The cold Autumn breeze sweeps across the landscape as we disembark from the coach. The huge structure is very noticeable. It looks astonishingly simple yet really audacious and very intimidating when viewed from a distance.
Ben Marshall of British Airways and our group’s coordinator leads us towards the base of the London Eye. “Hey guys, I would like to go and sort the tickets,” Ben announced to the group. I seized that opportunity to take in all that is going on around me. There are many activities going on at the same, while some people are busy sorting out the pictures they took while aboard the London Eye, some others are buying souvenirs and candies.
“This place is not as busy as it used to be in summer,” Ben says as he returns to join the group. He handed over our tickets to us as we ascend the staircase that leads to the platform where we are to board a capsule that will take us on this amazing journey.
The London Eye is an iconic edifice like Paris’ most famous landmark, the Eiffel Tower. And I am quite amazed that it has become another London landmark like Tower bridge, Big Ben, Eros and the Tower of London.
Ten years after it was conceived, the London Eye has not only become a global icon but it also has permanent permission to make sure future generations can continue to enjoy the London Eye and what it has to offer,” Ben Marshall of British Airways tells me.
By the time we reached the landing, we never had to wait for too long as some ‘passengers’ just disembarked from a capsule hence it’s our turn begin this interesting journey, to see around 40km from the top as far as the Windsor Castle. Thank God the day is clear! Each rotation takes approximately 30 minutes which means that a capsule moves at 26cm per second or 0.9km per hour. At this slow rate, we are able to step on and off without the wheel having to stop. And it is slow enough to embark and disembark or have a good view of the city of London.
Stepping on the London Eye offers an awesome view of London in its entire glory. It’s a 360 degrees view of the west South, East and North of the city. Right there, I saw the Westminster park plaza, Wembvley Stadium, British Museum, Cleopatra’s Needle, Westminster Abbey, the famous place where Kate and William wedded, Hyde Park among others.
“Can we see Downing Street from here?” asks Wole Shadare.
“Yes, I think it is over there, answers Max. “You can see all the landmarks of the city of London from the capsule. That’s why it is named London Eye. You can have a view of the city at once.” True to his words, as we move high up in the sky, the entire city becomes more visible, although some of these places look like tiny bits below yet it’s comforting that we can see these notable places all at the same time. I was told by a guide that the London Eye rotates 7668 times about 2300 miles as far as from London to Cairo in Egypt, the country that is famous for other wonders of the world.
London Eye is the brainchild of David and Julia Barfield. As husband and wife, they first attracted attention back in 1989 when they won the competition to design a bridge of the future. For them, the wheel, is an ideal symbol for London in the new millennium and a universally recognised symbol of time and regeneration. Little wonder why going on the wheel for 40 minutes leaves you regenerated and fulfilled.
The slow movement of the wheel coupled with its gravitating force leaves me perhaps all of us with that eerie feeling as we looked down from the London Eye that is 135meters high. This height makes it the fifth tallest structure in London after the BT Tower, Tower 42, 30 St Mary Axe and One Canada Square in Canary Wharf.