A great day in London
Today started off fantastic because I slept most of the night despite the fact that they were the wrong hours for me to be normally sleeping. In fact, when I woke up around 7:30 a.m., it was really 2:30 a.m. back home in the States. One of my hosts, the lovely Shalene Wong, made me a cheese sandwich for breakfast using some very rich vegan cheese. The cheese was made of water, vegetable oils and fats, fruit juice, potato starch, rice flour, yeast, nut butter, rock salt, vegetable flavoring, carrageen, spices, ascorbic acid, turmeric and beta carotene.
Then Shalene suggested I visit the Royal Observatory, which sounded like a great idea. I did all the research on my laptop and wrote some notes on a piece of paper. Shalene walked me down to the Ravenscourt Park tube station where I took the District Line to Embankment Pier. Riding the tube without looking at my phone made me feel like an invisible observer. With almost everyone else staring downward, I was free to look around without fear of catching anyone’s eye.
I arrived at Embankment Pier station and headed up the street to see what was around. First, I found a Spar, which I recognized as a place that sells groceries. I picked up three apples and 2 bottles of spring water. I immediately sat down and ate one of the apples as I was desperate for fresh produce. I hadn’t eaten any fruits or vegetables the day before, which is a rare day for me. Then I headed for Starbucks. There are sometimes 3 Starbucks within less than a block of each other here. It’s ridiculous. The nice thing, though, is that there are public restrooms in Starbucks, and I have gotten to that age where you never pass a bathroom without using it.
While in Starbucks, I looked at their 12 oz travel coffee cups, since I am in the market for one. The one I looked at was plastic and did not say “BPA-free.” So then I got to thinking that perhaps BPA was illegal in UK and so they did not need to print those words on the cups. I asked the person behind the counter, who then asked her manager, but neither of them knew what BPA was. I decided to wait on the cup and simply ordered my coffee. As I was waiting for my coffee, a young guy got in line behind me, and I said, “Hey, do you live here in UK?” He said he did, and I asked if he knew whether BPA was legal. He also did not know what BPA was, but he looked it up on his phone and found that it was not illegal in UK. Now I know.
Armed with fruit, water and caffeine, I headed to the pier to find out about taking the ferry to Greenwich. The boat ride was quite lovely. I was the first person aboard and headed to the outdoor seats in the back. I sat to the far left so I would be able to soak in some of the intermittent sunlight and so I would have a chance to take some photos. The first thing this large catamaran did was turn completely around which gave us a glorious view of the parliament building and Big Ben… both in their gleaming gold. The rest of the ride was full of interesting buildings, old and new, that line the banks of the Thames.
The boat ride was about 50 minutes long, and I ended up sitting next to a woman who currently lives in Abu Dabi. We had a lovely conversation, wherein I got to learn a bit about Abu Dabi. Apparently they don’t have any taxes there, and it’s a dictatorship. I think that’s what Republican extremists in the U.S. are trying to achieve.
Once in Greenwich, I did some wandering. One of the first things I encountered was a Greenpeace employee giving people information about the environmental issues in the rain forest and Arctic. I stopped and had a wonderful conversation with him. He even recognized me four hours later when I walked past. I soon ended up in Greenwich Market, which is a combination of antique dealers and artisans, surrounded by shops. There were some really neat items being offered by the artisans, but I resisted because I didn’t want to have to carry too much more for the entire 3 weeks. I did visit a health food store, in which I got some interesting snacks. Apparently oatcakes are a thing here.
Then it was off to the Royal Observatory, which was a hike up a long hill. The highlight of this trip was a chance to straddle the prime meridian, with one foot in the western hemisphere and the other in the eastern hemisphere.
On the way back to the ferry, I stopped in Marks & Spencer, which advertises “Real Food.” I was in heaven as I browsed the shelves of green salads and fresh veggies. I fed my veggie jones with two small green salads, both with soy beans, and I added a yogurt to complete my lunch. I also got some hummus and some green beans to take back to the flat. There are so many opportunities to eat unhealthy food here that I’d like to eat as much good stuff as I can and save a few small occasions for naughtiness.
After all of this, I was very tired and headed back onto the ferry. As I walked down the street toward the flat, the sun was low on the horizon in London.