The London Eye

No, it’s not the name of a clandestine underground newspaper printed in secret. It’s a huge Ferris wheel new to London as of 2000. To get to the eye I took the Underground to Embankment, walked across the bridge at Charring Cross station, down to the other side, through the sea of street performers posing as robots while keeping my eyes firmly ahead, and straight up to the ticket counter.

Tickets to the London Eye can be bought ahead of time or on site–they’re cheaper online. You can choose a simple ride around the wheel or add a river cruise or a glass of champagne followed by immediate regret for having drank a glass of carbonated alcohol a million feet in the air. There are also fast track passes for the burgiose, which are a good idea if you’re in a rush. At night expect to see a few love birds, photographers whose cameras have apertures the size of a football field and wedding parties if not the actual wedding. Twenty-five people fit into a capsule/car so the line can go fast when it’s only a few rows off the ramp. Otherwise expect a wait.

If you’ve never been on a gigantic Ferris wheel of doom before, be warned–they don’t stop to let you on and off. You take a running start and jump in like a really lame version of Evel Knievel. It takes about 30 minutes to go around once, at which point you have plenty of time to muster your courage for the jump off.

Inside are small touch screens that point out attractions and sites once you’ve identified Big Ben and run out of off-hand London architectural knowledge. On a clear day you are said to be able to see 25 miles, including a lot of people looking up at the sky, surprised that there is actually a clear day to be had in London.

If you’re a fan of pretending people are ants from 440 feet in the air and cackling madly while commanding them to dance for your pleasure, this is the attraction for you.

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