diamond geezer

 Saturday, January 21, 2006

LONDON - a tourist guide for Whales

London has always welcomed visitors from around the world. Visitors from every continent, every race and creed. And now, with the appearance of a bottlenosed whale in the River Thames, London welcomes its very first non-human tourist. I suppose it was only a matter of time before higher-order mammals recognised our city's cultural heritage, lively nightlife and period charm. There's certainly plenty in our capital for a highly intelligent sea creature to enjoy. Here are the top ten Thames-side tourist attractions for whales:

1) Thames Cruise: Join thousands of other tourists and take a trip up the meandering river past countless famous landmarks. It's the best way to see the capital (and, if you're a whale, also the only way). Try to avoid the boats full of TV crews, port officials, cameramen and marine experts.
2) London Aquarium: London's only 5-star hotel for whales, dolphins and other fishy life. Unfortunately most residents don't seem to have the option of checking out.
3) Houses of Parliament: This riverside Gothic palace is more well known for its sharks than its whales. And whatever you do don't swim too close, because the over-twitchy inhabitants have set up an exclusion zone (which extends out even into the river).
4) Billingsgate Fish Market: Where better to dine out than at this fine fish restaurant (turn right at West India Dock).
5) Tower of London: Come swim in the historic waters beside Traitor's Gate, the riverside entrance to London's medieval fortress. And if you could blow your spout in the waters beneath Tower Bridge, that would make the perfect photo opportunity for the thousands of whale watchers lining the riverbanks. Thanks.
6) Chelsea Harbour: Larger-than-life Russian émigrés are always welcome here (and at the football club just up Battersea Creek).
7) Windsor Castle: If you've swum upstream as far as Windsor then you're probably in big trouble. But please note - the Prince of Whales doesn't actually live here.
8) Pool of London: Why not rest awhile on a luxurious pebbly Thames-side beach? Just try not to look sick or ill, otherwise boatloads of 'caring' animal rescue workers will be along like a shot to give you a lethal injection.
9) National Maritime Museum: This Greenwich treasurehouse tells the story of how Britain once ruled the oceans. It carefully ignores the fact that whales ruled the oceans for several millennia before that.
10) Greenland Dock: Don't mention it out loud, but this huge man-made harbour used to be the home of London's 17th century whaling industry. Big ships would sail to the Arctic, harpoon a few lovable mammals and then bring them home to Rotherhithe to be cut open and sold. Sssh, we all love whales now.

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