Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Tall Ships Festival

I recently found out that the Royal Burrough of Greenwich hosts an annual Tall Ships Regatta. It seemed like a fantastic photo opportunity, so I dragged the spouse to the far side of the city to try our luck!

The day didn't go as expected.

The ships were moored at several locations along the Thames, and I researched the spot that should have the most, since I didn't plan on making it to all the ports. We took the Overground and the DLR waaaaaaaay to the West part of London, all the way to Woolwich (seriously, my friend who has lived in London her whole life has never been to Woolwich)! We made our way anxiously through the festival crowds towards the dock, where we pushed past cotton candy sellers, dance parties, even Jack Sparrow and a few other 'old world' characters.

We peered excitedly over the embankment wall to find..... two ships. 

While they were indeed tall (and ships), as advertised, I thought the vinyl advert hanging across the mast stole some of its appeal. And neither husband nor I cared to queue up for the hurried, self-guided tours you could take. So... we pondered and decided to make the most of the day and walk the river a bit. After starting off the wrong direction, we found our bearings and headed inland towards Greenwich, where the rest of the ships were moored. "Lets just enjoy the river walk," we said. "We can always catch a bus when we get tired," we said.
*Note: I'd worn some cute ballet flats, thinking we wouldn't be walking much, and by this point, my feet were already getting a tad sore.

So we began walking, and were rewarded with lovely views of other ships cruising up and down the river.

Note this next ship is called Tolkien.

(Please note I am well aware that this is not a tall ship. But it reminded us of Scuffy the Tugboat from our childhood Golden Books, and that made me happy!)

We quickly passed the Thames Barrier, which you can read more about here. I know very little, except that it keeps London from flooding, and is somewhat an industrial architectural statement.

We made our way through industrial parks, where remnants of old loading belts, rusted and torn, still reach out out into the Thames.

... and we even found the Greenwich Yacht Club, which was less than impressive. (Google it, even in the best of light its pretty lacklustre.)

By this time, we had missed lunch, had walked much farther than anticipated, and my feet (in an out of the shoes as the pavement permitted) cried and ached with pain. (I've decided this weekend I can never be a ballerina. My feet don't have the stamina for it.)

We rounded the Greenwich Peninsula, started the last leg towards Greenwich, and began 'discussing' signs we'd seen long ago for Greenwich.
"My feet hurt. Was that 6 kilometres, with the 'k' fallen off or 6 miles?" 
"I think it was for something else that was 6 metres."
"No- we'd have passed that ages ago. I think it was Greenwich..... how far have we walked?!...... I want to go home. ............ There's no bus to catch from here. ............ My feet hurt."
"No- I'm not paying £5 for a coke from the festival booth- that's ridiculous!"
"My feet hurt."

We finally rounded the bend to see the Old Royal Naval College, symbolic of the end of our tedious journey!

Plus, the last (and best!) ships were there!

We found our way to the Cutty Sark Tube station, and began the journey back home. "Just think," we told each other, "in time, we'll forget about the pain of the walk, and just remember the cool day, the river, the ships, and the lovely memories."

I looked it up when we got home. It was 6.5 miles.

Good times. :-)

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