Westminster Abbey and Greenwich

I didn’t plan out Saturday very carefully, and it showed. My intentions were to see Westminster Abbey, do the London Eye, then take a river boat down to Greenwich to see the tea clipper Cutty Sark and the Royal Observatory.

On weekends, I have a real hard time getting going, unless I have to be somewhere at a very specific time — and in those cases, I tend to resent it. Unfortunately, I didn’t bother to check closing times,  so I didn’t leave the apartment until around 11, and headed off to Westminster.

I came up out of the Underground, consulted Maps, and found my way to Westminster Abbey. It’s about a short block from the tube station, and you can hear its bells pealing as you approach.

I knew a lot of people were buried in the abbey, but I really didn’t appreciate how many until I saw it. There are an astonishing number of memorials and graves inside. Some are simple stone markers in the floor; others are huge dramatic memorials. The gothic ceilings and chapels along the side are beautiful; but some of the memorials are a little over the top. Ironically, the one grave I would have liked to have seen the most was off-limits; by a coincidence of name and birthdate, I’ve grown up knowing that my patron saint is St. Edward the Confessor. He’s buried here, but his tomb is off-limits to the public.

It took me longer than expected to see the Abbey; I didn’t finish there until 2:30 or so. I then walked over to the London Eye, a great big Ferris Wheel on the other side of the Thames. I got in line for a ticket, but when I got to the desk, the lady said the next availability was at four. I didn’t feel like waiting, so I crossed back over to the other side of the Thames, to investigate a boat to Greenwich. Matt at work had mentioned that you could see both Cutty Sark and the Greenwich Observatory, where the Prime Meridian is. I got the 3:30 boat, after ascertaining that I would be able to get back via train.

The boat trip was great. They had a tour guide pointing out the sights along the way, such as London Tower and the Tower bridge.

Tower of London from the Thames

Tower of London from the Thames

We made good time too; we got to Greenwich around 4:15. Unfortunately Cutty Sark closes at 4:30, and the last entry is at 4. Damn. So I decided to walk up the hill to the Observatory and Naval Museum. Greenwich looks like a really cool place to spend several hours but I only had a little time. The Observatory looks out over a park towards the Naval Museum. I climbed a long sloping path up to the Museum, only to find they close at 5 and the last entry is at 4:30. I couldn’t go inside to see the main marker for the Prime Meridian, which marks Greenwich Mean Time and is the divider between the western and eastern hemispheres, but I could access where it continues outside along a walk.

Back down the hill through a really lovely park. I passed by the front of the naval museum, checked the doors, and of course, they were closed. I then checked my phone for the closing hours of the London Eye; their own website was “down for maintenance”, but I found another site stating they were open until 8 on Saturdays, so I grabbed the National Rail back into London, took the Underground back to Westminster, only to find the Eye had closed for the day.

It’s starting to feel like only pubs and bars are open late here.

I grabbed a hotdog and chips (french fries) , and called it a day. I’ve done a ton of walking this week — I’ve gotten seriously lost twice, most of the attractions are in walking distance of public transport, and the office is about a 12 minute walk away from the apartment– and I’m really feeling it. So I went back to the apartment relatively early, looked at some of the attractions I wanted to see, and tried to make a decision for Sunday.