Sunday Apr. 9th, 2000 London & Greenwich

14C/57F Sunny with a cold breeze.


We had an 11:00am London Walk scheduled so we lazed a bit in bed this morning. Hopped on the tube (side note: Lancaster Gate is one of those deep stations on the Central Line that use an elevator. What a pain. Was tempted on several occasions to use the stairs until I saw signs not recommending it.) to the Tower Hill Station. Met our London Walks Guide, Gillian, for a tour of Greenwich.

Prime Meridian - Royal Observatory This began with a boat ride up the Thames, The boat part of the tour was narrated by the skipper, Stan, who was hysterical. He pointed out every pub along both shores that you could see, and a few you couldn't. The Thames, we learned, is a tidal river with a range of up to 26 feet between tides. It was low tide at the moment and it was great fun seeing the big beached boats and the little skiffs hanging tied up 25 feet above the river! 20 minutes later we dis-embarked in Greenwich. Gillian showed us around as a chilly wind blew right through to our bones. Saw the Queen's House and the Royal Observatory, where the 1:00 ball comes down daily... we watched it and reset our watches. The first Royal Astronomer used to work from the Tower of London, but complained that Raven droppings were ruining his telescopes. Told the King either they go or he does. Well Charles II, knowing the importance of keeping the ravens right where they were, packed him off to Greenwich. The second Royal Astronomer was Edmund Halley, who later formed a rock and roll band in the 50's. One other tidbit of unwelcome news... Heard from Gillian that Richard (who was listed as the guide for this tour) was currently in Marrakesh for the next 3 weeks!. Gillian was great but we missed Richard. Hence we had no idea who would be taking us to Bath the next day.

*THE* Cutty Sark After the tour, which was OK, we walked through the Sunday Market in Greenwich. Kel bought a really nice long black coat for about 20 pounds. Ate a pretty mediocre lunch in a restaurant in the middle of the market... I had a sandwich. We were pretty tired from the busy day yesterday so decided to head back to the hotel before our Jack the Ripper Tour that night. Walked by the Cutty Sark on our way to the Docklands Light Rail station. The train is a little different from the tube in that most of it is above ground, it's only 13 years old, and is automatic, no driver needed. You'd think they would save money that way except for some odd reason I can't understand, they have ticket takers on each train! On the tube (at least in zone 1 and most of 2) you put your tube pass through a slot in the gate to get into the station. The Docklands is so new and modern it;s really surprising they don't use the same system. The Docklands area is an up-and-coming area sort of like SoMa in SF. Lots of warehouses converted into office building and lofts. Saw the Millennium Dome in the distance.

Sunset on Tower Hill Back at the hotel we kicked back and read the Sunday Times for an hour or 2, then headed back to the Tower Hill station for, what turned out to be one of the least fun London Walks. The Jack The Ripper walk, which is their most popular, was actually a bit boring. Just about everything in the area Jack operated in is different now. We basically got the highlights of the story (which we already knew), told to us while we stood in front of relatively modern buildings. The walk concluded at this dive of a pub called the 10 Bells. While it may have historical significance, it's run-down, seedy, and would basically be out of business if it weren't for all the tourists on Ripper walks. By this time we were extremely tired so we headed back to the tube, with a short stop at <shudder> Burger King for dinner. We used the last of our Scottish notes there and the kid had to check with his manager before he'd accept them!

Took the tube back to the hotel, where we finished the newspaper before bedding down for the night.

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