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Nautical, but nice! Get up close with the yachts and crew ahead of the Clipper round the world yacht race

St Katharine docks

St Katharine Docks will play host to the beginning of the Clipper round-the-world race

It’s nearly time for one of the toughest contests of the year – the famous Clipper round-the-world yacht race. And with the big event kicking off in London this Sunday, what better way to celebrate than with a week of nautical fun at St Katharine Docks. The Clipper race features crews of amateur sailors from 40 nationalities racing under the command of professionals.

Ahead of the Clipper launch, the race village will be open for a week (22 – 29 August). Visitors will chance to visit some of the 70ft racing yachts taking part in the Clipper race on the daily free boat tours. There will also be free model yacht racing and Q&A sessions with the crew. From 27 – 29 August there will be paddle boarding sessions, featuring free 30 minute tasters at 11am and 11.45am, following by afternoon classes and yoga paddle boarding (£25 per hour). African drummers, Chinese Lion Dancers and more will be providing the entertainment.

On 30 August, the fleet of 12 yachts will take part in the departure ceremony before parading out of the Docks through Tower Bridge to commence their 40,000 mile trip. At 1pm, the teams will appear on stage for the official departure ceremony, before the fleet departs St Katharine Docks at 2.15pm. At 3.30pm the fleet parades through Tower Bridge into the Upper Pool, before it parades back through Tower Bridge down river at 4pm.

  • The race village will be open from 22-29 August, before the race starts on 30 August 2015. Takes place at St Katharine Docks, 50 St. Katharine’s Way, Tower Bridge, E1W 1LA. Nearest station: Tower Hill or Tower Gateway (DLR). For more information, visit the St Katharine Docks website.

For a guide to what else is on in London this month, click here.

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London in silhouette against an August sunset

Just posting a rare photo post to the blog following a lovely summer sky in London last night. After spending Saturday outside in the park with friends, we were a bit disappointed by the frequent cloud cover throughout the day. Of course, clouds and sunshine usually means for gorgeous sunsets so we were rewarded later on. Here’s a view from Tower Bridge looking east down the River Thames featuring silhouettes of various London landmarks, such as the BT Tower, St Paul’s Cathedral and Cannon Street station.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2015

Summer sky: A view looking east down the River Thames from Tower Bridge on 1 August 2015

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Alfresco drinking and dining with a bit of glamour at the London Riviera pop-up

London Riviera

Alfresco drinking and dining with one of the best views of the city at London Riviera

It’s not often we see our home city as ‘glamorous’ in comparison to places like St Tropez and Miami Beach. However, when the sun is out… and you’re not stuck in a stuffy office – London is pretty fabulous. This summer, there will be one pop-up with a more chic location than most.

Overlooking the River Thames, Tower Bridge and the Tower of London this summer will be an immersive new drinking and dining experience. The London Riviera is a five-month bespoke pop-up bar which will offer an alfresco venue to kick back and relax on a warm summer evening or weekend. Taking inspiration from Miami and the French Riviera, the venue has been created by Hollywood film designer Sonia Klaus with palm tress, pink flamingos, giant pineapples and comfortable day beds.

London Riviera

Mix it up: There is a range of non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages on sale at the bar

For customers feeling peckish, there will be fresh sharing menu from Ceru restaurant. The menu, created by Executive Chef Tom Kime (previously of The River Café, Le Pont de la Tour and Rick Stein’s Seafood Restaurant), will be ever-changing throughout the summer, inspired by Mediterranean street food. Samples dishes include Pancar (roast beetroot, yoghurt, garlic and pistachio), Fadi (fried baby courgette purée with tahini, roast garlic, yoghurt & lemon) and Spicy Roast Red Pepper dip with chilli, walnuts & pomegranate molasses, all served with freshly baked pita; Crisp apple, pomegranate & mint salad with green chilli, lemon & roasted pine nuts; Salad of baby spinach with labneh, dried cranberries & toasted flat bread with za’atar; Ceru’s signature Slow Roast Lamb Shoulder with Shawarma Spices; and Kebab Karaz Spiced Baked Meatballs with sour cherry and cranberry.

The bar will be serving a range of drinks, including organic coffee, freshly pressed juices, mocktails, craft beers and exotic cocktails for you to sip while lounging and enjoying the views. Every Wednesday, the Cîroc School of Mixology will be giving classes so you can learn to make your own Cîroc vodka cocktails. Other events over the summer include Tom Kime’s Supper Club and weekend ‘Love Brunch’ parties.

I went along to the launch this week and was immediately wowed by the design of the place, bringing a real sense of colour and fun to what is usually grey and metallic surroundings. As a frequent visitor to the South Bank, I’ve long adored the views from this part of the capital so the chance to enjoy them in a venue for eating and drinking is a real plus. I tried some Cîroc pineapple vodka cocktails which were sweet, fruity and delicious. The day beds were particularly comfortable and I could well see myself lounging on one on a hot Saturday or Sunday afternoon.

London Riviera is part of the More London Free Festival, which runs until the end of September. Amongst the highlights of the festival include free film and sport screenings, live music and theatre.

  • London Riviera, Queen’s Walk, More London (next to City Hall), SE1 2DB. Nearest station: London Bridge or Tower Hill. Open daily 8am-10pm from now until 31 October 2015. For more information, visit the London Riviera website.

To find out what else is on in London in September, click here.

For more of Metro Girl’s bar and restaurant reviews, click here.

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Rare colour film of bustling London town in 1927

Watch Claude Frisse-Greene’s amazing footage of the capital in the 1920s.

1927 still

Traffic on Whitehall near the Cenotaph
© Claude Frisse-Greene, courtesy of Tim Sparke on Vimeo

A rare colour film of London in 1927 has been making waves on the internet in recent weeks. Uploaded by Tim Sparke on Vimeo three years ago, it’s audience has suddenly soared, with over 500,000 views so far. Shot by early British film pioneer Claude Frisse-Greene, it uses colour techniques that his father William had been experimenting with. The just under six-minute film shows the hustle and bustle of city life, with footage filmed at the Thames, Tower Bridge, Tower Of London, Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens and Whitehall. It also includes shots of traffic going over the old London Bridge – designed by Victorian John Rennie – which now stands in Lake Havasu City in Arizona. Open-top buses, cars and horse and carriages are seen trotting past the relatively new Cenotaph in Whitehall, where a few pedestrians are seen bending down to read the wreaths. One thing I love about this film is so much looks familiar – but yet there’s no traffic lights or road markings, with policemen controlling the traffic. Marble Arch stands behind some ornate gates which no longer exist – presumably an exit from Hyde Park before the busy road was cut into it, marooning the arch as a polluted traffic island. The Thames looks incredibly busy with so many barges and tug boats. The river is a lot more accessible, with Westminster Pier embarking passengers on tiny boats compared to the Clippers today. Petticoat Lane Market in Spitalfields is as busy as ever, with more men than women it seems, with fur stoles and stuffed rabbits amongst the goods on sale. The men are predominantly wearing flat caps, while some very stylish women in 1920s fashion are seen walking through Hyde Park.

NB: Since this post was written, the original video was taken down, but I have found this extended version – without the modern soundtrack – instead.


If you like the 1920s, there’s a host of Great Gatsby-themed events on in London to celebrate the release of the film. Read the guide to what’s on here.

For a review of the 1920s pop-up club night Candlelight Club, click here.

For more blog posts on London history, click here.

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Summer ain’t over just yet: Guide to what’s on in London and the Paralympics in August/September

Having spent pretty much my whole life in London, I’ve noticed a real change in seasons in the past five years especially. Having gone through some very warm September and Octobers (compared to the same cooler months in my childhood), I decided sometime ago that I consider September a summer month. Our weather is so changeable these days, I don’t even think we really have structured, proper seasons anymore.

I’m not the only one who has noticed. Now festival and event organisers have been moving annual events from May or June to September because there tends to be better weather. So with this is mind, there’s still another five or six weeks left of ‘summer’ in London – and of course the Paralympics starting next week – so here’s a guide to what’s on.

London Paralympics 2012

If you want to try your luck and get tickets, they are significantly cheaper than the Olympic tickets – try buying online here. However, there isn’t as many free Paralympics games to watch unfortunately – the cycle road races are taking place at Brands Hatch.

Watch the Paralympics on the big screen at BT London Live in Trafalgar Square, open every day from 11am until 10pm. There will also be live music between 1pm and 7pm every day. Attendees will also have the chance to try out Paralympic sports such as wheelchair basketball and sitting volleyball.

The Men’s and Women’s Marathon both take place today, starting and ending at The Mall via the City of London. Some athletes will compete with wheelchairs or throwing frames, some with prostheses or with guidance from a sighted companion. The Men’s Marathon T12 (athletes with a visual impairment) and T46 (athletes with a loss of limb or limb deficiency) will start at 8am and the Men’s and Women’s Marathon T54 (wheelchair racers) will start at 11:30am.

Potters Field Park © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2012

The big screen at Potters Field Park by Tower Bridge

  • 29 August – 9 September – Big Screen at Potters Fields Park and The Scoop

Watch the games on a big screen at Potters Fields Park on the south bank of the Thames, in between Tower Bridge and City Hall. Nearby is The Scoop amphitheatre, with free music, theatre and films available to all. Visit The Scoop’s website for more info.

Giving the public a chance to cheer for and celebrate with the athletes of both the Olympics and Paralympics Games as they parade from Mansion House in the City of London (1:30pm), past St Paul’s Cathedral, The Strand, Trafalgar Square and ending in The Mall (The latter being ticketed entry for Olympic volunteers, armed forces and athletes’ support staff and families). Up to 800 Olympic and Paralympic athletes with ride on up to 21 floats, taking up to 13 minutes to pass any given point along the way.

Wenlock – the official mascot of the Olympics – and Mandeville – the official mascot of the Paralympics – have been hanging out on the streets of London since July. The Mayor Of London’s office have put together six walking routes in London with different designs of Wenlock and Mandeville highlighting history and culture of the surrounding area. Go to the MOLpresents website to find maps, or see how many you can spot by yourself. Fun activity for adults and children alike. Check out my blog entry on some of the ones I’ve spotted around time.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2012

London Bridge is turned orange

  • On now until 9 SeptemberParalympic Photo Opportunities

The Paralympic symbol – Agitos – is already illuminated on the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square and on Tower Bridge until 15 September.

Every night (8pm-midnight) during the Paralympics, images from the Games from 1948 until present day will be projected on the Houses of Parliament. The shows will last 9 minutes and start every 15 minutes (See YouTube video below for a sneak preview).

London’s famous bridges will be lit up in dazzling light displays every night of the Paralympic Games. My tip is go for dinner or drinks at one of the many restaurants or bars spanning the Southbank between Westminster Bridge and Tower Bridge then walk off your dinner while checking out the bridges.

What’s On In London

(Non-Paralympic related)

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2012

Decisions, decisions: Lots of things to see and do at Priceless Wonderground

Mastercard has organised a fair, entertainment and cabaret extravaganza in Jubilee Gardens, near the foot of the London Eye and by the Southbank Centre. It includes rides, cabaret, children’s show, comedy, burlesque and alfresco drinking. Open all day untill 11pm every night. Free to get in, but entry fee for attractions and rides. Nearest tube or train: Waterloo or short walk over the River from Embankment or Westminster.

Two day free festival coinciding with the end of Paralympics. Celebrating both London and the multi-cultural melting pot that makes our city so unique. There’s a host of events on including a Night Carnival of 1,500 dancers on Blackfriars Bridge and Victoria Embankment, the Kids’ Choir at The Scoop, Barge-Driving Races and a fireworks show. Visit the Thames Festival website to find out more.

  • Sunday 9 September – Bandstand Marathon

On Sunday 9 September, over 500 bandstands across the country will host free musical performances. Visit the Bandstand Marathon website for more details.

Annual boat marathon along the River Thames, starting at Millwall Riverside at 10:30am and finishing at Ham House, Richmond. Anything goes with the type of boats, including Hawaiian war canoes, Chinese dragon boats, whalers and Irish curraghs.

  • Now until Sunday 16th SeptemberAndy Warhol: The Portfolios at Dulwich Picture Gallery.

A special exhibition of Andy Warhol’s paintings is on at the Dulwich Picture Gallery in South London. I visited it earlier this summer, check out my blog entry for more information. Nearest train station: West Dulwich or North Dulwich.

This annual event is hugely popular and sees buildings that are not normally open to the public, throw open their doors for just two days. Many buildings are strictly ticket only and you need to apply for a ballot to gain entry. Check out the Open House London website for more information.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2012

A busy summer evening at the Daylesford Cafe on Selfridges’ Rooftop

  • Now until end of SeptemberDaylesford Pop-Up Cafe on Selfridges’ Rooftop
© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl, 2012

See the real thing at the Pearly Kings and Queens’ Harvest Festival (this is Pearly Mandeville…)

As part of the Oxford Street store’s Big British Bang celebration, Selfridges have opened their rooftop this summer with a crazy golf course (which finishes 2 September) and a pop-up cafe run by the team from Daylesford organic farm in Gloucs (until end of September). Six stories high, you can enjoy Afternoon Tea or Pimm’s with cake in the afternoon or evening sunset. Check out my blog post on my visit to the cafe.

Runners dress up as gorillas for this 7km run, which raises awareness of the dwindling population of these amazing creatures. If you want to take part, you must register (£80, but includes your own gorilla costume to keep!). However, those who want to watch, can see the action along the Southbank and across Tower Bridge.

  • Sunday 30th SeptemberPearly Kings and Queens Harvest Festival

Pearly Kings and Queens are an iconic part of London culture, who aren’t seen around the capital as much as they used to. Unsurprisingly, they are likely to be the main attraction at the festival at Guildhall, which also includes traditional entertainment, a parade and a Harvest Festival service. Starts at Guildhall Yard at 1pm, before the service at St-Mary-Le-Bow Church at 3pm. Nearest tube to Guildhall: St Paul’s or Bank. Find out more information on the Pearly Society website.

No ticket, no problem! Guide to enjoying the Olympics in London for free

Olympic rings © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2012

Like a majority of Londoners I have spoken to, I’ve been surprised by the sudden onset of Olympic fever. After months, if not years, of negative press about the spiralling costs, the difficulty in getting (affordable!) tickets, engineering and road works and… sorry have mentioned this in a previous blog post, but those horrific Boris ‘it’s the big one’ announcements at stations, it’s finally here.

Since going to watch the Olympic torch relay last Monday, I have been growing more and more excited about the games. Many people like me, who don’t usually have an interest in sports and haven’t watched previous Olympics, are stunned to find a newfound enthusiasm for the Games, which have come out of nowhere. During Friday night’s Opening Ceremony, my Twitter and Facebook feeds were awash with pride (from the Brits) and admiration (from my foreign pals) and it appears the country has finally embraced the games.

So although I have been lucky enough to win tickets to the hockey (of which I know nothing about…), most of my friends haven’t got tickets so we’ve been trying to find ways of soaking up the atmosphere and even catch a game without spending a penny. On Saturday, I went to watch the Men’s Cycle Road Race on Constitution Hill and it was great fun. So here’s a guide to enjoying the Games and the other events on in London over the summer.

Free Olympic and Paralympic Events (click links for detailed maps and schedules)

  • Wednesday 1st AugustCycling Road – Women’s and Men’s Individual Time Trials.

The Women’s Individual Time Trial starts at 12:30 and ends (estimated) 13:45 at Hampton Court Palace, goes through Esher, Hersham, Cobham and Thames Ditton.

The Men’s Individual Time Trial starts at 14:15 and ends (estimated) 16:10 at Hampton Court Palace, going through similar route to Women’s, but also including Teddington and Hampton Wick.

serpentine olympics © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2012

The Women’s Triathlon includes ticketed seating on the north bank of the Serpentine in Hyde Park, but the remainder of the course is free for spectators. The swimming part (1.5km) will start in the Serpentine at 9am, then the cycling (43km in 7 laps of 6.1km), which will go along South Carriage Drive in the park, down Constitution Hill and back to the park, then there’s a 10km run (4 laps of 2.5km), ending at approx 10:30am. The winner will be presented with their medal at the end.

The Men’s 20km Race Walk starts at 17:00 at The Mall. The rules stipulate one foot may remain on the ground at all times as the competitors speed-walk along the route of 10 laps around the 2km between The Mall and the Constitution Hill and back again. The Mall area is ticketed, but Constitution Hill and around the Queen Victoria Memorial are free.

The Women’s Marathon starts at 11am at The Mall (ticket holders only), before taking a route along Victoria Embankment, St Paul’s, Cannon Street and Blackfriars before ending at The Mall.

The Men’s Triathlon is pretty much the same route and set-up as the women’s above. So apart from ticketed area on Serpentine’s north bank, spectators can find free spots along the route in and outside of the park. The event starts at 11am and is scheduled to finish at 13:15 with the medal presentation at the climax.

Men's Cycle Race © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2012

The Women’s 10K Swimming Marathon starts at 12:00 and will include 10 laps of the Serpentine in Hyde Park. Apart from ticketed area on Serpentine’s north bank, the south bank is free for spectators.

The Men’s 10K Swimming Marathon starts at 12:00 and will include 10 laps of the Serpentine in Hyde Park. Apart from ticketed area on Serpentine’s north bank, the south bank is free for spectators.

The Men’s 50km Race Walk starts at 9am at The Mall. The rules stipulate one foot may remain on the ground at all times as the competitors speed-walk along the route of 25 laps around the 2km course between The Mall and the Constitution Hill and back again. The Mall area is ticketed, but Constitution Hill and around the Queen Victoria Memorial are free.

The Women’s 20km Race Walk starts at 17:00 at The Mall. The rules stipulate one foot may remain on the ground at all times as the competitors speed-walk along the route of 10 laps around the 2km course between The Mall and the Constitution Hill and back again. The Mall area is ticketed, but Constitution Hill and around the Queen Victoria Memorial are free.

Again, very similar route to the Women’s, starting at The Mall at 11am (ticket holders only) but then going along Victoria Embankment into the City of London and back again. Estimated to finish at 13:30 with the medal presentation.

The Men’s and Women’s Marathon both take place today. Some athletes will compete with wheelchairs or throwing frames, some with prostheses or with guidance from a sighted companion.

  • Monday 10 SeptemberTeam GB Parade

Giving the public a chance to cheer for and celebrate with the athletes of the Games as they parade from Mansion House in the City of London, past St Paul’s Cathedral, The Strand, Trafalgar Square and ending in The Mall.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2012BT London Live

BT have commandeered three famous London spaces – Hyde Park, Victoria Park in East London and Trafalgar Square – to give Londoners and visitors the chance to enjoy the games if they haven’t got a ticket. As well as big TV screens being set up to watch the action live from the Olympic Park and other sites, there is also a variety of entertainment, including concerts. While many of the bigger concerts in Hyde Park will be paid ticket only, to watch the actual games is free entry. A certain amount of tickets for guaranteed entry are available in advance online, but there will also be tickets available each day on a first come, first served basis, depending on capacity. While Hyde Park and Victoria Park are currently running from now until 12 August, the Trafalgar Square area will be open over the whole summer, including the Paralympics. Hyde Park will have a sports area so you can try your hand at your favourite sports, while Victoria Park will have an Observation Wheel, zipline, bungee trampolines and water-zorbing pool. Visit BT London Live’s website for more information.Tower Bridge Olympic rings © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2012

Olympic Photo Opportunities

Even when you’re not at a sports venue, you can be sure wherever you are in London, they’ll be an Olympic symbol or event going on. The iconic Olympic rings have been placed on Tower Bridge, while the Paralympic symbol will be illuminated on the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square from 19 August.

Every night during the Olympics and Paralympics, images from the Games will be projected along the Houses of Parliament.

London’s famous bridges will be lit up in dazzling light displays every night of the Olympic and Paralympic Games. My tip is go for dinner or drinks at one of the many restaurants or bars spanning the Southbank between Westminster Bridge and Tower Bridge then walk off your dinner while checking out the bridges.Embankment Wenlock © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2012

Games Mascots Wenlock and Mandeville Discovery Tours

Wenlock – the official mascot of the Olympics – and Mandeville – the official mascot of the Paralympics – have been somewhat controversial, but following their recent appearance on the streets of London, are growing on some Londoners. The Mayor Of London’s office have put together six walking routes in London with different designs of Wenlock and Mandeville highlighting history and culture of the surrounding area. Go to the MOLpresents website to find maps, or see how many you can spot by yourself. Fun activity for adults and children alike.

Big Screen at Potters Fields Park and The Scoop

Watch the games on a big screen at Potters Fields Park on the south bank of the Thames, in between Tower Bridge and City Hall. Nearby is The Scoop amphitheatre, with free music, theatre and films available to all. Visit The Scoop’s website for more info.

Special Events around London

  • Sacrilege – inflatable Stonehenge tour of London

Artist Jeremy Deller has created a large inflatable, bouncy castle replica of Stonehenge for both adults and children to jump on. It will be popping up in parks and spaces in London. Check the website for locations and dates.

  • Bandstand Marathon – free live music

On Sunday 9 September, over 500 bandstands across the country will host free musical performances. Visit the Bandstand Marathon website for more details.

  • Carnaval del Pueblo – Latin American festival
On Saturday 18 August, one of London’s newest attractions, the Pleasure Gardens in Royal Victoria Docks, will host this festival of music, food, dance. For more information, visit Carnaval del Pueblo’s website.

The Shard laser light show – gallery

Just cruisin’: Sailing down the Thames

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2012

Enjoying the view of the City from the open deck

I have a complicated relationship with boats – which I include ferries, canoes and general waterway transport under that general term. As a child, I spent many hours on ferries to Ireland and France for holidays with my family and used to enjoy the trips. Then one day as a teenager, I suddenly developed seasickness, which still plagues me now if I don’t take precautions.

Despite my body’s physical reaction to boat trips, in my mind I still love to be at sea or on the river. I love the views and different perspective you can get of a place you know so well from a boat and the general romanticism of travelling on one. I love canoeing, the few cruises I have done I have enjoyed and I’m a qualified scuba-diver, which obviously means going on a boat.

Generally, those who suffer from seasickness will attest it’s usually worse on the open sea than on a river. I have a close relative who actually lives on a house boat on the River Thames and I admit to feeling slightly queasy when the tide moves in or out making the boat shift with it.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2014

Not wobbling any more… Millennium Bridge & St Paul’s

However, despite my ups and downs with sea travel, whenever the temperatures soar in London during our heatwaves, I always recommend the River Thames as the best place to be. The river is generally always the coolest place in the capital all year around – in the winter there’s a blistering cold wind, while in the summer it is transformed into a ‘cooling breeze’ while the rest of the capital sweats it out.

So when we had our mini heatwave in late May, which happened to fall on my lieu day off work, I suggested a river cruise with my friend @missgeorgieanne. I had previously been down the river about six or seven years ago (during another heatwave when it was around 33C I seem to recall) and have fond memories of it. This time round, it was supposed to be about 29C, but it was very humid and felt even hotter.

Before hitting Westminster Pier – where most of river cruising companies have ticket booths and start from, I did some research on the internet. National Rail (overland trains) have teamed up with a majority of London tourist attractions (and some shops, theatre productions and restaurants) to offer discounts – some as much as half-price. So if you’re starting a journey from an overland train station either in or out of London, keep hold of your ticket, visit the Days Out Guide website and sign up for the appropriate voucher.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2014

Tate Modern

So armed with my voucher and my paper travelcard, I was able to buy a reduced ‘Rover’ ticket (unlimited hop on, hop off) for City Cruises for my friend and I (Top tip: Buy the ticket online from City Cruises website and it’s even cheaper). With it being glorious sunshine, we headed for the open deck and landed a plum seat in the front row with an uninterrupted view of the shimmering waters (yes, I know the Thames looks a bit murky, but when the sun shines it really does glimmer!). One thing that appealed to me about City Cruises is that is has a licensed bar so it was cider on ice all round – we even inspired some American tourists seated behind us to order the same.

Setting off down river on the trip to Greenwich Pier – stopping at Tower Hill on the way – we were given a commentary by one of the crew. Although they say it isn’t an official guided tour – there aren’t any multi-lingual options unfortunately – the crewmember was very informative and funny. Having grown up in the city, my friend and I are bona-fide Londoners and assumed we would know much of the information provided, but were pleasantly surprised with our new discoveries. For example, the London Eye has 32 pods – one for each of the London boroughs. I’ve been on the London Eye about seven to nine times (with friends and relatives from abroad) and I had never heard that fact. While I’m mentioning the London Eye, I must recommend it as one of my top 5 tourist attractions in London. It moves nice and slowly for those worried about feeling sick (despite my seasickness – I actually love heights) and the 360 degree views around London are stunning.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2015

Going under London Bridge

We cruised on past the Savoy Hotel, Cleopatra’s Needle (Click here for Metro Girl’s blog on the history of Cleopatra’s Needle), the Royal Festival Hall, the Tate Modern, Shakespeare’s Globe, St Paul’s Cathedral and under the ‘wibbly wobbly bridge, aka the Millennium Bridge, which links St Paul’s with the Tate Modern and gives a great view of the river and Tower Bridge.

Although not one of our most decorated or admired, Waterloo Bridge is known for having one of the best views of the river out of all the bridges. However, cruising underneath it, my memory was jolted with a fact I had long forgotten that it was actually built by women during World War II, so is often referred to as the ‘ladies bridge’. I have a special fondness for Waterloo Bridge personally as I used to spend my half-term and summer holidays as a child playing on the South Bank nearby.

Tower of London © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2012

Thankfully those who enter, can now leave too – Tower Of London

During a short stop at Tower Pier – where customers are free to disembark if they want to visit the Tower Of London, we were treated to a good view of the Traitor’s Gate from the river. Many centuries ago, prisoners would arrive at the Tower via boat and would pass through the traitor’s gate – a declaration of what they were perceived to be by The Crown, whether they were innocent or guilty. Of all those who passed through, the chance of leaving the Tower alive were very rare. During the stop of Tower Pier, the boat turned side on to face Tower Bridge, giving a great view of the 19th century bascule/suspension bridge. Although I visited the interior only six months ago on the Tower Bridge Experience, it looked like it had a bit of clean-up since in anticipation of the Queen’s Jubilee Pageant, which took place a week after my cruise. On the Southbank near Blackfriars Bridge, a building called Sea Container’s House

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2012

What’s happened to her Maj? Jubilee wrap on Sea Container’s House, South Bank

was in the process of being draped with a giant Jubilee wrap featuring the Queen and her family on the balcony of Buckingham Palace during her 1977 Silver Jubilee. When we passed it on the way back to Westminster Pier, everyone had been unfurled except the Queen herself (although I, and the Royal Family of course got to see it on the rainy Jubilee Sunday during the flotilla a week later when I ended up finding a spot on the north bank of Blackfriars Bridge so right opposite the wrap).

Ninety minutes later after setting off from Westminster, we arrived at Greenwich Pier. We were pleased to be greeted with the newly restored Cutty Sark. Londoners were saddened when the world’s last remaining tea clipper was badly damaged during a fire in 2007 – a few days after I had last visited it actually. However, the phoenix has well and truly risen from the ashes and is back in action for visitors and Londoners to admire. Although its situated slightly differently from the last time I saw it – it has now been lifted 11ft off its dry berth and is surrounded by a glass structure containing an interactive museum. (For Metro Girl’s blog post on the sunset from Greenwich, click here).

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2012

Risen from the ashes – Cutty Sark

To first-timers visiting Greenwich, the Royal Borough (its new title after being bestowed with it by the Queen earlier this year), there is a lot to keep you occupied for the day. As well as the bustling market, there’s the park, Observatory, the National Maritime Museum and various riverside pubs… the list goes on. As we only had limited time, after stopping for a refreshing 99 ice cream, we headed up into Greenwich Park for one of the best views in London – fact. However, due to the imminent London 2012 Olympics, the northern section of the park was partially closed off as it is currently being transformed into an Equestrian centre for the games. After climbing the hill, we arrived outside the Royal Observatory – the centre of the world in terms of time. Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) of course originate here and in places both inside and outside the gates of the Observatory you can stand with one foot in each Hemisphere (East and West of course… we’re nowhere near the Equator!). As well as the Observatory, there’s also a great view of London’s new ‘City’ – the financial district of Canary Wharf.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2012

View of Canary Wharf and Old Royal Naval College from the top of Greenwich Park and the equestrian Olympics site in the foreground

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2012

Old Royal Naval College

After all the walking and sun-worshipping, we decided to seek shade with some afternoon drinking – yes, more cider on ice – at the historic Trafalgar Tavern – just on the opposite side of the Old Royal Naval Gardens and buildings from the pier, on Park Row. The Regency pub was built in 1837 and features bay windows overlooking the river and Isle Of Dogs opposite and plenty of outdoor seating for those warm summer days and nights. Sipping cider, resting our legs and gazing out over the river was a perfect chilled ending to the day before embarking on our ride home.

Oh yeah… one more thing, I didn’t feel seasick – not a bit!

On the cruise, we passed many popular London tourist attractions – vote for your favourite.

  • Although we went on City Cruises, there’s also a host of other companies that do river cruises (both daytime tourist ones and night-time dinner ones), including Crown River, London Eye River Cruise and Thames River Services.

To read about Cardinal’s Wharf, an 18th century house located in between the Tate Modern and Globe, click here Cardinal’s Wharf: A survivor of 18th century Bankside amidst two London landmarks.

Or to read why the London Eye is one of the city’s best tourist attractions, click Metro Girl’s Must Do Series – Part 1: London Eye