Getting the best out of London in 6 days! Part Four

Welcome back to my “itinerstory” on visiting London in six days. Day Five led me to visit two historical places on a rather gloomy day but it was so worth the damp trip. Enjoy!

Day Five

It is about a quarter until 7 in the morning now. I looked up from the room’s window and fixed my gaze to the glass ceilings. It is rainy outside. But the rain wasn’t going to hold us up from exploration. We weren’t hungry but we helped outselves to the stash we build up in the mini-fridge. In a previous post, I mentioned about the store called Tesco Express where you can grab your snacks and goodies at reasonable prices. We stocked up on a food supply in case we got hungry or wanted something quick to eat on the go. After appeasing our petite hunger, we dressed for the cold: rain-boots, scarf and all.

We planned to visit the world renowned town of Greenwich, home of the Prime Meridian at the Royal Observatory and King Henry VIII’s birthplace. We also wanted to squeeze in time to see the Tower of London as well. The best way of transportation to see these sites relied on a little help from the waters of the River Thames abroad the ferry. We purchased our tickets on the dock at Westminster. I thought about purchasing the tickets in advance but I didn’t feel the need to. We headed to the pier waiting for our lovely ride.

In comes the ferry, as we huddled waiting to step inside to have a seat. I wanted to snap some photos from the outside but the brush of rain prohibited me from getting some clear snaps. Twenty minutes had passed and we finally made it to Greenwich. We stepped outside and the rain had stopped, perfect timing. Greenwich is the epitome of a maritime town. Classic fixtures of ships and cannons were everywhere as if to remind you of its long history. The town is a classic beauty, well-kept and preserve.

We were welcomed by the site of the historic ship called the Cutty Sark. The 19-century ship is a majestic site and it is very hard to miss. We didn’t tour the ship although tours are available should you wish at £13.50 or USD $17.51 per adult. If you wish to add this tour with the Royal Observatory, the combination ticket cost £18.50 or USD $24.08 and saves you £4.46 or USD $5.80 had you buy the tickets separately.

We walked our way upward on a hill towards the Royal Observatory, anxious to see the Meridian Line or the home of the Greenwich Meridian Time (GMT). Walking upward was quite the workout on the legs and bum! I recommend the appropriate walking shoes when visiting the site.

After walking for what seem like a mile in a half, we made it to the observatory. Its home to London’s only planetarium and is an experience for time and stargazers enthusiasts that cannot be missed. The observatory provides tours guided by volunteers where they discussed the historical aspects of the observatory. One aspect was how sea captains use celestial bodies to guide their ships home.

There are planetarium events showcasing wonderful family friendly interactive shows of the galaxy and the solar system that are held on specific dates. For families, shows run about £20.00 or USD $26.04 or individual adult tickets are £7.50 or USD $9.76. There is also the night show at the planetarium that is great for celestial enthusiasts or date night 🙂

At the end of the tour of the observatory, we made our way outside the small gated courtyard where the monument to mark the meridian line was present. It was almost surreal (and to some a little mundane) to be able to stand knowing that one foot was on the East and the another on the West split of the world. Totally awesome and I recommend it for anyone’s bucket list.

We decided to make out way back to the ferry to spend the afternoon at the Tower of London. In the last post, I described how I sign up to become a member of the Royal Historic Palaces. This had saved me money on admission prices to the UK’s royal historical sites. I recommend signing up for the membership if you desire to see 3 or more of the royal sightseeing landmarks.

On our way back aboard the ferry, I got a sneak peek passing under the London Bridge. Random, I know but I find the things at their coolest when it seems so simple 🙂 We got to the Tower of London and boy, was it a perfect day to see this site! It was October, so gloomy and the damp weather added to the effect.

London Bridge

The Tower of London has served many roles such as an armoury, a treasury, a menagerie, the home of the Royal Mint and the home of the Crown Jewels of England. In the medieval period, the castle served to be a prison even though that was not its initial purpose. In fact, its founded role was to be one of the royal residences. Indeed, it is a classic layout of castle complete with an existing moat and high defensive walls.

Two interesting things to see are the ravens and the crown jewels exhibit. There is the ominous belief that if the Ravens who have chose domicile at the courtyard decide to abandon their nest, the tower of London will indeed fall. The Ravens are a rather interesting breed of birds as they are fearless of the visitors in fact some them walk around the grounds with not a care in the world! Cute little thing 🙂

Raven at the Tower of London

The Crown Jewels exhibit was awesome and not because of the shining things that stare back at you, but because it is site to the largest gemstones in the world and historical crowns used during coronations. Some of the pieces are still used today by the Royal Queen herself. Great exhibit to learn the aspects of the regalia and how it influenced history during the medieval period.

We must have spent four hours on the grounds until hunger settled in. Refusing to step into the tourist trap, we decided to make our way back on the streets and scope around for some local eateries. We were seduced by the smell of fresh pizza around the corner. We arrived at an Italian, modern-styled pizzeria and had a seat facing the main road. We ordered two types of pies that afternoon as we indulged our senses.

We decided to hop back on the ferry to our starting point at the Millennium pier by the London Eye. We arrived to the beloved hotel. The hotel desk staff welcomed us back on our way to the elevators. They were so gracious to us despite being so busy that day. All the walking sucked the life out of us that the freshly made bed looked so sumptuous and appealing. We decided to continue our city exploration the next morning.

Stay tuned for the final installment of my story!