As we approached the jetty right in front of the Iconic London eye, in the bright, sunny weather, we were warmly welcomed by the friendly staff. Our names ticked off, a life jacket and additional weatherproof coat provided….we quickly realised how essential the additional jacket was when we were informed we might get a bit wet.
We were lead on to the boat by Matt and given a brief safety chat, sang happy birthday to two of the other punters and were advised he would be giving us a running commentary of the sights when the engine was quieter in the speed restricted areas.
The initial gentle bob along the river due to speed restrictions up until Tower bridge and was soon cut short when Captain Chris throttled up the engine as the boat zig-zagged and roared along the Thames. My Bum clenched and holding on to the seat in front, we rapidly gained speed as the music sound system pumped out classic 80’s and 90’s rock anthems. Listening to ‘Enyas’ ‘Sail Away’ as we ripped through the surf was a particularly poignant moment. As the theme tune to ‘Baymatch’ kicked in, my teenage fantasise were reawakened and I kind of felt like the ‘Hoff’ as the boat sped along at max speed of 30 knots (35kmh?).
View From The Thames
From the river viewpoint, you are able to have a completely unobstructed and up-close view of some of the iconic architecture that makes up London’s unique skyline. As we proceeded along the river the ‘Walkie talkie’ ,’ Gherkin’ and ‘Shard’ as well as the tower of London, south bank were all in clear view. The grandiose more recent structures, intermingled with the more historical buildings such as St Pauls Cathedral, the old Wharf buildings (now luxury flats) and the tower of London give a real whistle-stop tour of the historical context of London’s development. The wildly different types of architecture and design of the structures all seen at close, level range makes you feel like you’re in an art gallery of individual pieces. But in a speed boat. With loud music.
During the quieter moments due to speed restrictions, Matt’s commentary was a welcome calming break from the roar and speed of the boat.
We learnt that Sir Francis Drake was actually a Pirate as he had stolen most of the £30 million he acquired (or stolen, depending on who’s version of events you believe) on his voyages. Half of his ill gotten went to queen Elizabeth Ist who later made him ‘Sir’. The parallel with today’s political system did not go unnoticed!;
That the construction of the proposed Eco Garden Bridge will involve removing whole areas of trees along the bank, therefore, negating the ecological basis for the structure;
That the refurbishment of the houses of parliament (currently partly covered in scaffolding) was actually going to cost 3-4 billion rather than the estimated 2 billion and that the only bridge to have been built within time and on budget was the Waterloo Bridge. Built during the 2nd world war it was constructed using self-cleaning stone and the workforce was mainly female, hence its nickname ‘Ladies Bridge’.
Witty and articulate, his informative and almost alternative commentary on the sights (and has political viewpoints) kept my short attention span fully engaged.
Having grown up close to London and pretty much done most of the main tourist attractions in the city, this truly is a unique, almost boutique experience. The thrill of the ride, the sights from the viewpoint of the river and the attentive friendly and witty staff made the experience stand out like no other I have been to in London.
- Price: £39.50 for the Ultimate London Adventure – duration 50 minutes.
- Website: www.thamesrockets.com
- Address: Boarding Gate One, The London Eye Millennium Pier, London SE1 7PB, UK
- Phone: +44 (0)20 7928 8933
This review was made possible with the help of Visit London – the official London travel guide.