I thought I would finish my series of posts on London with the excursion to Greenwich in the south-east part of the city. There are numerous half-day trips out into the suburbs including Hampstead, Wimbledon and Windsor but Greenwich has been my destination of choice on a couple of occasions.
Greenwich is a leafy, upscale town directly across from the Isle of Dogs and Canary Wharf. One of the last stops on the Thames before it reaches the English Channel, the town has an extensive maritime history and a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of the historic significance of a number of its buildings and institutions.
The town is perhaps most famous globally as home to the Royal Observatory and Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), the global standard for measuring time(ie, EST/GMT – 5 hours). The Observatory is located on a hill in Greenwich Park with superb views towards the Thames and Canary Wharf. The equine events for the 2012 Summer Olympics were held in the park at the base of the hill.
At the base of the hill is the Queen’s House, a former Royal residence constructed by famed architect Indigo Jones. To the west stands the National Maritime Museum, connected to the Queen’s House by a long arcade.
Between the museum and the river stands the old Royal Naval College. The site was originally designed as a hospital for seafarers by Christopher Wren, who also designed St Paul’s and other London masterpieces. The most important attraction is the majestic Painted Hall, a beautiful…well, painted hall. Today, the complex is frequently used for movies, including during our visit when they were shooting scenes for the Oscar-winning film Les Miserable. Other films partially (or completely) shot here include The Kings Speech, Amazing Grace, The Dark Night Rises and Patriot Games, to name a few.
Another key attraction in Greenwich is the Cutty Sark, a famous clipper once involved in the transport of tea from the Orient. I had the opportunity to take a guided tour on a previous visit to London, before the boat was heavily damaged by fire in May 2007. Luckily, it was under restoration at the time of the fire so most of the artifacts seen in my pictures had already been removed.
Apart from the maritime history and architectural grandeur, Greenwich is just a relaxing get-away from the hustle and bustle of central London. With its quaint market, pubs and upscale eateries, it is also somewhat of a foodie destination. My friend and I enjoyed one of the simplest yet best meals while we were in London here; typical pub fare of Bangers and Mash (sausage and mashed potatoes) elevated to a new level with a cranberry reduction at one of the local pubs.