When you live somewhere long enough it’s easy to forget the beauty that’s around you, right on your doorstep and in front of your eyes.
In London, this happens daily.
We are all consumed with rushing to meetings, grabbing a tube and looking down at our phones, missing out on what’s available to us. And, in a place where tourists revel in its magic daily, us locals are overlooking so much of London’s wonderful uniqueness.
The river on our doorstep is possibly the most neglected of all… a huge expanse of water that runs alongside this incredible city, offering opportunity, romance and magic.
So, I decided to remind myself of it.
Going bankside and becoming a tourist again, because after research pre-pandemic showcased that out of a survey of 2,000 Londoners, 67 per cent of parents living in the Capital had never taken their children on the River Thames, with one in ten kids having never even seen the Thames, it was long overdue and time to open my eyes.
Life jackets at the ready!
Life jackets at the ready!
There are obviously many ways to see London. We can walk, run, get a cab, or helicopter if you like, but we often forget the one place where you can see everything at once – except Buckingham Palace – our river.
And as the same research showed that 76 per cent of Londoners often forget what the city has to offer, this Londoner took a leap aboard a City Cruise and spoke to Managing Director, Kyle Haughton, on why we need to remember our river and all that it offers us.
As the black cab of the river, forget the Uber doing just A to Z, City Cruise is a cabbie that swims. With experts on board holding all the knowledge of London, this is not only a tourist attraction, but a trip down London’s riverside history and an education. Showcasing our assets in a calming and engaging light, it also allows us to spot things that we never even knew existed.
Let’s face it, it’s hard to see things when we are starring down at Google maps or Insta scrolling, right?
“The river is a huge stretch of water running through London, allowing you to see all of its beauty at once, but we often forget about it and what is available on it.” Kyle said, “You have the calming motion of a boat, and an expanse of water that shines a light on the magnificent buildings lining its banks. Then you also have the hidden gems that people can’t see unless they are on the water. Believe me, I’ve scanned the banks and they have a lot to offer.”
Along our river side, not only are there the obvious landmarks and historic bridges dripping in history, there are also countless pockets of places to hop off and visit. Book markets, boutique cafes and walking paths that you wouldn’t notice from land but sparkle in the sun along the river.
“City Cruises is not just for the tourist; we are the only river running attraction that offers an experience teamed with unrivalled knowledge and where you can get an exceptional meal, doing something a little outside of the norm. As Londoners, there’s so much that we don’t know about our city.” Kyle continued.
As I felt the breeze and winter sun on my skin, my phone remained firmly in my pocket and I looked up at the architecture and buildings that towered over the river. For once, I opened my eyes and listened to the knowledge shared, soaking in a city that I know so well, but never really see. At least, not like this.
“There is more history that you can see from the river, you go through three world heritage sites – from Greenwich, the Tower of London to Westminster – and you are travelling along 2000 years of liquid history.
“London only exists because the Romans put it there because of the River Thames, it’s the heart of our city, something which was commercially built around it. We should be seeing this.” Kyle said, “We go as far as the Thames barrier and past iconic London landmarks – seeing the city by day is one experience but seeing it by night is a whole other one. It’s a chance to rediscover it – something we just don’t do enough of.”
Kyle said that since the pandemic there has been a recent spike in Londoners getting riverside again, and as the city looked back at me, Canary Wharf sitting on its own mini-Manhattan, the incredible bridges now decked with light installations, I realised why.
Yes, I was tempted to shout out ‘I’m the king of the world,’ and have my own Leonardo DiCaprio moment minus Kate, but I resisted and enjoyed this time out from a busy city life.
As the boat docked and I was reminded of the place that I live, but don’t know that well, I couldn’t not grin. The beauty, the potential, and the chance to escape busy London and breathe was clearly a necessity when you live here.
A time to reboot. In a weird and wonderful way, the river allowed us to do this.
Upon saying goodbye, Kyle shared one final thing, “On my very first cruise I went on with City Cruises, a guy got down on one knee and proposed to his partner. You see, something magical happens when you are floating across the water and seeing our city. Anything can happen.”
So, Londoners I urge you, in a city that is so busy and constant, with a culture of looking down, I’d recommend you remember to look up and resee London from our river. It’s worth it.
City Cruises offer the largest fleets on the River Thames, sight-seeing, daily meals – lunch afternoon tea and dinner – private charters and three speed boats. We are spoilt for choice.
Stay dry and see a different side of our city.