In line with my newfound love for exploring London, I decided to branch out a bit further and make my way to Greenwich. Home of the Prime Meridian and a number of cool museums and cute markets, Greenwich makes for an absolutely fantastic half-day trip. With every mode of transportation available to get you to the home of GMT, you can theoretically make it there from Central London in 20 minutes flat. Friends of mine who have made it out there have typically gone by way of rail, but you can also get there with DLR or — cooler yet — by river boat. I decided to make the journey as cost-effective as possible and was thrilled to find out that a bus actually makes it the entire way to Central Greenwich. Imagine my surprise when I found out that the starting point was in my backyard, Russell Square.
I jumped on the 188 and began my (rather long) journey. For those of you that are wondering, the bus is seriously cheap when you’re using your Oyster card. Even without an Oyster, you can snag a one-way ticket for only £2. With an Oyster card? A mere £1.20. It’s definitely doable (even for people on crazy tight budgets). I should warn you though: the journey by bus is not twenty minutes. Not even close. Though I didn’t clock it, I would say it’s closer to an hour. If you view the bus ride as a tour (of sorts) versus a means to an end, it’s actually rather enjoyable. There are some pretty views to be had and the bus meanders through a bunch of cool London areas.
I jumped off the bus near Cutty Sark Station and was immediately face-to-face with Greenwich Market! The market was on my agenda for the morning so needless to say, I was thrilled that the bus was so close by. Apparently the market is open Wednesday through Sunday but I’m not sure that weekdays are quite as happening. It reminded me a bit of Spitalfields (read about my encounters with Spitalfields here and with my family, here) in the sense that it was a rather eclectic mix of goodies: handmade cards (I snagged two for friends back home!) were adjacent to homemade candles and a woman threading eyebrows was nestled between a young jewelry maker and a woman selling London-inspired cushions. At the back of the market there were vendors selling vegetarian Ethiopian food, tapas, homemade cupcakes and cider. It’s definitely not as big as Spitalfields (not even close), but it has a similar atmosphere that makes it fun to peruse. It’s not really an attraction in and of itself, but it’s worth seeing if you wrap it into a day trip.
After making my way through the market, I headed down to Greenwich Park, home to the Royal Observatory and the National Maritime Museum. Bonus: Both places are 100% free. The park is huge; big, empty patches of green that stretch forever. My main objective was the Royal Observatory so I headed there first, hiking up a massive hill to reach the entrance. The views from the front of the observatory are absolutely stunning:
While the main attraction is the Prime Meridian, they did a pretty good job of making it an educational/entertaining jaunt. There’s a lot of astronomy brought into the museum and a camera obscura for visitors (check out my previous experience with the camera obscura in Edinburgh).
After (briefly) standing in both hemispheres, I made my way down to the National Maritime Museum. While the museum wasn’t at the top of my list, I thought being in Greenwich and walking past it without going in would be a bit ridiculous. I have to admit, I was pleasantly surprised! It’s actually an interesting museum with some awesome exhibits. If you’re in Greenwich, it’s definitely worth popping in!
After about two hours in town, I hopped back on the 188 and made my way back to Russell Square. While Greenwich makes an awesome day trip, I cannot imagine living there. Fun, quiet, leafy, but after two hours, I felt like I’d seen enough. There’s always something about heading back into Central London that puts a smile on my face.
xoxo from the Western Hemisphere,
See more pictures from London here.