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The London Eye is a giant Ferris wheel, and one of the largest observation wheels in the world.
It has variously been known as the Millennium Wheel, British Airways London Eye, EDF Energy London Eye, and now the Coca-Cola London Eye.
It was originally designed as a temporary structure to celebrate the year 2000, but it’s future has now been secured as one of London’s most famous landmarks.
The huge wheel turned out to be too large to build in situ, so each part was floated down the Thames and reassembled horizontally in front of the Houses of Parliament. Once it was completed it was hoisted upright by two cranes.
The London Eye height is 443-feet from top to bottom, and the big eye has a diameter of 394 feet. Each of the 32 glass-covered capsules hold 25 people each.
The duration of the ride takes 30 minutes and the capsule moves at a stately 0.6 miles per hour.
The best views from the London Eye are of Parliament, Horse Guards Parade, Buckingham Palace, the dome of St. Paul’s Cathedral, The Shard, and The City skyscrapers. On a clear day you can see as far as 25 miles.
This review originally appeared in his London blog
My first time on the London Eye today. Normally the queue is snaking all the way to Timbuktoo so I waited until the end of September when all the kids were back at school and the tourists had gone home.
We only had about ten people in our pod so it was nice and empty and we had a good view all around. There’s not a lot inside the pod. There are no maps or telescopes or anything like that. No parachutes either. All they’ve got is a little wooden bench in the middle for the old people to sit on.
The first few minutes are a bit of a snooze-fest because you are low down and the best sights (like Big Ben) are blocked behind the metal wheel. All you’ve got to look at is Charing Cross station and Waterloo Bridge. But then you get above the rooftops and you can look down upon Horse Guards Parade and Buckingham Palace. I must admit that I thought the view would be better from the top, but you can’t see much farther then The City. St. Paul’s and the Gherkin all poke above the buildings, but Canary Wharf is pin-prick size. Wembley Stadium is about the same size as an atom.
The little map they hand you says that you can see the Tower of London as well, but I reckon you’d need a magnifying glass to pick that one out. In my mind’s eye I had visions of being able to see all the way to the Thames Barrier, but you can’t even see Greenwich. I don’t know why I thought that (because I’m an idiot) but I wanted to see France. I wanted to see the Statue of Liberty. Considering that you can see the all the way to the moon just by looking up, I thought we’d be able to see a little farther than the Circle Line.
Once the pod gets closer to the top it suddenly dawns on you that the only thing between you and death is a few rivets and banged-in nuts. But thank Christ it doesn’t sway in the wind. It hardly even moves. You can’t hear motors, engines or nothing. It is totally silent… like it’s broken. And I’m a big jessy when it comes to heights so my legs started getting bendy and I had to hold onto the rail in case I feinted. Inside my head I was praying that the pod didn’t fall off and float down the river. And this goes on for ten minutes, until you start coming back down. It’s just you and a load of foreigners stuck inside a big glass ball six miles in the sky with no hope of rescue.
Once you start coming back down you get a better view of Big Ben and Parliament. You can also see farther down the river to Battersea Power Station, but that’s about as far as the view goes. Then you plant your feet on terra firma and praise Jesus that you didn’t die.
> Read Craig’s latest review of the London Eye “Normally I don’t like heights but the London Eye is a bit of fun – it’s like a big Ferris wheel 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 mistake today as I was waiting to go on, because 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’re there see if you can work out what is holding it 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)… continued.”
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If you enjoy looking at the skyline from the top of tall observation platforms, then check out the Sky Garden, The Shard and the dome at St. Paul’s Cathedral. You can also climb The Monument and Westminster Cathedral’s campanile bell tower. Or how about a ride on the cable car? We have put together a guide to the best viewing spots in London in our events guide.
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