Eye See London, Eye See...London.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Doesn't quite have the same ring to it, does it?

Arriving alongside the Thames in 1999, the Eye was originally set up to celebrate the millennium, and is still the focal point for the city's biggest fireworks display on New Year's Eve. Years later, it has earned its spot as a permanent part of the London skyline and tourist attraction as well as now being owned by Coca Cola (something you catch on to quickly with a glance at the gift shop). This once-eyesore is the second tallest viewing point in all of London, coming up behind the Shard, both offering two completely unique perspectives and experiences. Having done the Eye a couple times, I thought I'd share a few tips for anyone thinking of taking a spin. 

Best time to go...
Why pick daylight or night time when you can have both? Book for 30 minutes before the sun is supposed to set and you'll get the best of both worlds. This time varies hugely over the year so I can't really give an exact time, but just Google what time the sun is supposed to set on your anticipated day and go from there. Get there early to take some golden hour photos on the Southbank before boarding your pod. As you slowly begin your decent from the tippy top, the lights of London will ignite as if your journey has been orchestrated and you'll have two experiences for the price of one. 

Best ticket to buy...
It's no secret that the general public agrees that the cost of these tickets are a wee bit steep. My main bits of advice are to always purchase your ticket online and grit your teeth and buy the fast track option. You'll save anywhere from 10% to 20% off your ticket if you book in advance online, so unless it's a completely spontaneous decision, you have no reason not to save a few pounds. Yes the fast track tickets are nearly 10 more pounds, but trust me when I say that it is well worth skipping the monster of a line. Time is money! 

Best seat in the house...
I've been asked this question before so might as well address it. No, you don't have to sit down or pick a spot during your ride. In fact, that would kind of be a waste of money. Stand up, move around, use the interactive screens, and take in the spectacular views. 

But what if it rains?
As we've all learned a time or two, the weather in London is very unpredictable so do your best to nitpick the weather forecast and try to avoid a foggy or rainy visit. I've heard people still enjoying their visit during unfavourable weather, but they don't do any sort of reimbursements in the case of weather. They'd go broke if they had to refund tickets every time it rained in London!

Is it really worth a visit?
Another question I've gotten from visitors. Well - it depends on your definition of "worth it". Do you enjoy looking at a city from above for 30 minutes? Do you enjoy it enough to pay for it or would you rather go somewhere like a bar or restaurant with a view of the skyline? You can spot a lot of London landmarks and it gives you a good idea of the layout of the city - apparently on a crystal clear day you can see as far as Windsor Castle. It's not something I do on a regular basis, but if you're brand new to London or hosting a visitor I think it's an experience worth having.  

More than meets the Eye...
While this iconic wheel of sorts is the dominating structure on the Southbank, don't hop back on the tube without exploring the rest of the area. Squeeze your way through the crowds and see what else there is to offer on this side of the river. Now through July, the Udderbelly is one of favourite spots for a pint - it was a regular spot for my friends and I when I was studying abroad and brings up a lot of nostalgia! A quirky beer garden complete with picnic tables and giant games paired with a comedy festival...did I mention it's set by a giant purple inflatable cow? Going inside the cow (....) requires tickets but entrance to the beer garden is free!

^^^ Throwback to 2012, my fellow Texan roommate and I finding comfort in the heaters. 

Does any Londoners know if the Eye is going to be permanently lit red now? I know Coca Cola owns it and all that but I kind of miss the other colours...

Have you ever been on the Eye? Or are you Team Shard?

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