Planning a family weekend in Londen? Be sure to head over to the south east corner of the city, where you find the dazzling UNESCO site of Greenwich Park. We have to warn you though: you will have a hard time to convince your kids to leave the place, after a day full of adventures and discoveries.
‘Look, the Walkie-Talkie tower’, says Lucy, while we’re waiting at the London Bridge City Pier. Felix and Mirtha argue over the skyscraper of 20 Fenchurch Street: does it really look like a walkie-talkie or not? For a second we think that it might be ‘the cheesegrater‘ after all. Indeed, those Brits love to give their skyscrapers the cutest nicknames.
But before we can further discuss the local architecture, our boat arrives. The MBNA Thames Clipper operates like a riverbus; you pay with the same Oystercard you use in the underground. A terrific way of transportation: there’s no traffic jams and you get to admire London’s landmarks from the water.
After a boat ride of about twenty minutes we land at Greenwich Pier, port of entry to the dynamic and wonderful Greenwich Park.
There is so much to do and discover in the park, that you can easily spend a whole day. First thing you see is the magnificent Cutty Sark, the only remaining tea clipper in the world, built in Scotland in 1869.
At the heart of the park is the famous Maritime Museum. This historical building with tonnes of epic grandeur showcases the British maritime history – they ruled the waves, you know.
The museum collection contains work by great artists like Turner – his mythical ‘The Battle of Trafalgar’ was commissioned by king George IV – and Gainsborough. But the most fun are the stories. The museum takes you on a journey from war and tea to silk, silver and spices. The kids get an i-Pad at their disposal and walk over a giant map of the world. Every time they stop, they read facts about that place. They perfect way to keep them on board.
At the market stalls of the covered Greenwich Market there’s plenty to try and taste: from Indian to kosher and Mexican. You can have a picknick at the nearby square, that has benches and tables.
In the Astronomy Galleries (free entry) you get to know everything there is to know about our solar system, dark energy and galaxies far, far away. Felix touches the asteroïd that once killed the dinosaurs. ‘The oldest object you’ll ever touch’, it says. That’s about right: the thing is around 4,5 billion years old.
Even more fascinating is the timeline of the Royal Observatory. This is the place where Greenwich Meridian Time cuts the stone path in two. ‘Unbelievable, you can go to one hour ago!’, shouts Mirtha, with one leg in one timezone and the other one in the next. Timetravel has never been more simple.