Friday, we saw London… from the Thames River. We took a City Cruise and this was just the best way to tour. No driving, no parking — no walking! The Thames is tidal and at high tide, the view from the glassed-in and heated section of the vessel is excellent. Our cruise departed from the Westminster Pier where stands the Big Ben Tower. The boat paused so we could get a good long look at the London Eye, a huge Ferris wheel. We passed under a number of bridges, each with its own intriguing story. In an entertaining and informative fashion, the boat captain pointed out all the waterside sights, including Cleopatra’s Needle, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Shakespeare’s Globe Theater and the Tower of London.
We disembarked at Greewich because I wanted to see the National Observatory. If we had missed our daily exercise, we made up for it on the walk from the pier and the climb up the steep hill. The National Observatory is where time begins. It’s at zero degrees longitude, the site of the Prime Meridian, and I got to straddle the Meridian Line with one foot in the Eastern Hemisphere and one in the Western. I lost track of time going back and forth. There were lots of fascinating exhibits devoted to the solutions proposed to solve the Longitude Problem and a tour of the Flamsteed House, the original Observatory building designed by Sir Christopher Wren in 1675.
On the way back to the pier, we ambled around Greenwich’s charming streets and stopped into a few shops. We bought a box lunch to eat on the return boat trip from “Marx & Sparx.” That’s Marks & Spenser, a luxury retailer with almost 1,000 stores altogether.
Speaking of luxury retailers, everyone who knew I was going to London said that I had to go see Harrods. So while we were still in London proper, we went. Yup, it’s big. It has a lot of stuff. The economy must be in good shape because on a Friday afternoon the place was so packed it was hard to get near the merchandise.
Back in Hammersmith, we ended up in a Wetherspoon pub for dinner. JDWetherspoon takes existing structures, including some 14th-century buildings, and converts them into pubs, retaining the historic appearance and original name. So while there are hundreds of Wetherspoon pubs, they have unique looks and evocative names like The Running Horses, The White Hart and The Flying Boat.
Tomorrow: running the gamut