Cable Car across the Thames review (Jan 2013)
This is out-of-date! I have been here again since I wrote this review
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I went on the Cable Car across the Thames today. The one that goes between The O2 and ExCel Centre. My God it is high. I mean it is super high... high enough to have snow on top. It is how God rides down from the heavens when he wants to go to The O2... descending from the clouds in a little tin box.
When you first come out of North Greenwich station you will have The O2 right next door, so you may as well go and have a quick look inside (there doesn't have to be an event on -- you can still go inside even without a ticket). They've got quite a lot of restaurants and pub-type places in there, so you can grab a quick bite to eat first if you want to, or down a few beers to pluck up some courage. After that I suggest taking a walk along the riverfront, towards the east. Because you'll get a great view of the Thames Barrier just a few miles down the river. I didn't realise that you could see it from The O2, but there it is... stretched out across the breadth of the Thames, holding back the tide. You can also look up into the sky at the cable cars soaring above your head to see what you're letting yourself in for.
Sometimes I think London is turning into the world's biggest funfair... we've already got a giant big wheel opposite Parliament (the London Eye), and now they've constructed a giant zipwire cable car that takes you across the water. I suppose you could call The O2 a giant Big Top too. What's next -- a giant carousel in Trafalgar Square?
All you've got to do is clamber in when the cab comes round, and sit yourself down in the plush red seat. It was pretty empty when I went, so I had the entire carriage to myself both ways, but technically it can hold about ten people -- so there's a good chance that you'll have to share it with someone else.
Once you are up and away it does start to sway about a bit, and there are quite a few mechanical noises as it passes over the top of the pylons. If you are of a nervous disposition then you may start sweating and fretting, but don't worry -- you'll soon settle down and enjoy the view. But one thing I did notice was that the pod doesn't appear to be watertight. So if the wire snaps and your cab plummets 300 feet into the Thames below, you are screwed. You're not going to go bob bob bobbing along the water -- you will sink. I don't mean to worry you, but things like that are important to me. I like to dwell on my mortality when I'm sitting in a little tin box swaying in the wind.
But anyway... The O2 looks fantastic below you, and the skyscrapers of Canary Wharf tower up behind it too. You get a great view of the industrial buildings up and down the river, but it's too far away from central London to see any other landmarks. You're not going to be able to see St. Paul's or the Houses of Parliament, or anything like that.
The whole trip only lasts about five minutes each way, and once you get off at the other end there is not a lot to do, to be honest. And that's its downfall -- whilst the cable car was certainly useful during the London Olympics, there's practically nothing of interest at either end apart from The O2 and ExCel Centre. And they are only good if you actually have tickets for an event. There are some shops and restaurants at both ends, but that's about it. All you can really do is take some photos and get back on, for the short ride back to the other bank.
It's still worth a try though, if you don't mind the train ride to North Greenwich.
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