Monthly Archives: August 2016

Exploring the best sights below London

From glimpses of another world, like the woolly mammoth that once wandered around Canary Wharf, to sobering reminders – imagine the sheer fear of following the masses down to the tube shelters as bomb sirens went off above you during WWII – London’s underground spaces represent a layered tapestry of its history. War, death, plagues, hide-outs and adventure: you’ll find them all beneath modern-day London.

 

Ride the postal railway

Back in Victorian London, the Post Office had a problem. Millions of letters to deliver, but increasingly crowded streets slowing things down. The solution? An underground rail system that air-blasted mail across the capital on tiny cars.

It was a hit, and not only for post: operators often had to turn down requests for a ride from men on their way home from the pubs near Euston, where the ride began.

In 1927, the system was upgraded to become the world’s first driverless electric railway, trundling 6.5 miles underneath London and linking sorting offices and postal depots from Paddington to Whitechapel.

The line stopped running in 2003, but in 2017, for the first time ever, Mail Rail is opening up to the public. From mid-2017, visitors will be able to take a 15-minute ride through a 1km stretch of the tunnels on a specially-built passenger train, as part of the new Postal Museum. Keep an eye on the website (postalmuseum.org) to find out when it’s full steam ahead.

 

Catacombs and the Magnificent Seven

The Victorians didn’t just have problems with the post. There were too many people – and thus too many dead bodies – in London. Parish churchyards could no longer cope, and so seven large, purpose-built cemeteries were established between 1832 and 1841. Each burial ground now houses around 250,000 souls.

April for culture and traveling

Between ancient wonders, city-wide water fights and lots of laughs amid mellow weather, there is something for everyone in this round-up of April’s cultural offerings.

Rub shoulders with Roman gladiators at the Colosseum before summer temperatures hit; get your Indiana Jones on in Jordan; bask in Melbourne’s balmy weather and get a bellyful of laughs at the comedy festival; and escape Thailand’s scorching heat with water sports galore.

 

Discover your inner Indiana Jones in Jordan

Compact Jordan is the complete package. Ancient wonders? Visit the 2000-year-old rock-hewn city of Petra or Kerak’s Crusader castle. City sights? Try Roman Jerash or the souks of Amman. Jaw-dropping landscapes? Camp in the alien-esque deserts of Wadi Rum. Wildlife? Explore Dana Nature Reserve. Beach? Pick between the salty Dead Sea or snorkel-friendly Red Sea.

More surprisingly, Jordan can also be very green – especially at this time. In April, humidity and rainfall are low, temperatures loiter delightfully around the low 20°Cs (68-73°F), the central valleys are lush from winter rains and there are wildflowers everywhere. In particular, Ajloun Forest is abloom with strawberry trees and rock roses and Dana’s oases are bright with oleander and birds. Also, the vastness of Petra can be explored without breaking a sweat. In short, a beautiful time to travel across the country.

  • Trip plan: From Amman, nip north to Jerash and Ajloun before veering south towards Aqaba, stopping at the Dead Sea, Dana, Petra and Wadi Rum en route.
  • Need to know: The khamseen (hot, sandy wind) can hit Jordan in spring; it usually only lasts a few days.
  • Other months: Mar-May – springlike, ideal; Jun-Sep – very hot; Oct – fleeting autumn, pleasant; Nov-Feb – cold in many areas, Aqaba warm.

Havana coastal road traveling tips

Bengaluru is a city that loves its pint. Ever since the British arrived here in the early 19th century the capital of Karnataka has enthusiastically embraced the culture of grabbing a drink at the end of the day. Today Bengaluru is chest-thumpingly proud of its drinking culture and home to a roaring craft beer scene with an ever growing number of microbreweries. Visit our pick of Bengaluru’s best bars and you’ll soon understand why.

The Bengaluru drinking scene spans the spectrum, from nostalgic holes-in-the-wall to chic cocktail lounges that could hold their own in Paris or New York. Keep a particular eye out for the city’s craft beers – local brewers create everything from wheat beers to pale ales and stout – and Bengaluru mixologists who add Indian herbs and spices to the standard cocktail palette. Here’s our pick of the best places in Bengaluru to wet your whistle after hours.

 

Daytime tipples at Noon Wines

The appeal of Noon Wines & Scottish Pub (No 17/21, Vasavi Complex, St Marks Road) lies in its nonchalance. This ‘hole in the wall’ outpost of colonial-era Bengaluru is open for only five hours in the day (12-5pm), but nostalgia seekers flock here for inexpensive wines and an agreeably short menu with simple potato wafers as a best seller. The Heritage wine is extra sweet and extra potent in nature, served in shot glass-sized wine glasses.

 

Cocktails like grandma used to mix

Take a map of Bengaluru and stick a pin in its heart and you’ll find yourself on the threshold of The Permit Room (thepermitroom.in), a welcome retreat from the hubbub of MG Road. Cosy interiors decked out in the iconography of South Indian slang make you feel like an insider immediately. The moody mixologist, inspired by his ajji (grandma), has reimagined hearty home cooking as well as the cocktail menu; for our rupee, Paati’s Magic Rasam curry, Highway Pandi Curry, and filter coffee-flavoured pot de crème are all decided winners.

 

Ten of the best at Arbor Brewing Company

Start your love affair with the brews of Bengaluru with a choice of ten in-house craft beers at this spacious, minimalist American-style microbrewery. The pub fare at Arbor Brewing Company is best enjoyed at long communal wooden tables, with low hanging lights running along the centre. Sip crispy Hefewiezens, confident stouts, German-style pilsners, Belgian fruit beers and pale ales with lingering bitterness to wash down amply portioned dishes with a US flavour.

 

Wheat beer that pulls in a crowd at Toit

Back in 2010, Toit Brewpub almost single-handedly salvaged Bangalore’s flagging pub scene with a sprawling wooden-floored brewery, providing space for close to 400 happy beer drinkers. Of the six house brews, the Bavarian-style Toit Weiss wheat beer trumps the competition any day of the week. Check out the curious logo, inspired by Pepé Le Pew (the skunk of Looney Tunes fame), with the motto ‘sending it since 2010’ (a local phrase for downing a drink).