For most of my life the name "Greenwich" has prompted these kinds of thoughts: "So that's where the western world decided time starts?" "Greenwich must be the end of Interesting London, because that's where all the tourist boats and Thames dinner cruises terminate." "Greenwich...Sandwich...I'm hungry..."
Greenwich has always been a Great Unknown to me, an abstract magical other world that has something to do with time but doesn't have much else going on. Today I did the grown-up thing and actually went to Greenwich to see what the fuss is all about. It's just two stops down the river from me, so I couldn't ignore it forever.
Well, in short: Greenwich is my new favorite.
I alighted from the Clipper and strolled through the downtown area, which oozes as much charm and as many Cute Little Shops as your heart could desire. If I hadn't been on the way to meeting a friend, I surely would've stopped and become a few pounds poorer (because I clearly need another tote bag and some custom stationery and a few loaves of artisan bread).
Anyway -- Surviving the lure of the shops, I arrived at the main attraction: the expansive complex that is the Royal Maritime Museum, the Royal Observatory and planetarium, the Meridian Line, and Greenwich Park. Walking through the park up the formidable hill to the Observatory, I asked myself numerous times why I had never come to Greenwich before. The park alone was worth the trip, for me; in a city such as London it's a truly restoring thing to lose yourself in leaves and grass and the open air for a while. London has its faults, but it cherishes green space better than any other city I've seen. I can't wait to go back as the leaves change over the fall.
At the top of the hill I got an incredible view of the city from a whole new perspective:
We were snapping photos and keeping our eyes peeled for celebrities, when we came across four men sitting by one of the trucks. Three of them were dressed in worn-out work clothes, but the fourth - a grey-haired, rosy-cheeked, twinkle-eyed, and every other cliche sort of gent - was dressed in nice slacks and a blazer with a kerchief tucked in the front pocket. He made eye contact with me and said hello. I said hello and stopped to ask how they were all doing. We chatted with them for about ten minutes, talking about the movie and about London. We learned to our shock that we were actually speaking with the producers of the film! They proceeded to tell us that the shiny, retro-style trailer around the corner belonged to "The guy -- you know, ehm, he's in Ironman..." "Oh, Robert Downey Jr?" "Yeh, that's the one!" Not only did they point out his trailer, they told us which pub he's haunting whilst here and where they'll be filming tomorrow. The producers of a major motion picture basically gave us instructions on how to stalk their star...
From the outdoor ramble to the history to the stars (both terrestrial and earthbound), Greenwich was unexpectedly delightful. I'll be back!