For Lexie’s birthday a couple weeks ago, we took her for a ride on the London Eye, London’s famous ferris wheel on the Thames offering panoramic views of the city. We went on a Saturday, so I assumed we’d be dealing with massive crowds and long lines, especially since we’re entering the summer season, but it really wasn’t all that bad.
We arrived a little before noon and waited in line inside for only twenty minutes to purchase our tickets. (For anyone interested, standard ticket prices at the London Eye are £19.20 for adults and £12.30 for kids. You can save 20% by ordering your tickets online in advance.) Since we weren’t in a big hurry, we purchased standard tickets, but if you’ve got limited time to sight-see, fast track tickets are available for purchase allowing you to skip the queue outside.
After we got our tickets, we stood in line outside for a little less than an hour. The queue moved quickly and since it was a beautiful day, it was a great opportunity to take pictures from the ground.
We’ve only lived in London for a month, but that’s long enough to learn how unpredictable the London weather can be. By the time we reached the front of the line to get on the London Eye, the weather had turned cooler and cloudy. We were just praying the rain would hold off long enough for us to make our way around the wheel and get some decent pictures of the city!
When it was our turn, we were loaded into a pod with about twenty other people. A good number, in my opinion, since there was plenty of room for everyone to move around and take pictures without bumping elbows and getting in each other’s way. One thing to note is that the wheel never stops moving – when you are loaded on, you have to walk quickly alongside your pod to get in. It’s not too fast, but I could certainly see that being an issue for elderly folks.
Right when you get into your pod, the best place to stand to get good pictures is at the front, furthest away from the loading entrance. You’ll have a great view of the River Thames and Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, and as the pod continues to rise, you’ll even be able to see Buckingham Palace nestled in the trees. The higher up you get, the nicer the view is from any spot in the pod. The London Eye moves slow enough that you can spend a good amount of time taking pictures and still have plenty of time to just sit back and enjoy the view once you’ve taken your shots. From start to finish, the entire ride lasts around thirty minutes.
Even though it was rather cloudy for the first half of our ride, we were still able to see pretty far across the city. By the time we reached the top, though, a dark fog had settled over everything in sight.
Then, a few minutes later, it started pouring down rain. Instead of letting it get us down, we just sat back and enjoyed the ride, grateful that we’d taken pictures at the beginning before the walls of our pod were covered in tiny rain droplets!
By the time we reached the bottom again, the fog had broken up, but it was still raining. I wanted to cross the Thames to get pictures of the London Eye from across the river, but it took us awhile to get there. The rain would spontaneously switch from intermittent sprinkling to an all-out downpour, forcing us to run for cover under the tunnels every few feet. We know now that no matter what the sky looks like when you leave your house, you ought to bring your umbrella with you anyway! Lesson learned.
The London Eye really isn’t to be missed. The tickets are more affordable in comparison to viewing the city from the Shard, and it’s a perfect option for families. We are looking forward to going back and riding it at night with hopefully a little better weather the second time around!
If you’ve got three minutes, you can watch the video of our experience here. Disclaimer: This is quite possibly the worst video to ever have been uploaded to Youtube, and I’m not even positive you’ll be able to watch it since the background audio is a copyrighted song by the 80’s UK duo, Yaz. If that hasn’t scared you off, proceed.
The London Eye: Website
Address: County Hall, Westminster Bridge Road, London SE1 7PB
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