Stuck at The Airport is spending a couple of days in London as a guest of Gatwick Airport,, the airport’s mascot, Gary Gatwick, and a growing list of new local friends, some of whom got us out of a sticky situation. (More on that soon…)
After landing at Gatwick Airport and making the 30-minute journey to London’s Victoria Station on the Gatwick Express we were able to take in some sights before jet lag set in.
The View from Above
With Gary Gatwick in tow, we did what a lot of locals and tourists were doing on a warm, sunny day: we rode the elevators to the top of the Shard building. It’s the tallest building in the United Kingdom and the view from the observation floors at the top is just unbeatable.
Bonus: visitors can purchase drinks and snacks up top, get selfies galore, engage in some people-watching, and enjoy the gelato and air conditioning.
The View from the Water
Once we saw the views of the river from above, we wanted to see it from the water level.
The View from the River 50-minute circular cruise on the Uber Boat by Thames Clippers made that easy.
With a smart and witty tour guide on the microphone, we cruised by many of London’s iconic landmarks, including The Shard, the Tate Modern, Shakespeare’s Globe theater, St Paul’s Cathedral, Houses of Parliament and Big Ben, The London Eye, and the Tower of London.
We also sailed under the Tower Bridge, which just happened to be opening to make way for a larger boat as we approached.
At one point our tour guide asked for a show of hands from all the Americans on board. No one but me raised their hand. A quick “Do you call it ‘football’ or ‘soccer’?’ survey from our guide confirmed that this tour has become quite popular with locals.
The Superbloom at the Tower of London
Day 2 of our whirlwind London tour included a visit to the Tower of London, the urban castle that served as a secure fortress, royal palace, and infamous prison, and is now also home to the very closely guarded Crown Jewels.
Again, we found ourselves mingling with more locals than tourists when we headed to the Tower of London to see how the historic moat around the tower has been transformed by a flower display dubbed the ‘Superbloom,’ and planted to celebrate the Platinum Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II.
The flowers may die and fade and die back in the fall, a Superbloom volunteer told us. But he also assured us that the flowers should return each spring for at least the next four or five years.
Our tour in London also took us to the historic floating museum known as the HMS Belfast and on an unusual adventure on the underground. We’ll share details on both uniquely London experiences, and more, tomorrow.