In many of the places I’ve travelled, I’ve seen small, yellow amphibious tour buses — the ubiquitous ‘Ducks.’ In some places the pleasure cruisers are encouraged to blow duck whistles, but everywhere they tour on land before descending into the city’s waterway. I decided to become a tourist in my own town and ride the London duck.
I boarded the converted amphibious World War II DUKW in the shadow of the London Eye. The bus trundled off on the first leg of its tour of London, and I, the Londoner, listened to the tour guide’s jokes and patter, expecting to learn nothing from his spiel. He did manage to provide some interesting facts about my city that I didn’t know, reminding me how fun it is to be a tourist in your own town from time to time. The duck toured the major sites in the Westminster area of the city, before heading to Vauxhall Bridge for the moment I had been awaiting, and, in honesty — due to a fear of water — dreading a little. The duck makes use of a ramp by Vauxhall Bridge to descend, like a car on a roller coaster, into the Thames. Once I’d recovered from ‘splash down’ and the surprise at how low in the water the duck sits, I began to enjoy leg two of the tour. Seeing iconic buildings from the water offered a different perspective on the city. This was the best part of the tour, away from traffic and moving at a steady pace. I was sad once the joyride was over.
I thoroughly enjoyed taking a tourist’s look at London with London Duck Tours. To book tickets, visit their booking office on York Road, or the website. If you’re based in another city, perhaps you also have “ducks” there; don’t dismiss the idea — be a tourist in your own town and ride the duck.