As Amy mentioned in the training a few weeks ago, the Linblad/National Geographic staff were there at the gate to greet us. Of course Paola and I quickly noticed we were by decades the youngest on the ship. We didn’t mind and struck up conversation quickly with the people around us. We were fascinating to them, and they were interesting to us. One traveler joked that we brought down the average age of the ship. Paola and I both shared a laugh. They transported us to the hotel where we snacked on fresh croissants and apple danishes. Paola and I killed a few hours walking around one of the boroughs of London. There are 32 in all in the city, which one we explored that afternoon, I don’t have a clue. We walked down the street to the Natural History Museum where we toured the dinosaur exhibit. For some odd reason I was absolutely intrigued. Dinosaurs? I mean come on, I’m not a 12 years old anymore, yet the connection to modern day wildlife is astounding. I couldn’t help but digest the information and read the captions/plaques. It was all fascinating.
After several hours we found ourselves in the coach bus headed to the Thames river to board the National Geographic Explorer. It was literally sitting a half a mile down from the iconic Tower Bridge in London. After boarding and checking in we went to our room where our luggage was waiting for us. Paola was desperate to find Eric Guth, our expedition contact. I listened patiently as she repeated, “this is the first thing we must do.” As I unpacked, I told her to go find him, I was ok with talking to him much later. I really wanted to talk to him the next day…I was just so tired and sleepy. If he told me anything, I knew I wasn’t going to remember.
Well she did go find him, and a few minutes later appeared with him at our door. I waved kindly from inside the small, quaint cabin. He told us to grab our cameras and head up to the top deck-the ship was about to set sail. So I am known a bit for taking my time, but in that very same moment I looked out our porthole and saw that the ship was moving. Ok, so I wasn’t expecting the ship to move so soon. I quickly put on my black vest and raced towards the top deck in my $140.00 hiking boots. (yeah..that’s another story)
After what seemed like forever, I located a deck up from where I could get a few shots of the bridge, the whole experience was amazing. The lyrics, “London Bridge is falling down...” rang through my ears. Though it wasn’t falling down, it was the experience of being in a place that I’ve heard about, read about, and sung about for many years, and now I am here, well not exactly at “The London Bridge” but close enough. How awesome. Several of us waved to the guests on shore as the ship headed south down the Thames. For about an hour we stood outside talking to guests, basking in the sun and the experience of being far away from home on a journey that I know I will never forget.