on April 25, 2012
Usually when we have visitors from overseas we normally take them to visit London on a couple of occasions during their visit so that they can see and experience the sights and sounds of our wonderful capital. As there is quite a lot to pack in when sightseeing we have a fairly easy itinerary to follow which usually captures those interesting places they would like to see.We usually catch the train to London and alight at Waterloo which is handy for the route we take and our itinerary is as follows:-Waterloo.The embankment for the London Eye.Cross Westminster Bridge to The houses of Parliament.Cross the road to Westminster Abbey.Walk up Whitehall & peer through the railings at Number 10.Continue through Horse guards and horse guards Parade.Walk through St. James Park or up the Mall towards Buckingham Palace.Visit Buckingham Palace if it’s in the summer months.Walk through Green Park to Piccadilly calling into Fortnum and Masons on route to Piccadilly Circus.Spend a few minutes in Piccadilly Circus looking at the neon boards and Eros.Walk through to Leicester Square and then into China town.Walk past the National Gallery into Trafalgar square.Walk up the Strand for Covent Garden and then back to Charing Cross to return home.It can be quite tiring on the feet and would probably not suit everyone but it meets our needs.~~~~~~The London Eye~~~~~~The London Eye towers over the city of London on the South bank on the opposite bank to the Houses of Parliament beside the river Thames. It was built in 1999 and opened on 31st December 1999. The eye was built using materials from around Europe the steel was British which was shipped to Holland to be welded together, the bearings were German, the 10 ton pods were made in France and the glass in Italy. A real European feat of engineering.When the wheel was put together on piers over the river Thames. It took a couple of days to lift it into its erect position. It was wrenched up at 2degrees an hour over a couple of days until it reached 65 degrees and left in that position for a week whilst preparations were made for the final hoisting of the Ferris wheel.It was one of the focal points for the drab and shameful Millennium firework display on New Year’s Eve. At the time it was the biggest Ferris wheel in the world at a height of 443 feet but it has been dwarfed by a Ferris wheel in Shanghai and another in Singapore. It is still the tallest Ferris wheel in Europe.Initially it was named the British Airways London Eye as it was partly sponsored by British Airways. Each rotation was named as a flight and it takes approximately 30 minutes to complete a revolution. It is now run by EDF energy company.The first time I went on the eye was in November of that year unfortunately for me it was a foggy evening and after the wheel had travelled 45 degrees we were surrounded by fog until we descended again to 45 degrees on the opposite side. That was the most hysterical flight I have ever taken not being able to see a thing. How ever since then I have been on the London eye several times and on a clear day one can see for miles around all over London and out into the suburbs of Kent, Essex and Hertfordshire.You can either turn up on the day for your ride and buy a ticket at the Kiosk in the old city hall or you can pre book your tickets for timed entry via the internet which I would advise you to do as it guarantees your ride and also avoids the very long queues plus it is a bit cheaper prebooking.The experience.You have to pass through a security check point where your bags will be checked before you are allowed onto the ride and then you join the queue. The queue moves pretty quickly as each pod can take up to 25 people. The ride does not stop it continues to move unless the passengers getting on have mobility difficulties or are in a wheel chair. The doors close and your pod continues on its revolution. There are seats available for people in the middle of the glass enclosed pop but each time I have been on it I have never seen anyone sitting on them. Most of the people stand and look out at the views near the windows. Most people will allow you to have a look at the sights of London by either letting you squeeze in or they will move aside. You do feel the ride going around but it is not an unpleasant ride at all. It only travels at about 6mph which is quite slow.You can see the houses of Parliament opposite and Whitehall behind that. You can see St. James Park and Buckingham palace at far end of the Park. You can see St.Pauls Cathedral to the right and out to Canary wharf even on a clear day the Dartford Crossing.To the left you can look out towards Heathrow airport and see the planes lining up on the flight path to land some even flying right over your head.Now lets talk prices!!!On each occasion I have enjoyed our little half hour jaunt on the London eye even the day we could not see anything! However I really do not think that it is worth nearly £20 for half an hour and I probably won’t bother going on it again. I guess if you have never done it before its a brilliant experience and quite memorable.Prices range from £19.98 for a single adult £11.82 for a child.If you want to pay the extra to be fast tracked to the front of the queue it is a whopping £31.50 for an adult and £26.25 which I think is quite extortionate.On the EDF London Eye website you can also buy combination tickets to include a river cruise or visit to the London Aquarium or Madam Tussauds for example or combined with a hotel or restaurant package. Got plenty of money? Then you could hire a private capsule from £290 for 2 or up to £900+ for 25 people.Money saving tip.If you are planning to visit lots of places such as Madam Tussauds the Aquarium Chessington World of Adventures, Legoland, Warwick castle or Alton Towers where prices can be above the £30 range then it might be worthwhile buying an annual Merlin pass for £117 per person. However there are restrictions this will not allow you to enter any London places in August and other places at other times of the year.
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