Part 7: Thames Boat Cruise


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The Trip

Our London Pass had been holding us in good stead and we used it again on a river cruise on the Thames.

Our objective was to make it to Greenwich and see the Naval Museum and Royal Observatory.

The Photos

The photos below are what we saw.

Being explorers, we decided to take an alternate route to the Temple tube stop.  Our area of town, Aldwych, is filled with little passage ways called "courts" that provide paths between buildings.  We took one of these courts that was usually locked off at night.  We found nice buildings and a well tended garden.

The flowers were in bloom and pointing toward what little sun there was.

The court goes through the portico under the building.  The south facing side of the building was on the Thames.

We boarded the water shuttle at Westminster and we had a clear view of the Westminster Bridge from the loading ramp.

As we pushed-off the dock, we got a clear water-side view of the London Eye.

Since we were at Westminster, we also got a clear view of Parliament and Big Ben.

While a less-than-appealing thought, oncoming tug-barge combination provides an invaluable service to the city -- trash removal.  All of London's refuse leaves town via the river on a barge.  This tug is coming upstream with empty containers.  In the background is the Jubilee Bridge.

The mansion at Whitehall used to be the royal palace but "back in the day" the Thames was an open sewer and the smell was less than appealing.  So, the royals moved inland to Buckingham, Windsor and Kensington.  The building now as government office space.

On the south bank we could see new apartments being constructed.

I had not seen this vessel before.  It appears to be a refurbished navy vessel transformed into a bar.

London is undergoing a construction boom.  In the foreground is the Millennium pedestrian bridge.

This is the Southwark Bridge.  While the style is classical, the construction is modern.

We could see St. Paul's cathedral from the area near Millennium Bridge.

The south bank was awash in new condos and office buildings.

On link in the chain of comfort for Londoners.  This is the trash loading station.  Trash containers are delivered to the station via truck and then placed on barges and shipped to Essex further down river.

On the south bank we passed the HMFIC Belfast.

The Belfast served during WWII and now is a floating museum and docking point for high-dollar cruise ships.

On the opposite side of the river was White Castle AKA Tower of London.

Our boat was going to go under the Tower Bridge.

The center of the upper span had a very nice coat of arms.  But, this is not the official royal crest.

Note that the upper deck of the boat is empty.  That is because it is raining and only someone as crazy as me would be out in the rain just to get a photo.

On the downriver side of Tower Bridge we had a great view of central London.

To the south we could see City Hall and "The Shard" which is the tallest structure in Europe.

London is an interesting mix of old and new.  In the photo above is a structure that was constructed in 1076 (Tower of London at the bottom right) and some new buildings that were completed in the last 5 years.  That's over 930 years in one photo!

On the east end of London in the so-called "docklands" are some old wharves and factories that have been converted into yuppie housing.  Some of the old cranes have been retained.  These cranes were used to unload sailing ships loaded with cargo from India and the far east.

The Metropolitan Police maintain a large river presence on the Thames.  This is one of their bases.

We passed a number of old historical pubs that were on the water.  In the old days, sailors who had been at sea for months landed and came to places like these to spend their hard-earned cash on wine, women and song.  The yellow sign on the right warns of a campshed projecting from the wall under the water.  These were used to stabilize barges during loading and unloading.  Now they are just a boating hazard.

This bar was originally called "The Devil's Punchbowl".

The river cruise gave us a good view of the new buildings in Canary Wharf.

The river cruise was excellent.  Easy to do and covered in our London Pass, it provided great views of the downtown areas that are unobtainable any other way.

Next, we explore Greenwich and the Royal Observatory.

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