Thursday, September 18, 2008

East Along the Thames

I just got back to Belsize Park and am sitting down to blog again today for two reasons: (1) Spooner and his flatmates are all out at an event at school, so I have the place to myself, and (2) I have to be out early tomorrow morning to meet a Flickr mate at the Angel -- we're going to Abney Park Cemetery in Stoke Newington.

Soon after I left the house this morning, I realized that my spreadsheet, containing all the important info about where I was going, how to get there, what time things were open, etc., was on the floor of the guestroom. I was off the grid. Flying without instruments. But I freaked out only for a few minutes and went on with the plan that I had in my head.

Sunshine! Blue sky! The best weather I've had yet (it's been grey, but not a drop of rain). My explorations were all east of Tower Bridge. I started out at Tower Hill tube station, walked around the west and south sides of the Tower, and then walked around St Katharine Docks. The highlight was seeing Dead Man's Hole under the bridge -- a place where bodies were dumped into the Thames from the Tower -- but the tide was low and I just had to imagine the water taking the corpses out to sea.

Next, I walked over the bridge and down Shad Thames to the Design Museum, where I stopped in for a quick look at the shop and use of the loo. I debated going in to see an exhibit called Under a Fiver (stuff that costs less than five pounds), but I pressed on and walked along the Thames Walk through Bermondsey to Rotherhithe. I walked past many old wharf buildings (warehouses) that have been converted to luxury apartments, and many purpose-built luxury flats. "Luxury" is the operative word here -- this area has gone from a rat-infested, disease- and poverty-ridden area to prime real estate. I did see one block of council housing with nappies hanging up on the balcony.

At Canada Water, I got the tube to Canary Wharf and walked over to West India Quay to go to the Museum in Docklands, where the major exhibition now is Jack the Ripper's East End. It was a bit more about Jack the Ripper -- and less about the East End -- than I would have liked, but I did learn a bit about poverty, health, policing, etc., in that area in the late 1800s. Most interesting were the household-by-household maps of economic well-being in that time period. As you can imagine, there's significant overlap between the most abject poverty and the places the Ripper's victims lived or their bodies were found. And there was some overlap with what I'd seen on the walk about Jewish radicalism in the East End that I'd done on Monday.

The sky was still blue and the sun still shined when I left the museum, so I took the DLR to Greenwich and rode on the Greenwich Wheel. It's a Ferris wheel, with enclosed pods, that's smaller -- and cheaper -- than the London Eye. I liked it, and I might even be brave enough now to go on the Eye ... on another visit.

While I was in Greenwich, I did a quick loop through the Greenwich Market, where I bought some vintage buttons, and walked around St Alfeges church.

Travel tip: When you find a good loo, make a mental note of where it is so that you can do a pit stop there when you're next in the area. I knew that there were nice loos at the Design Museum and the Information Centre in Greenwich, so I stopped at both, and I'd been to the Museum in Docklands before so I knew to plan a pit stop there. On this adventure, I found fairly nice public loo near All Hallows by the Tower as well.

Pedometer reading: Just over 20,000 steps, 8.21 miles

  • £2.40 for two rolls, a clementine, and a beverage (eaten throughout the day -- this kept me going just fine)
  • £5.60 for the Museum in Docklands (I had a 20% off coupon that I got online)
  • £7 for the Greenwich Eye
  • £3 for Greenwich Market purchase
  • Topped up Oyster with a tenner
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  1. Have really enjoyed your blog! I like getting up in the am and reading the newest installment! And tonight I got a bonus! Thanks for all your hard work!

  2. ScribeGirl10:32 AM

    I remember following the Remember a Good Loo practice in Greece.