Bags are 90% packed and it looks like everything will fit. Mel made us do a practice pack on the sea day between Spain and Portugal to confirm. Just have left our clothes for today, PJs and traveling home clothes. Our disembarkation time is 3:15 AM to make our 9:50 AM, 11 hour flight home to LA.
Elected to not take any tours today and just wander about. We are anchored at Greenwich on the River Thames , right in the heart of London. We have to tender over to the Greenwich pier. The tide is out and the water is way down, it would almost be easier to wade to shore than take the tender. Amazing that this big ship can be so far up the river.
We head off downriver on the River Clipper ferry. The ferry is a whole tour of London via river, going by the Tower of London, London Bridge, Globe Theater and Westminster Abbey on our way to the London Eye. Also goes by many of the London unique skyscrapers; The Cheese grater, Gherkin and The Shard. Our friends Ann and Susan on their way to the Globe Theater for a matinee performance of Shakespeare’s “ As you Like It”.
River Clipper would not be how I would describe the journey. More like slow boat. Many, many stops including a big bunch of first graders out on a field trip. Takes an hour to reach the London Eye, which we could actually see from our ship when we first got on the boat. The river makes a big bend and the London Eye is really tall so the river route was longer than we realized.
Finally at the London Eye, we bought the fastest fast pass you could get, bypassing the hour+ wait. Included was the London Eye 4D adventure. Essentially an Imax/ 3D movie where you follow a dove flying over London and all the highlights. A good way to warm up for the real thing. Only waited about 10 mins to get into one of the pods. Completely surrounded by glass, each pod fits 24 people. The Eye is continuously moving, so you need to be quick about loading and unloading. It was a great experience to watch the expanse of London and all its famous landmarks unfold as you ride up and around the wheel. I did look down at one point and had a small moment of panic to see how high we were off the ground.
Next off to find lunch. Everything we could see was very touristy, fast food as the area includes Shrek’s Adventure attraction, London Dungeon and London Aquarium. We head out over the Westminster Bridge as the gal at the ticket booth said there were many good pubs in the area. It was when we were crossing the bridge that I was done being a tourist. I had thought it was just being on all those tours with the people on the ship but walking along the promenade and over the bridge, I realized I was done with being part of hoards of people stopping and walking at random in front of you as they take a picture or zigzag as they try to figure out where they are going, totally oblivious to those around them. I understand because I too have been one of those people, but I am ready to be out of the chaos. We get to the other side of the bridge and don’t see anything promising. YELP is telling me its at least another half mile to any food places. Mel and I decide to go back to where we were and check that out a bit more as we need to catch the boat from that area.
Fortunately, we spotted a Marriott. During the journey we had eaten at several Marriott’s as part of our tours as I guess it was easy to feed a lot of people at once and they had an inside track on the American food choices. The Fish and Chips, which included mushy peas and Yorkshire Pudding as a starter were awesome. Warm Sticky Toffee pudding for desert. Overpriced of course, but the restaurant was elegant along with the service and food. Definitely the right choice for us that day.
Back at Greenwich, I head off to the Royal Observatory to stand on the prime meridian. Mel heads off to find the souvenir shop and buy a T-shirt. The Observatory is way up a hill overlooking the Thames. Every day they would drop a red ball at noon so the ships in the harbor could set their clocks to the proper time and longitude. A lot like Times Square New Years Ball. Its already 5 PM and the Observatory is closed, but you can squeeze through a side gate to where the metal rod representing the Prime Meridian extends outside the garden wall. Of course, I had to stand and straggle the line of East and West Hemispheres. A fitting end to our journey which started in one and ended in the other. Another synchronicity was a bagpiper in two hemispheres. While on the Westminster bridge, a Bagpiper busker was playing. Mel recalled the last time we heard a bagpipe was in Dunedin, New Zealand 3 months earlier. A young woman had piped to us as we left the pier. It felt like this guy was piping us home.
Our last dinner on board was with Nora and Patty who we had shared birthdays and several other dinners. The previous night dinner had been with Vicky and JD who lived in the cabin next to us for the 4 months. Met lots of interesting people and shared lots of memories.