Saturday, September 30, 2000


I got up last Saturday morning with my eye on the London Eye. I wandered down to the edge of the Thames half an hour before it was due to open and spotted the queue for tickets. I fortified myself with breakfast from a street vendor -- a bagel with salmon & cream cheese and a Coke that appeared to be from Slovakia. (What's going on there?) Then I got in the queue and 45 minutes later, I emerged with a ticket for noon. It was 10:00, and I was to queue again for "boarding" at 11:30. Hmm, not enough time to do sightseeing, so I wandered around, bought souveniers and wrote postcards.

At 11:30, I queued up again. This was a relatively disorganised queue. I got in it at the end (of course), but then the London Eyesters invented a new end, started queueing people there, and moved us behind it. At one point, the queue crossed a public path in such a way that it really wasn't clear who was queued and who was walking through. After 45 minutes of queueing, we found ourselves on the Eye.

The London Eye is the world's largest Ferris Wheel. It's huge. The previous record-holder was 85 meters high. This is 135 meters high. Wow. You can get some nice views of London that way. I suppose you could orient yourself in London via one of those double-decker bus tours -- but that's too slow, and you don't get a great sense of relative position. You could do so via boat, but then you don't see inland (including the big waste-o'-pounds Millenium Dome).

Oh, but the views! Quite spectacular. I hope my pictures turned out well. The glass was a bit reflective, and one of my disposable cameras had a flash (not to mention the reflection from the sunglight). I could see all the sights of London, and I bought a pamplet that had all of them labelled. I now have a much better sense of where the major landmarks are in relation to one another and the Thames, and where I've been in London.

After the 30 minute ride, I stepped off the Eye (while still moving -- American insurance companies would never go for that one). The whole experience was crowded, and it was very touristy...but I heartily recommend it to anyone who goes to London. Just get your tickets ahead of time. With that, it was time for lunch and the Tate Modern...

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