Touring the River Themes
London Travel Blog› entry 6 of 126 › view all entries
Adam, Bella, and the kids took me on a tour of the River Themes. We rode the tube to Westminster and after riding an escalator, an elevator, and climbing a few stairs - or the inclined ramp with Dorothy's stroller - emerged above ground in the shadow of Big Ben. The giant bell struck twelve as we bypassed nearby Downing Street which was closed off toward number 10 by tight security . We cut through the open grounds of the Royal Guard to enter the east end of St. James' Park. The park seemed more like a botanical garden with manicured lawns lined with brightly colored flora and fauna. Buckingham Palace reflected on the far end of a lake teeming with birdlife. The setting was rustic - and right in the middle of London. St. James's was a fine spot for a family picnic before boarding the 2:00 boat.
As our tour boat churned east on the Themes, the London Eye loomed over us like a giant bicycle wheel four hundred and fifty feet tall.
Numerous canals entered the Themes and their upstream locks provided water transportation far inland. Much of the riverfront between London Bridge and Greenwich was lined with wharves and warehouses from the 18th and 19th Centuries - most had since been converted to condominiums, homes, or offices.
The river falls and rises with North Atlantic tides. The Themes Barrier protects London from flooding when high tides and storm surges coincide. The tide was extremely high on our tour and two of the barriers nearest the south bank were closed. It looked like low dams had been rotated into position out of the river depths between three of the modules.
On the return voyage we stopped at Greenwich for an hour or so. A full day there would be an adventure in itself. We strolled a few streets, browsed an international food market, and relaxed in one of the parks before catching a later boat back to Westminster. It was an awesome adventure for all of us.