The Train to Harwich
Harwich Travel Blog› entry 8 of 126 › view all entries
The National Train Station was apparent when I reached ground level from the Liverpool Street tube station. My ticket north was 'open' and I didn't need to be in Harwich until around 10:00 p.m. but I booked the 4:00 train to have a few hours to explore the coastal town. With two hours to boarding, I circled the block to get a close-up view of 'The Gherkin'. The bullet-shaped modern building was visible from just about anywhere in London. I enjoyed a falafel sandwich in its shadow. Much older architecture reflected in its spiraling glass windows. I didn't check to see if there was an observation deck on top; views from there would be spectacular.
The train north was fast and smooth.
The train station was just across the street from a lighthouse tower. The sun was about to go down and the brick structure seemed to come alive in a sunset glow like a ghost from the distant past. Nearby, a stenciled red and white marker buoy confirmed I was in Old Harwich. Next to those monuments stood a red telephone 'box' but I had no one to call and set out to find the waterfront. Narrow streets wound the contour of the eastern bank of the River Stour.
Halfpenny Pier offered nice views of the historical town as well as of Harwich Harbour. Small fishing boats anchored nearby while massive cranes loaded and off-loaded stacks of shipping containers from sea-going freighters. Few people strolled the streets. Informative panels marked the Harwich Maritime Heritage Trail describing the area's rich and colorful history. Across the river, sunset silhouetted the town of Shotley where the River Orwell joined the Stour. Combined, and somewhere beyond Harwich, they would flow into the English Channel. Harwich Town would be fascinating to spend a full day exploring but as darkness fell I slipped into a pub, the British Flag, for a couple of pints. Only a few patrons occupied the old pub, shooting games of pool while England and Croatia battled out World Cup preliminaries on a big-screen television.
Boarding at Harwich International was like boarding an airliner through a long and winding, well-lit enclosed gateway. Except for a couple of visits aboard the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise the Sten Hollandica was the biggest boat I had ever been on. Uniformed crewmembers - foreigners - greeted each passenger and directed me to an elevator for the ninth floor. Two long hallways seemed to run at least half the length of the ship and it took a few minutes to find 9187. The cabin was larger than the VW camper in which I had slept most summer nights and much more comfortable. My floating hotel room included bunk beds, a small couch, a closet, a desk with padded stool, several shelves, and a bathroom with shower, sink, and toilet.