We started our adventure to Greenwich at Westminster. A strange place to start; but trust us there is a reason. Take the RB1 river boat from Westminster Pier to Greenwich. Take the time to admire London from the river as you sail eastwards; it is a wonderful way to see the city especially if the weather is on your side. You will travel past the old warehouses that cover the now gentrified south bank, the dockyards of Rotherhithe and Depford before arriving in Greenwich.
The history of Greenwich is deep and fascinating and if you want to understand London’s history, or indeed Britain's, this is a good place to start. The Cutty Sark, Old Royal Naval College and the Royal Observatory are all left over bones from Britain's Colonial past. A history that made Britain rich at the expense of the countries they colonised. Many ships sailed from Greenwich, the neighbouring docklands and Deptford before traveling around the world and plundering other nations of their resources. The Cutty Sark was one of the last tea clippers, that transported tea from China back to Britain. The Royal Observatory (built 1675) helped these voyages by pioneering technology that would make sea navigation safer and easier and ultimately make trade more profitable.The Old Royal Naval College (the birthplace of Henry VIII and designed by Christopher Wren), now a UNESCO world heritage site, trained navy officers.
However, we must not forget the human cost which built the empire and financed imperialistic architecture in Greenwich. India, for example, was struck by famine, after colonists grew and exported huge amounts of tea instead of food for the indiginous people. Greenwich is therefore striking; for the foundations which it’s grandeur is built upon is that of empire and colonialism.
Along past the DLR station, in the opposite direction to the crowds, you will find a nice parade of shops on the A200. A record shop, craft shop and tattooist, sit side by side. The record shop, Casbah Records, is a leopard print lined treasure trove . As soon as I walked in I clocked the Black Flag tote bag hanging on the wall. Always a good sign. You can also find an amazing range of records and interesting prints - we walked away with a couple.
Of course there are many more shops. Have an explore; you are bound to find something interesting.
Greenwich Market is also a must visit with an interesting history. The market first began trading on the 3 September 1737 with over 60 stalls, half of which were butchers. Since then the market has moved and evolved and after WW2 the wholesale fruit and veg market began to decline. However, inspired by Camden Lock, it reopened as an arts and crafts market in 1985.
Now there is an eclectic range of stalls; from football fanzine coasters, jewellery, vintage clothing and food. I even managed to find QPR coasters! If you want to find someone a unique present it is the perfect location. If you time it right and arrive later in the day you can sometimes get the last orders of food at a reduced price.
There are so many places to visit in Greenwich: The Naval College,The Royal Observatory, The Maritime Museum and Greenwich Foot Tunnel. These are all well worth a visit. However, you cannot go to Greenwich and not walk up to the Observatory. Despite the crowds the view over London is spectacular and it is just nice to stop for a minute and watch the world go by.
Once you have finished exploring there are plenty of places to recharge and put your feet up. I would recommend ArtFix Greenwich Market. The service was good and the coffee was excellent. Not to mention sitting in a creative space that regularly hosts community and art classes. It is located just inside the market, so it is super convenient.
If you fancy something stronger there are again lots of options to choose from: Meantime Brewing tap room is attached to the brewery and has a great selection of beers and video games to play. Cutty Sark Pub has a cozy interior and riverside view, and is lovely on a sunny day when you can sit outside and look across the Thames. The Prince of Greenwich is a proper boozer, full of antiques, and a good evening destination with a local and laid back feel.
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