There is a plus to the drizzle: we’re the only ones getting wet on the upper deck of the open-topped The Original Tour red bus. Founded over 60 years ago, these hop-on, hop-off buses are a London institution — one, for some reason, we haven’t tried before. Primed with a selection of sweets and healthier options, we set off on the 2h 15m Yellow Route — one of three to choose from — taking in the likes of Buckingham Palace, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, Downing Street, London Dungeon, Tower Bridge and Tower of London.
The commentary accompanying the tour seems geared to us Londoners — a little too knowing by half. I’m not so sure what the tourists thought of it but we all chuckled at the quirky anecdotes about some of London’s most illustrious names. We learnt why Edward VII was once known as Dirty Bertie (he was a playboy); where some of the city’s most exclusive member’s clubs are located, and that the Queen has the biggest private gardens in central London.
Jumping off at St Katherine Docks, we grab some lunch then head over to Westminster Millennium Pier as the sun breaks through the clouds, and pick up the Thames River Cruise for the return journey. A 24-hour, flexible family ticket (bought online) costs from £75 and includes the bus tour, river cruise and various walking tours. theoriginaltour.com
Published in the Summer 2015 issue of National Geographic Traveller – Family