We got up early to say goodbye to El and Julian. They have been great hosts and made our first Airbnb experience unforgettable.
After we had packed our bags we headed out to visit Greenwich. For once even Margreet’s infallible sense of direction can be wrong which was proved when we took the bus in the wrong direction… Luckily she noticed it after two stops but of course by then 3 busses going in the right direction had passed us and we had to wait 15 minutes for the next one, oops…
Instead of taking the tube we took the DLR (an automated metro system) to Greenwich. The first thing we noticed was that the pace of everything and everyone had gone down a notch or two… It felt much more relaxed and easy going and much more us! 😉
We found a lovely bookshop with a small café on the second floor were we could have an excellent breakfast.
On our way to the famous British Clipper Cutty Sark, Fredde was asked by some Dutch students to taste stroopwaffels. Of course Fredde never says no to stroopwaffels, especially free ones ;-)!
Cutty Sark was built in 1869 to ship tea from China to Great Britain. The ship was one of the fastest clippers in the world at that time. With the coming of the Suez Canal (sail ships could not use this) and steam ships, Cutty Sark was forced to exploit other markets. It began shipping wool from Australia instead.
In the maritime mood we now headed for the royal observatory. This is the place of the prime meridian and in 1884 it was even decided that it would serve as the GTM (Greenwich Mean Time). The observatory lays on a hill so we even got an amazing view over the city and the river Thames. Every day, since 1833, a red ball on top of one of the buildings is dropped at exactly 13.00. This was done so that the navigators of the ships below could verify the settings of their marine chronometers. Accurate time keeping is essential for determination of longitude on sea. According to the audio guide the saying “keep your eye on the ball” originates from this.
Another very interesting story was told of the self-educated English carpenter and clockmaker, John Harrison, who invented the marine chronometer. The marine chronometer (a very precise timepiece used for accurately determine the longitude) revolutionized long see travels and enabling the Age of Discovery and colonialism to accelerate. During 31 years of persistent experimentation and testing he went from his H1 via H2 and H3 to finally arrive at H4.
When working our way down to the Greenwich Pier to take the hop-on hop-off ferry back to the Tower we passed a very big ship in a bottle :-). We also took a detour into Greenwich Market.
The ferry tour back to the Tower of London was actually quite nice and interesting and we thought about taking it the whole way to Westminster. But it was time to say bye to the City of London and make our way back to Gunmakers Lane and pick up our bags.
On the fully packed tube stations we got a laugh when a train attendant was to no avail trying to control the horde of people who was pushing their way towards the track as a new inbound tube was coming… Finally, she shouted “MOVE BACK, ACCIDENTS CAUSES DELAYS!!!”. We both doubled over laughing and she turned to us and with a half-smile said “Delays, that’s the only thing that will get their attention…”. Although funny, we doubt it had any effect as the people poured towards the oncoming tube and it was chaos getting on and off the carts…
We left more than 3 hours before scheduled departure from Heathrow and everything went smoothly (although extremely crowded on the tubes). We just had time to take a warm meal before going to our gate… After the chilly days in London we actually looked forward to the warm weather in Sweden (never thought I was going to say that), were it is 20+ degrees at the moment.