Thursday, August 05, 2004

East Meets West

Today I visited the Royal Naval Observatory. As many of you know, this is the spot on the globe, where the Eastern hemisphere ends and the Western hemisphere begins, in Greenwich, England. The Prime Meridian as it's called. Being a mariner myself, I felt a certain gratitude toward the work that went on there. Producing the most accurate maps of the heavens ever produced, allowed the trans-Atlantic sailors of the time to better navigate there way to the New World.
Getting there was half the fun. We took a boat tour from central London, up river to Greenwich, a trip that took about an hour. Upon boarding, I assured the captain that, in the event of an emergency, I would indeed be able to take the helm and land her safely at one of the many docks on either side of the Thames. This made everyone feel better, except of course, the captain. He instructed me not to approach the wheelhouse in any way, to which I said, "My river drains an entire continent, your river only drains a wee island!" Ok, this didn't happened, but I imagined that it did, while we were underway. The Thames at London is tidal. That is, on our way to Greenwich, was during low tide, so we had ample clearance travelling under the low lying bridges of London. On the way back, the river had risen 20ft! We were just barely "making" the bridges on the way back. I would say, conservatively, the wheelhouse had maybe three or four feet to spare with the bottom of the bridge.
We were treated to an exceptional sight on our way back, The Tower Bridge, commonly mistaken for London bridge, was opened up to allow a sailing ship through. This happens so rarely that my London host had never seen it done before. The tour guide explained that anyone with a boat tall enough can have the drawbridge raised, but you must give 24 hr notice before transitting at no charge to the boat.
When we got back downtown, we rode the 'London Eye'. Which is the huge ferris wheel erected for the millinial celebratrion. The 'eye' has fairly large pods that hold up to 25 people, they are air conditioned and even have a large oval bench with wich to sit down in them. It takes 30 minutes to go all the way around! The thing never stops, you just get on and off as they slowly transit the bottom reaches.
When I update this, it's alway at night and just before I sleep, I never have time to talk about everything. That's how it is here. Every second, something happens.

3 Comments:

Blogger justrose said...

You don't have to write it all now. Let it sink in, over months, over years. It only gets better with time.

8:27 PM  
Blogger ~Jen~ said...

You are making me so nostalgic. I can't wait to go back to London.

I'm really enjoying reading your posts.

9:20 PM  
Blogger leftyjones said...

Wow....something we all agree on. England.
Even Ala71 might agree to agree.
Ahhhh, the contented sounds of peace.

I'm loving hearing about your trip...keep up the good reporting.

9:42 PM  

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