You never know just how valuable a concierge can be ’til he gives you information that 1) saves you money and 2) gets you where you want to be! Thanks to Grosvenor House: JW Marriott for hiring a man who understands Southern tourists (We have a drawl, ya’ll) and knows how to make their day. When we approached the desk and asked the best way to get to The Globe from the Mayfair section where Grosvenor House is located, the concierge immediately said, “Have you heard of London’s Oyster Card“?
And that’s how we discovered this little gem. With an Oyster Card, you can tool around London on just about any form of transportation: public buses, London Underground (the Tube), Docklands Light Railway (DLR), and trains. River boat fares are discounted with an Oyster Card, the little blue smartcard you pre-load with money at any tube station. When you want to ride, hop on and touch your Oyster Card to an electronic reader which deducts the price of your trip and shows you how much you have remaining. No cash involved. Don’t use it all in one trip? You can get a refund both for your deposit and what you didn’t spend. Check it out at participating tube stations.
Purchasing an Oyster Card in London is pretty convenient, but you can order a Visitor Oyster Card before you leave home and have it mailed to you. It wasn’t, however, much more expensive to purchase one onsite.
Boarding a ThamesClipper for the route to The Globe is easy. Just walk down behind Parliament where ships dock.
Follow the covered walkways to the waiting areas where you wait — but not long. Many boats ensure short wait times.
Scan your Oyster Card. Board. And off you go.
If you want clear shots of the skyline, head to the back of the boat, stand up facing the back, and brace yourself. It’s worth it to get shots like this one of the London Eye . . .
or boats wrapping up their business for the day.
Of course, not all is lovely on the river. But beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
Traveling on the river takes you close to architecture you can’t see from a bus, like these ornate details on one of the bridges . . .
It’s just another day on the Thames for those making a living on the water.
But for us, it was a sight to remember.
For pennies on the pound, a Thames River cruise may be one of your best memories of London.
For more scenes of London, check out our series Postcards from England.