This is the first day (besides departure day) that we set the alarm clock to make sure we awoke on time. We were heading off for our trip to Greenwich to see the Royal Observatory. What is that, you say? It is the home of GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) of course!
We wanted to make sure we were there when the observatory opened, and we were there a half hour early. Like the other attractions that we’ve visited, there were quite a number of young people (schools, camps, foreign travel groups) in attendance. While we were waiting in line, we chatted with someone who told us he learned about a flagpole somewhere in the US that is hollow, and has a breeze that goes through it to make sure that the Stars and Stripes are always flying high.
The observatory is well done, with a meticulous history of navigation by time throughout the centuries. The Octagon Room was created by Sir Christopher Wren, the architect of St. Paul’s Cathedral, and was mainly used for observing eclipses, comets and other unusual celestial events. This is one of the very few Wren-designed interiors that you can see in London today. It has beautiful paneling and lovely views. And we, of course, had to stand on the prime meridian, and straddle the east and west hemispheres.
Then it was down the hill into the town of Greenwich. We stopped for a nice cup of coffee and some award-winning carrot cake and a scone, and walked through the Greenwich Market.
One of the other main attractions in Greenwich is the Cutty Sark. It is the last remaining tea ship in the world. It is famous for having been the fastest ship in its day. And if you’re like me, your Dad used to drink the Cutty Sark whiskey, which was named after the ship by some London wine merchants in 1923.
The museum also includes the largest collection of merchant ship mastheads in the world (is there really more than one collection like that??). I had to take a photo of this one, Diana, in honor of my sister.
To get back to central London, we took the City Cruises sightseeing boat. It was clearly not the fastest way to go, but it was comfortable enough and included in our London Pass ticket (i.e., no extra charge). It took about an hour or so to get back downtown and we got to see London from the Thames. Here is a picture of the boat at the Westminster Pier, after we got off, with the London Eye in the background.
What to do next? We had met our main mission for the day. Since we were so close, we decided to try Westminster Abbey. The line didn’t look too long, and most of it was in the shade, so we gave it a shot. No photos allowed inside. But I remember being in this grand setting with my Dad when he and I traveled to London after I graduated from college. When we were done with our tour around the abbey, Brad asked one of the guards for a recommendation on a pub. Here he is getting directions.
I will leave you with my favorite photo of the day, from the Thames cruise: