The next day we spent at Greenwich, a nice walk from M and S’s house. There was so much to do there that we didn’t go into London as we had planned. We took the bus to Greenwich to the hilltop part of the park, walked down and ended up walking back to New Cross Gate.
The park itself is vast, green, and has a lovely overlook of the Thames and London’s skyline. We walked partway down and reached the Royal Observatory. This is a UNESCO site and the home of both the prime meridian and Greenwich mean time. They say “Greenwich, where time begins”. It was really cool to stand on the line defining the division between the Eastern and Western hemispheres and to think that we had crossed the International Date Line just under a year ago in the Pacific Ocean on the opposite side of the planet!
The museum here has some rooms where Astronomers Royal lived with their families as well as a large telescope and many exhibits on the measurement of time and space through the centuries. Much had to do with time measurement on ships, which was very tricky due to ship movement interfering with gravity-based clocks that worked only when stable. It was a fascinating place for us as we travel around the world going westward without airplanes.
Mr. Fantastic went to the National Maritime Museum, and reports that it was excellent. The rest of us opted to hang out in the park instead. It was a cloudy but pleasant day and there were trees to climb and buskers to watch. We had lunch at Greenwich Market, est. 1737. There were many craft and food stands; I was ecstatic to eat Ethiopian food for the first time in over a year!
Our next stop was the Cutty Sark tall ship. This ship worked the tea trade and was the fastest in its day. It has a long history including the demise of all ships and its own restoration. It is an interactive museum and has several videos including an explanation for the name and horsehair-grasping figurehead. Cutty sark refers to an undergarment worn by women at the time and specifically to a story of a demon who chased a man who had seen her dancing and yelled “well done, Cutty Sark!”. He revealed that he had seen the ghosts dancing and angered them, causing the demon to chase him and grab his horse by the tail. An odd choice for a ship name, a good story! There was a collection of figureheads inside the ship.
We also walked through a ‘foot tunnel’ under the Thames River. This was built in 1902 to help ship workers get to and from work without depending on ferry boats. The view on the other side was nice and we spent time at a park there.
That was our day in Greenwich! It has even more to offer-pubs, a farmer’s market, a carousel and helter skelter slide, and a really nice downtown. We were lucky to be staying so close by because it added a lot to our trip. Thanks M and S!!