It was a lovely Friday afternoon. The week-end had already started and I was walking along the Thames, passing the Tower of London, ready to jump on a City Cruise boat to Greenwich. Visit London had organised a special evening to remind us how beautiful this part of the city is…
There is something magical about being on the Thames, as soon as you have passed Tower bridge. A sense of freedom. A different page of history. The river is wider too, its banks less invaded by modern architecture. The buildings are lower and you can still see the names of the warehouses, now turned into luxurious apartment. Canary Wharf then appears – it always reminds me of the City of Oz, a UK version. I’m pretty sure there must be a wizard there too! A few minutes later, you’re in Greenwich. Beautiful, stunning Greenwich.
We headed straight away to the Old Royal Naval College. Did you know it’s another masterpiece by Wren? And that is originally was designed to be the equivalent of the Chelsea Hospital for for sea men? Passing film crews on our way, we headed towards the dome, a part the public never has access to. It took the organisers quite some patience: we were hypnotised by the spiral staircase… then by the dusty organ pipes on the first floor… the abandoned furniture on the second… As we go up the stairs get narrower, almost claustrophobic but oh, the view from the dome: over the Thames, the twin dome on the other side, the Queen’s House (reopening next month after renovation), the observatory on the hill! Here and there, graffiti too, written in chalk, some dating back to 1830.
But there is more to see. Like the Cutty Sark. And yes, the different layers of the boat, presenting its life as a tea clipper are fascinating but really you want to go one level down as you can walk right under the hull. Isn’t this a reason enough to go to Greenwich? On the deck, you can pretend to sail towards Canary Wharf too. A tip: The Old Brewery, nearby, has a fantastic choice of craft beer, Black Pudding Scotch Eggs to die for and a lovely walled garden.
How about the other Greenwich? North Greenwich, of course? We jumped on a Thames Clipper just as the sun was disappearing, touches of pink and apricot still colouring the sky. From the Thames, you get quite a view on the O2… and the people climbing its roof (a really fun experience, I recommend it). The boat stopped near the Quantum Cloud sculpture, from where you can easily walk to the Emirates Cable Car. The pods look rather sci-fi like at night, dashes of red light that could be eyes… We did not have the time for an extra adventure but were shown a secret room close to where you board. It’s the Cable Car garage!
Last but not least – all Fridays should include cocktails. 5 minute walks from the O2 is the Intercontinental Hotel with no less than two bars, both with incredible views of the city… We sipped on an Ariel at the Clipper (Sipsmith gin shaken with Manzanilla sherry, matcha tea, mango and egg white) and a candy like Lady Belvedere (dates infused vodka, sweet vermouth, strawberry liquor, cranberry juice, caramel syrup, cinnamon) on the 18th floor.
And that, my friend, is only a tiny percentage of what Greenwich has to offer…
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