Sunday, September 03, 2006

The London Eye

Next stop - the London Eye (aka British Airways millennium observation wheel). It's located by the Westminster Bridge on the other side of the Thames river, across from Big Ben. From a distance it looks like a ferris wheel doesn't it?

It has become the most popular paid for UK visitor attraction, visited by over 3.5 million people a year (an average of 10,000 a day). A breathtaking feat of design and engineering, passengers in the London Eye's capsules can see up to 40 kilometers in all directions, in complete comfort and safety. Each pod can hold around 10 people comfortably, and it feels very safe and secure.

Some ferris wheels give me the willies (especially the big ones) because they sway back and forth, and some spin around very fast, but in the London Eye it feels like you're in a slowly revolving room that's enclosed.It's constantly moving, (at a slow speed), so you literally have to hop on once your pod gets to the landing area. A photo of the Westminster Bridge.

In the center you can see the original/ancient, white, Egyptian obelisk called "Cleopatra's Needle". (Two words come to mind - pillaging & plundering.)Here's the birdseye view of Big Ben that I mentioned in my previous post.Here we are standing inside our pod. We couldn't get Astrid to look at the camera so we settled for a photo of the back of her head.

The view was fantastic!

Initially Astrid was afraid to go too close to the glass, but gradually with me touching and tapping on the glass to show her it was safe, she became more acclimated and would even go up and put her hands on the glass as I was holding her, and peer out at the magnificent view of London.

There's an ottoman type seat in the middle of the pod for sitting as well, which was an added nice touch.Here's a close up shot of an adjacent pod. The entire ride (a single revolution) is 30 minutes long.

It's very efficient, so even though the lines looks ridiculously long, it goes by rather quickly. Before you stand in line for the London Eye however, you have to go to a separate ticket booth (and stand in another line) to buy your tickets. Tickets are 13.50 pounds per person, and children under the age of 5 are free.

Strollers are not permitted. In the same building where you purchase your tickets, you have to check in your stroller and they give you a coat check type ticket so you can retrieve your stroller after the ride is over.

This was one of the highlights of our 1st day in London for me, as it was unexpected (I didn't even know the London Eye existed!), it was Uwe's first time on the ride as well, and it was a great family experience (fun with the baby as well).


Trailhead said...

Ooooh, I love this. I'm a big ferris wheel fan (though I do get the willies too) and this looks like the perfect way to see up high. I'm putting this on my list.

David said...

Interesting facts about London Eye:
It took seven years and the skills of hundreds of people from five countries to make the London Eye a reality.
The London Eye welcomes an average of 3.5 million customers every year. You would need 6,680 fully booked British Airways Boeing 747-400 jumbo jets to move that number of fliers!
The London Eye can carry 800 passengers per revolution - equivalent to 11 London red doubled-decker buses.
Each of the 32 capsules weighs 10 tonnes. To put that figure into perspective, it's the same weight as 1,052,631 pound coins or 5 Limo London vehicles!
The total weight of the wheel and capsules is 2,100 tonnes - or as much as 1,272 London black cabs!