Saturday, April 27, 2013

Westminster Bridge crossing the Thames beside
England's Houses of Parliament  
Curls of mist swirled around our heads that August morning as we made our way to Victoria Station, then down into the bowels of the city where the underground trains, like dragons, gobbled up and spewed forth passengers. My daughter, experienced with the workings of the London Underground, guided me expertly through jostling crowds and onto a waiting train to Charing Cross Station, the take-off point for a day’s exploration of the Thames.

England’s great river, although dwarfed by the 2,560 mile Mississippi and sedate in comparison with the rapids that swirl and tumble through the Grand Canyon, nevertheless has a long and impressive history. As a clear bubbling spring it rises at its source in Cirencester. Two hundred and fifteen miles later, its swollen tides sweep into the English Channel.

Crossing its wide expanse on the Hungerford footbridge I leaned over the railing to watch water taxis, ferries and other small craft bustling, like ‘riverboatmen’ insects on a pond beneath us.

Palace of Westminster in London England 
London’s river thoroughfare is one of the city’s most popular tourist destinations. Travelers can undertake a circular tour on a river ferry, alighting or disembarking at any one of three stops between Westminster and St. Katharine’s Piers to explore such places as the National Theater, Southwark Cathedral, Westminster Abbey and the New Palace of Westminster, more commonly known as the Houses of Parliament. Serving as Britain’s seat of government this outstanding example of gothic architecture is in fact a royal palace that replaced the original destroyed by fire in 1834.

Ice cream sellers at Westminster Bridge 
Today, as you pass on the ferry at teatime you may witness an illustrious gathering of Earls and Dukes, the Prime Minister and numerous Parliamentarians. The country’s leaders assemble daily on the patio overlooking the river to enjoy that most English of rituals, afternoon tea. But riding the ferry is just one way to tour the Thames.
Photo copyright James Gordon
Posted by Anne Gordon on Saturday 27th April, 2013


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