Rotating Header Image

Until Next Time

The Royal Observatory is one of those places that has an undue amount of history tied up in it, yet somehow seems to be unappreciated to such a large degree by the would be traveler, that when you are actually standing there in the flesh, you have to question if some overly proud curator is not just making it all up to impress and cajole you into buying a souvenir at the gift shop – surely, any place this historically significant would be one of the top attractions in London?

Behind the Naval College sits Greenwich Park and the Royal Observatory

Behind the Naval College sits Greenwich Park and the Royal Observatory

We, on the other hand, were not just ordinary ignorant would be travelers.  A few years previously I had stumbled across a fabulous book called Longitude, by Dava Sobel, which goes to great lengths to impress upon the reader the absolutely astounding history of the marine chronometers invented by John Harrison in the mid 1700’s, which are now housed on display at the observatory.  I won’t go into it here (you should all read the book!), but suffice it to say that the world would be a very different place were it not for the eccentric clockmaker and his miraculous machines.

The thing I was looking forward to the most at the Observatory was the display of marine cronometers- which were used to determine the longitude of a ship at sea

The thing I was looking forward to the most at the Observatory was the display of marine cronometers- which were used to determine the longitude of a ship at sea

The Observatory also happens to be skewered by the Prime Meridian- the dividing line between the eastern and western hemispheres.  Though the line now technically lies a few dozen meters off from the original defined location, due to modern refinements to the way it is measured, there is still a heavy metal strip laid in the ground at the Observatory marking the meridian, which is surprisingly amusing to step over, or kiss across, or do any other number of hijinks that are funny when divided by an imaginary line.

An inter-hemesphereical kiss

An inter-hemesphereical kiss

Our final day in London was spent ticking off a few last things we wanted to see and do- including touring Jake and Jackie’s respective offices (gosh- how different than a corporate office in the US!), walking across Tower Bridge, a quick stop at 221b Baker Street, and of course, a final-final farewell dinner.  The next morning, we were back in the air, flying home to Colorado, and our soon to be future existence as icebound dishwashers at the South Pole.

Our final farewell dinner... until next time!

Our final farewell dinner… until next time!

To wrap up this first adventure to Europe, we want to give a big “thank you!” to Jake and Jackie, for being our fabulous hosts, great travel companions, and as always, our best of friends. Stay tuned for our next Old World Expedition!

 

Leave a Reply

The Oldest Monarchy

Following our little brush with the hedonistic commune of hippies that is Christiania, we thought it prudent to visit the other end of the Danish social spectrum, and made our way to the marble facade of Amalienborg, Denmark’s Royal Palace- seat of the oldest monarchy in Europe.

Amalienborg Palace, where the Danish Royalty still lives

Amalienborg Palace, where the Danish Royalty still lives

The Queen must have been out of town or something, because there weren’t many people hanging around the palace, except for a few ornately decorated guards with big machine guns, who were less than thrilled by our attempts at including them in a group photo.

This guard was not very keen on us taking a photo with him

This guard was not very keen on us taking a photo with him

We walked out before we got kicked out, and moved on to a slightly more popular attraction- a centuries old bronze sculpture of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid.  Apparently, he lived most of his life in Copenhagen, including when he wrote the well-known fairy tale, and the Danes love him for it.  Despite it being fairly small and unimpressive as far as public monuments go, there were dozens of people there, throwing elbows and boxing out, trying to get them and their progeny as close as possible for the best view of the bare breasted icon.  We waited for a break in the sea of admiration, snapped our quick photo, and then hastily retreated before the subsequent wave overtook us.

The famous Little Mermaid statue- old Hans wrote his story here in Copenhagen

The famous Little Mermaid statue- old Hans wrote his story here in Copenhagen

The next morning was our last in the city, as we would be flying back to London that afternoon.  Fittingly, it was grey and rainy, a perfect travel day in my book- now, don’t get me wrong, I wish every day was bright and sunny, but the occasional stint of sour weather is inevitable, and I would much rather spend it knocking off some miles to my next destination inside a train or airplane, than sitting trapped in my hotel room wishing it was pleasant outside.

We took this last Danish opportunity to visit one of Copenhagen’s oldest and most famous pastry shops, and ordered, can you guess? Danishes.  Cap it off with one final bicycle ride through the city, a very Danish thing to do, and we were content to board our plane back to Britain: cross the English Channel, past the Albion Cliffs, over the hills of Kent, and on to London- our last stop on this month long adventure.

Leave a Reply

Old Kobenhavn

Our journey from Germany to Denmark took an unexpected twist.  We had anticipated a leisurely train ride across the flat expanses of the Jutland Peninsula, but were treated instead to a leisurely ferry ride across the Fehmarn Belt- a wide straight separating the various islands of the two countries.  To our surprise, the conductor on the train we had boarded in Hamburg, and expected to disembark in Copenhagen, announced that we all needed to get off two hours into our four and a half hour trip.  Without our noticing it, the train had seamlessly rolled into the belly of a waiting ferry specially equipped with iron rails.  We grabbed our camera bags and rushed to the top deck to get the best view of the ship leaving port.

It was a good surprise though, and once we crossed the water, we re-boarded the train and continued on to Copenhagen on rails

It was a good surprise though, and once we crossed the water, we re-boarded the train and continued on to Copenhagen on rails

On the other side, the passengers diligently returned to their seats in the rail cars, and an hour and a half later we glided into Copenhagen Central where Jake and Jackie were waiting for us just after their own arrival, via the airport, from London.  We made short work of our bags, handing them off to our BnB host Boris, who kindly ferried them to his guesthouse, while letting us proceed immediately into the brightly painted chaos of the Nyhavn Canal, the social and historical heart of Copenhagen.  A few cans of gold plated Tuborg beer, and then right onto a scenic water taxi tour of old Kobenhavn.

The iconic Nyhavn Canal of Copenhagen

The iconic Nyhavn Canal of Copenhagen

We followed up the canal tour with a two-wheeled tour the next day- stopping at the famous Tivoli Gardens (think a much older version of Elitch’s), but which was sadly closed for the season, and then a stop at Copenhagen’s other “playground” of sorts: Christiania, an illegal squatter community of free-loving hippies and hard core drug addicts.  Not typically a place you would find us, but in the sin bleaching rays of the mid-morning sun, we felt comfortable, or at least not in danger of getting shived by a crack dealer taking our prudence for an insult, and took the opportunity to walk around and get a little insight into this, let’s say, alternative way of living.

Leave a Reply