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London's Amphibious Tour

Maybe you enjoy a more offbeat way of touring, something off the beaten track. But if you're looking for a really unusual mode of transportation, Cash Peters has just the thing for you. Join him as he takes a rather unusual trip through London in his latest Bad Taste Tour.

Bad Taste Tour: London's Amphibious Tour
by Cash Peters

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The idea's basically a good one: Touring London in an old amphibious vehicle from World War II. Okay, well, put that way, it doesn't sound too good, but it is. The vehicle's technically called a DUKW, which stands for Durable Underground Kite W. Actually, I have no idea what it stands for, but the Frog Tours company has a whole fleet of them. They're bright yellow, and tour guides Matt Lyder and Hannah Bentley think they're the best thing, like, ever.

London's Amphibious Tour

Matt: "It's an alternative way to see London. Everybody's had their share of hopping on and off buses or getting on a train. If you combine road and water, you kill two birds with one stone."

Cash: "Or sixteen tourists with one bus. How many passengers do you lose during the average trip?"

Hannah: "We see their bodies floating off up the Thames. You do see children wanting to get into the water. They want to get wet, but no, we don't lose anyone. Not yet, anyway."

All the same, some people weren't willing to take the risk. They listened to the sales pitch on the sidewalk then ran off. Like these two.

Cash: "You looked so worried when he said, 'It goes in the water and there's a propeller.' Your face fell."

Tourist: "My friend thought it went underwater."

Cash: "You thought it was a submarine? With open windows?"

Tourist: "I though it would seal up somehow."

Cash: "What an imagination you have."

Tourist: "That would be exciting, though."

Cash: "Not in our lifetime, I think."

Cash: "So what are our chances of drowning? And you can be totally honest."

Matt: "If you didn't pay attention to the safety instructions, if you were deaf, dumb, blind and stupid..."

Cash: "I'm in so far."

Matt: "... and ugly, then I think you'd barely scrape a ..."

Cash: "So there's no chance I'm gonna die?

Matt: "Er..."

Cash: "Because many are hoping."

Matt: "I can arrange it if you like."

And, true to his word, he did. But we'll get to that in a second. First, the tour.

London's Amphibious Tour

Matt: "Right, good afternoon, ladies and gentleman, boys and girls, everybody alright?"

Crowd: "Yes!"

Matt: "Good stuff. My name is Phileas Frog. I'm going to be your guide for the duration. Meet your driver, Alan. A round of applause for Alan."

Crowd: "Hello Alan!"

Matt: "Good stuff, good stuff."

The guy's so chipper you want to slap him. The idea is the staff are supposed to be frogs and you're little froglets, which is cute. The vehicle, though... Oh my God, it looks like a cross between a dumpster and a snow-plow. In fact, only as you pull out into the street does it hit you how idiotic you must look, riding through rush-hour traffic in an amphibious landing craft. By that time, though, it's too late. You can't get off.

Matt: "On the right hand side is the National Theater and Film Theater, media cultural center. Froglets, keep your eye on the Eye!"

Crowd: "Ribbet, ribbet."

Oh yes, and they make you shout stuff too. But it's all quite fun, and you get to visit enough London landmarks over the course of an hour to remind you how few landmarks London actually has. I was shocked. It's about four. So there's lots of padding on the tour. During the gaps, Matt told jokes.

Matt: "I heard a good one today. What do you call a Spanish man with rubber toes? Roberto?"

I said he told jokes, I didn't say they were funny. About halfway through, though, just when you're thinking, "Hell, I could have done this whole thing on foot in half the time," something quite startling happens. The bus veers off the road and plunges down an embankment into the river. I think even atheists found themselves praying at this point.

Crowd: "Five, four, three, two, one..."

Matt: "Froglets away! Remarkable! Fantastic! You didn't get wet, did you? That is the most impressive splashdown I've seen so far. Sorry about that, mate, you two got it the worst."

It was all a little too Chappaquiddick for me. As we hit the water, half the river swilled over the side. Now, the landing craft may be amphibious, but I'm not. I got drenched. Not only that, but the water ruined a perfectly good hairstyle and, coincidentally, the rest of the trip. Of course, nobody cared, and so, with half the River Thames in my lap, I had to sit through another 30 minutes of this.

Matt: "We're going past the statue of Winston Churchill, a prime minister and quick-witted guy."

London's Amphibious Tour

Right about now you realize there's not much dignity to be had, floating downstream in an army vehicle. I suggested they make the experience more exciting by having a bunch of Germans fire live ammunition at you from the beach, but there were no takers. Some people have no vision. Anyway, when we got back on dry land finally, I confronted Matt about the near-death experience I'd just had, just to check that he didn't care.

Matt: "It depends how high the tide is at the time. Sometimes you go in and you don't get wet. That's the first time I've seen anyone get drenched."

Cash: "Quite as drenched as I got?"

Matt: "Yeah. You sealed your own fate, going on about people drowning."

Cash: "I nearly drowned."

Matt: "You nearly did indeed."

I know, I was a fool to expect sympathy, and hopefully we'll settle out of court. All in all, though, the Frog Tour is great for anyone who likes boats or water, or just sitting on a boat covered in water. Be warned, though. It's a bit chilly on the river, and you don't get to see very much of London. Also, the guide tries too hard to be funny - but then again, who's among us?

In London, England, I'm Cash Peters for The Savvy Traveler.


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