September 19, 2016

Cruising the Thames to Greenwich

London is no longer a major port city but the River Thames still bustles with barges, yachts and sightseeing cruises. So it seemed only fitting that we take to the water for our journey to the World Heritage Site of Maritime Greenwich

The River Thames, London

We boarded a Thames Clipper high-speed catamaran at Embankment Pier. The journey to Greenwich Pier took about 40 minutes, with seven stops enroute.

The Aurora Clipper

St. Paul's and Blackfriars Bridge

The Millennium Bridge

Greenwich Pier

The attractions of Maritime Greenwich are spread across the grounds of Greenwich Park, the oldest of the Royal Parks.

Greenwich Street Sign

Nelson's Ship in a Bottle, by Yinka Shonibare

Greenwich Park

View from the Hill - O2 Arena

We began our visit at the top of the hill at the Royal Observatory Greenwich, the home of Greenwich Mean Time and the Prime Meridian of the World.  The red Time Ball on top of Flamsteed House drops at 1 p.m. every day.

Flamsteed House, Royal Observatory Greenwich

Entrance to the Royal Observatory

The Dolphin Sundial

The Red Time Ball on Flamsteed House

The Meridian Courtyard

The Meridian Line, 0ยบ Longitude

The Octagon Room, Flamsteed House, designed by Sir Christopher Wren

Replica of a Telescope Tube. The angle of vision was adjusted
by moving the tube up and down the rungs of the ladder.

Next we toured the National Maritime Museum. At the time of our visit the museum was attempting to raise funds to purchase the Armada Portrait of Elizabeth I, commissioned after Britain’s defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588. In ten weeks they raised £1.5 million in donations! The painting has now been removed from public display but will return in October at the reopening of the Queen's House, which is currently closed for renovations. I'll tell you more about the National Maritime Museum in a future post.

National Maritime Museum, Greenwich

Armada Portrait of Elizabeth I
National Maritime Museum, Greenwich

The Queen's House

Our final stop in Greenwich was the Cutty Sark, the world’s last surviving tea clipper. The ship’s hull rests on a huge glass structure housing a cafeteria and the world’s largest collection of merchant navy figureheads. (A figurehead is a carving, usually of a human figure, built into a ship’s bow.)

The Tea Clipper Cutty Sark

Upper Deck of the Cutty Sark

Map of the Cutty Sark's Cargoes from Around the World

Hull of the Cutty Sark

Hull of the Cutty Sark

Collection of Ship Figureheads

We didn't visit the Peter Harrison Planetarium but I did find the BFG Dream Jar of American astronaut, Buzz Aldrin, and enjoyed my first elderflower beverage on the Gagarin Terrace.

Peter Harrison Planetarium

Buzz Aldrin's BFG Dream Jar:
Explore. Dream. Discover.

The Weller Astronomy Galleries

The Gagarin Terrace

Elderflower Beverage

Statue of Russian Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin,
the First Human in Space

After lunch in the garden terrace of The Old Brewery, we boarded a westbound river bus to Bankside Pier and the Tate Modern art gallery. The Tate has just completed a major expansion that includes a new tower, the Switch House, with a popular top floor viewing terrace. If you’re claustrophobic, you won’t enjoy the jam-packed elevator ride but you’ll be rewarded with panoramic London views.

Tate Modern Art Gallery

View from the Switch House Viewing Terrace

The vastness of Turbine Hall dwarfed Chinese artist Ai Weiwei’s Tree made of dead branches, roots and trunks. I first saw an example of his work, Forever Bicycles, in Venice. 

Turbine Hall, Tate Modern

Tree (2010) by Ai Weiwei
Tate Modern

Forever Bicycles by Ai Weiwei, Venice

From the Tate Modern we boarded another river bus to Millbank Pier and the Tate Britain but unfortunately the gallery was about to close. Before returning to our hotel we had fish and chips for dinner at Seafresh, a restaurant I’d enjoyed on my first visit to London. Then it was back to our room to pack our bags for our morning departure to Cornwall.

Tate Britain

Seafresh Fish and Chips

My Tip for the Day:
Consider using London’s river boats for a scenic and relaxing way to get around the city.

Related Post:
National Maritime Museum, Greenwich


  1. I thoroughly enjoyed your A - Z postings. Your Destination Fiction photos, comments and suggestions are wonderful. Some of the places I have visited and seen, some are on my list. Great work!

    1. Thanks so much, Jerry. I'm very glad you enjoyed them.


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