4.17.09 London- Greenwich

Greenwich Travel Blog

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4.17.09 London- Greenwich


After doing laundry this morning (just 3L per load, which is half of Ireland and the most expensive in Great Britain to date), we headed out this afternoon to Greenwich.  Jazy was not feeling well and decided at the bus stop to head back to the camper. 


Lia, Charles and I used the little slip of paper with directions, provided by our Campground Office, to take Bus #122 to Greenwich, where a nice lady told us where to get off (surprisingly the Bus Drivers don’t seem to have a clue what is along their routes). 


We think we’re getting the buses’ secret code that Rick Steve describes in his book, but it is still challenging.  We looked at the little neighborhood map at our bus stop before boarding and noted the letter of the stop (U) that would be right before our stop (T), so we’d know where to push the button to stop the bus.  Then I tracked our route progress in the A to Z book map, that the Behans kindly let us borrow, so I could tell when we were really close to Greenwich Park.  When the bus driver had no idea where to exit, we were fortunate that a nice lady walked over to tell us to exit. 


So we walked for a long time across a barren field in the direction that she’d pointed and were happy to find a gate to the park.  Sometimes, you just need faith! 


There were maps to the huge park on a board inside.  It was a lovely park with blooming pink cherry trees (or crabapple?) in spite of some really rainy, yucky weather.  We were glad for our individual umbrellas.


The Royal Observatory, the clock with Greenwich Mean time, and the Prime Meridian were very interesting (and crowded).  We got pictures of us standing with one foot in the East and one in the West, a souvenir certificate printout of our exact time there (1L), and toured the building where the first Royal Astronomy lived and worked- very cool! 


We also toured the museum that talked all about the “longitude problem” and how they knew where they were latitude-wise in the 1700’s, but because they didn’t have a good clock at sea (pendulums were affected by the movement of waves due to gravity), they couldn’t accurately determine longitude.  This resulted in a lot of shipwrecks and lost cargo, which was more worrisome for the shippers than the great loss of life, and so they offered the equivalent of 50,000 L to whomever could solve the “longitude problem.”  Harrison worked for 45 years on the problem and came up with a good chronometer, which was called the H4 for his 4th attempt.  He won the money, but only lived for a few more years.  Still, we were impressed.  This was a UNESCO World Heritage site, which we really enjoyed.


We saw a pendulum clock made by Dent and Co (my maiden name) and the “1906 solution”, of which I remember very little right now (and pictures were not allowed).  So I’ll have to Google that when I’m in the land of the internet someday.  But I thought that would be very cool to get a Grandfather clock from Dent & Co.  (Speaking of names, we saw a van today that said “Uncle Ned’s Beds.”  J)


The view over the Thames would normally be gorgeous at the height of the Observatory, but the weather hindered that today.  They had a space-type museum that we wandered through and touched a 4.5 billion year old meteorite.  The Cutty Sark is being refurbished and should reopen in 2010, so we missed that.  Also, we thought we went in the Royal Maritime Museum, but we saw none of the features we just now read about in Rick Steves book (which we obviously should have read when we were there), so I guess we did not. 


It was really crowded and I find it very difficult when we have to jockey to see things and stay out of people’s pictures and viewing- very distracting.  We also missed Jazy’s level-headedness in determining where to go and what to see.  Not having her there was disconcerting too because we were hoping she was okay and did not want to be gone long. 


So after a few hours we headed back via Lewisham, to save much time on the bus ride back.  As we walked just outside the park, along the empty sidewalk, we passed 2 cars with a curb-side window smashed, I guess for robberies.  It was disconcerting and we hurried along so we would not become the next victims.


We walked down Dartmouth Row, which I think is where our 1987 summer apartment is located- I took pictures for Sister Pamela to see.  I wished I’d had internet access earlier to ask her if Barbara, our Landlady and friend, is still there and her exact address so I could visit with her.  It was on my list of things to do since before leaving home…


We walked DOWN Lewisham Hill, which I’d walked up every day after the train.  It was just a little walk down memory lane.  I recognized nothing at the bottom of the hill.  But we did see the rail station, found the bus station, asked a transport employee for directions, tromped through the rain with many other people on busy Friday afternoon, studied neighborhood maps at the crowded bus stops, missed our 122 bus, bought a picnic of Italian foods, waited with many others in the rain, hopped on the 122 bus on Lewisham High Street, made it off at the correct stop, and walked back to the campground a short way.  Success!


Jazy was feeling better upon our return and we pulled out the authentic Italian feast:  marinated mushrooms, artichoke hearts, thin sliced smoked ham, loaves of fresh bread, soft Fontal (?) cheese, rosemary breadsticks, red wine (for me), and chocolates.  Delightful!  It was not cheap, but the whole experience was wonderful from the tantalizing aromas in the friendly shop to the inside campervan picnic while the rain fell outside, to the no-cooking and easy cleanup!  The chocolate was really amazing and we must find where they make that so we can go on a factory tour- I need to find my little wrapper.


We are planning to go to Cambridge tomorrow- we’ve lost our little time schedule.  But it doesn’t matter since we’ll get there and buy tickets when we do.  At least we won’t stress about missing a train since we don’t even know when it is!  Trains leave twice an hour from King’s Cross and take only 50 minutes for 50L return (round-trip) for the 4 of us.  Rick Steve says not to skimp on the experiences as that is exactly *why* we travel.  So we’re going for the day.  I’m most excited that the train supposedly has free internet!



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photo by: santafeclau