Exploring London – What I found out when I went down the Thames on a boat!
London is a magnificent city that has never been properly revered around the rest of the world. It is a city full of complex parts, and mysteries that may never be unraveled; but I, for one, prefer it that way. Cutting through the heart of London is the River Thames, which has been the great divide of north and south London since the Romans founded the city they called Londinium in around 43 AD. Navigating the Thames on a boat is an interesting way to explore the sights and sounds of one of the best cities in the world.
London – It’s not as stuffy as you might think.
To many, London represents the pinnacle of snobbery and old traditionalist values, I am of the opinion that while London has a lot of tradition and, to an extent, snobbery, it is quite easily one of the coolest and up to date cities in the world. This is represented fully by the redevelopment of the east end area. Before its rejuvenation began in the mid 1980s, the east end could have been very much like how it is portrayed in films like My Fair Lady and Oliver. London is a city that encompasses many ethnic minorities since a major wave of immigration began in the 1960s and 70s. This immigration brought with it the flavours of the world, both culturally and culinary. A significant portion of east London is populated by people from Bangladesh, who arrived at the east London docks, escaping their war-torn country and hopeful of starting a new life. The sight of east London I can see from the river is not a weary, war torn one. It is a bright, colourful and fashionable one that makes me want to immerse myself in its tangible joy and lust for life.
Traveling down the Thames towards the borough of Westminster, a borough that seems to have cornered the market in the way of tourist attractions in London, I pass beneath the Tower Bridge and I’m left with a feeling of disappointment that it didn’t open for me. Alas, the boat I am on is small enough to pass under the stunning bridge and has not a high enough mast to encourage the middle of the bridge to part and let us pass. Another day, perhaps. On my right is the Tower of London, another huge symbol of London which houses the crown jewels and was a prison up until the 1960s. Heading up the river, you can see the majestic sight of the London Eye on the south bank of the river, which will be where I will alight from. Almost directly across from the Eye are the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben. This is where all the major decisions for the United Kingdom are made whether the citizens think them good or bad. Basically, it’s the pulsating heart of the city, where business, power and beauty meet in a powerful centre.
Much of London’s best scenery can be seen from the Thames. Traveling down the river, I can see that much of London was built to be displayed on the river, letting all the boats and ships that pass down it know they have arrived in the heart of the British Empire, and that London welcomes one and all to its grand capital city. I could spend a good deal of time in London and I’m sure you will too when you visit.
You can hop on a boat at Westminster Pier, looking up at Big Ben which is a spectacular sight. For more information visit the Thames River Boats website here.