Sunday, January 4, 2009

Gallivanting Around Greenwich

On Tuesday morning we headed down to the Waterloo Pier to catch a commuter boat down the Thames River to Greenwich. We started our walking tour at the currently covered-up and under-renovation Cutty Sark tea-shipping vessel.The rest of our walking tour took us through the Maritime Greenwich UNESCO World Heritage Site. We walked through the Old Royal Naval College that was designed by Christopher Wren, who also designed the Old Royal Hospital in Chelsea. The wonderful example of baroque architecture is now home to the University of Greenwich and the Trinity College of Music.Our walk led us to the National Maritime Museum, which tells the story of British seafaring. My favorite exhibits in the museum were the photo gallery showing life on the British seashore, called Beside the Seaside, and the exhibit on the history of cruise ships and vacations.
Next we walked through Greenwich Park to the Royal Observatory. Here we had the opportunity, along with tons of other like-minded tourists, to straddle the Prime Meridian and stand in both the Eastern and Western Hemipsheres at the same time.

We also stuck around for the "ball dropping". Every day sine 1883 a red ball has dropped atop the Royal Observatory at 1pm to help boaters on the Thames set their clocks. This ball moves halfway up at 12:55pm, the rest of the way up at 12:58pm, and then drops down at 1:pm. The following video clip shows the dropping of the ball (sped-up, of course).

After setting our watches precisely, we headed back down through Greenwich Park to the Queen's House. Well, we might have stopped for a bit of Mexican food for lunch, but then we were on own way again. We took a quick walk through the Queen's House to see the Tulip Stairs (the first spiral staircase without a center support column), a beautiful marble floor, and the exhibit Turmoil and Tranquility (same wonderful paintings of seascapes, ships, and battles).
After the Queen's House, we took the bus back to the Tower Bridge and began our walking tour of the South Bank...
The view of downtown London from the Royal Observatory through the Old Royal Naval College.

No comments: