“When a man is tired of London he is tired of life. For there is in London all that life can afford” Dr Samuel Johnson 1777.
And do you know what? – the old boy was absolutely right. With a little bit of forward planning it is possible to see London from a completely new angle.
A short stroll across Hungerford Bridge took me to the old County Hall where I was able to book a trip on the river – the London Eye River Cruise Experience – and a “flight” on the London Eye. Although booking on the day is fast and efficient it is possible to pre-book via www.londoneye.com
The river trip boarded from the jetty in the shadow of the Eye and the cruiser, with comfortable seats on the top deck and inside, travelled up river under Westminster Bridge before turning downstream to just beyond Tower Bridge. The commentary over the PA system, which pointed out the many places of interest along the river, was informative, entertaining and surprisingly spontaneous. The trip lasted about 45 minutes and certainly added to my knowledge of the capital.
A trip on the Eye is a must for any day trip to London and it’s not surprising that it has become the most popular paid for attraction in the UK since it opened. It is now part of the London skyline and even at peak times boarding is fast and efficient. Needless to say the views were breathtaking.
No sooner had I landed than it was time to literally pop next door to the London Aquarium for an underwater journey “through the rivers, lakes and oceans of the world.” and a chance to get up close and personal with sharks, piranhas, stingrays and many more exotic species. There are over 50 living displays, 350 different species in 2 million litres of water and with clever re-creation of natural habitat and use of lighting the effect is truly spectacular. There is an educational as well as an entertainment element to be found here. To find out more about when sharks are hand fed by divers (I missed that one) and various talks visit www.londonaquarium.co.uk
My next port of call was a quantum leap from the relaxing atmosphere of the aquarium to visit one of London’s fairly newest attractions The London Bridge Experience featuring The London Tombs. Located in the vaults of the famous 1831 London Bridge, close to London Bridge station, the tour follows the history of the bridge from Roman times to the present day making use of a series of talented, and very enthusiastic, actors. If I remember rightly, history lessons were never this entertaining at school and having been lulled into my comfort zone I was not even remotely prepared for what was to follow. The trip through the London Tombs has to be experienced to be believed. To call it scary is like calling the M1 a country lane! If you like to be scared witless, and a lot of us do, then the London Bridge Experience is a must. For details visit www.londonbridgeexperience.com
Having seen life from the river, from the air, under water and under ground I felt I should do what good old Dr. J. would have done – I found a comfortable pub to view London from yet another angle.