Monday, 15 August 2016

A Greenwich love affair

Sunday took me all the way to south-east London, to the beautiful area of Greenwich. Although famed for inventing time (well, kind of!), I discovered there's a lot more to Greenwich than just the Royal Observatory.

The town itself is quirky and quaint, with a number of pubs, restauraunts (both chain and individual) and boutiques. I had fun perusing the small vintage market selling bric-a-brac and then the larger Greenwich market which has stalls ranging from jewellery to pictures to world food.

It's pretty difficult not to find the main attractions in Greenwich, that is to say the Cutty Sark, the Royal Naval College and the Observatory, as everything in the town leads to them. The enormous Cutty Sark is centred in a large square, the bottom of the boat encased in glass and the top a paid excursion. Adjacent to it is the stunning Old Royal Naval College, now part museum and part University of Greenwich.

Since it was a sunny day I mostly wandered around outside the college, taking in the Georgian architecture. I had a peek inside the chapel which had painted ceiling and a large fresco. Everything about this place felt very cultured.

If there is one word for Greenwich (at least, the Greenwich I saw) it is beautiful. Everything was beautiful, from the park leading up the observatory to the classical-style buildings (now various museums and art galleries) littered around the place. 

Because the Observatory costs, but mostly because it was a long walk up a steep hill, I didn't actually make it up there -  just another thing to add to my bucket list. The park below it has a wild, untamed feel even though it is fairly open and manicured.

Greenwich has the peculiar luxury of feeling like its own little town but also very much part of London. If you face north to the Thames, you get a spectacular view of the Canary Warf area, reminding you that you are in the city. If you look down the river to your left (west) you can glimpse the London Eye and to the right (north east), the O2 arena, only ten minutes away.

Because it was a warm and sunny day - and because I could - I decided not to take the DLR (space train!) or the overground back to central, but to treat myself to a riverbus. You can pay by Oyster card for this and the one I chose took me all the way to embankment. While it did cost me £6.50, I do not regret spending the money at all. I sat in the back of the boat and got the most wonderful views of London and we sailed down the river. You pass almost all of historic London - all the cool warehouses of the old wharves, the Tate Modern, the Tower of London, you go UNDER Tower Bridge...I felt like a delighted tourist seeing it all for the first time.

While I know I only saw 'tourist' Greenwich, I fell a little bit in love with it. I like anything pretty and anything quirky, so the combination of both PLUS the green spaces and the river made it a neighbourhood match made in heaven for me.

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