Thursday, February 18, 2016

London Pass - Day 2 - Windsor Castle, Globe Theater, HMS Belfast, and the Cutty Sark

KLS wasn't able to uproot this bear to take with her at Paddington Station. I think it was holding out for the Browns to come along.

Day 2 of the London Pass extravaganza had KLS and I out the door before the sun was up and riding the DLR train to Paddington Station so we could catch the first train out to Windsor Castle. Even though it is expensive and takes 30-45 minutes for us to get anywhere in London, I love the public transportation. The public transit options are second to none. The only negative part might be that the underground map isn't representative of the real world. It makes for an easier to read map, but it also might have a tourist taking 25 minutes of trains to some place they could have walked to in 5 minutes. Those of you with smart phones are probably saved from this fate.

King Henry III Tower at Windsor Castle

St. George's Gate and Kind Edward III Tower

The moat room entrance, King Edward III Tower, and Lancaster Tower in the back.

Windsor Castle is another official residence of the royal family that has been in use since the 11th century. It is longest occupied palace in Europe. It still is the preferred weekend home of Queen Elizabeth II, the reigning monarch. We didn't see her, but her presence might have explained why most of the castle was closed on this particular Sunday. We were only able to see the exterior and Queen Mary's Dolls' House.

The moat garden in front of King Edward III Tower

The Upper Ward quadrangle surrounded by Augusta Tower, York Tower, King George IV Gate, and Lancaster Tower.

St. George's Chapel

St. George's Chapel and Round Tower from the Lower Ward

One curious thing about the town of Windsor was the hundreds of road cyclists. It seemed like they took the train out from London, did a bit of biking, and then biked or took the train back to London. From the castle, you could see miles around and it was a beautiful area with numerous parks and green spaces, including the Eton school campus.

700 covered seats are available inside the current Globe Theater. There are also 700 standing room only seats on the ground, which are supposed to be some of the best seats in the house.

After napping on our train ride back into London, KLS and I set off for Shakespeare's Globe Theater on the south bank of the River Thames. It was originally built in 1599, but burned down in 1613. It was rebuilt again in 1614, but closed in 1642 when the government banned all theaters. The actor and director Sam Wanamaker visited London in 1949 and was astonished that there was no major monument to the Globe Theater. That propelled him to help launch the Shakespeare Globe Trust in 1970 which built a new Globe Theater and museum 750 feet from the original location. Sam Wanamaker died in 1993, but the theater was not completed until 1997. The current theater is used through out the warmer months to put on plays. Just like the original theater, you can sit in seats or be a groundling (stand).

The Globe Theater stage

The Tower Bridge again. KLS passed it every day on her way to work.

The 6 inch guns of the HMS Belfast fired shells weighing 112 lbs.

Our next stop was a visit to the HMS Belfast. This warship is permanently moored in the River Thames. The ship was used for active military service from 1939 (WWII) until 1963. It served as a bombardment vessel during D-Day.

The HMS Belfast's mannequins were so lifelike that they were a little creepy.

The HMS Belfast's mannequins were so lifelike that they were a little creepy.

The museum recreates life on the HMS Belfast while at sea with storyboards and mannequins. You get to see the working areas of the ship as well as the private quarters. You can move at your own speed through the ship, but only on their restricted pathways through the maze of the nine lower decks. KLS and I tried to make our own way at some point, but quickly ended up somewhere we had been earlier. While the ship was huge, the individual spaces were all very small. It was definitely worth a visit for military or ship buffs.

Machine shop photos for W. Tinus who worked in the machine shop in the US Navy

Machine shop photos for W. Tinus

Machine shop photos for W. Tinus

Our final stop on the London Pass would be the tea clipper Cutty Sark, the second vessel in the National Historic Fleet that we would be visiting that day. The Cutty Sark was one of the fastest ships built during its time (1869). Unfortunately, it was built just as steam ships were coming into use. After being used for 25 years to haul tea, mail, and then wool to/from Australia, the ship was sold to a Portuguese company. After 27 more years, a retired sea captain recognized the ship while it was in Falmouth, where KLS and I had visited during our New Year's trip. Captain Wilfred Dowman bought the ship and started to restore it to use it as a training ship. By 1954, the Cutty Sark was moved to dry dock in Greenwich, where it remains today. During its dry dock, the hull which made the ship so fast was slowly getting crushed so they remounted the ship in a custom dry dock that elevated the ship 3m in the area. At the time, this was a controversial conservation decision, but it does make for a unique museum.

The Cutty Sark

Inside the Cutty Sark museum

Tea boxes inside the Cutty Sark

A wooden and metal bicycle.

The metal rim of this bicycle could not have provided a very smooth ride.

The upper deck of the Cutty Sark

The cafe under the hull of the Cutty Sark

A lighted walkway marks the area there the first part of the hull will hit if it were to fall straight down.

The Cutty Sark dry dock museum

The Gipsy Moth pub, just astern of the Cutty Sark, is where KLS took me for my first London meal when I arrived.

A view from the Cutty Sark toward our flat (in the building just to the left of the most lit window)

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