Another great day has (nearly) come to an end. I couldn’t believe my luck this morning when I realized the weather was fabulous (sunny and low-50s) for the second day in a row. Winning! Once again, I had no plans, but the day definitely started off right with me sleeping until 9a. Anyone who knows me knows I don’t sleep very late (I get up just after 5a for work Monday-Friday), but after basically not sleeping the night before and then having a very full first day in London, I was really hoping the sleep gods would smile upon me last night. Although I did wake up twice (once around 5a and again around 8a), I fell back asleep immediately both times, so I woke feeling rested. I’d like to say I jumped out of bed and got going right away, but I didn’t. I finished editing yesterday’s photos, wrote the first blog post of this trip, and showered, so it was about noon by the time I left the house. That’s the great thing about this trip so far though – no definite plans means no definite timelines. Regardless of your plans though, I continue to stick by my assertion that you just have to push through your first day in a foreign country so you get on the right schedule in the right timezone right away. It can be tough, but it makes the rest of your trip so much better!
Because the weather was so great again today, I wanted to start by heading to see the Peter Capaldi-designed Paddington Bear statue at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich. Fifty such statues have been created and placed around London to celebrate the new Paddington Bear movie and since this one was designed by the current incarnation of the Doctor, I had to see it. As a bonus, I had never been to the observatory before and had only been to Greenwich once and that was several years ago, so I had no excuse not to go. I had considered going yesterday, but I was already in the city and Greenwich is pretty close to Lewisham, so it made a lot more sense to go there from Lewisham rather than from central London. It was a great walk and I got the chance to enjoy the scenery and take a few random pictures along the way. And of course, I accomplished my mission by finding the statue and taking a selfie with it. As you do.
The observatory is situated on a good-sized hill, so I meandered down it (fair warning – it actually felt quite steep, even with a proper staircase and railing) into Greenwich proper, where I had a nice pub lunch and also paid a visit to the Cutty Sark and the area around it. The Cutty Sark is a famous clipper ship that was in use as far back as the 1880s and has visited every major port in the world. It’s been in Greenwich since 1954 and was damaged extensively by a fire in 2007, so the last time I was in Greenwich, it was being restored, so I couldn’t even see it. Although I didn’t go into it this time (or any of the other attractions in Greenwich), it’s an impressive-looking vessel and would be worth a look the next time you’re in London. Greenwich overall is a neat area – don’t miss it!
After Greenwich, I thought I would go visit The Shard. I’ve heard the views from the top are great and with the weather being sunny and pretty clear, I thought I should try it. However, when I got there and realized the entry fee is £30 (that’s nearly $50 for us Yanks), I decided against it. I’m all for visiting attractions, but that just seemed unnecessarily high. No matter though – I didn’t have to wander far until I found another place I’d never visited before – Southwark Cathedral. I always love visiting churches, but I’ve somehow managed to miss this one over the years, so I was happy to get the chance to see it.
One of my London traditions is visiting an HMV shop whenever I’m here, so I did that after wrapping up my visit to the cathedral. That tradition goes back several years to a time when I could usually find a Doctor Who DVD I didn’t already have, but since I have all of them these days, I now just wander through to see if anything catches my eye. I had to walk a little ways to find one (and my Google Maps initially took me to one that apparently doesn’t exist anymore/never existed) and by the time I reached it, Jason and Dan texted to meet up for dinner. I wasn’t finding anything at HMV anyway, so I happily met them at Charing Cross and we headed towards a curry place Dan likes, only to find it was shut today. D’oh! Dan spotted a Pizza Express up the road, so off we went there instead. I wasn’t initially that hungry, but since eating at Pizza Express is another tradition of mine (no good reason why – I just like their pizza!), I happily tucked into some tasty food. All my UK friends have always told me there’s nothing stand-out about their food, but I really enjoy it, so I recommend having a meal the next time you’re here. Being a chain, there are lots of them around, so it won’t be hard to find one.
Jason and Dan were going to a play after dinner, so we parted ways after a quick peek at the Christmas lights on Regent Street. Since I was taking the Underground to Charing Cross anyway, I stopped in Trafalgar Square for a couple of night pictures and then headed back to Lewisham, where I am right now, writing this blog. Ooooh, it’s like you can see me! Speaking of seeing, I think you should see some pictures now. Doesn’t that sound fun?
Ruins of the tower of St. Margaret of Antioch, which I passed on the way to Greenwich.
The Shepherd Gate Clock at the observatory.
And that puts a bow on the second day of this trip. Tomorrow, it’s off to Brighton! My friend Bill (who was also here with me last year) is flying in, so he’s going to meet Jason and I at the station so we can head down together. As with the last two days, we don’t have any definite plans other than the Doctor Who event on Sunday, but I’m sure we’ll amuse ourselves somehow.
See you in Brighton!