Today was our day to visit Greenwich. The weather forecast was iffy, and we decided a boat ride might be a good option. We made our way via the Underground to the Westminster pier, where we embarked on a narrated tour to Greenwich. The “boatman” who spoke to us was a scruffy-looking guy who gave us a lot of information about our route and the sights of London. Most people got off in Greenwich, but we stayed on the boat because the ride continued to the “Thames Barrier” after another 45-minute ride. This contraption has something to do with too much ocean water (the Thames is tidal) coming up the river and having river monitors erecting a barrier for the purpose of controlling it. How the whole thing worked is not clear to us even though we did see it.
The boat then returned to Greenwich, where we disembarked and walked to the visitor center in the Old Royal Naval College. To reach the observatory, where the Prime Meridian is located, we had to walk up a long hill in a beautiful open park. Many other tourists were walking as well, few of whom were speaking English. Actually, some were, but in a dialect that I could hardly understand. Dialectal variation in British English is far greater than in American English. At the observatory, we visited the home of the resident astronomer, toured some exhibits having to do with time and ship navigation, and made a point of standing on both sides of the meridian. I’m not sure why it’s so important to do that, but that seemed to be everyone’s objective. When we were complete with the observatory, we walked back down the hill, wandered around in Greenwich for a while, and then caught a bus back to the city. This ride gave us what was, for us, a new view of London – East London. This area is full of not-so-great-looking apartment blocks and small shops. We saw black people and white people, but not too many others, so I don’t know about the ethnicity of these neighborhoods.