Today, I took a river boat cruise along the Thames. But, as usual, time wasn’t on my side.
I bought my ticket and, thinking I had plenty of time to make the boat, went wandering off along South Bank, where a lot of the cultural stuff is located.
By the time I figured out it was time to turn around, and hustled over to the pier, the catamaran had taken off. I had to wait until 3:00 p.m. to catch the next one.
I managed to snap a few pictures, and got off at Greenwich, way on the other side of the Thames. Very picturesque. It’s home to the famous Cutty Sark (which brought tea leaves to London), the Maritime Museum, Greenwich University and the Royal Naval College. But I zipped past all of this for what I thought might be the real treasure: the Royal Observatory.
I originally went because of (a) my growing admiration of Sir Christopher Wren’s architectural work, and (b) my fleeting interest in astronomy as a child, so I thought, telescopes and great views – sweet. Turns out I was also visiting the symbolic birthplace of modern time and home of the Prime Meridian (a.k.a. The Reason I Have To Do Time Zone Math at Work Every Day).
I also didn’t anticipate the fact it was up on a hill. Pretty when you get up there. Not-so-pretty as you huff and puff up there. As much as I admired Christopher Wren just 30 minutes earlier, I was silently cursing his name as I climbed upwards in my wedges. (I bet 20 bucks he didn’t hike up there in his pointy shoes. Hot air balloon is my educated guess.)
The view of London from here is really impressive, though. There’s also a free tour through the building – the living quarters of the first Astronomer Royal, a Camera Obscura outside, the Octagon Room where they’d peer through their telescopes ….
And all the timekeepers, clocks, and pocketwatches you can shake a stick at. It was definitely something I was taken by. Speaking of time, I was definitely operating on DST (D Slow-ass Time). By the time I got to the section with clocks and watches, I realized I was late for the boat leaving Greenwich for Embankment Pier (where I was supposed to jump off and meet a friend for dinner). Typical.
So I stayed a bit longer, looked around, and then lined up for the famous picture-taking spot where the Eastern and Western Hemispheres are separated by a single, imaginary, dividing line. It took about 20 minutes, but I got my small moment with time snapped (with slightly annoying kids jumping around in the background).
Then I hightailed it out of there (or as much as you can in heeled sandals) back down to the pier. The boat I’d hoped to make it on was full, so I was put on another boat, which turned out to be The Slowest Boat Ever. I was sitting at Greenwich Pier for at least a good half-hour while three other boats docked, picked up other passengers, and zipped away.
I finally had had it and jumped off at Tower Bridge, because I probably could meet my friend faster if I took the tube. I did finally manage to find her, apologize profusely (she was really really good about it) and we had a nice dinner.
But it was definitely a bit of an unpredictable afternoon. And a further reminder of why I need to invest in a wristwatch.