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.
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.
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.
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.