Day 1,654 of Traveling the World | London, UK – Part 3 | August 13, 2022

We have been taking in a lot of London. This post is a hodgepodge of different places and sights. The Royal Observatory at Greenwich was outstanding, as it something we have all heard of, and all depend on for living according to clocks and time as a way of ordering our lives. At different times in history, other countries declared that the Prime Meridian (0 Degrees Longitude) was in their locale. Eventually all others agreed to drop their claim in favor of Greenwich. Since then all temporal and east/west measurements have begun here.

Flamsteed House housed the Astronomers Royal (the first of whom was John Flamsteed, hence the name). One of the astronomers who lived there was Edmond Halley, of Halley’s Comet fame, which made it thrilling to be there, walking where he walked. Just down the hill from the Observatory is the Royal Maritime Museum, which had interesting exhibitions and artifacts.

We went by Buckingham Palace, saw the guard doing his walkabout, and took some photos. We were surprised that we didn’t remember that the gates and fence are highly, highly decorated – but the palace itself is gray and plain. There is a lot of fun street art (as there is everywhere nowadays) on the streets of London and loads of beautiful buildings, from the ultra-modern to the much older structures.

For our health, we always like to have berries every day. Across the street from our hotel is an Amazon Fresh store. If you haven’t yet been inside one – it will blow your mind! You display a QR code in the Amazon app to enter, put items in your bag, and, as Amazon says – “Just Walk Out.” It is so weird not to checkout. In about two hours, an email arrives telling you how long you were inside, how many items you bought, and the total – and they are always correct! Once we got the hang of it, and knew we only wanted berries, our receipt would note that we were inside for 49 seconds and bought strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries, along with the total charged. (By the way, we have never gotten fresher or nicer berries than in Amazon Fresh, which is really saying something.) It is a great experience. If you have one near your home, try it!

The Victoria Memorial outside Buckingham Palace.
The gates to the Palace are certainly impressive.
The Victoria Memorial, Buckingham Palace, the vibrant red flowers, and even two construction cranes (which are just everywhere in London!).
We made it to the Royal Observatory, Greenwich! It was very cool.
Flamsteed House and Harrison’s Sea Clocks at the Observatory. The red ball on the roof drops every day at 1:00 pm to inform boats on the Thames River that it is 1:00 pm! (It is not needed today, but remains a tradition.) In fact, at one point in the early 20th century, it was removed as being unnecessary. That is, until the astronomers found that the workers were using it as a soccer ball! Then they ordered it to be put back up. It is quite dented from being kicked around. By the way, that is where one of our common expressions arose. Captains of ships on the Thames would assign a sailor to watch when the ball fell to synchronize the ships clock prior to sailing. That sailor had to pay close attention and was “on the ball.”
Everyone was doing this…one foot in the Western Hemisphere, the other in the Eastern Hemisphere. THAT is what we all paid 16 pounds for!
This is the pretty Octagon Room at the top of Flamsteed House, designed by Sir Christopher Wren, and used for presentations and receptions.
The Great Equatorial Telescope, one of the largest refracting telescopes in the world.
The world’s largest ship in a bottle. It is Admiral Nelson’s flagship, the Victory, by Yinka Shonibare, 2010.
Dating from 1732, this stunning barge was the 18th century equivalent of a limousine, cruising London’s busiest street – the Thames River. Built for Frederick, Prince of Wales, it continued in use for over 100 years, and was last used by Queen Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert.
These are some of the eclectic ship figureheads in the National Maritime Museum.
A figurehead of Tipu, Sultan of Mysore, dating from about 1819.
Gotta love the Brits – due to its shape, they call this building the Boomerang or Vase.
We love that this seems to be the official symbol of London, as we see it on streets and bridges everywhere we walk.
…and here it is on London Bridge (which, contrary to vicious rumors, is apparently not in Arizona but right here in London, spanning the Thames).
So many storefronts and restaurants are just filled with wildly gorgeous flowers.
What does gluttony have to do with the Great London Fire of 1666? (See the next photo!)
Apparently, the fire began in Pudding Lane and ended here, at Pye (Pie) Corner. Since both locales are food-related, the fire was ascribed to…gluttony!
This plaque is erected near Smithfield Market and St. Bartholomew the Great Church. William Wallace (remember Braveheart??) was dragged behind a horse from the Tower of London to Smithfield, where he was hung, drawn, and quartered. See the next photo for more scandals!
Yep – it was also here that men set up “wives auctions” to sell their unwanted wives along with other goods. It says divorce was very difficult, but didn’t King Henry VIII lead the way 300 years earlier by divorcing twice?? What’s good for the goose…
A blast from the past! These looked pretty grungy inside, so we didn’t attempt using the phones to see if they worked, but all had pay phones inside. Around London, some of the booths said, “Get Wi-Fi here,” and others said, “Defibrillator inside.”
St. Paul’s Cathedral, know for Diana and Charles’ wedding, but also the site of Henry VII’s son, Prince Arthur’s wedding, in 1501.
The Seven Ages of Man sculpture (Richard Kindersley, 1980), based on Shakespeare’s “All the world’s a stage.” We start in infancy, on the bottom, and end up in old age.
The Shard, with its sister glass buildings, all taking advantage of views of the Thames and Tower Bridge.
Tower Bridge, magnificent! It certainly stands out from all the other bridges as you walk across the Thames. Named for the nearby Tower of London, it opened in 1894.
Walking across the Tower Bridge, this is the view UP, between the two towers.
A restaurant called “The Glass Rooms on the River.” They are a dozen individual dining pods, but we read reviews that said they are exceedingly expensive and exceedingly hot!!
The infamous Tower of London.
We love the name of this candy store!
“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell just as sweet.” We have seen Rubbish, Litter, Trash, and Garbage. Just don’t throw it on the floor!