate the natural sights that the UK has to offer, and the sheer volume of beauty spots on this list goes to show that you’re never far from something stunning to see on a day out.”
Despite being the epicentre of British tourism for both national and international visitors, London made a poor showing in the results, with only one of the capital’s prime attractions, the Natural History Museum, making the top ten locations for days out. The museum only made it to ninth place. Twenty-three other museums across the country also featured, including smaller, region-specific museums such as the Royal Pump Rooms in Leamington Spa, central England. A few cathedrals also made the list.
For Londoners, a trip to the seaside usually means a forty-plus minute drive through heavy traffic and with screaming friends/kids/radios to the Essex coast or Brighton, but from this May, you can be beside the seaside on a rooftop in south London, courtesy of Brixton’s Rooftop Beach. This event brings together sand, sun, buckets, spades, street food and seasonal cocktails for a fun day out without having to book the coach.
The Rooftop Beach, organised by fresh pop-up bar maestros Brixton Rooftop, takes place from May 26 to 29, 2017 over the Bank Holiday weekend. The event is a reincarnation of Brixton’s hugely successful Brixton Beach, a 1980s Miami themed occasion held in 2016 by the same people behind local events South Pole Saloon, Brixton Beach Boulevard and Big Apple Brixton. South Pole Saloon was rated “Best Pop-Up London 2015” by Design My Night. As the clocks turn back and the summer cranks up, the Rooftop Beach will feature bars and music, all on a few tonnes or so of imported sand for that squishy sandy feeling between your toes, minus getting tangled up in seaweed or a lost jellyfish. The beach’s massive interest among people looking for their next eclectic social fix can be gauged from their Facebook page alone, where 5,700 people have planned to attend with another 35,000 interested in visiting, so this promises to be a roadblock
The beach is part of a contemporary pop-up trend of temporary entertainments and establishments that have become a hallmark of city life in London. In the past years, temporary beaches have become a feature on the banks of the River Thames, for instance, drawing in thousands of tourists, office workers and locals looking for an easy way to enjoy the beauty of the coast without having to travel far or book off two weeks from work.
The Brixton Rooftop Beach is tickets only (see sources below) and takes place at Brixton Rooftop’s HQ at Pope’s Road, Brixton, SW9 8JH London, United Kingdom.
London Town is about to get that bit more exciting as a new entertainment park and tourist attraction gets ready to attract film buffs and day trippers to an area brimming with both film history and cultures that draw in film makers from all over the world.
While not exactly in London itself, but on the Swanscombe peninsula in north Kent, about forty or less minutes from the centre of London by train and less by road, the London Paramount is a ‘world-class’ entertainment resort that will be opened by famous Hollywood studios Paramount Pictures very likely in another five years’ time, and will be an ambitious project and a first for the Hollywood studio in the UK.
The resort is being bankrolled by investment firm London Resort Company Holdings (LRCH), who are in the final stages of consultations with the public on the project. LRCH have created a website outlining their plans for the theme park project, along with downloadable materials on the new park and how it will benefit tourism and local communities.
London Paramount will feature an exciting variety of themed rides and attractions for everyone, especially youngsters, families and groups, as well as crazier rides for the adventurous thrill seekers looking for that next adrenaline fix. In the centre of the resort will be the Entertainment City, which will play host to a selection of indoor, covered and open-air experiences as well as a variety of cafes, bars and restaurants. From time to time, the City will also be a venue for live shows and music concerts that will set south-east England ablaze. There will also be a special ‘Paramount and Friends’ carnival taking place every day that will see Paramount characters such as Betty Boop, Shrek, Kung Fu Panda and the stars of Madagascar parade and meet-and-greet fans alongside many spectacular shows featuring some of the Paramount studio‘s most iconic characters.
For the more sedate and relaxed, London Paramount will also host West End-quality theatrical and general productions as well as showing of films and other programmes from Paramount, the BBC and Aardman studios, home of the much-loved plasticine comic duo, Wallace and Gromit. There will also be live comedy acts invited to perform at Paramount’s first ever resort on these shores.
The resort plans to opens its doors in 2020, with new rides and attractions appearing shortly afterwards. Highlights include the Port Plaza, paying homage to Kent’s maritime heritage; the Myths and Legends castle, based on the castle that appears on the film studios logo, designed after its founding in 1911 and the oldest Hollywood logo in existence; the Paramount Port Bay, featuring canals and pleasure barges, and the excitingly jaw-dropping Adventure Isle. Other attractions include a 1,500 seat West End theatre, Europe’s largest indoor water park and specially-created wildlife habitats to promote conservation of the animals and plants that call the river Thames’ banks home.
It is expected to attract up to 40,000 visitors per day with a range of hotels and restaurants being planned close by to cater for them.
The London Paramount project is projected to bring a massive financial boost to the Ebbsfleet and greater north Kent region, with the park and associated creative hubs and shopping centres bringing in 27,000 jobs and revitalising the area and local communities as well as having knock-on effects commercially and creatively for the rest of Kent and London.
Twenty-five year old wheelchair user and self-confessed ‘travel addict’ Cory Lee, the blogger behind ‘Curbfree with Cory Lee’ has reignited the controversy around the lack of suitable disability access for wheelchair users in the hospitality industry by penning an ‘open letter‘ encouraging hotel owners to make staying at their establishments easier for their differently-abled patrons, the Half-Eaten Mind blog exclusively reports today.
The letter, which appears on Cory’s blog, was originally published on the 19th December 2014, but the traveller tweeted the article again recently as many hotel firms and owners have yet to make their facilities completely all-inclusive. Lee is highly complimentary towards the many hotels he has stayed at over the course of his travels but then draws attention to what he calls “unique challenges when it comes to navigating even the smallest things”, he writes in the letter.
The blogger then exclaims that he ‘finds it a breath of fresh air’ if he is lucky enough to find a wheelchair-friendly hotel in the places he visits. While he is appreciative of those hotels who already offer good access to wheelchair users, in particular the offering of special ramps, wide paths, decent space for wheelchair access and lifts, he implores hotels to do more to make their stays enjoyable and comfortable for disabled travellers. Lee reminds hotels that the differently-abled community in the United States have a large amount of disposable income, and cites a 2001 issue of the Disability, Inc. publication that states that this community has collectively $220 billion of discretionary spending to tap into, meaning hotels who do not offer disabled-friendly facilities could be missing out on extra income by excluding a community with a lot of money to spend.
In his bid to get hoteliers thinking about improving their disability access, Cory goes on to make some suggestions himself in the letter. He advises big chains and smaller hotels alike to invest in such facilities as stair lifts for people with mobility issues, roll-in showers, and even setting aside special tables with higher legs for disabled restaurant customers, which will not only get the hotels good reviews from disabled guests on popular review sites such as TripAdvisor, but could also increase the hotel’s profit margins as more disabled patrons stay in their rooms.
Lee also offers tips to hotels to help play their part in local disabled tourism, including offering maps of the local area highlighting disabled-friendly top attractions, as well as public transport and restaurants, saying that it would be “a small gesture on your end that is a real kindness to us”.
Cory Lee has travelled all over the globe and has run a popular blog promoting wheelchair travel. His niche blogging has earned him attention from the mainstream media, disability publications and within the blogging community. He has appeared in articles by USA Today, The Huffington Post and in the travel guide series Lonely Planet, and has also made speeches all over the US on disability issues.
While many hotels, particularly the bigger chains such as Ibis, Hilton and Radisson Blu, offer access for wheelchairs as standard, many smaller hotels are unwilling or unable to afford to make the necessary adaptations and install equipment to ease life for their disabled hotel stayers. Lee’s open letter to the hotel world, written from the perspective of a wheelchair user himself and on behalf of many others everywhere, may be that nudge that will open up new experiences for thousands of disabled travellers alongside benefitting the global hospitality industry and making travel a possible option for more.
On the 16th September 2014, Transport forLondon(TfL), the London authority inchargeof the city’spublic transportformally ushered in a new way of paying fares for itscustomers. This new paying method, which TfL has branded ‘contactless travel’ enablescommuterswith special credit ordebit cardsto use these cards to pay for their daily travel without having to buy tickets or top up anOystercard, making it ideal for occasional users or tourists…or anyone unfortunately unable to access their usual means of fare payment (lost Oystercard/photocard, for example). Many banks and building societies in the UK now offer credit and debit cards with a distinctive ‘sound wave’ logo. Using radio waves, a scanner can pick up the signal from a card with this logo and deduct money from the customer’s account without the need to enter aPINand with minimum hassle. The technology works on a similar principle to the longer-established Oystercard, a plastic card with an inbuilt chip that the customer can load up with credit or season tickets and simply place on the reader when passing through platform gates or boarding a bus. TfL have already enabled the technology for a while on theirbus routes, but the 16th of September marked the day when contactless travel became widely available across London’s buses, tube,Overground,DLRtrains, trams andNational Railtrains.
Contactlesspayment cardsare special cards that enable purchases up to a maximum of £20 per transaction without the customer needing to sign a receipt or enter aPIN code. Using a patented wireless technology, they enable seamless payment without fuss. The technology can be applied to all kinds of payment cards: debit, credit, charge or pre-paid.
ForLondonersand tourists, contactless travel is very useful, provided their bank has issued them with a compatible card. Most banks are already offering the new cards as standard for recent customers and card renewals, so they will soon become widespread. The benefits of contactless travel include it being much cheaper than paying by cash. While you can still pay for many tickets on the London transport network with coins and notes, the city’s buses have stopped accepting cash fares since June 2014. Commuters do not have to carry around and top up an Oystercard, which is convenient for when in a hurry and they do not want to miss the next train or bus. This also saves on queuing time at ticket halls, which are soon to be earmarked for closure anyway as TfL makes rapid changes to its services in the near future. If a commuter uses the samecontactless paymentcard for every journey they make, they can benefit from daily and weekly fare capping at the stated adult rate, making travel more flexible and convenient. Commuters who sign up for an online account with TfL have the added and secure advantage of being able to register their card and view up to a year’s worth of journey and payment history linked to that card on the TfL website whenever they feel like it. The technology is secure, meets the strict security standards demanded of TfL by the card payments industry and no TfL employee will have access to commuters’ purchasing history.
TfL customers who are unsure whether their card is a contactless one or not (UK bank customers only) should look at the front of their card, where their name, card number and account details can be found. If a symbol that resembles aWi-Fisignal or sound waves is visible, then the card offers contactless payment. More information oncontactless cardscan be found by visiting the website of the UK Cards Association attheukcardsassociation.org.uk. Commuters who have only just received a contactless payment card in the post and have yet to start using it should first make a ‘Chip and PIN‘ payment elsewhere so the card can be activated for the transport network. Customers from outside the UK who want to take advantage of the TfL contactless travel programme are advised to visit this website instead before using their card to make sure it is compatible for using for payment whilst travelling. The website is by TfL and can be found attfl.gov.uk/contactless-payment-card. Visitors and tourists should note that international transaction fees or other charges from their bank may apply when using theircontactless cardon the London transport network. Commuters concerned about the security of TfL’s new payment scheme can learn more about this at the following link –tfl.gov.uk/contactless.
When using your contactless payment card, you should treat it the same as an Oystercard and always remember to ‘touch in and touch out’. This means placing your card briefly on the provided reader at the station gates where you begin your journey and you must then repeat this with the same card at the gates of the station you exit from. For buses, you will only need to touch the card against the reader once. Be sure to keep different contactless cards and Oystercards separately as keeping them all in one wallet, purse or handbag could result in the payment reader deducting the fare from the wrong card, a situation referred to by TfL as ‘card clash’. Card clash can also occur if the reader detects several contactless cards and does not know which one to read. This can result in the ticket gates refusing to open, or a red light flashing on the side of the reader’s face. The presence of a flashing red light means that the card was not read and can result in the maximum fare being charged. More seriously, this could result in a Penalty Fare (or even two maximum fares from two different cards) being charged or, in the worst case scenario, prosecution, which will place the onus on the commuter to prove they had intended to pay the fare. Special plastic holders for Oystercards can easily be obtained from station and newsagents, and many companies across London give Oystercard holders out as free gifts.
Touching in and out applies even if you find the gate is wide open and you are able to walk unimpeded through it. Failing to touch the card readers at both ends of a journey could result in your card being charged the maximum fare, as TfL will not be able to determine when or where you started or ended your commute. In addition to the normal yellow-fronted readers, contactless commuters need to also be aware of the presence of pink coloured ones that they may need to use when changing trains. If you forget to touch in and out, not only will you be charged more than you should have been, but the extra charge will not count towards your daily or weekly fare cap.
If you touch in and out at the same station but without making a journey, for example if you change your mind and take an alternative route or form of transport, your card will still be charged but the fare will be refunded if it is the only time you do this within the last seven days. Any charges and repayments from TfL can be seen on the online account your card is registered with, if you have chosen to do so. If you forget to touch out at the end of your journey and are charged the maximum fare, you can apply for a refund online once a month.
Unlike Oystercards with PAYG credit, the fare for the journey will not show up on the reader’s LCD as you pass through. TfL do not allow this for contactless cards as they need to calculate the total cost of your travels for the day overnight and then be displayed on your online account on the following day. So if you travel on a Monday, you will not get the total breakdown of your journey times and fare until Tuesday. Commuters are encouraged to register their cards online because it means they can not only view their payment and travelling history, but also can request refunds and also receive email alerts if an issue develops with the card that could prevent the commuter from travelling.
As with Oystercards, the card will need to be presented if asked for by a revenue protection officer during ticket inspections. They will be carrying a handheld reader which will read your card as with TfL’s own travel cards.
If you have any questions or queries, you can get help from TfL’s customer service team via the following contacts:
Khewra Salt Mine, Pakistan – World’s 2nd Largest Salt Mine. – Waqt News
This striking image of a cave system which seems at first impression to be made entirely of amber, is in fact taken at part of a salt mine in Pakistan, said to be the world’s second largest in size.
The image was originally posted by the Facebook page of Waqt News, an Urdu–langauge news channel from Pakistan and was shared by a Facebook friend of mine from Peshawar in the north-west of the country.
Waqt News began news reporting operations in December 2007. It is a subsidiary of the internationally renowned Nawa-i-Waqt Group, which comprises of the national dailies Nawa-i-Waqt (nawaiwaqt.com.pk) and The Nation (nation.com.pk) as well as the weekly magazines Family, Phool and Nida-i-Millat. The Group is a respectable hallmark of Pakistani journalism, popular with the country’s educated elites and is one of the largest media conglomerates in the country alongside the Dawn Media Group. Nawa-i-Waqt is dominant in both the English and Urdu-language newspaper and magazine sector. Waqt News is located in Lahore.
The Khewra Salt Mine, alternatively known as the Mayo Salt Mine is situated in Khewra in Pakistan’s Punjab province. It is Pakistan’s oldest and largest salt quarrying operation and the world’s second largest. It attracts up to 250,000 tourists and was said to have been discovered by the Macedonian emperor Alexander the Great in 320 BCE (BC) before it was fully exploited during the Mughal era around 500 years ago. Khewra’s mine produces more than 350,000 tons per annum of about 99% pure halite. It has been calculated that the mine’s total reserves of salt could be as much as 600 million tonnes.
The mine runs over nineteen stories, of which some are open to interested visitors. There is a railway track made for use by the miners and tourists to reach the attraction’s cavernous interior and a small mosque (Badshahi Masjid) that has been built deep in the mine from Himalayan rock salt, a highly prized form of material that can be made into sculptures and trinkets. There are also reproductions of famous Pakistani monuments chiselled entirely out of the salt, that visitors can see while they stop off on the train. The Khewra mine is run by the Pakistan Mineral Development Corporation which took over after Pakistan’s independence in 1947.
An 40-strong team of journalists and artists will be converging on the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius today for the International Kreol Festival, being held at the Domaine Les Pailles arena in the western suburbs of Mauritian capital Port Louis. The International Kreol Festival is a regionally renowned celebration of Mauritian culture and music, from the staccato beats and African-inspired music and dance of the island’s sega music, to the sampling of Mauritian delicacies such as ‘gato piment’ (chilli cake) and ‘poutou’ (dried sweetened coconut dessert).
The journalists have flown into Mauritius from a dozen countries, according to Mauritius’ French-language newspaper L’Express. However neither the journalists’ news organisation nor their countries of origin are mentioned in the L’Express article. Accompanying the media team are several foreign artists. All the visitors will have a chance to experience the Mauritian culture just as an islander would live it. Staying at the hotel “Zilwa Attitude”, the reporters and artists are being treated to tours of Mauritius including beach trips, town visits to places like Goodlands in the north and the chance to witness that most beautiful of sights, a fiery tropical Mauritian sunset. They will also be waken every morning to a freshly-made traditional breakfast, consisting of ‘gato pima’ (also known as gateau or gato piment) accompanied with locally produced bread.
It is hoped that the positive experiences of the journalists and artists will help further Mauritius’ popularity as a friendly holiday destination with a vibrant, hospitable and fun island life. In addition, the visit will help reposition the island republic, home to 1.2 million people, as a hotspot of culture – moving away from the usual image of Mauritius in travel brochures as a island of hotels, sun, sea and sand. The island for years relied on sugar and textiles as the mainstay of its economy but tourism is now the largest contributor to Mauritius’ GDP, with finance and information technology also being important sectors economically.
A video of performances at the International Kreol Festival in 2011.
The Kreol (Creole) Festival is a cultural tourism initiative by the Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority, the government agency responsible for promoting the island’s sights both nationally and abroad. It is a grand celebration of Mauritian music in particular with concerts attracting tens of thousands of Mauritians and foreigners alike. In 2012, also at the Domaine Les Pailles, more than 30 local and regional artists performed on stage, including Sir Samuel and Tairo, who are popular reggae and dancehall artists from France. Joining the French duo live on stage last year were Mercenary (Seychelles), Dominique Barret (Reunion) and from the offshore Mauritian island of Rodrigues, singer Black Rod. Many Mauritian singers of the sega tradition are also an established feature of the Kreol Festival.
Out of all the islands where French-based creole languages are used, Mauritius was the last to open up an official festival of Creole culture. The first concerts began playing only in 2006 after the festival was opened by then tourism minister Xavier Duval as a gesture towards Mauritians of mixed African and French heritage, who were often overlooked in previous Ministry of Culture projects.
I have just returned from a day out to central London with a good mate, visiting the London Bridge Experience and London Tombs deep underneath the famous eponymous bridge. The attraction’s main entrance is under the bridge in a secluded alley accessible by an unassuming set of stairs from Tooley Street.
The London Bridge Experience revolves around the London Bridge, its use and its history, from the simple crossing the occupying Romans built for their provincial capital of Londinium, right up until to the establishment of the current modern concrete bridge opened by the Queen in the 1960’s to soothe London’s growing traffic levels.
It is not the scariest attraction in the world, but it comes tantalisingly close. Live actors are really absorbed in their roles and enthusiastically take you through a quick whistle-stop tour of the bridge’s history, including a ‘classroom tutorial’ of the morbidly venerable art of “hanging drawing and quartering”, complete with experimental corpse.
We felt our stomachs turn as a friendly butcher/entrepreneur allowed us to sit huddled in the pews of his humble chapel before trying to flog it to us for the respectable price of 200 guineas. For those not so deep in the pockets, there was always the option of freshly-caught skunk to sample, from his dingy 17th century meat shop.
You soon find yourself in the company of a mad scientist as you learn about the ‘Great Stink’ when London’s river Thames was heavily polluted with sewage and corpses of the poor. The stench was intense enough during summer to shut down Parliament and drive people out of the city. We passed though a ‘time tunnel’ with swirling rainbow lights and a metal walkway that yawled to one side, making you think it would completely upend itself and send you falling into the Twilight Zone. Fortunately I was able to hold down my chicken coronation sandwich, Mars drink and Boost bar with relative ease. Revolving vomit doth not make thyself very well-likede.
The London Tombs involves passing in a weird conga line through a series of dark tunnels and rooms, some resembling Chucky’s bedroom or the operation theatre of a defunct psychiatric ward. Decapitated heads and other bodily extremities suspended from the ceilings vie with spooky spiderwebs to scare the living crap out of you.
The guy in the tank top who went around armed with a revved-up chainsaw; while trying to hack off chunks out of us and 27 or so assorted foreign tourists deserves the award for most scary scene actor. I should get the award for bravest soul there. I was at the start of the conga line of doom and had to be the guinea-pig that bore the brunt of the demented noise, flashing lights and disfigured corpsey things that spewed from every dark musty corridor…I definitely needed that Dr. Pepper from the vending machine afterwards.
Apparently legend has it that the tourist hotspot was built over the graveyard of long-buried medieval townspeople, many of whose skeletons were discovered by builders working at the site. Human remains included the skulls of murderers and traitors who were beheaded and had their heads positioned on spikes as a warning to others.
Actors and other staff, as well as the London Tomb’s visitors, have reported sightings of spirits and even the ghoulish laughter of children deep beneath these labyrinthine catacombs.
Proceeding henceforth is some of the pictures I took around the venue and outside its premises, while I and my friend were killing time before the 4:00 pm start. Photography of the venue’s interior is forbidden and mobile phones have to be kept on silent, so I snapped everything of interest outside.
Comments in italics are comments I wrote for most of the photos when I posted them just now on Facebook. This is for the benefit of those who do not have me as a friend there but want to have a taste of my sometimes hilarious, sometimes stale sense of humour.
“The Funky Pigeon store at London Bridge station…I always thought these guys were strictly online!”
The outlet of the DIY greetings cards store Funky Pigeon built into an alcove at London Bridge tube and rail station.
“Hi, we’re Network Rail…welcome to our fine city…experience our five star service…with delays and engineering works unparalleled in the history of crappy transport management”
The rail network owner’s welcome sign greets the hundreds of thousands of visitors passing every month through the station’s turnstiles.
“Nearby rival the London Dungeons. Thankfully no West Ham vs. Millwall style fights broke out between the two venues”
Neighbouring attraction the London Dungeons, just a few yards down Tooley Street.
The ticket office where last-minute visitors pick up their ‘scare fares’. My mate had the intelligent foresight to buy our tickets online, at a slightly discounted price.
“Where Jigsaw goes to get tips….”
The Circus of Fear – one of the seasonal attractions that the London Tombs set up.
“If you’re scared sh**less, there’s always the option of a stiff manly JD and Coke.“
A local drinking establishment offering fine beverages and a few games of snooker.
The Shard – London’s tallest multi-purpose skyscraper. The venerated deity of the Half-Eaten Mind. The Blog’s very first post was on the life story of this edifice.
“The Shard…still being a Shard.”
Nearby advertising, tailor-fitted for the bridge!.
“Looks like a sick game”
A closer look at the bridge’s advertising hoarding. It is for the soon to be released fourth installment of the massively-popular Halo games series.
“A view across the Thames looking towards the docks of Shadwell, Poplar or some other ex-maritime dump.”
Looking towards the river Thames towards our beloved East London.
The river side leading towards Tower Bridge.
The sunset is clear and ethereal, I swivelled myself around to take this picture of the riverine skyline. Ignore the chavs in the foreground.
The London Bridge City office complex, a shining example of our city’s contemporary architectural finesse.
Another view of the same building, with its stairwell and courtyard. The mud of the Thames at low tide evokes a sharp reminder of the natural and man-made coexisting, yet entirely separable and worlds apart.
“I think that is HMS Belfast moored there, possibly for tomorrow’s Remembrance Day celebrations.“
The Thames is the lifeblood of London’s commerce and tourism industry. Indeed it was the training ground for Britain’s erstwhile empire-building might and it’s still very potent military prowess. I had never realised that ships ever required camouflage. I would have expected it to be blue or a silvery grey with some wave patterns for that extra special covert surveillance touch.
“A local haunt for skateboarders”
We witnessed some youths doing gnarly tricks with their skateboards next to this monument as well as a nearby multi-storey car park.
“Funky disco pavement.”
These LED lights formed a mysterious futuristic accessory to an otherwise drab London pavement – something more to be expected of Tokyo. It must be impossible for parents of young children to even get to the other end of the street such is the allurement of this feature…”Mum, Dad, look, Christmas lights, oh wow….I want one!“
“Entrance…to the Crypts. Cue thunderclaps and dramatic organ music”
A night time scene at a typical central London bus stop. Always packed as to be expected, but then the lights of the city invite people closer to its crazy flow and hedonism like eager moths to the light bulb of new experiences.
“Keyring with a real scorpion incarcerated in resin”
One of a couple of souvenirs I picked up from the gift shop at the end of the gruesome Tombs tour. There were also similar keyrings and necklaces with creatures trapped in the modern-day version of amber, ranging from metallic jewel beetles to chunkier scarabs. There were even desk paperweights with tarantulas in them. Sure to keep the Post-It thieves off of pillaging your workstation. Manufactured by Millennium Arts.
A spooky dogtag perched here on my denim-covered knee..a pun on those ubiquitous ” I Heart London/NY/Huckabees/my neighbour’s pot stash” T-shirts that were all the rage in the Nineties. The picture below has the same tag’s reverse side.
“All the style and PR power of a business card but without the sharp corners and paper cuts”