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?
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 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.
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.
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!