London Eye review
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Normally I don't like heights but the London Eye is a bit of fun. It's like a big Ferris wheel that they have at the circus. What can possibly go wrong? As long as you don't think about it too much then you'll be fine. I made that exact mistake as I was waiting to get on today. I couldn't for the life of me work out how it was standing up. What exactly is holding the wheel on, apart from those flimsy little spokes? I'm being serious: the next time you are there see if you can work out what is holding the wheel up, and why the whole thing doesn't just topple into the river. (It's probably best to do that after you've finished, though, so you don't freak yourself out.)
It doesn't seem all that high when your sitting underneath it in the queue. The wheel is turning at a nice sedentary rate above your head, and no one is banging on the windows screaming to get out. So it seems safe. But then it starts getting nervy when they do the bomb search in the queue. They have a little metal detector looking for knives too. Oh Jesus Christ, you are thinking... not only might the flimsy thing collapse into the river and drown us, but we might get blown up and stabbed too!
Once you've hopped on the pod you'll have a nice gentle ride with about fifteen other people. You can definitely feel it moving. There's a very slight wobble as it slides along the track, and every now and they'll be a bigger wobble. Don't ask me why it wobbles, because I don't know. It's like turbulence, I suppose. Or maybe one of the nuts has fallen off. Or one of the chains has broken -- I don't know.
You soon settle down and get used to the motion, and then you can start snapping your camera at all of the views. You need to get halfway round before you get the best shots, and you definitely have to walk around the pod too. Don't just stand rooted to the spot too scared to move, because you'll be missing out on some fantastic views.
The best photo you can get is looking down on Big Ben and Parliament. It's probably the finest view of either from anywhere in London -- and I genuinely mean that. You get an interesting perspective on Horse Guards Parade too, and Buckingham Palace can be seen nestled beyond the trees of St. James's Park. See if you can spot the top of Nelson's Column, for some bonus points. The City (Square Mile) is a bit too far away for any decent shots. St. Paul's is just a little dome above the rooftops. I couldn't see the Gherkin anywhere, but it might have been hiding behind another skyscraper. I couldn't see Tower Bridge or the Tower of London either, nor Canary Wharf (which was probably hiding behind The Shard). The farthest thing that I could recognise was the curved arch of Wembley Stadium.
Whatever you do... don't go when it's raining. Take that tip from me. Because you're basically standing inside a giant goldfish bowl, and when it rains the water runs down the curved glass in rivulets and messes up all your photos. And don't go when the sun is low in the sky either (like early evening, before it gets dark) because you'll get a bright haze in your lens which will mess up your shots. I've been on it four times now, and I reckon the best time to ride it is around lunch or early afternoon, when the sun is directly overhead.
Once you've finished with the Eye remember to have a look inside their little 4D cinema -- entry is included with your ticket. You can find it inside the ticket hall. The movie is only ten minutes long but it's worth a look.
But what is 4D, I hear you ask? Well don't get too excited, because it turns out that 4D is exactly the same as 3D, except with some cold air blown in your face. According to Einstein's Theory of General Relativity the fourth dimension is supposed to be a merging of space and time together = spacetime. In order to see the full expanse of spacetime we would need to travel outside of our present, and into what we humans call our past or the future (but these are actually all the same thing, and encompass a single point in time and space). So this movie promises to be a breakthrough in the history of science -- a journey into an invisible realm of which we humans are not presently aware. So it comes as something of a surprise when they hand you a pair of cheapo 3D specs at the entrance. Apparently that is all you need to see this undiscovered country. And it's free too!
It's basically just a 3D fly-through of the city skyline, past the London Eye and Houses of Parliament, down Southbank and across the top of Tower Bridge. They've got a bird flying through the sky as well, and a good firework show at the end. Some noisy kids blow bubbles and fire pop guns at your face. And then they blow a bit of cold air through the vents when a snow scene comes up. It does actually look quite 3D, so it's worth a look if you've got some kids.
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