Wednesday - April 3, 2002

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Eltham Palace
Hampton Court Palace
Dinner in Kingston

It was a sunny day with temperatures in the 70s.  We planned a full day starting with the London Aquarium, but got lost right from the Underground station.  I was given wrong directions, twice, and we walked in the opposite direction from the aquarium.  So we just decided to hop on a bus, return to Westminster Underground station and proceed southeast to ride the light rail to Greenwich.  We both enjoyed the trip through the old dockyards that are being completely renovated with new buildings, apartments, parks and gardens by the river.

At Greenwich we saw the Cutty Sark three-mast sailing ship, then walked to the Royal Observatory.  We walked through a huge park surrounding the observatory to the top of the hill, checked our watches with the official Greenwich Mean Time, stood in both the East and West hemispheres on the 00.00 latitude.  Interesting experience!  This is right up there with being on 00.00 longitude (the equator) in the Galàpagos Islands last year.

Also in the southeast area of London was another palace - Eltham Palace.  It was bombed with 150 incendiary devices during WWII, but much of the palace was saved.  It was fun to walk through actual living areas - bedrooms, bathrooms - of the elite.  The surrounding gardens were immaculate.  They sure have a lot of gardens and grounds people at work in England.  We also walked some of the streets around the palace.

We used the light rail train again to return to London to proceed to the south west area in Kingston.  We made the mistake of taking a bus (wanted the scenic route) instead of a train to Hampton Court Palace.  Unfortunately the bus trip was painfully slow and we missed the last inside tour that started at 5:15.  We were only 2 or 3 minutes late.  But at least we did get a chance to walk in the magnificent  gardens and the famous maze.  The maze was an experience since there are no directions on how to exit after you find the center.  It was funny because we kept bumping into the same people again and again - all trying to find a way out.  It was a lot harder than one thinks - but we did make it out.  I really don't know how.

I spoke with my niece the evening before and planned to meet her and her fiancée at a local pub by the palace.  We were given the wrong pub name but the bartender was great to talk with and told us this must be the place - King's Arm - not the King's Head.  The bartender let me sample a few different beers/ale/bitter before I decided on Red Badger - on advice of a pub patron.  Thank goodness my niece found us at the "wrong" pub.  We then drove to Kingston to have dinner next to the Thames River.  We had a wonderful time and barely made it back to the train station for the last train (the 11:28) back to London and the Underground back to our hotel.

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