Well guys, Red Letter Days sent me down the river. I spent a very pleasant Saturday afternoon pootling along the river Thames, eating a lovely three course lunch, catching sight of all the landmarks of London, aboard the Symphony with Bateaux London.
The boat departs from the Embankment Pier promptly at 1 o’clock and for once, I was punctual in getting to the pier just outside Embankment station. Following the sign for Bateaux London, I made it onto the floating Reception dock and had my ticket reservation processed quickly. Once that was done and dusted, I went outside to watch the Symphony arrive. I watched as ropes were thrown onto the dock to moor, and the staff assemble to welcome it’s hungry passengers.
Now, as is standard on a British Bank Holiday, the weather totally let us down. It was overcast and drizzly and the water on the river looked pretty choppy. I was fully expecting the journey to be bumpy, but once on board, it was a gentle sway that I soon stopped noticing.
Each group is led to their tables and drink orders were taken, and I was relieved to see that despite the rubbish weather, the clear roof gave us a great view of the landmarks we were about to see.
As soon as the Symphony pulled away from the dock and down the river, our starters arrived.
Smoked Salmon terrine with pickled cucumber and buttered wholemeal bread…
…Chicken Ballotine with Sweet Potato Mash and Rocket Pesto for mains…
…finishing off with Cherry Frangipane Tart! (yum)
It was a nice meal that wasn’t heavy or rich- it was just perfectly pleasant and not too much.
As our courses came and went, the Symphony sailed past historical landmarks from the London Eye, to Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. There’s an informative taped commentary that plays as you eat your meal, with a few facts of each landmark or building we passed, but it wasn’t intrusive- I could still hold a conversation without having to cup my ear or my grunt my usual “huh?” at Robin.
Our table was at the back of the boat, so we had a very surreal but amazing view as we sailed beneath Tower Bridge. I also braved my sea legs and popped out onto the deck to catch some photo opportunities.
We went past the Southbank, City Hall, HMS Belfast, and past Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, where people waved to us from the side. We then went as far as Wapping, passing wharf after wharf, watching bobbing sailboats before turning around to head back towards Embankment.
I warmed up with a coffee when I returned to my table, humming Smokey Robinson’s Cruising in my head. I didn’t expect to have such a relaxing time on board the boat, but it’s a really good hour and half of seeing the sights and being fed. As a Londoner, you take the place you live for granted and it was refreshing to see the city from a different point of view. I loved every second and was a little sad when the cruise came to an end.
This particular experience with Red Letter Days also includes tickets to the London Eye. The Hungerford bridge is right next to the pier, making it an easy stroll to get to…BUT, and it’s a big old ‘but’…by the time we arrived back on ‘dry’ land, the wind had picked up and droplets were starting to fall- the start of Storm Katie was whirring!
Luckily, the tickets are valid until the end of the month, so if like us, the weather intervenes, you can always come back to use those tickets. So really…one experience becomes two, which is a win win and still well worth the package price of £139 for two people.
All in all, it was a really nice Saturday. Booking via Red Letter Days was simple and easy and as well as a Bateaux London cruise down the Thames, I can now look forward to a trip on the London Eye!
Thank you Red Letter Days for sending me on this wonderful experience!