Day 1. A weekend in Greenwich

I had a spring in my step as I boarded an LNER early morning train between Leeds and London Kings Cross.  Using public transport and travelling by train is something I do constantly but alas not in these strange times so I was excited to be taking my first journey for over four months.

Kings Cross Station London
Kings Cross Station

I’ll never take simple pleasures like rail travel for granted again as I was so happy to be finally on my way.  We had reserved seats in standard class but due to social distancing measures had been allocated an entire table for four so it felt almost as if we were travelling first class.  If like us you are feeling ready to travel by train again not only will you have more room, but also benefit from extremely low fares to entice passengers back on the rails.

Advertising screen, Piccadilly Circus
Piccadilly Circus

Arriving into Kings Cross on time we took the Underground along to Piccadilly Circus so that we could stretch our legs and find somewhere to enjoy our picnic lunch.  The Tube was quiet but looking at the positives, we were assured of a seat.  After glancing at the iconic big screen dominating the square, we continued down Piccadilly passing the Royal Academy and then popped into Fortnum & Mason for a little look around.  The doorman looked resplendent in his bright red jacket and was sporting a matching face mask as he guided us into this most luxurious of department stores.  Due to the lack of overseas tourists it seemed much quieter than usual but quite a few shoppers were around which was a good sign.

Fortnum & Mason, Piccadilly
Fortnum & Mason, Piccadilly

From Fortnum’s we strolled through Green Park, passing Buckingham Palace before continuing into St. James’s Park, another of London’s Royal Parks.  Sitting on a bench overlooking the lake we tucked into our salmon sandwiches whilst watching the park’s resident pelicans who had just been fed.

Pelicans in St.James's Park
Pelicans in St. James’s Park

Pelicans were first introduced into the park in 1664 when a pair were presented as a gift from the Russian Ambassador.  Nowadays over 40 pelicans have made the park their home and I always like to look out for them whenever I’m passing through,

Piccadilly Circus Underground Station, London
Piccadilly Circus Underground Station

After our brief lunch stop, we resumed our walk, continuing the short distance to Westminster and strolling along the South Bank as far as Blackfriars.  From there we took the District Line to Bank and then transferred onto the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) to Greenwich where we had planned to stay.  Although I’ve used the DLR many times I always enjoy the thrill of riding in these driverless trains. Do try to sit at the very front of the train for uninterrupted views and to pretend for a moment you are the one at the controls.

Greenwich Station sign
Greenwich Station

Maritime Greenwich is a World Heritage Site located in South East London yet is only a quick 20 minute journey from Bank station on the DLR or an even speedier 8 minute train ride from London Bridge.  Do remember to tap in and out with either your Oyster or contactless card when using the DLR to avoid being overcharged as although there are no barriers, ticket validation points are positioned around the stations.

StayCity Aparthotel Greenwich
Staycity Aparthotel, Greenwich

We’d arranged to stay at the Staycity Aparthotel just a six minute walk from the station on Greenwich High Road and although we’d arrived ahead of the 3.00 p.m. check-in time we were warmly welcomed and soon heading up the lift to our room.  Staying in an Aparthotel right now seemed the perfect solution as our spacious one bedroom apartment felt like a home from home.  With a fully equipped kitchen area we could be self-contained yet at the same time enjoy the services of a quality hotel.

StayCity Aparthotel Greenwich, Room
One one bedroom apartment

From our welcome pack we made ourselves mugs of tea, even finding milk in the fridge and then settled down on the comfortable sofa.  We didn’t linger too long as we were itching to start exploring the London Borough of Greenwich.  After a friendly few words with the receptionist who was checking to see everything in our room was as expected we were on our way.  Unfortunately, we had barely set off when it started raining heavily, our weather can be so unpredictable, even in late July.

Queen Elizabeth College Almshouses Greenwich
Queen Elizabeth College Almshouses

It took around 20 minutes to reach Maritime Greenwich on foot but it can easily be accessed from the hotel by bus or popping back on the DLR one stop to Cutty Sark.  Along the way we paused to view the lovely Queen Elizabeth College almshouses constructed in 1818 for the elderly poor of Greenwich.

Greenwich Market
Greenwich Market

Continuing on our way we decided to seek shelter in Greenwich Market which had recently re-opened and it was so nice to see it thriving on such a damp Saturday afternoon.  It’s London only historic market within a World Heritage Site and its numerous stalls sell a range of gifts, jewellery, fashion, arts, crafts and of course there are lots of food counters cooking up delicious street food from far and wide,

Inside Greenwich Market
Interior of Greenwich market

Irritatingly, the rain hadn’t abated but we battled on regardless to walk through the grounds of the absolutely beautiful Baroque buildings of the Old Royal Naval College which was designed by Sir Christopher Wren, one of England’s most highly acclaimed architects.  It is now the main campus of the University of Greenwich and a wonderful location to study overlooking the Thames.  This historic site is often used for filming and you might recognise it from such films as The King’s Speech, Lea Miserables, The Queen or Four Weddings and a Funeral.

 Old Royal Naval College Greenwich
Old Royal Naval College

From there, we walked the short distance into Greenwich Park which dates back to Roman times.  It’s the oldest of London’s Royal parks and is home to the Royal Observatory set on top of the hill.  On clear days one can enjoy stunning views over the grounds of the National Maritime Museum and across the river to the modern skyscrapers of Canary Wharf and the O2 Arena in North Greenwich.

Greenwich Park
Greenwich Park

The Royal Observatory is the home of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) and the first state-funded scientific institution of its day.  The Observatory was yet to reopen otherwise I would have loved to have explored the home of the Astronomer Royals and stand on the historic Prime Meridian of the world, still there’s always a next time.

Royal Observatory Greenwich
Royal Observatory

Located just outside the gates to the Royal Observatory stands the 150 year old brass placard originally installed for people to officially verify their measuring sticks.  Located alongside the Shepherd 24 hour Slave Clock and the green Meridian Laser an inquisitive visitor can come along and calibrate scientific instruments using this device.

Measuring device, Royal Observatory
Measurement calibrator Royal Observatory

We then made our way back downhill following a different path which brought us out by the enormous National Maritime Museum, another of Greenwich’s impressive buildings complete with its ship in a bottle outside the main entrance.  Closed for now but soon to re-open so I’ll hopefully look forward to visiting there too.

National Maritime Museum Greenwich
National Maritime Museum

There seemed no end to the wet weather as we wandered the historic streets nearby.  Spotting a branch of Marks & Spencer we called in for some groceries and a bottle of wine, just perfect for dining in.  We then caught the DLR back to our aparthotel, opened the wine and cooked up a feast (actually M & S did, I just re-heated it) then when it had finally stopped raining we hopped back on the DLR across to Canary Wharf, just six short stops away.

Canary Wharf Station
Canary Wharf Station

Have you ever wondered about all the clocks outside Canary Wharf station?  ‘Six Public Clocks’ was the winning design in a competition inviting proposals for this public space.  The installation is based on the iconic Swiss railway clock but each of the 12 clock faces here show a single and different numeral.

So Public Clocks, Reuters Plaza, Canary Wharf
Six Public Clocks, Reuters Plaza

Canary Wharf was once a derelict dockland but has been completely transformed into London’s second central business district.  Along with the City of London it is one of the world’s major financial centres with its many tall glass and steel buildings.

West India Quay, Canary Wharf
West India Quay, Canary Wharf

It’s not all office blocks though, in fact it’s a great place to visit and easily accessible via the DLR and Jubilee Line.  You’ll find luxury shopping and all the high street names in stylish underground shopping centres plus lots of attractive cafes, bars and restaurants many of them with terraces overlooking the water.

Crossrail Roof Garden, Canary Wharf
Crossrail Roof Garden

We made a beeline for the Crossrail Roof Garden which sits on top of the yet to be opened Elizabeth Line station.  This free to enter indoor oasis is open daily and is a joy to behold.  We strolled through the garden admiring exotic plants and relaxed awhile on one of the wooden benches nestled in the secluded pathways.

Crossrail Roof Garden, Canary Wharf
Crossrail Roof Garden

Being so close to Greenwich, Crossrail Place sits almost exactly on the Meridian Line with the planting being arranged according to which hemisphere the species are from.  Asian plants such as bamboos to the east whilst ferns from the Americas are planted to the west.  It’s definitely worth a visit as I’m certain you would enjoy the garden as much as me.

The Ledger Building, Canary Wharf
The Ledger Building, Canary Wharf

We were too late for shopping so we enjoyed a leisurely walk around West India Quay where there are more bars, restaurants and the Museum of Docklands which is free to visit and another of my favourite museums.

Bars, West India Quay, Canary Wharf
Bars at West India Quay

To round off our evening we called in The Ledger Building which looked beautiful with its gorgeous display of flowers adorning the front and its terrace.  How we’ve missed everyday things like a drink in the pub, something else I’ll never ever take for granted again.  After a lovely first day back in London we slept like logs in our extremely comfortable beds at the Staycity Aparthotel.

To be continued …..

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70 thoughts on “Day 1. A weekend in Greenwich

  1. Glass Full Ish

    A lovely and inspiring post – I’d love to be able and allowed to start travelling not just the UK but internationally soon, which is something I’ve never done. I love the images too. Greenwich Royal Observatory is on my travel wishlist!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. What clear photos! Even with rainy weather, the pictures in this article turned out great! Have you ever considered writing about Wembley Park? I briefly talked about Wembley Arena in one of my blog posts and was curious to read a traveler’s perspective on this place.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Day 1. A weekend in Greenwich – Corn & Hospitality Note Site

  4. ThingsHelenLoves

    A lovely day, isn’t it amazing how many gardens and green spaces London has to offer? It’s so nice to see people travelling for pleasure again, I know we are a long way off business as usual but it’s a beginning!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Helen, yes London has lots of green spaces and riverside walks to enjoy. It’s definitely not business as usual in the capital yet but things are starting to pick up. Let’s hope more people have the confidence to return to our cities soon but for once it was lovely to take advantage of London without the crowds!

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  5. Pingback: StayCity Aparthotel Greenwich – Love Travelling Blog

  6. smkeigl

    Such a lovely post, thank you!! London is obviously on my list once I can travel internationally, being one of the most major cities of the world, and this gave me so many ideas for things to do! I wrote some down to look into when the time comes 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I am a retiree in America, and having a wife who is agoraphobic, I am unable to travel. your words and pictures almost made me feel as though was right there with. Thank you for sharing your travels with others. God bless you.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. This post brought a lot of sweet memories of when I lived in London.
    I just love love love Greenwich Park, albeit my favourite one will always be Battersea Park.
    Also Canary Wharf is such a nice zone and so overlooked by Londoner themselves, but in every corner of the British capital one can always find something beautiful.
    I try to come back every year since I left the city and it is just so sad that this year I won’t just because of the virus.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so pleased to read that this post brought back such happy memories for you of previous visits to London. It’s so sad that all of our plans have been dashed this year because of the horrid virus but let’s hope in the months to come things will improve and we can all start travelling once again. Thanks so much for your welcome comments.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I have my fingers crossed for the travelling to happen!
        I mean I cannot complain because I have lived in London for one year, but even if I have seen a lot of it (my hostdad was born and raised there and kept saying that I had seen more than him), I still have a lot of things to do on my list: take the Emirates Cable Car, take a boat on the Thames, going inside Strawberry Hill (I just saw it from outside) and so on.
        Such a great city with so much to do and see, definitely one of my favourites ever.

        Liked by 1 person

          1. I am sure you would love it.
            It is such a charming town and the castle on the hill looking over the Neckar river will always be one of my favourite scenario in the whole world.

            I made a blog post about it, I hope it will be useful and that you can visit it soon!
            https://italianwanderluster.wordpress.com/2019/06/21/the-ultimate-heidelberg-travel-guide/

            I would also suggest to visit it next year because three times in Summer there is a special event “Schloss Beleuchtung” (Lightning of the Castle) where one can admire fireworks from the field near the Neckar that lighten the castle.
            Due to coronavirus it has unfortunately been canceled this year.

            Liked by 1 person

  9. Again, thank you for another interesting and informative post. I’ve yet to visit Greenwich but it’s on my list especially after seeing the Naval College in Poldark, which I binged watched during my quarantine! Glad you’re out and about!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s wonderful to bring these distant memories to the fore and reflect on days gone by and the people who we were with at the time. Greenwich has probably not changed all that much since then as the wonderful landmarks have been there for much longer. Thanks so much for commenting, it’s much appreciated.

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  10. Lovely. St. James Park was one of our favorite parts of visiting London when we were there last autumn. Unfortunately we didn’t have enough time to go as far as Greenwich but it looks like we would have enjoyed it. Thanks again for the virtual travel opportunity!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Greenwich t the top of my list! Can’t wait to begin our travels again when/if we ever get this ugly virus under control in US. We were supposed to be there this last spring so I really enjoyed visiting with you! Lovely pictures. Thanks for taking us along with you!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. It’s my pleasure Jane and I’m glad you enjoyed this post. Hopefully you’ll be able to start travelling again in a few months time. The virus has certainly dashed the hopes and plans of many of us since it sprang it’s ugly head. Thanks so much for your welcome thoughts.

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  11. Anonymous

    Very enjoyable blog. Visited Greenwich a few years back and really enjoyed it. We went by river boat which is a good option. Must give Canary Wharf a longer look next time I’m over.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. In all my travels around the world I’ve only spent a couple of times on a quick stopover in England. So much to see and my roots go back there in the past. So you can imagine my interest in the ones you post on England. Have you done a tour in Macclesfield? That’s our history on my Mother’s side and I’d enjoy looking that one over if you’ve already done a tour there.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Ian, I’ve actually yet to visit Macclesfield but was in Cheshire last year around Nantwich which I wrote about. One day I’ll visit Macclesfield and document my visit for you. I believe it is noted for its silk making so that would be interesting to look into. Thanks for taking an interest in this my first post on London.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. I’ve been thinking about London! I want to visit so badly. London and also Scotland. I’m debating if I want to risk taking a plane from Canada over there.. Your trip looks amazing. I’m glad you’re having a great time!

    Liked by 1 person

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