Yet Another Dead Dude On A Pedastal
This morning we caught a bus over to the Thames River, where we purchased tickets for a river cruise down the Thames to Greenwich. It was a push to get to the dock in time, with the bus coming to a dead stop multiple times in traffic, but we made it.
We took seats on the open upper deck, hoping that there would be a cool breeze on the river. Alas, it was not to be. The boat went too slowly so that the tourists could see everything, complete with a running commentary by one of the crew. We did have excellent views of Parliament, the Eye, St. Peter’s, and the Tower of London. Ove course, we did go under the Tower Bridge. From that point the river turns a bit less interesting, as blocks of very expensive flats line the river the rest of the way. We did learn that the word "wharf" is actually an acronym for "ware house at river front."
Soon enough we were at the Greenwich pier. The ship Cutty Sark is berthed at the pier, and is available for tours. We walkled around it a bit, then headed on into the village to find lunch. Lunch was more pub food, this time at The King’s Arms. We’ve got the routine for ordering down pat now, and pub food seems to be fairly dependable.
From the pub we we walked to the Greenwich Park and watched an important daily event. At the top of the Royal Naval Observatory there is a red ball that ascends right before 1:00 PM, and then drops at the top of the hour. This has been a visual synchronization for marine chronometers for a long time.
After the 1:00 event, we started the long climb up to the observatory. The last stage was quite steep, but we made it. There were fantastic views of the Greenwich University, and across the Thames to London. I had my GPS along for the climb, and watched as it got closer to 0 degrees longitude. When we reached the Prime Meridian Line, I placed the unit on the marker, but it would only read 0.0059 degrees. I guess I’m off a bit.
We took the tour of the observatory, which had quite a collection of astronomical equipment. We were able to see the original Harrison timepieces that helped him establish the measurement of longitude. I was glad I had read the Dava Sobel book before coming here. Along the meridian, were shutters that would allow a complete view from one horizon to the next, we a telescope aligned along the meridian. The idea was to make observations of when stars and planets crossed the meridian as another method for measuring longitude.
We stopped by the gift shop and picked up a couple of souveniers, including a little character for me to use as a geocache travel bug. I saw that there were lots of geocaches in the area, but I hadn’t brought the Life Drive with any of the descriptions.
After leaving the the observatory, we walked to the south end of the park. Laura had seen another tower along a straight path from the observatory, so we went to explore. The park was getting set up for a film festival this weekend, so there was quite a bit of activity. The tower turned out to be another church spire on a distant church, and was really nowhere near the park. We slowly walked back in the heat, then headed toward the dock.
On the cruise back, we sat on the lower deck. It didn’t help as far as making anything cooler. By this time I was feeling the effects of a cold, and was quite worn out. I slept sitting upright for most of the ride back.
At the Westminster dock we decided to see if we could get into Westminster Abbey. Laura really wanted to see Newton’s tomb. Turns out that the abbey tours ended at 3:45, so we missed our chance. I wanted to walk through St. James Park once, and since we were close, it should be a quick diversion. Somehow we got on the wrong street, and wandered all the way to Buckingham Palace before we reached the park. By this time we were too hot and tired to enjoy anything. Seems everywhere we turned there was another dead dude on a pedestal. We eventually made it to Picadilly Circus and caught a bus back to our hotel to clean up for dinner.
We were in the mood for more Indian food. I don’t know what possessed us to head back into the thick of Picadilly to search for food. The crowds were intense, and I was really not feeling well by this time. We turned down an alley that had several Indian places in a row. One looked interesting. We were seated next to a portable AC unit, but for some reason Laura was not getting any air, and got porgressively hotter. Even the amusement of two American business women flirting with three Belgian business men wasn’t enought to mitigate the heat. Son it was unbearable for either of us, and we had to leave.
The crowds were incredible, and I was really ill. We reached our bus stop, and waited…and waited and waited. Our bus took forever to arrived, and by the time it did there was a huge group waiting to get on. We managed to push aboard, and suffered through a long ride home.
I spent what was left of the evening very ill. I think I’m ready to be done with crowds and the heat before our shared infirmities start to get on each others nerves.