Where Time Begins

ROYAL OBSERVATORY GREENWICH

My Labor Day 2019 excursion took me to another rarely visited site, despite its importance to the world – the Royal Observatory Greenwich.

Why is this location so important to the world?

It’s the home of the Prime Meridian. It is the place “Where Time Begins” — metaphorically speaking.

Visiting the Observatory and standing on the Prime Meridian has been on my bucket list since the moment I learned how to tell time (on an analog clock too by-the-way).

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Yes, I have weird, strange and obscure items and locations on my bucket list, but I’m a unique human being and a world explorer. I don’t get excited visiting the “Top 10” popular tourist attractions.

BTW – Did you know Henry VIII was born in Greenwich? He was born June 28, which is also my birthday. Could this be a more subconscious reason why I’ve wanted to visit Greenwich and the Observatory?

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Anyhoo – standing on the Prime Meridian was so COOL!!

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I took a few more photos, including a few silly photos, before exploring the observatory. 

I learned quite a few tidbits about clocks, watches, and time zones. I found it particularly interesting how much politics played a role in getting the world on the same time wave.  

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The observatory isn’t very big, so my visit lasted about 90 minutes. I then visited the London Planetarium next door.

The Planetarium was neat, but many of the shows weren’t free unless you have a RMG membership. However, it was nice to see a few exhibits highlighting the 50th Anniversary of the Moon Landing. 

Oh and I touched the oldest object I’ll ever touch, and no I don’t mean my great-great uncle who is 102. 🤣

My tour of the Planetarium lasted only about 45 minutes. I walked back down the hill and enjoyed Greenwich Park for a moment before curiously exploring The Queen’s House.

THE QUEEN’S HOUSE

Hidden Gems

Admission to The Queen’s House is free. The site houses a very wide variety of internationally renowned art.

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During my visit, the site’s highlight was showcasing the iconic Elizabeth I’s Armada portrait. The portrait commemorates the famous conflict and the failed invasion of England by the Spanish Armada in summer 1588.

Before viewing the painting, I watched a 5-minute video telling the conservation story of the Armada Portrait’s restoration – from the early research to the finishing touches.

Following the video, I got a “lift” to the second floor. After walking up the hill to the observatory, my legs were screaming for some ICY HOT.

No way was I walking up any stairs.

Here’s a photo of the portrait:

Armada Portrait

I wandered through the rest of the house, learning little tidbits and viewing art. I learned The Queen’s House was commissioned by James I’s wife Anne of Denmark.

She’d been given the manor of Greenwich after James swore in front of her when she accidentally killed his favourite hunting dog. Sadly, Anne never saw her final vision for the house – she died in 1619, before the ground floor was completed.

I toured each accessible room before heading down the Tulips Staircase, which is thought to be “possibly the first unsupported spiral staircase in England.”

Tulip Staircase

The staircase also has a reputation for the paranormal. A photo taken in 1966 by Rev. R. W. Hardy showing a shrouded figure appearing to ascend the stairs pursuing a second and possibly a third figure. Rev. Hardy and his wife insists the stairway was clear when they took the photograph. Spooky!!

NATIONAL MARITIME MUSEUM

Next door to The Queen’s House is the National Maritime Museum.

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Admission is free for this museum too, so I headed over for a quick peek. Since I’m not a maritime person, my visit lasted no longer than an hour. However, I found the Great Map very intriguing, and seeing The World’s Largest Ship Model in a Bottle was pretty cool. 

Here are a few more photos from my visit:

DISASTER LUNCH

I decided to have lunch before heading back to Central London. There were many places to choose from and I selected a nice-looking restaurant named Café Rouge.

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The saying “never judge a book by its cover” can be applied to restaurants too. I chose Café Rouge because it had nice decor, it wasn’t crowded, and it had a pleasant feel to it.

I judged this “book” by its cover, and paid for it. Avoid this restaurant when visiting Greenwich.

First – customer service was poor. I waited nearly 20 minutes for a glass of tap water. I should have left after that, but I gave them one more shot since they had nice selections on their set menu.

My food took another 25 minutes to arrive, but given my selection, that wait didn’t bother me. What did bother me was my waiter forgetting to bring my dessert. It took 30 minutes for my dessert to come after I ordered it — and I ordered ice cream.

Imagine what arrived at my table. Yep – chocolate milk that use to be ice cream. Of course I didn’t eat it and said I wasn’t paying for it. Speaking of paying — I, and a few other customers, had to hunt down the restaurant’s manager to pay the bill. Terrible service and the food was barely edible.

The disastrous lunch dampen my day a bit, but my return to Central London – and a nice dinner at Zizzi improved my spirit. 

And then I return to the hotel and proceeded to check-in for my flight to Spain — only to find this:

Cancellation - BA0458 LHR to MAD on 31 Aug 2019 _ PF8REK - ccknight28@gmail.com - Gmail

The Horrors of Travel had struck again.

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