Dan & I were fortunate in terms of weather during our trip to England. Not only did we exchange the subzero temperatures of Cleveland in February for an average of 38-52º in London, it also rained far less in England than one would garner by reputation. While all but three of our days there were overcast, it only rained on two of those days. Unfortunately, one of those was during a trip to Greenwich that entailed quite a bit of walking. Fortunately, we remembered to bring our brolly.
From the Embankment pier, we boarded a Thames Clipper Ferry for the 20 minute ride. On the way to Greenwich, we passed the Tower of London and Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre.
I wish I’d been able to bring my father with me to Greenwich, because I know he would have loved to see the Cutty Sark.
Americans associate the Cutty Sark name primarily with the whiskey brand. The brand, of course, was named after the ship, and the label includes a rendering of the Cutty Sark in her glory days. But the connection ends there. The ship transported tea, and later wool. It never transported the whiskey that bore the ship’s name. Amusingly, the scheme to create a new whiskey brand called Cutty Sark for importation into the United States dates to 1923, when Prohibition was still in effect. The ship is now part of a museum, restored to the extent possible and housed in an ingenious dry-dock type facility with the ship elevated so people can literally walk underneath it. Despite a fire several years ago, much of the interior of the ship is intact and visitors can get an idea of how sailors lived in the 1800s.
The Royal Observatory is a 15 minute walk from the Cutty Sark. Frankly, I found it something of a disappointment. Little has survived from the site’s earliest era of discovery, and a number of items usually on display were removed for restoration. Much of the museum revolves around time and the construction of ever more accurate clocks. Reading how the Prime Meridian was established, it becomes obvious that the location chosen was totally arbitrary and became accepted largely as a result of British prestige during the 19th Century. Like any tourist, I couldn’t resist the temptation to stand in two hemispheres at once.
Note that if you’re planning to visit both the Cutty Sark and Observatory, you can purchase tickets for both at a discount.
While heading back to the Greenwich pier, we strolled through the main commercial district. Greenwich is a totally charming, eminently walkable community with large areas of parkland. This is the kind of place where one could settle down and escape the noise and whirl of London, yet still commute there easily and live quite well without having to own a car.
After returning to Central London, we enjoyed a late lunch at the Sherlock Holmes pub. The restaurant is decorated with many bits of memorabilia from the many incarnations of the famous detective, and the standard fare British menu is imaginatively presented. I greatly enjoyed Mrs. Hudson’s Steak & Ale pie.