Jane, a Londoner, was highly sceptical when I suggested this tour. We piled on clothes (it was November) so stayed warm enough to appreciate the birds’ eye view from the upper deck. Over several hours we learned an eclectic mix of history, celebrity, and the macabre: Trafalgar Square’s lions were cast from melted French cannons; a City company insures Tina Turner’s legs for £millions; Green Park was a swampy, medieval graveyard for lepers. You can hop on and off along any of the three routes and the ticket includes a river cruise and guided walks. Commentary is live on one route; on the others it’s taped, in seven languages, plus an extra-gruesome one (in English) for kids. The ticket, normally valid 24 hours, is extended to 48 in winter, so the next day I used it to get to the museums in Kensington, hearing about the humble origins of Harrods and Harvey Nichols along the way. Jane confessed that next time she has out of town visitors, she might do it again.
www.theoriginaltour.com; from £23 adult, £11 under 16s.
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