Saklikent Gorge

Hidden is the Taurus Mountains on the south coast of Turkey a canyon of 300m high and 18km long is carved. Melted water from the snow caps on the mountain tops gush down the steep slopes, dissecting the terrain. The water is thick with limestone from the mountains and ice cold.

One of the most massive gorges in the world is found near the tourist destinations of Fethiye and Olu Deniz. During the summer months when the tide is low, you can walk deep into the gorge. The whole day is magical, the sides of the canyon towering over while you wade in the water.

What to take with you:

  • Sensible submersible shoes with grip -sea shoes are ideal (though you can hire slip on jelly shoes for a small fee)
  • Clothes you don’t mind getting wet
  • Swimwear
  • Camera (in a waterproof bag or case you can carry)
  • Suncream
  • Money
  • Bottles of water

Saklikent means ‘hidden city’ in Turkish and this geological wonder is a hidden treasure. Away from the glorious sandy beaches and the turquoise sea, Saklikent is worth a visit.

Top 7 Things To Do In Budapest

Budapest is a city of contrast. From the gentle sloping hills of ancient Buda to the flat terrain of Pest. With a history of Celtic, Roman and Ottoman occupation, and pivotal during both of the World Wars, Budapest has something for everyone. Here are the top 7 things to do when you visit Budapest

1. Take In The Architecture Of The Parliament Building

The outstanding Gothic building on the banks of the Danube is one of the largest buildings in Hungary. Still a fully functional parliamentary office, stunning from virtually every angle, forming part of the UNESCO site as a central element in the Danube panorama.

Tickets are available daily to tour certain parts of the building, and can be purchased via the official website.

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2. Soothe Your Aching Bones at a World Class Thermal Bath

Budapest has one of the most unrivalled thermal spring networks in the world, with 125 connected pools, and a number of world class pools and spas to appreciate them at. The healing waters of these mineral rich hot springs have been celebrated for centuries.

Bring your swimsuit and pick one of Gellert, Széchenyi, Lukacs, Rudas, Kiraly or Veli Bej baths. Each of the baths has their own charm and quirks and all completely different.

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3. Try the local cuisine of Goulash and Chimney Cake

The hearty meat stew of Goulash is a traditional dish originating from Hungary and eaten across many central European countries since medieval times. With a mixture of beef, vegetables, paprika and other spices, this warming dish is served pretty much anywhere and is absolutely delicious.

Chimney cake is a type of spit cake native to Hungary. Layers of dough are wrapped about a wooden log or spit and then ‘baked’ on a rotisserie. Covered in sugar, cinnamon or Nutella, it’s difficult to describe, almost like a sweet Yorkshire pudding, definitely a local treat.

4. Drink Palinka in the Jewish Ruin Bars

The Jewish Quarter of Budapest is home to a number of pop-up bars and pubs, that have grown from the abandoned properties in the area. This hipster nightlife is a bohemian mecca, full of a buzzing and creative young crowd, bringing life and rebirth to the area.

Szimpla Kert has the proud honour of being the first ruin bar. With indoor courtyards, artistic graffiti and ‘shabby chic’, it is a must when visiting Budapest. Palinka is the local liquor, a clear fruit brandy native to Hungary. Egeszsegere! (Cheers!)

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5. Discover Ancient Buda

The hilly west of Budapest is the ancient capital to the Kingdom of Hungary. Buda is home to a vast array of historical buildings and monuments, including Buda Castle, Citadel, Fisherman’s Bastion and Matthias Church.

Walking up from Gellert’s Hill to the Citadel gives you gorgeous panoramic views over Budapest, before heading towards the Castle. You can take the Funicular Cable Car back down to the river, which has been meticulously restored after it was destroyed during the second world war.

6. See The Spiritual Side of Budapest By Visiting Dohany Street Synagogue and St Stephen’s Basilica

Dohany Street Synagogue in the heart of the Jewish Quarter, is the largest synagogue in Europe and second largest in the world. Although closed on Saturdays, the synagogue is open to the public and is home to the Jewish Museum. This synagogue was a cornerstone of the ghetto formed during World War II and has a Holocaust memorial park within its grounds.

St Stephen’s Basilica is a large Roman Catholic church not far from Dohany Street. One of the largest churches in Hungary, with a stunning and ornate ceiling (Cupola). This church does has mass services, and a small monetary donation is required before entering.

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7. Be Moved By the History on the Danube Promenade

The bronze shoes on the banks of the river Danube are a memorial to those people who were horrifically shot into the river during World War II. These shoes represent what was left behind. Over 3,500 people were shot into the river by Arrow Cross Militiamen in 1944-1945.

With candles and flowers still resting in the shoes as tributes, it is hard to not feel a sense of remembrance at this monument.

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There is so much to enjoy in Budapest, with history and architecture round every corner. This list could have gone on and on… what would be your recommendations?

Homesick For Your Foreign Home

When being away from home, it can be quite familiar to feel symptoms of homesickness. Once the novelty of a new place wears off and the reality of the situation your in hits, homesickness can soon follow.

Homesickness is defined as the distress caused by being away from home. Leaving your family, friends and family places can leave you feeling lonely and isolated.

When I left London for New Zealand at the age of 18, I expected a degree of homesickness. Moving home for the very first time, and to a country pretty much as far away as possible would not be easy. I didn’t know anyone and going to University is hard enough for most people.

What I didn’t expect was the degree of homesickness I would feel on my return. How can I feel unhappy that I am home with my family? I felt so heartbroken with myself that I wanted to go back to New Zealand. I felt that city I grew up in has become this scary, aggressive and daunting place. I thought that I was betraying my heritage, my place of birth and the culture I grew up with. I felt that I was letting down my family, did they not think that I was happy to see them? I was pretty messed up in the first few weeks/months when returning.

Four key points affect the susceptibility to experiencing homesickness

  • Experience: If you’ve never lived away from home before, you’re probably more prone to miss it. You’re not used to coping with feelings of unfamiliarity.
  • Attitude: Sometimes homesickness can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you’re already prepared to feel uncomfortable in a new situation, you probably will.
  • Personality: Researchers talk about “insecure attachment” regarding children coping with new caregivers, but basically, if you’re not good at warming up to new people, this can obviously affect how you manage with the change.
  • Outside factors: Of course, your level of homesickness will depend on how willing you were to make a move. Did you have to do it, or is this something you embraced? Your homesickness depends on how your family reacts to the change, too.

Although homesickness is not classed as a mental health condition, it can have significant detrimental effects on your mental health. Isolation and loneliness, feeding into despair and grief, with any pre-existing anxiety or depressive disorders is a horrific mix for those experiencing it. Homesickness can be overlooked or dismissed in terms of people’s mental health but is so vitally important to know the signs and to seek help where you can.

 

Travelling With Depression – 14 Tips For Your Adventures

For those with depression, travelling can feel like a fantastic opportunity to feel better. A chance to get a new perspective on life, step out from your comfort zone and feel rejuvenated. While travelling can help you feel all these things, don’t believe that it can be a miracle cure. Sadly depression doesn’t get the memo that it didn’t get the invite for your trip!

Stepping out of the mundane daily stress life can help to break the cycle of depression but be realistic that your depression isn’t going to stay at home. Be prepared that an episode may strike and it’s ok if it does. Your depression (or any other mental or physical condition) does not define you, and it is beyond your control. As much as we wish there were a switch, there isn’t.

So many people feel guilty that they feel depressed on such an incredible trip or in a fantastic place. If I can’t feel ’happy’ here, will I ever think that way? Guilt is a sneaky bitch and plays into the hands of depression, feeding on a sense of self-doubt and low self-esteem. What a fun party!

Fears of what will happen with depression and a sense of wanting to be ‘strong and fearless’ can be a problematic combination of feelings to manage. Trying to remain calm and in control somewhere that is new and intimidating can cause everything to spiral out of control. We can feel defeated that our mental health is beating us into submission. We can be disappointed that we weren’t stronger.

Here are some tips to manage depression when you are travelling:

Know Your Options

Realistically what are your options for travelling? What places are entirely off limits because of your health? What are the best communities to get to know and integrate with? Is language or distance an issue? What are the options for getting a quick flight home if you need to?

Manage Your Medications and Treatments

Do you have enough medication for your trip? Can you take your medicines through customs or do you require paperwork from your doctor? Are there online services for councillors that you can use? Can you practice mindfulness or similar techniques while you are away? Just because you are travelling does not mean that all the treatment and hard work you are putting into your treatment should stop, but make contingencies.

Be Realistic and Patient

Be understanding of yourself that some things are outside of your control and it is possible that things are going to go wrong on trips and it is something that just happens! I am ridiculously forgetful and misplace stuff all the time, especially tickets (always helpful!) I now prepare myself and am patient. It is one of my many quirks, and I just have to accept that I am probably going to misplace something, but it’s ok. I now have a particular travel wallet to store everything in which reduces this likelihood. Understand what may trigger a low mood and try to make alternative arrangements.

Give It A Rest

The excitement of seeing a new place and sense of guilt for not wanting to do EVERYTHING can be pretty overwhelming. When planning a wonderous travel itinerary leave yourself a rest day here or there, so if you don’t feel like going out an doing something, you don’t feel like you have wrecked your itinerary.

Eat and Drink

Make sure you eat well and stay hydrated when travelling. We can get caught up in a place and realise that we missed lunch two hours ago! I know that when I am hungry, I get hangry (hunger-induced anger) and can get pretty emotional so best to look after yourself to make sure you get the food you need. Being dehydrated can make you feel quite tired, so take some water with you to keep fresh.

Call It A Day

If you feel exhausted and drained, it’s alright to have an early night. Depending on where you are staying you can have a beautiful hot bath, order room service and watch Netflix. Give yourself some downtime.

Treat Fund

Sometimes our budget doesn’t allow for staying in hotels, and we are backpacking. If this happens and you are feeling shitty, I would advise having an emergency fund. To do something for you, whether it’s a spa treatment, a night in a hotel or a nice dinner.

Journalling

So many people speak of the benefits of journalling in coping with depression. By making a note of your thoughts and feelings, what you are happy and grateful for can promote positive thoughts and behaviours. Whether it is only a few minutes in the morning or at the end of the day, it is a constructive habit. If opening yourself up emotionally seems a bit too daunting, then there are other ways to journal to look back on your trip positively on.

Plan Ahead

We naturally have a fight or flight response, and the thought of getting away from an unpleasant situation can seem like the perfect solution. Travelling spontaneously to flee a negative place can have ramifications upon your return. The moment you switch your phone on and see all the emails or the dread of going back to a mountain of work. Urghh.

Planning your trip well in advance can help to manage your symptoms. Informing and preparing your support network in advance, will help to cope when you arrive home. Ensuring a supportive workplace and efficient handover so that your work will not be all left for you to get back. Setting clear boundaries about who should contact you and when.

Know You Are Not Alone

There are so many people going through the same things as you and struggling to find the words or way in which to say it. One of my friends disclosed to me about her mental health condition on a trip. I honestly had no idea after knowing her for a really long time, and it was the circumstances that let the conversation naturally happen. It is hard though to disclose this sort of information to a complete stranger!

If you are struggling, think about joining a tour group for a day trip to give you people to connect with, or talk to your local bartender to direct you to friendly locals or events that are happening. Or just sitting somewhere public to just listen to the hustle and bustle of the surrounding location.

Don’t Lose Touch With Home

Just because you are travelling does not mean that you need to forget about home or that phoning home is a sign of weakness. Message your Mum, or facetime your best mate. You are still you, wherever you are in the world and you need your support network around you to support you, so stay in touch with them. They will appreciate it as much as you will.

Celebrate Small Wins

Something I find that I always forget to do is to celebrate the small victories! Whether it is getting out of bed at a specific time, not eating all the chocolate that you can carry back from the corner store, going through a whole day with feeling like a mess… Whatever it is, appreciate it and celebrate it, you are doing great!

Connect With Nature

If you can get outside and connect with nature, this can have substantial benefits. An extensive literature review found that those with access to nature and greener environments had increases in their mental wellbeing. So go and feel the grass or sand between your toes, breathe deep the fresh air and feel the sun or wind on your skin.

It is OK To Not Be OK

The most important take-home message that it is OK not to feel ok. Don’t feel guilt and disappointment that you need to have a lazy day at the beach or you can’t even leave your hotel room. If you acknowledge that this is you taking control of your own mental health and that it is favourable to take this time.

This list is not endless, and these tips are not a solution for everyone as there are so many types of depression and depressive disorder. Just know that it is ok, whatever you are doing, it’s ok.

Are there any tips you would recommend?

Hacks For Booking Flights

Everyone wants to know when is the best time to book flights because everyone loves a bargain. Noone wants to pay over the odds for a ticket that if they tweaked by a day or even the time of day could have saved them a few quid.

Five-Week Rule

Flights go on sale 11 months in advance. The best time to book tickets depends on the destination you are travelling to, and the time of year you will be departing. Rule of thumb, the best time to book is five weeks before your departure date, but it is best to watch and monitor the flights on different websites to get a prediction on when best to book.

Compare The Market

Whenever searching for flights utilise the price comparison websites such as Kayak and Skyscanner, as well as the individual airline’s webpage. This way you have the full scope of prices so you can get the best deal. When browsing, it is always advisable to reset your browsing history and cookies, to get the best deal. Sign up for email alerts and follow airlines on social media to get ahead and notified of any upcoming promotions.

Should I Wait For A Sale?

Airlines tend to have their sales in January and September. If you are travelling in the school holidays, these routes will not be included in sales. This is the same for high demand routes with infrequent flights, they will not feature in sales.

Vary The Time of Day and Day of The Week

Getting an early morning flight can not only be cheaper but in the event of the flight being cancelled, it is easier to get the same day alternative. If you are flying long haul but within a similar time zone, it is best to get a morning flight to reduce jet lag.

Avoid Booking and Travelling On Weekends

According to Skyscanner’s review of data, they found that the best day to book flights is on a Monday and the worse on a Saturday, where the price can be 5% higher! Flying on a Friday tends to be the cheapest option, compared to a Sunday which can be 18% more expensive according to the same research. Great news for city breaks!

Look For Nearby Airports

Depending on your route, flying from a more prominent or busier airport can actually be cheaper than from a smaller airport. If an airport has a high number of flights to the same destination, it is more likely to have more competitive priced flights. This being said if you are saving £20 on a plane, and getting to that airport is a £30 taxi journey, is it really worth it?

Book Different Airlines

When comparing prices of flights, a pretty easy way of lowering the cost is by using a different airline for each leg of your journey. If you are flying from London to Rome, you might fly with one airline there as a one-way ticket and a different airline on the return. I would not advise using different airlines for connecting flights, as if your first flight is delayed for any reason, it may be difficult or expensive to rearrange your next flight. If your connecting flight is with the same airline, they are obligated to make alternative arrangements.

Save Up Your Miles

If you tend to fly with the same airline often, sign up for their frequent flyer programme. Do your research first: does it cost money to join and how difficult it is to collect points or miles? Does it include any other airlines? Is there a limit on when you can use points? Does it link to a store card that you can get more points (such as Tesco Clubcard and Avios points for British Airways)? Can you connect a credit or debit card to a frequent flyer programme?

Utilise Airline Partnerships

Some airlines form partnerships and alliances or share flight routes. If you shop around between these partnerships, you might be able to get a better deal. From example, flying British Airways between London and Belfast, if you look at Aer Lingus directly, you may be surprised at the savings that you could make.

What would be your number one flight booking hack?

Chilling With Penguins In Cape Town

An hour-long drive from Cape Town southwards, along the coastal road through Fish Hoek and Simon’s Town, lives an unusual family. Hidden in a sheltered bay of granite boulders, resides a colony of African penguins. White sandy beaches, peaceful neighbourhood, plenty of swimming spots, Boulders Beach is the perfect place to settle.

A few friendly penguins settled into the beach first in 1982. Now their family has grown, and the colony is almost 3,000 penguins. It is incredible that so many wild creatures have made this little part of the Cape Peninsula their home. Remember they are wild animals, and those beaks are pretty sharp!

African penguins are an endangered species. The numbers of penguins have dwindled over the last few years, with over-fishing, population, habitat destruction and irresponsible tourism activities. Boulders Beach forms part of the Table Mountain Nature Reserve and the beach and walkways are protected to ensure that more little penguins make this beach their home. With the dunes protecting nestling families, hopefully, the diminishing amount of African penguins can grow for future generations.

More than 60,000 people visit Boulders Beach every year as it is probably the only place in the world to get this close to African Penguins. The number of surrounding boardwalks amongst the dunes down to Foxy Beach give even better vantage points. The penguins can be found in the area all year round, with the juvenile birds moulting in January (the smell a wee bit during this time!) and they are fishing out at sea during September and October so the beaches will not be as busy.

These creatures aren’t the only attraction to visit Boulders Beach. The family-friendly beach is the perfect way to spend a leisurely morning or afternoon. It is a protected area for there is a R65 conservation fee and there are a limited number of parking spaces.

Boulders Beach is one of the best places for seeing any breed of penguins worldwide, especially without the freezing temperatures.

Top Tips For Staying Safe When Travelling

Travelling can be such a thrilling experience. Whether it’s because you’re visiting a new culture or getting to meet new people or just having a new adventure. It is important to remember that you need to stay safe while travelling and here are some top tips to look after yourself when away.

1. Do Your Homework

Research your destination before your travel. This may be the local cultures and customs, being prepared for what weather you can expect when there and knowing what to look out for. Know how to avoid accidentally offending someone. Be aware of the local scams.

2. Get comprehensive travel insurance and make sure you have the documents for it!

When you are travelling, it is vital to have cover if you require medical assistance. Ensure that the all the countries you are visiting are included in the policy, as well as any pre-existing conditions. Make sure that you are covered by an appropriate amount. If you were to have a heart attack in America, the average cost of treatment is $760,000.

3. Ensure you have all your documents and itineraries (printed out and in local language)

Phones and tablets run out of charge and prevent the panic by having everything printed out and with you. Booking references, phone numbers, addresses and travel instructions (along with your insurance policy number and contact number) will alleviate that stress. Depending on where you are travelling and for how long, take copies of your passport and research your local embassies at your destination.

4. Invest In A Decent Bag

Seriously! Invest in a decent bag, avoiding little clutch handbags that can be quickly snatched and any other items with narrow or flimsy straps. Avoid large backpacks with multiple pockets that can easily be opened. I have a camera bag that has a lockable zip to prevent pickpockets. Don’t store your phone or wallet in a back pocket and make sure any bag has a secure zip to avoid stray hands.

5. Have A Secret Stash Of Cash

Don’t carry all of your money and bank cards in one place. Utilise a money belt to protect items and ensure that you have enough funds with you in the event of a small emergency. Still, use your wallet or purse as your secret stash should remain secret. Only withdraw cash from official local banks, rather than just any random ATM. Be sensible about changing money in local stores or on the street as it may be a scam.

6. Try To Blend In

Nothing makes you more of a target than sticking out like a tourist. Whether this is being distinctly dressed or carrying expensive jewellery or technology or designer clothing. Try to pick up some of the local languages, even if it is just ‘hello’ ‘goodbye’ ‘yes’ ‘no’ ‘please’ ‘thank you’.

7. Be Bar Savvy

Enjoy your holiday but take it easy on the alcohol. The amount of alcohol in a cocktail can be a lot more than you expect and most European beers have a high alcohol content. Never ever leave your drink unattended. Make sure you know how to get back to your accommodation before you head out. Check you know when the last bus/train/cab is and what taxi firms to use.

8. Travel Light

Logically, the fewer items you have to carry around the less likely you are to lose them or have them stolen. Keep an eye on your belongings when in public spaces and never leave them unattended.

9. Chose The Best Accommodation For You

Read reviews before deciding on your accommodation. Ensure that your housing is adequate for your needs and has the facilities that you require. Whether this is a secure safe or decent wifi. If it doesn’t feel right when you arrive, find alternative arrangements.

10. Be Prepared

My friends laugh at me regarding this point! I carry a small first aid kit with me at all times, even when at home in London/UK. This includes paracetamol, plasters, eye drops, diarrhoea tablets, bite cream and antihistamines as a minimum. This way you are prepared for a few medical emergencies wherever you are. It may not be feasible to get to a pharmacy (you may still be on the plane!), so it is worth having a few items with you, just in case.

11. Think About What You Are Sharing on Social Media

If everyone knows that you are travelling and that you are currently not home, your property is now a possible target. Quite an extreme example of this happened when a prominent footballer had his house broken into when he was playing in a televised match. Be careful about sharing too much personal information especially if adding new friends to your social media. A good rule of thumb is to think, would I share all this information with a complete stranger?

12. Speak to People

Let someone know where you are going and what you are doing. This should definitely be someone at home, providing regular updates especially if travelling solo. Arrange designated check-in times, so that if you don’t call or text they know something is up. If you are visiting in a group or staying at a secure hotel, speak to someone you trust to let them know your plans.

13. Trust Your Instinct

Even in your hometown, there are probably places that you would avoid especially at night. Be sensible, use your common sense and trust your instinct. Your gut is generally right!

Although these tips sound a bit like common sense, it is worth reiterating them to encourage any traveller to look after themselves when they are away from home. Crime happens anywhere in the world and give your destination the respect without fear. A lousy experience shouldn’t ruin your trip.

What Makes A Bucket List?

The term is thrown around very casually and it seems that everyone has heard of a bucket list but what actually is it? Generally, the most common description is a list of all the things you want to try, goals you want to achieve and life experiences you want to have before you die.

Simple right? But where do you even start?

First start by really defining what you want in a Bucket List? You can have numerous different bucket lists, whether they are from your home country or places to visit or things to see. Bucket lists make you stop and think what you actually want to experience in this lifetime. Bucket lists give us both hope and feed our curiosity.

So… start brain storming. Yet, go further and remove time and money constraints, physical limitations and anything else you think may hold you back. Let your mind be as free as possible. Be as crazy as you can and forget the impossible. I am sure that you will be amazed at what you think up!

Next…focus on time. Its an idea to put a time next to your bucket ideas. Whether this is Summer/Winter (LA in Summer, Prague in Winter), by year or before your 30/40. If you set yourself time goals it will help to give you the motivation, otherwise your list is just gonna sit there.

Chose a partner. You probably have someone in mind whom you want to share specific experiences with, your spouse, partner, BFF or family member. Speak to your support network and see if they have the same goals as you. By getting someone else on board can further establish the time on these goals and get them into action. Buddying up can also help with costs and the whole joy of the experience.

Prioritise. What is your top three? What excites you the most and what has the most time sensitive limit? Once you have your top three, flesh out the finer details for each one. Who are you going with? When are you going (and try to be as specific as possible)? Where do you need to go and how are you going to get there? What do I need to do to make this happen? How much is it going to cost?

Keep going. The goal of your bucket list is not to finish it completely but for it to constantly grow as you grow. Its not a checklist to ‘level-up’ to ‘awesome traveller’ or be better than the next person, but to experience what makes you happy and what you chose.

Although this sounds a bit like a managerial spiel on how to manage your todo list, a lot of the same principles apply. Set SMART goals (corporate bullsh*t bingo here!) and make them happen. The only thing stopping you is you. If your goals are too unobtainable, change them. If you keep setting goals that you cannot achieve (climb Mt Everest – I don’t even own a pair of walking shoes) it will dishearten you instead of empower you.

Have fun in brainstorming and dream big.

The First Emperor and Liverpool’s China Town​

The first Chinese immigrants to Liverpool arrived in the 1830s when the first vessel direct from China arrived in Liverpool’s docks to trade such goods as silk and cotton wool. More immigrants came in Liverpool in the late 1860s with the establishment of the Blue Funnel Shipping Line. The commercial shipping line created strong trade links between the cities of Shanghai, Hong Kong and Liverpool; mainly importing silk, cotton and tea. Liverpool is still a twinned city with Shanghai. From the 1890s onwards, small numbers of Chinese began to set up businesses catering to the Chinese sailors and some married working-class British women, resulting in many British-born Eurasian Chinese being born in Liverpool.

The Liverpool docks were initially home to the first China Town. With many ships borrowed during WWI and the Chinese seamen not working, a welfare centre opened in 1917. The Chinese community began to expand in towards Liverpool. During the 1930’s, with the decline of the shipping trades and numerous layoffs, decay spread through the area known as ‘China Town’, before the bombing destroyed most of the area around the docks. Settlers moved further inland, just west of Liverpool Cathedral. The new China town straddles Nelson Street, Duke Street and Berry Street in the heart of the city.

As part of the cities regeneration, in 2000 a new ceremonial Chinese archway was built at the top of Nelson Street. With the assistance of twin city Shanghai, the 15m arch is the largest in Europe. Over 200 dragons adorn the traditionally coloured structure. It symbolises good fortune, prosperity and good luck while ensuring evil is kept away.

As Europe’s first Chinese community, World Museums Liverpool is the current host of ‘The First Emperor’ exhibition. Since their incredible discovery in 1974, the Terracotta Warriors have amazed visitors. Regarded as one of the most important historical finds in modern times.

Emperor Qin regarded himself as the first Emperor of China. He ascended to the throne aged 13 and became Emperor of a unified China after conquering all the Warring States. Not only obsessed with power (himself coining the term Emperor), Qin was fixated on immortality and the Elixir of Life.

Ensuring that if Qin could not locate the Elixir of Life that he would be protected in the afterlife, he built himself a life-size army of more than 8000 warriors. His mausoleum also includes horses, strongmen, acrobats and officials. Each of the numerous figures has a different face, hairstyle and outfit dependent on rank. Meticulous detail was given to each character. An extensive array of weaponry dependent on the position of each warrior.

The exhibition includes many objects that have never been on show in the UK before and is the first time any warriors have been shown in the UK since British Museum in 2007. World Museums Liverpool are experiencing similar issues to that of the British Museum in 2007, with tickets selling out fast.

Throughout the exhibition are 6 entirely whole warriors, chariots and the Golden Horse of Maoling. The most significant artefact of its kind, horses were revered in ancient China as a symbol of power, wealth and status. Numerous other pieces are also on display throughout the exhibit, with over 1000 years of history covered. A fitting celebration for Liverpool’s Chinese roots.

Going Underground

Dramatically busy, feeling like a rock concert mosh pit, with shouts of ‘can you move further down please’ as you manoeuvre and contort like some standing game of Twister, generally a sweltering hot sweat box with suspicious and potent odours. But we wouldn’t have it any other way. Still one of the most reliable and frequent underground services in the world, it helps connect London.

The London Underground is the iconic transport network of the capital, but given the history and development of the tube, it can seem quite like an ancient labyrinth, near impossible to navigate! With 11 lines, 270 stations and 400km of track, it can be quite daunting to try and find your way around.

Here are my top tips for making sense of the underground

Understand The Tube Map

There are 11 tube lines plus Docklands Light Railway, Emirates Airline, TFL Rail and London Trams. The map can look quite daunting and intimidating. Each line has unique colour identifiers. The tube map has a grid and an A-Z to help find your tube station. So if you are looking for Victoria, you would look down the list, see that this is in Grid D4 and then you can identify where the station is and what lines it has.

Each station has both directions of the tube, and they will be either North-South bound or East-West bound. By looking at the map, you should be able to see which direction your will be travelling. North Greenwich to Baker Street will be travelling North or West bound. So when you get to the station, you can know in advance which platform you will be heading to, saving any confusion at the platform.

Prepare In Advance

The TFL website has a fantastic journey planner, where you can enter where you are travelling from and to, whether it is a tube station or even a bus station. Make a note of your journey route, including your changes. I know this makes a lot of sense, but honestly if you have an idea of where you are going it will make your journey so much easier.

Getting around central London, the distance between each stop is roughly two minutes. It is a good rule of thumb, that if you are travelling 5 stops on the same line, it will take about 10 minutes. Around central London (zone 1), the tubes are approximately every 2-3 minutes, but sometime the platforms can be bit of a walk away from each other, so give yourself a little bit more time, just in case.

Utilise Apps

Apps like Citymapper help with planning your journey and waiting times until the next tube, or Tube Map give up a portable and searchable map with the current London Underground service updates. There are lots of apps available for the London Underground so it is just a case of finding which platform is best for you. I would recommend not paying for these apps though, its a bit unnecessary.

Know Your Peak Times

Not only is the tube ridiculously busy between 8:00-9:30am, if you buy an off-peak travel card or use an oyster card after 9:30am, the fares are significantly lower! So have the lie in and enjoy your breakfast. There is an afternoon peak time between 4:30-6:30pm but this does not have any affect on tube fares, it is only the morning peak time. This is only true of the tube. Some mainland train services do have afternoon peak times that vary dependant on the provider, so if you will be travelling elsewhere, it is worth checking.

Check Your Changes

It is important to know where you will be changing different tube lines, as there are very busy interchanges and if you are able to utilise your travel plans appropriately you can either avoid these changes to make your journey a bit easier. For example, Oxford Circus is a hellish change, especially around Christmas with the amount of shoppers to the area, I would rather take an extra 5 minutes changing my routes that facing that! With the amount of development on the underground and upgrades, some stations are closed to certain lines at certain times. So always check before you travel!

Walk!

TFL website has a very cool map with the walking distances between stations. For example, if you want to get from Charing Cross to Embankment, you can either get the Bakerloo line, or it is a 2 minute walk between the two stations. Leicester Square to Covent Garden is a short 3-4 minute walk, or one stop on the Piccadilly line, but Covent Garden has lift service (or like 500 stairs) and gets shut because of overcrowding. Heron Quays DLR station is much closer to the Canary Wharf underground station than the Canary Wharf DLR station. Sometimes it is much easier to walk between stations, so have a look at those maps as well!

Know Your Limits

The London Underground is a complex network of tunnels, deeper and deeper beneath London. For those who have mobility issues, check out the TFL website for maps with step free access, avoiding stairs and avoiding tunnels (FYI central line has some very narrow tunnels walking down to the platform!). I do get quite claustrophobic, especially if it is quite warm weather as well, so I would tend to walk than get the tube or make sure that I always have water when I travel, and if it is a bit too much, get off and take a breath!

Etiquette 

Nothing spots a non-local like how the manage the tube! Honestly I have so many pet peeves and would really recommend following these tips!

  • Stand on the right and walk on the left on an escalator. This is actually from when the escalators used to curve meaning the people of the left would need to walk to get off (fun trivia fact!). If you stand on the right it allows people to move quickly down on the left and avoids the awkward tutting of commuters!
  • When you get off the escalator, don’t stop! There is a conveyer belt of people heading towards you and they have no where else to go if you stop dead at the bottom, they will fall into you. If you are lost or confused about where you need to go, move forward and to the side, to let people move past you.
  • Let people get off the tube first! I get it, the tube is busy, you want to get on and preferably in the seat that I have just vacated, but I need to get off. If you let everyone off first, there is more space for then everyone to board.
  • Don’t hold the doors. The next tube will generally be along in a minute or two. Holding the doors delays the overall service and Londoners don’t like delays.
  • Move down inside the carriage. Please. There is lots of space in most cases, but people just hang around the doors (normally as kids swing around the central pole!) but if you just move down it means more people can get on.
  • Be realistic in your expectations. It might seem cliched or stereotypical but Londoners avoid eye contact on the tube. They are too engrossed in the phone/book/kindle/iPad/paper to notice what is going on around them, and generally have headphones in as well to dampened their senses of the commute. They might not notice that you require a seat or quite what is going on. Don’t be too hard on them though, if you need a seat, politely ask those seated in the priority seats and someone will generally move for you. If you need a seat just before you a tired though, probably not going to work out very well. Those who are pregnant, elderly, with small children or with a disability will mostly be accommodated.

The underground is a great way to travel around London, just make sure you are prepared to make the most of your journey

It’s barely changed since the faceless colour committee originally selected it in 1908 when the first map of the Underground was designed and the Bakerloo conclusively became brown, a very early twentieth-century brown, which brings something of the nineteenth century with it – the colour of Sherlock Holmes’s pipe, a Gladstone bag, a grandfather clock.