A Panorama of Thames by Tower Bridge
It was our last real day in London. It was the last real day of our holidays. The sun was peaking through clouds in some places. You would still not call it a sunny day, but it was better than yesterday.
Our guidebook said that cruising down the Thames was one of the most interesting ways to experience London. We decided to accept that advice. We also got advice from our Monogram guide on how to do exactly that. He suggested we should take a boat that we could get onto just outside our hotel. We were one block away from the river, so we took that advice as well. As a result we hopped on to the Thames Clipper
The Thames River has been the main artery for London since about the time the Romans invaded. The river is jam packed with historical sites and the wonderful reconstruction of the Globe Theatre. Added to that there are numerous famous bridges, each with its own stories.
The most popular and best served area for boats is between Westminster Bridge and Tower Bridge. That is exactly where we sailed. On the way we tried to sign up for a ride on the London Eye but it was all booked up. That was a shame for we heard the view from there was wonderful. Next time.
We hopped on the boat watched the river, building along the bank, and most important, the people. Until World War II the north side of the river was the side of wealth and the south side belonged to the lower classes. After the war, the festival of Britain in 1951 began the resurgence of the south bank, which now has some of the most interesting modern buildings.
The south side had some fine looking pubs, County Hall, Tate Modern, the Globe theatre, and a stunning new City Hall. The north side has the Parliament Buildings, The Ministry of Defence, Somerset House, Temple and Inns of Court, Fishmongers Hall, Custom House and the world famous Tower of London near the Tower Bridge.
The Thames River looked murky, but it is clean. 100 species of fish have returned to the river since it was cleaned up. In fact, salmon have returned to the Thames and they are picky fish that only come to clean water. That is a remarkable cleanup considering how polluted the river was before. A whale even came up the river and was beached. The hearts of many children were broken when that happened. Even dolphins have even been spotted in the river.
We disembarked the Clipper near the Tower of London. It is not really a tower at all. The Tower of London was deeply feared for most of its 900-year history. William the Conqueror built it. People who committed treason or threatened the crown were held and often tortured in its dank dungeons. A few lived in luxury in the Tower, but most were abject prisoners. The crown jewels are housed in the Jewel House of the Tower of London. The largest diamond there is 530.2 carats (106 g.). Nearby was a sign that extolled the days when Kings and queens kept lions at that spot. The royal beasts roared at people entering the tower. We did not spot any such beasts.
We also took a number of photos of the Tower Bridge. This bridge was built in 1894. It is a flamboyant bridge with a roadway that can be raised. When the bridge is raised it is 135 ft. (40 m.) high. It has pinnacled towers with a linking catwalk. It is a sensational bridge. Apparently the American who bought the London Bridge and moved it to Arizona, thought he was buying this much more spectacular Tower Bridge.
After a brief visit to this area we found a restaurant/bar for dinner. The Waiter mistook us for Americans and we strongly rebuked him for his mistake. We enjoyed a gourmet burger because it was Burger Day. I enjoyed a burger with a Northcote beer.
After that we took a leisurely walk along the north shore of the Thames. We crossed the Millennium Bridge and caught the boat back to near our hotel.
For supper we returned to the Red Lion because we heard it was Churchill’s favorite. Not really. We were getting lazy. Tired and ready for the end. I again had fish n’ chips sans crushed peas. Chris had steak and Stilton pie. A double Jameson was enjoyed as well. The meal was completed by banoffi pie.
So ended a fine short stay in London.