travel · U.K.

London Gems: The London Eye

Alright, so the London Eye is a bit of a cliché. I get it. Even more so now that it’s the CocaCola London Eye. It’s expensive, it’s touristy, nobody will give you Instagram props…but it’s also one of those one-and-done sort of things you find yourself just having to do…

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There’s a little bit of whimsy to it – you cross over one of the bridges, shuffle around for a bit, and find yourself in a pavilion of trees lit with faintly blue twinkle lights before loading up into a glass bubble. Slowly, you ascend over London. The city buzzes. Its lights glow across the landscape, softly illuminating some taller highlights you may have missed in your daily travels.

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In an instagram search, you’ll notice that most people post photos of the London Eye and not views from it. And that’s because like most scenic cable cars (or in this case, ferris wheels) it’s virtually impossible to get a good shot. In daytime, there aren’t any twinkle lights, the Eye doesn’t glow blue, and the glass glares where there aren’t streaks from handprints. At nighttime, you get a good glow but grainy shots.

And while I think if your purpose is to get perfect insta-shots, you’ll be disappointed, I still think it’s worth the entrance fee. There’s something weirdly child-like and majestic about being hoisted over a city. The mechanically inclined will marvel at the engineering of it all. Kids will get a kick out of it and thus make the whole thing more exciting for everyone (if you can’t laugh along with a kid who’s just beside herself at being above a river in the air…well…). Adults will enjoy the panoramic views of the Gherkin, St. Paul’s Cathedral, and Big Ben.

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My plan to work in the London Eye:

  • Spend a day around Trafalgar Square hitting up museums
  • Head west for Buckingham Palace
  • Walk down to Big Ben and across Westminster Bridge
  • Do the London Eye and grab drinks and dinner along the Southbank
  • Head to the BFI for an indie film or back across the Golden Jubilee bridges for a show in Leicester Square
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