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Crossing the Line August 15, 2011

Posted by rachaelcopeland in Travel Log.
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Everyone in the states knows about the four corners. It is the point where Arizona, New Mexico, Wyoming, and Utah meet. Many people visit it on their excursions to the western United States.
Similarly, most of us learn about Greenwich, England, in elementary school. It is home of the Prime Meridian, the reference point set at zero longitude. How many people actually visit the Prime Meridian?
One Sunday morning, my wonderful travel buddy (Colleen) and I set out on (yet another) train for Greenwich. Little did we know what the day would have in store.
When we arrived in the quaint little town roughly thirteen miles outside of downtown London. We first went to the National Maritime Museum. I had set high expectations for this site as the advertisements all over the London underground gave it nothing but rave reviews. Unfortunately, it was a bit wordy and still maintained the atmosphere of a children’s museum. Needless to say, that is not a wholly enjoyable combination. They did have a lovely exhibit on Admiral Nelson, though, which I found very interesting. Fortunately the museum was free, so we did not mind spending a small amour of time there just to check it out.

View outside the National Maritime Museum.

Next, we walked up a massive hill to see the main event: the Prime Meridian. What makes the site even cooler is that it was the home and work station of the first Astronomer Royal before the longitudinal landmark was established there. Over the years, even Edmund Halley lived in this house.
As we were standing in line for our oh-so-touristy picture with the line, the UK weather had to prove itself yet again. Rain. If anything, we at least know it is consistent. We had come to the point where we didn’t leave campus without either our umbrellas or our rain coats.
We held our own through the downpour and made it to the Meridian. After a goofy picture and a “mom pic” (what we have appropriately termed the nice-looking, Christmas-card-appropriate photos that make our parents smile with admiration of our seeming maturity in sites of historic significance), we visited the largest telescope in the UK. It also happened to be the seventh largest telescope in the world.

Colleen on the Prime Meridian!

There were many exhibits, including a planetarium, in the same vicinity. However, after a day of traveling and museum-hopping, we were ready for a delicious lunch away from the rain. As Colleen and I made our way back down the hill, we noticed a large amount of construction taking place. Of course, as is the case across London and in the surrounding area, it is for the Olympic Games to be held next summer. Stores are already selling merchandise and countdown clocks can be found around the city.
We found a delightful pub called “The King’s Arms,” (a common pub name in England) and sat down to what would be my third favorite meal on this trip. We wanted to explore more of Greenwich, which is also home to the Royal Naval Academy, but we decided that a relaxing evening back on campus sounded much more preferable than trekking through the rain.

An adorable pub for lunch.

We made it home safe and sound. I say that because the night before, the riots broke out in London. Of course we never saw anything, but the fact that it was happening while we were there is a bit scary to think about. I am very thankful that we, and all the other students, made it back safely.

In the end, it was a fabulous trip with a great friend to a surprisingly interesting site.

Mission accomplished.

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