Maritime London - Down to the docks
Most visitors to London tend to stay in the city’s center as there is plenty to do there; even many locals have not discovered the culturally rich neighborhoods of Southeast London. If you’re in London, what are you waiting for? Just jump on the Jubilee train or the DLR for a fun day of exploring.
I started my journey at Canary Wharf, a financial area, where I visited the new Crossrail Place designed by Foster + Partners. You cannot miss this iconic structure with its coolly constructed dome-shaped ceiling and a rooftop area that houses a tropical garden and walkway. Open from dawn’s early light to dusk, inside, you’ll find a diverse choice of restaurants.
I then strolled over to the Museum of London Docklands where I enjoyed free admission to Sailortown and other permanent exhibits. Walking around a replicated ship gave me a good sense of what life was like aboard. The New Port, New City exhibit described the fall and rise of the Docklands area with a vision of the future.
Cutty Sark and Greenwich
Hopping onto the DLR, I exited at Cutty Sark for Maritime Greenwich and took a short walk to the historically acclaimed Cutty Sark tea clipper ship which you can gaze at for free, but if you’d like to enter, there’s an admissions fee. Then, it was on to the Queen’s House to view classical architecture and Inigo Jones’s Tulip Stairs. Its winding staircase is a most lovely and memorable sight to behold.
Next, I set out for Greenwich Park where I climbed up a steep hill in a vast park, perfect for a picnic. Be prepared to see many dogs walking or romping around. At the top, I viewed the meridian line at the Royal Observatory, home of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). It was worth the climb as I was treated to a spectacular view of London.
From there I stumbled into the Greenwich Vintage Market which is open every day except Monday and Wednesday. Here dealers sell collectibles, jewelry, furniture and much more.
Then, I took a quick break for lunch at Champagne + Fromage on Greenwich Church Street which serves up champagne, cheese boards and charcuterie plates in a relaxed hip setting; afternoon tea is available, too. But, if you’d rather, you can try one of the many pubs in the area such as the Gipsy Moth, the Kings Arms, Greenwich Tavern or the Coach & Horses for a traditional roast dinner or some fish & chips with a pint of ale.
A fan for life
Paying 4 GBP granted me admission into the Fan Museum which houses a few thousand different fans. The permanent exhibit informs one about the history and production of fans, while the temporary exhibit concentrates on a specific theme. Here, they have fans from all over the world, art deco fans, fixed and folding fans with fans from the last three centuries.
And then it was on to the Royal Docks/Royal Victoria area for a 10-minute ride on the Emirates Cable Car between there and North Greenwich. This is a terrific way to take in an aerial view of London.
Another mode of transportation visitors to the area can choose is the Thames Clipper for a river ride. Use your Oyster Card for a discounted fare and get off at whatever area in London that suits your fancy. A weekday ride from Greenwich to Westminster in Central London is about 44 minutes with about 8 other stops before.
Before heading back to Central London, I stopped for a drink at the Good Hotel, an old classic Dutch style floating vessel discovered at Royal Victoria Dock. The interior is hip modern casual and you can book rooms from about 65 GBP-220 GBP per night. Their Rooftop Terrace is the real gem, treating guests to scenic views of the River Thames and Canary Wharf.
There is so much more to London than boutiques and business. Going south of London really is the perfect way to spend a day in London’s other neighborhoods.
Text: Caron R. Luteran