Geocaching in England – Part 4 (London)

To finish off our trip to England, we enjoyed 5 intense days in London. Our focus here was primarily on sightseeing – not geocaching. Even so, we managed to find a couple of micro caches and log another four virtuals.

Everything in London is expensive (‘though we drew the line at paying the equivalent of $23/day for internet access at our hotel), so we were delighted to find that admission to many museums is FREE! We took advantage of "no charge" entry to visit the Imperial War Museum, the British Museum, the National Gallery, the British Library, Royal Observatory Greenwich, National Maritime Museum and the Natural History Museum. We also paid admission to visit several other attractions, including the Churchill Museum and Cabinet War Rooms (one of the highlighs of our trip), the Tower of London, London Bridge, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, St. Paul’s Cathedral, and Windsor Castle (an amazing place) and to ride the London Eye.

Our first cache in London was a virtual near the Parliament buildings and Big Ben. I haven’t analyzed our tracks yet, but we must have walked 8 to 10 km every day we were in London – to the point that some of the younger members of the family complained of sore feet! It was good conditioning for the upcoming hiking season here at home.

We also managed to log GC10DNC – Parliament View, hidden by Dorsetgal & Geodog. Wendy just happens to be a fellow Podcacher fan and member of the Pathtags community. I considered it a little bit of good karma that we found one of her hides.

Our next day’s adventures included a ride on the Thames River. We took advantage of our hop on / hop off tickets to stop at two Unesco World Heritage Sites: the Tower of London and Maritime Greenwich. Our oldest son did a great job capturing the contrast between the historic Tower of London and the architecture of modern London. He also took the phots we needed to log a virtual cache just outside the stout walls of the Tower.

As geocachers, we felt compelled to visit the Royal Observatory at Greenwich, site of the Prime Meridian. There are some excellent educational displays here, describing the two competing methodologies developed to accurately determine longitudes while at sea. We stood with one foot in the eastern hemisphere and the other foot in the western hemisphere. And thanks to virtual cache GCK7HH we learned why our GPS receiver showed W 000 00.000 about 100 meters away from the official prime meridian!!

 

We walked a lot on Easter Monday, joining the throngs along the banks of the Thames and the streets of London, with stops at Shakespeare’s Globe, St. Paul’s Cathedral and the British Museum. We particularly enjoyed climbing all the spiral staircases all the way up to the 3rd and highest viewing level on the outside of the dome of St. Paul’s, location of yet another virtual cache. It was really interesting to climb ladders and stairs located between the inner and outer domes of the cathedral.

Due to a power outage / alarm and 4 hour evacuation at our hotel, we walked well into the late evening, pausing to try our hand at some night photography along the banks of the Thames River. This is our oldest son’s best shot.

The very last cache we found in England was hidden just outside Royal Alberta Hall, where our timing was spot on; we arrived just in time to take the second and final guided tour of the day. Our guide Suzanne (originally from Toronto), told lots of fascinating stories about the history, personalities and construction of the hall. We also had the opportunity to sit in on a portion of the Qatar Symphony Orchestra’s rehearsal for their evening performance. Several cherry trees outside the hall were in full bloom and we thoroughly enjoyed the view while we ate lunch in the 1st floor cafe.

 
We had some terrible meals during our stay in London, but we did find a couple of great places to eat. One was a sort of fast-food Japanese place called Wagamama, which seems to be a chain. The other is County Hall Bakery, a fantastic little French bakery on the ground floor of County Hall. It’s only been open for a month or so and we stopped there every day for fresh baked croissants and lattes for breakfast. As an added bonus, they had free wi-fi so we could check for any urgent emails without paying the exhorbit internet access fees posted at our hotel! If you find yourself in central London, County Hall Bakery is definitely worth a stop – for a light breakfast, delicious fresh made sandwich to order or even a slice of luncheon tart or pizza.
 
Looking back, there are several museums we’d like to visit again (but not during England’s Easter Break – they were too crowded). And there are plenty more virtual caches to be logged. So it’s likely we’ll go back, but probably not for several years. There are plenty of places we haven’t been yet, and lots more geocaching travel adventures to come.
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