Sail from London down the Thames River to the English Channel and into the North Sea. Pass the coastal islands of the Netherlands and Germany before entering the Elbe River on the way to Hamburg.
London is the capital city of England and the United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its founding by the Romans, who named it Londinium. London's ancient core, the City of London, largely retains its square-mile medieval boundaries.
London is a leading global city, with strengths in the arts, commerce, education, entertainment, fashion, finance, healthcare, media, professional services, research and development, tourism and transport all contributing to its prominence. It is the world's leading financial center alongside New York City and has the fifth-largest city GDP in the world. In 2012 London will become the first city to host the modern Summer Olympic Games three times.
London has a diverse range of peoples and cultures, and more than 300 languages are spoken within its boundaries. In July 2010 Greater London had an official population of 7,825,200, making it the most populous municipality in the European Union. London's metropolitan area is the largest in the EU with an estimated total population of between 12 million and 14 million.
London contains four World Heritage Sites: the Tower of London; Kew Gardens; the site comprising the Palace of Westminster, Westminster. Other famous landmarks include Buckingham Palace, the London Eye, Piccadilly Circus, St Paul's Cathedral, Tower Bridge, Trafalgar Square, Wembley Stadium, and the Shard London Bridge tower.
London has several distinct retail districts and shopping streets, many of which have their own themes or specialities.
From luxury goods in Mayfair to quirky finds in Covent Garden, to large shopping centers like Westfield, you can easily while away an hour, an afternoon or a whole day shopping in London.
Thames River, England
The River Thames flows through southern England. It is the longest river entirely in England and the second longest in the United Kingdom, after the River Severn. It has 45 locks, is home to over 25 species of fish, boasts three areas of outstanding natural beauty and it’s the only river in Europe to have a national trail follow its entire length.
Starting as a small trickle in the Cotswolds the River Thames travels over 210 miles through the heart of some of England’s most picturesque towns, right into the center of London and eventually, out into the North Sea.
Aside from commerce the Thames serves many recreational purposes including the 175 year old Henley on the Thames annual competition.
North Sea Canal
The North Sea Canal is the waterway in the Netherlands that extends between Amsterdam and IJmuiden on the North Sea coast. Proposed in 1852, the canal opened in 1876. It has been enlarged several times. Navigable by 90,000-ton oceangoing vessels, the canal is 15 miles long, 49 feet deep, and 771 feet wide. It gave Amsterdam access to the sea and made it a major port.
The Elbe River is one of the major rivers of Central Europe. It rises in the Krkonose Mountains in the northern Czech Republic then traverses through Bohemia, Germany and ends at the North Sea. The river is 675 miles long.
Passenger boats cruise along Elbe's path to experience incomparable treasures and timeless traditions that reflect the character of Saxony.
Hamburg's official name is the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg. Hamburg is a major transportation hub in northern Germany and has become a media and industrial center.
There are numerous museums and theaters to visit, as well as touring the architecture of the city. Visitors can tour the city by bus and take part in many of the traditional German festivals that take place throughout the year.