Greenwich and the Thames

Trip Start Dec 29, 2009
Trip End Mar 02, 2010

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Where I stayed
Jenny's House

Flag of United Kingdom  , England,
Thursday, February 4, 2010

Today was another day of just Rachel and I. We set off a bit earlier this time and were on the train by about 10. We headed to Canary Wharf in the docklands, then changed to the DLR to take us to Greenwich. We got off on the north shore and had a good view over the Thames towards Greenwich. To get over to the other side we went through the foot tunnel, a fairly long tunnel that runs under the river. We walked down the spiral staircase, despite there being a lift we could have used, and made our way to the other side. Unfortunately, the lift on the other side was out of order so we had to climb back up to the surface which Rachel didn't enjoy doing.

On the top we had a look at the ferry operators nearby and saw that one of them was reasonably cheap. Later on we were heading to the main city and we decided a ferry ride would be a more enjoyable way to get there. After taking a timetable, we headed off towards the old naval college and maritime museum. Along the way we were distracted by an antique market where we spent some time looking through all the old junk for sale.

Eventually we made it to the museum and decided to work our way logically through the various rooms and exhibits. Apparently this is the most visited maritime museum in the world, but whilst it had some cool stuff in it, it wasn’t all that large or impressive really. The first floor lobby had various boats (mostly royal ones or small craft that had won awards for things) that we had a look at. There was also a section on arctic voyages and the search for the north-west passage, as well as other voyages of discovery in the age of sail. Finally there was a room that compared Greenwich now and in the past, with various paintings and photos to show the similarities and differences. Lastly there was a bit on Wellington and the jacket he wore when he was shot in battle.

Up on the next floor was a large exhibit on slavery, talking about both the slave ships and conditions aboard as well as the eventual emancipation work by Wilberforce and many others. The other major attraction was a large stain glass window to commemorate those mariners that took part in battle during world war one. On the top floor was a gallery of various model sailing ships, some of which were huge, and information about the different types of ships used by various navies in the days of sail ships. Finally there was an interactive room with various hands on activities, including a simulation of a boat which you had to navigate through a busy harbour, but sadly this room was closed off because a school group was using it.

Having seen the maritime museum, we then walked through the grounds to the royal observatory. Much to Rachel’s disappointment, this was located on top of a hill with a rather steep climb. Once we reached the top though, we had a nice view over Greenwich and towards the city beyond. The first thing we did was find the original line of longitude and stand in the east and west. We then headed up to the museum entry and followed the walk trail through the various buildings. Most of the exhibits were related to the problem of determining longitude at sea, which was finally solved by producing clocks that could keep accurate time at sea. There was a large collection of various clocks and watches produced to try to tackle the problem. There were also a few telescopes and other devices for charting the stars as well as maps and diagrams and writings by various astronomers who worked here.

After we’d seen all there was here, and picked up a guide book from the gift shop, we headed back towards the pier for the ferry. Along the way we found a nice pub with cheap lunch specials where we stopped for some food. We then made it back to the pier and went to the ticket office. The man behind the counter was having a bit of a domestic dispute with another man, which we watched for a bit before finally someone else came and served us. Tickets in hand, we went down to the water and boarded the ferry. The ferry was a superfast vessel and hooned its way upriver towards the city. We got a nice view and took quite a few photos, particularly as we approached the CBD. Rachel had a nice little sleep for a bit as well, put out by the gentle rocking of the boat.

We soon reached our destination at the base of the London Eye, where we disembarked and took some more photos. We then headed for the tube and caught the train over to Charing Cross. Our destination was the tourist centre where we enquired about the British Heritage pass, an expensive card that gets you free entry to a large number of places around the country. After weighing it all up, we decided to get the pass. There are quite a few places we will definitely use it at which should make it worth getting, then any others we visit on top are a bonus.

After picking up the passes, as well as getting an oyster card each for cheap one way tickets around London, we headed to an area of town known for its second hand bookshops. We looked through a few and found many amazing looking books, but obviously couldn’t afford to buy any due to a lack of space in our bags. By now it was getting dark and so we set off for home, deciding what to eat since Jenny had left for work and we were to be home alone tonight. We passed another pub that had good pie meals and decided to do that. We both had a large pie each with vegetables and potatoes (chips for me). I also decided to have a pint of ale since I was in an English pub.

After eating, we headed home and were soon in bed. We’re heading off to Southampton tomorrow, but Rachel is too tired to pack our bags tonight so we’ll do it in the morning.
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Ruth on

Would love to have been with you today as greenwich is great. I keep forgetting to tell you. Aunty Chris and ben say one of the best tours/visits to do when you're in Edinburgh is to do the Royal Yacht Britannia.

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