How does it feel like to stand with one foot in the east of the Earth and the other foot in the west? F-ing cool, that is!
So, how does one go about doing this? Simple. Visit the iconic Meridian Line at the Royal Observatory Greenwich.
The Royal Observatory is located at Blackheath Avenue in Greenwich, London. From my hotel in Marble Arch, I simply took the Central Line to Bank, then changed to the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) to Greenwich. I arrived Greenwich at nine in the morning and the observatory does not open until 10am so I still had enough time for breakfast. At 9am on the winter morning of 27th December, I tell you, there was not a single soul on the road. From the train station, it took a while for me to find the street leading to the observatory.
I did find a cozy restaurant, though. I had my breakfast at Café Rouge located at 30 Stockwell Street. I ordered The Rouge Breakfast and for £9.95, I had one full plate with sourdough toast, sausage, bacon, mushroom, beans, tomato and eggs plus coffee and apple juice. This should be enough to last me until lunch on a cold day. 3 degrees Celsius for somebody who grew up in a tropical country is seriously freezing!
With a few minutes left to opening time, I headed to the observatory. The frosted grass looks amazing as the sun is breaking out. The observatory is elevated so be prepared to hike a little bit although it is not really very tasking.
Entrance to the observatory is £6.50 for children and £10 for adults, there is a discount if you buy online. I had a London Pass so I did not need to pay on location. You can click here to buy the London Pass, they usually give discounts of up to 20% off.
Arriving early always has its perks, the tourists are not yet in and so I had the Meridian Line all to myself (haha!). It is interesting to note that the line had been moved by a few inches numerous times before it was fixed to where it is now. You can also find these older meridians in the observatory.
The whole observatory showcases man’s history of measuring time accurately and it is interesting how much man had come a long way from crude measurement tools to highly sophisticated ones. There are a number of exhibits to look around to in the observatory. You can find the observatory map here.
The Flamsteed House
The Flamsteed House served as home to the Astronomer Royal, the most prestigious post in Astronomy, and is the Queen’s advisor on astronomical matters.
The Octagon Room
The Octagon Room is also inside the Flamsteed House. The room was designed by Sir Christopher Wren, who also designed St. Paul’s Cathedral. The room was designed to hold the long telescopes used during the 17th century.
John Harrison’s Timekeepers
John Harrison was an English carpenter and clockmaker born in the 1690’s whose timekeepers would later on make a huge impact to how people travel at sea by allowing ships to determine their longitude.
Great Equatorial Telescope
From the name itself, the telescope is indeed great. The 28-inch refracting telescope is the seventh largest in the world and weighs almost 200 pounds. This is housed inside the great onion dome.
The Weller Astronomy Galleries
Here you can find the “oldest object you will ever touch”. Yes, I did touch it and yes, it was very old, like 4.5 billion years old! The object was part of the Gibeon meteorite believed to have hit the earth in prehistoric times. There is also a portion that has interactive exhibits for children (and nerdy adults!) to enjoy.
The lower ground floor houses The Peter Harrison Planetarium, but you would need to buy other tickets for this (I did not go in, sorry!)
Here are some more photos if what you can find in the observatory exhibits:
Walking distance from the observatory, you can also visit the National Maritime Museum, the Queen’s House and Cutty Sark. For more information, you can check out Royal Museums Greenwich website.