As the bus sped back toward London, I struggled to keep my eyes open. But the day’s excitement had finally caught up, and whether I liked it or not, my eyes began to shut. I felt bad for nodding off while Mary was talking. I sat across the aisle from her and she must have seen my head just droop. But I wasn’t the only one. The four chatterers behind us had quieted down. Mary must have known how tired everybody was, because after explaining our last stop, she told everyone to relax for the rest of the trip.
Before we knew it, we were in Greenwich, London. Mary reminded us to gather all our belongings as we wouldn’t be returning to the bus. So Maiko and I gathered our poundland bags and souvenirs and followed Mary across the street toward the National Maritime Museum.
We gathered on the steps between the National Maritime Museum and the Queen’s House and listened to Mary talk about the Queen’s House.
The Queen’s House, Greenwich
In 1616, Queen Anne of Denmark (wife of King James I) commissioned architect Inigo Jones to build a royal residence. She requested that the house be built so that nothing obstructed its view of the River Thames. Sadly, she died before it was ever completed and work on the house ceased. Work was restarted in 1638 when King Charles I re-gifted the building to his wife Queen Henrietta Maria. The Queen’s House was considered very modern and appeared revolutionary in those days, as it was the first building to be based on the classical style. Inigo Jones kept his promise to Queen Anne, and until now the River Thames view from the Queen’s House remains unobstructed.
After telling us the story of the Queen’s House, Mary directed our attention towards the fields and hills behind the National Maritime Museum. She pointed to a red brick building that sat atop the highest hills and explained that what we were seeing was the Royal Observatory.
The Royal Observatory as seen from the National Maritime Museum
The Royal Observatory is the home of the Prime Meridian, and is the only place in England where you can be in two time zones, and two hemispheres at the same time.
Mary pointed told us that the red ball on top the observatory was the only means in the olden days of telling the proper time.
Royal Observatory close up
Whenever the ball rose up sailors at sea would know that it was one o’clock and they could set their watches and clocks by it. Mary also told us the fascinating story of King Charles II, the first royal astronomer John Flamsteed and the £20,000 reward (about £2 million today) offered by Parliament’s Board of Longitude to anyone who could solve the problem of finding longitude at sea. You can read the story HERE.
We had half an hour left, before we needed to board the River Thames Ferry, so Mary said, that if anyone was interested in seeing the observatory, they would have to just run up the hill, take a quick picture, and then run back down to make it in time for the cruise.
A few risk-takers decided to try it out. They ran toward the observatory while the rest of us followed Mary across the street toward the Royal Naval College.
Walking toward the Royal Naval College
As we passed the magnificent buildings, we heard music floating from somewhere. Mary explained that it was probably coming from the Trinity College of Music which lay right across from the Royal Naval College.
Royal Naval College
After talking a little bit about the buildings, Mary left us to go fetch the others who had run up to the Observatory. We took tons of pictures of the Royal Naval College buildings and the surrounding areas while she was away.
Royal Naval College
Mary had said that the Royal Naval College buildings across form the National Maritime Museum had to be built so that it wouldn’t obstruct the view from the Queen’s House. Hence, a wide landing composed of several steps was built to separate two of the college’s buildings.
Royal Naval College steps. Note that across the street, you can see the Queen’s House.
Statue of King George II at the Royal Naval College grounds
The Royal Naval college overlooked the River Thames. In the background, we could see a strange domed building with spikes sticking out of it.
The River Thames
Mary had said that this was the Millenium Dome where Michael Jackson was supposed to perform his comeback tour in 2010.
Maiko and the Millenium Dome
Mary returned fifteen minutes later herding the rest of the tour group. After doing a final head count, Mary led us down the dock toward the ferry that was to take us on a short cruise of the River Thames.
River Thames Ferry
We boarded the ferry at around 5:40PM. A few hours before, on the bus, Mary had passed around a list for us to write our snack orders on. We had a choice of chocolate or blueberry muffins and coffee, tea, juice or wine. The snack was provided by Costa Coffee and was part of the Premium Tours Dover, Canterbury and Greenwich Tour so we didn’t really have to pay for anything.
Tea didn’t Cost-a thing
After getting my chocolate muffin and tea, I found a seat on the ferry and enjoyed the view. Maiko had already finished her glass of wine and blueberry muffin, so she took the big camera from me started snapping pictures.
Boats along the River Thames
The London Obelisk
We passed under the Millenium Bridge, which the Deatheaters blew up in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows movie.
We also passed underneath the Tower Bridge–which I always thought was the London Bridge.
Passing under the Tower Bridge
Passengers came and went as the ferry stopped at several embankments. Maiko and I enjoyed the view from the ferry despite the darkening skies.
Our final stop was at the Victoria Embankment where we disembarked from the ferry and parted ways with the tour group.
Ferry Dock Station, Victoria Embankment
But not before thanking Mary for the wonderful tour.
Maiko and Mary
We took pictures with her and learned that aside from taking up History in college, she was also an actress before she had her children. This explained why she was such a good storyteller. I knew there was something about Mary!
Myself and Mary
After parting ways with Mary, Maiko and I decided to go on our own tour of London.
We saw the famed London Eye from across the river.
I couldn’t believe I was finally in London until I saw Big Ben.
We just had to stop and take pictures.
Maiko felt energized after the relaxing ferry cruise and the snacks that she decided we should walk all the way back to King’s Cross. I felt just as energized so I agreed.
We saw several interesting buildings. We didn’t know what the buildings were, but we took pictures anyway.
Acr0ss from St. James’ Park, we saw a statue. Maiko read the sign on the base, and declared that the statue’s name was “Olive”.
When we looked closer, however, we started laughing. The statue was called “Clive”.
Beside the statue of Robert Clive was a memorial to the 202 British Citizens who died in the terrorist attack in Indonesia.
After renaming the Clive Statue “Olive”, and taking pictures of the memorial, Maiko and I continued our long trek. We discovered several reminders of the recent Royal Wedding.
We passed by Westminster Abbey. The bleachers they had used for the Royal Wedding was still there.
Around this time, the day’s events finally caught up with us and we began to question our decision to walk home. We consulted our map and agreed that we should just find our way to the nearest Tube Station and take the tube to King’s Cross.
The nearest Tube Station was Leicester, and on the way there, we passed through the Admiralty Arch.
Beyond the Admiralty Arch, a tall column rose into the the sky. Admiral Nelson’s column stood at the center of Trafalgar Square.
We crossed to the square and took a few pictures there before finally heading out to Leicester.
Before long, we passed the church of St. Martin in the Fields,
and a small stone bench dedicated to Oscar Wilde.
It was around 7:30PM when we arrived at Leicester Square. We passed by the Garrick Theater which was showing Pygmalion.
And after locating the Leicester Tube Station, we decided to get dinner from a nearby Noodle restaurant before going home.
We were exhausted by the time we finally got on the tube and walked home. But it was a pleasant kind of tired, because we were very happy that we got to see Leeds Castle, Dover, Canterbury Cathedral, a little bit of London.
Next stop: Piccadilly Street, a fancy lunch, a Chance meeting with a famous actor and the London Walks Harry Potter Tour.
216 total views, 1 views today