Saturday, April 19, 2008

The London Eye

I am actually on my way to Beijing but am stuck at the Hong Kong airport due to a typhoon with heavy raining and strong winds. I missed my flight yesterday afternoon from Heathrow and was rebooked on another flight 4.5 hours later via Hong Kong. We had a very turbulent landing due to the weather and now the connecting flight is already almost 4 hours late. I have missed a whole day's sightseeing in Beijing with a colleague but was hoping to get there at least before midnight so I could take her salsa dancing. It looks uncertain if we'll even make it out of Hong Kong tonight. Oh well, at least it has given me some time to write about my sightseeing excursion in London last weekend.

It was raining cats and dogs with occasional thunder and lightning last Saturday – typical London weather, some would say, and you will regret if you have left your umbrella at home. Defying the weather, I however decided to do some sightseeing since a French salsa friend of mine, Ludovic, was visiting London. Neither of us had ever been to the London Eye, the huge observation wheel on the South Bank of the river Thames.

The observation wheel is about 135 m high and apparently the largest ever built. Opened in 2000, the wheel was meant as a symbol of the turning of the century according to the married couple of architects who designed it.

I have never been close enough to study the construction of it, but I had somehow imagined it to be like one of the “Paris wheels” you usually find at an amusement park with the cabins swaying in the wind. The London Eye however spun silently around and so slowly you couldn’t even feel its movement from inside the egg-shaped cabins, spacious enough for 20-25 people in each.

You can see quite far in the distance and many of London’s landmarks are clearly visible from up there, including the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben and Westminster Abbey across the river in the City of Westminster. You have a great view over the Thames and several bridges, Victoria Embankment, South Bank with the Waterloo Station and the County Hall.

Westminster Bridge, Houses of Parliament with Big Ben and Victoria Embankment

The view over London from the wheel during its full-circle flight taking ca 30 min was marvellous, but the experience on this particular occasion was dampened by the wet weather. I also thought that the price was a little hefty, almost £14. I wouldn’t rush back in a hurry but on a sunny day I suppose it’s a nice experience and great photographic opportunity for the many tourists visiting London.

Left: Ludovic on Westminster Bridge with the London Eye and the County Hall in the background. Right: Big Ben.

After the London Eye tour, Ludovic and I walked across the Westminster Bridge, passing Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, chilled to the bone and in search of a café where we could warm up with some hot chocolate. Westminster however consists mostly of old buildings and hordes of tourists so we ended up walking to Covent Garden via Trafalgar Square. Not that Covent Garden has fewer tourists visiting, but at least you can watch the bustling street life in the square while sipping a glass of wine or enjoying a coffee. We ended our afternoon sightseeing at a small café / pizzeria in the Covent Garden Market.

Ludovic close to Covent Garden


Dorfie said...

Hi Mimmis! Went salsa-dancing while vacationing in Rome last week and thought of you :) Hope you're doing well! ~Dorothy Jean

pinaypostcrosser said...

Hi there!

I've stumbled upon your blog this morning and started reading some your posts. It's amazing that you have actually been to a lot of places. I've always been interested in travelling but I can't do that as of yet so thank you for sharing your experiences. Reading them is already like travelling to those places you've been to.