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London Helicopter Tours – Great Views over London

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As people look for new ways to see the sights of London, a number of different ways of exploring the city have sprung up and the pleasures of sight-seeing can now be experienced from many different angles. The traditional bus tour has been supplemented by walking tours, river cruises and even a tour that encompasses both without changing vehicle! However, there are few more unique ways to see London’s biggest points of interest than by flying overhead on your own helicopter tour.

Taking to the skies over the city on your own personal tour gives a once in a lifetime experience for long-time London lovers and newcomers alike.

Size and scale

One thing it’s very hard to get a feel for at street level in any city, London included, is the scale of the place and how the various parts of it inter-connect. Walking through the winding streets can leave the visitor pleasantly lost and with aching feet, but with no real idea of the amount of distance that’s been covered in the process.

The public transport system is no better at helping people gauge places in relation to one another, as London Underground maps present a schematic rather than proximity and buses and taxis snake around the city to find the most expedient way from one place to another rather than joining the dots.

Taking to the sky can help give a real sense of perspective to the city and spot sights in relation to one another.

A different perspective

There are, understandably, parts of London that look a good deal different from above than they do from the ground. What can close up feel incredibly densely packed with buildings can suddenly take on a more spacious air when viewed from high above the streets.

Taking a flight over the London Docklands reveals a very different picture to the one seen from the ground. While it can feel somewhat claustrophobic to be amongst the high-rise buildings around Canary Wharf and Canada Water, from above the area is an archipelago of small islands that look spaced out and almost Venetian.

london docklands above

London’s Docklands viewed from above

The same is true around the Royal Parks. The densely-packed districts around Hyde Park, Green Park and others can be deceptive and few people explore the parks sufficiently to appreciate their true scale. A tour at dusk can bring the space into sharp relief as the dark patches contrast with the bright street lights in the surrounding areas.

A glimpse of the unseen

There are parts of the city that simply can’t be seen without taking flight and viewing them from above. The expansive grounds of Buckingham Palace are only seen by a select few every year who are invited to join the Queen for one of her garden parties. The perimeter of the palace is surrounded by very high walls that don’t permit the casual glance at the Monarch’s back garden. Taking a helicopter tour will give the opportunity to see sights that few have witnessed first-hand.

queens backyard

A sneak peek at the Queen’s backyard

It’s also possible that the tour will show other things that few on the ground will be aware of. At the top of some of the high-rise buildings in the centre of London, manicured gardens and even swimming pools and hot-tubs can be seen, showing a different side to the city than most ever see.

Conclusion

For a different perspective on the sights of London, taking a helicopter tour will introduce a whole new point of view. Giving a real appreciation of space and scale, an aerial tour can also offer passengers the chance to get a glimpse of an unseen London.

 

Image Credits: Tab59 and James Cridland

London Duck Tours – Amphibious Fun in the Big City

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There are some really great things to do in London from visiting an art gallery to taking a trip down the Thames and lots of other fascinating things in between. However, one experience not to be missed is a 75 minute road and river trip with a difference, aptly named London Duck Tours and it’s a guided ride through an iconic capital with a difference.

duck tours

Half truck and half boat, a great way to see the capital

A Guided Tour with a Difference

The trip offers everyone a new visual angle on London – and its great fun. The journey is a thrilling experience as people get to ride in a World War II vehicle designed for both river and road use because it’s amphibious. The adventure begins on hard ground driving people through the streets of historic London before taking to the water with a splash.

The ride is fascinating with a tour guide telling lots of quirky tales of the capital as the vehicle coasts past some of the more iconic areas of the city. This naturally includes the Houses of Parliament and Buckingham Palace to name but two, before going down the embankment to the river Thames for a gentle splash into the water. From then on it’s a thirty minute river trip in all its glory again past some of the most iconic and historic buildings that border the River Thames.

London has a lot to boast about, superb architecture and superb pageantry in all its British glory. Viewing it all in this novel fashion makes it an experience never to be forgotten – it’s a huge amount of fun that offers visitors some fantastic and unique photo opportunities of one of Europe’s most photographed cities, all from a funny looking amphibious World War II Duck Truck – definitely one for the virtual scrapbook.

duck tours iconic london buildings

Tour takes you past iconic London buildings

A Great Experience from Start to Finish

The tour starts out right next to the London Eye which has become one of the capital’s more recent iconic sights. The “mighty Duck” then takes to the road with colourful flare past the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, the Prime Minister’s home in number 10 Downing Street and then on to Trafalgar Square. All the while, the tour guide offers an action packed commentary unlike any you may have ever heard before. Two of the highlights of the tour take you past two of the capital’s most grand buildings, namely Buckingham Palace and St James’s Palace.

Then it’s on down to the embankment past the Tate Britain amidst the usual London traffic of red buses and black cabs in a vehicle that was invented back in 1942 ready for the D-Day invasion on France’s Normandy beaches. The vehicle may look a little weird but in its heyday, this incongruous amphibious machine saved thousands of lives.

The splash into the River Thames is fun and it all happens right next to the headquarters of M15. Which leads nicely to one of the themed trips that’s organised called the James Bond Tour. The 30 minutes boat trip down the river is a real adventure and again, offers some great photo opportunities of the capital.

Well Worth Booking a Seat

The Duck tour is hugely popular which means if you don’t want to be disappointed, it’s well worth booking a ticket but this will only be held for you for 2 hours after you have purchased it. The last Duck tour starts according to the time the sun sets, and the rides take place every thirty minutes or so when things are running smoothly. Weekends tend to be very busy which means there are more tours organised to cope with demand.

Conclusion

London is one of the most iconic European capitals and it’s one of the most photographed in the world. Being able to take a tour around this vibrant, historical city in a fun way, makes for a memorable experience. The Duck Truck allows you to take great shots of some of the most impressive buildings in the capital, both on land and from the water to share with family and friends. For a great and fascinating tour of London, it really doesn’t get much better than London Duck Tours – Amphibious Fun in the Big City with a difference!

Image credits: philip bisset and Waterford_Man

The London Underground – 150 Years and Still Going Strong

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One of the great institutions of London is its public transportation system. The gleaming jewel in the crown of the services is the London Underground. Widely referred to simply as “The Tube,” the London Underground covers over 400 kilometres of track through some 270 stations as far out as Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire and Essex.

original london underground

How times have changed – the original London Underground

The original parts of the Tube system were first installed in the mid-1800s, with the first train service running between Paddington and Farringdon starting in 1863, some 150 years ago. The Underground has come a long way since those early days when steam locomotives hauled wooden carriages along a short length of track, and today the on-going work to improve and upgrade the system has seen a number of dramatic developments in a relatively short period of time.

From split to united

In the beginning, the London Underground was a series of separate and unconnected companies running a fragmented underground train service across different districts of London. The names of many of the lines on the Tube are taken from the original company that operated services on that line, which eventually all became amalgamated into one whole integrated service.

futuristic jubilee line station canary warf

The almost futuristic Jubilee Line station at Canary Wharf

In 1933, a little under half-way through its life to date, the London Underground was formally constituted as an organisation and brought about the merger of the previously independent lines operating throughout the city. They were also merged with the bus and tram operators to create London Transport, which aimed to provide a complete transport service to cover the whole of inner and greater London. Under this guise, there was a great deal of development in the services on offer under the streets of London, not least of which involved the creation of an entirely new Tube route in 1979, the Jubilee Line, named in honour the Queen’s Silver Jubilee in 1977.

Trouble and strife

The London Underground has seen more than its fair share of trouble throughout its 150 year life. Throughout the German bombings in the Blitz during the Second World War, London’s deep Underground stations offered shelter from the falling bombs that laid waste to significant parts of the London landscape.

The bombs moved underground when eight years ago a group of terrorists carried out an attack on the population of London, with a bomb going off in packed carriages during rush-hour on three separate trains as well as a double-decker bus.

In spite of the carnage wreaked by the bombings, the public quickly returned to the Underground to demonstrate their faith in the trains and their defiance of the terrorists who tried to destroy their trust in the system that served them.

Art on the Underground

One of the most notable features of the Underground is its patronage of the arts. Across the city, travellers will find public artwork commissioned by Transport for London that highlights the unique character of that particular part of the city.

Around the Underground, people will also find a wide variety of licenced buskers who entertain travellers with anything from highbrow classical music to the latest rap and R&B as they travel beneath the feet of the people in the city. Many of the Tube stations also have boards that allow Tube staff and regular passengers to write poems and words of wisdom for other passers-by to read and enjoy.

Conclusion

Rather than simply a transportation system, the London Underground is part of the fabric of London life. A major part of the way Londoners go about their day to day business, the Underground has been an important community and cultural touchstone in good times and bad.

Image Credits: Wikipedia 1 & 2

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