The London Eye

A few weeks ago we took advantage of a long weekend for a day of playing tourist in this city we call home. Andrew had never been on the London Eye before, and I fancied visiting the Sea Life Aquarium (two things on my 26 before 26 list), so we purchased a combination ticket and headed to the South Bank for the day...
First up, was the London Eye, also known as the Millennium Wheel, the most popular paid tourist attraction in the UK. It was opened by Tony Blair on 31st December 1999 and is currently the tallest Ferris wheel in Europe.
We were very lucky with the weather for our visit, however you can see in these pictures that there was a bit of a haze over London, which slightly reduced how far we could see.
September 2011
May 2013
I've been lucky enough to go on the London Eye a few times, experiencing the ever changing landscape from 443 feet up. Above is a picture I took in September 2011, a couple of months after I moved to London. You can see how much things have changed in just the last 2 and a half years: the Shard was about half way finished, the Walkie Talkie didn't exist yet and, the one I am most sad about, the iconic Gherkin hadn't yet been wiped from the London skyline by the Cheesegrater (the Leadenhall building).
Despite the haze it's incredible how much you can see from the top of the London Eye; on a really clear day you can see for 25 miles! Some of the highlights are: Buckingham Palace, the Horse Guards Parade, Big Ben & the Houses of Parliament, the Barbican towers, Battersea Power Station, and the dome of St. Paul's Cathedral, peaking out amongst a crowd of roof tops. As well as all the skyscrapers - old and new.
The total rotation on the London Eye takes 30 minutes, and moves at 26cm per second. This allows passengers to step on & off the pods (there are 32 in total) without the wheel having to stop.
Just like the Eiffel Tower before it, the Millennium Wheel was only intended as a temporary structure and was initially only given 5 years planning permission. But 14 years later it is still there and very much an iconic structure in London, with 3,500,000 people visiting it every year!

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