Ahoy! Tall ships in London!

This past week I traveled from the sea to shining sea (kind of),

trading the shores of one Greenwich for the banks of another Greenwich.

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Nearly one week ago, I took my last brisk walk around the shores of Greenwich, CT overlooking the sun-dappled Long Island Sound.  Yesterday I strolled along the banks of the Thames to view the Tall Ships moored on the shores of Greenwich, England.

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The sun shone bright against a clear blue sky, an unusual delight on these shores and the perfect backdrop for the majestic tall ships that are in town for the Royal Tall Ships Festival.  More than 50 tall ships are gathered, the biggest fleet to visit London in a quarter of a century.

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I emerged from the North Greenwich tube station in the late afternoon and began my short walk to the Thames.  Just as the river came into view, I saw this old ship sailing serenely against the backdrop of the modern cityscape.  Some of the ships lining the river are about 100 years old and provide quite a contrast to the soaring skyscrapers in the distance.

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That said, London is a city steeped in history, and the Thames was once teeming with boats such as these trading their wares along the banks.  A popular London activity is “mudlarking” in which people wade in the low tide of the Thames and search for ancient treasures in the river silt.  Often, a nautical trinket is uncovered….perhaps belonging to one of these boats long ago!

I strolled along the Thames path for several miles, past the ships with sails flapping and flags waving in the gentle breeze.

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Soon, I found myself meandering through a quiet wooded path that led to old cobbled misaligned streets filled with charming small homes with anchor door knockers and port hole windows.  I was a bit aimless, casually following signs to the Maritime Museum.  Suddenly, pubs with names like “Ye Old Salty Dog” appeared and signs of commerce emerged.  Crowds began to replace my solitude.  I turned right and found myself again looking out over the Thames through the giant gates surrounding the venerable Old Royal Naval College, a World Heritage site in maritime Greenwich.

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What a beautiful place, filled with impressive buildings and beautiful green lawns that provide a park-like environment.

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I loved the regal lion crest transformed to a nautical “mer-lion”, complete with scaly tail!

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I slowly made my way back to the overground but got distracted by the allure of a marketplace.  The Greenwich Market combines the best of Borough and Camden Markets.  It is a small indoor marketplace filled with delicious ethnic foods, various trinkets and souvenirs, and interesting clothing and antique stalls.  A jazz singer was performing favorite standards from the ’50s, adding to the overall ambiance.  I was hot and thirsty, and an ice-cold fresh mint Moroccan tea hit the spot.

From one Greenwich to another Greenwich.  

I may have spent the afternoon in my namesake town, but the similarity is truly in name only. 

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