I’m waiting at the London Eye Pier when a shiny red speedboat comes zigzagging toward me. This is my ride for the day and I climb aboard the RIB, a high-performance rigid inflatable boat that is lightweight and can operate with a speed between 40 and 70 knots (74 and 130 kilometers per hour). I’m totally ready for some high speed thrills on the Thames with London RIB Voyages!
From London Eye Pier to the Tower Bridge, we have to abide by a speed limit of 14 kilometers per hour. But that’s okay because our actor-comedian-guide James entertains us with plenty of fun facts about the London landmarks we’re cruising by. He points out the two tents in front of the Houses of Parliament and tells us the green striped one represents the Commons and the red striped one represents the Lords. Did you know there is even a pub, The Hop Inn, nestled deep in the bowels of Parliament? But you’ll have to pull a few strings to get into this pub – only British policy-makers and the working-class that maintain the famous building can drink here.
James engages us asking questions like what does the name Big Ben actually refer to. “The bell!”, I shout enthusiastically! And we all go quiet for a minute as the London Eye looms over us from a view of it I’ve never seen before.
We cruised on by MI6, the headquarters of James Bond and the real-life headquarters of the British Secret Intelligence Service. We saw beautiful monuments like Cleopatra’s Needle, got prime viewing of St. Paul’s Cathedral and the Tower of London, and learned how those clever architects of the OXO Tower outwitted the no advertising bylaws on the Thames.
As we cruise under the Tower Bridge, James tells us to hold on tight. There’s no speed limit between Tower Bridge and the Thames Barrier and within minutes we’re veering at impossible angles, white water spraying up the sides. Despite my not-so-chic waterproof windbreaker and compulsory, yet hardly glamorous, life jacket, I feel like Bond Girl Elektra King speeding down the Thames in The World Is Not Enough!
Strains of the James Bond theme suddenly come blaring through the speakers and we all scream with delight as we bank hard right and then zigzag hard left. The soundtrack is perfectly timed and funny with every tune you’d expect to hear like Danger Zone, the Baywatch theme, and Waterloo Sunset.
We slow down again as we approach Tower Bridge and I’ve just had one of the most fun and adventurous tours I’ve ever been on in London! I sit back and tilt my face up to the sun, letting it dry the little bit of spray I got from the thrilling high speed ride.
Know Before You Go
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