At the time my American friends were excited to bring in independence day celebrations in July, I was experiencing a week-long summer vacation in Britain with my family. Given its moderate oceanic climate and altered moisture in the air, London felt a lot like Mumbai at first. The warm breeze, the architectural similarities and sporadic dash of Indians – felt like home! However, experiencing Great Britain disassociated from its colonial influence on India was quite a conquest. London, in particular, has so much worth exploring. One such contemporary landmark I’d heard about was the Coca Cola London Eye. So we decided to visit it and find out why it charts on the list of best landmarks worth visiting in London.
To get to this observation wheel, we took a train from Hyde Park Knightbridge Station to St Pancras International Eurostar Terminus, also famous as Europe’s first destination station. It’s a striking railway station starring Europe’s longest champagne bar and excellent shopping facilities. A 20-minute drive from this terminus brought us to the most-spoken Ferris wheel of London. Rather the worlds! Not only is ‘London Eye’ the fourth-tallest, but also, one of the most prominent observation wheel on Earth. (The most proximal tube station is Westminister at a walking distance) This Millennium Wheel was officially inaugurated on 31st Dec 1999 by Tony Blair. Now, labelled as Coca Cola London Eye, this tallest cantilevered observation roulette of the world, wheels over River Thames, House of Parliament and Big Ben Clock Tower. The 35-minute ride allows for a breathtaking 4D rotating experience with phenomenal 360-degree views.
For an entry fee of €22 – €40, you can watch London come to life through multi-sensory special effects, such as bubbles, wind and fragrance. We were seated in one of the 32 warm capsules, designed by architects Frank Anatole, Steve Chilton, Julia Barfield, Nick Bailey, Mark Sparrowhawk, Malcolm Cook and David Marks. Each of these capsules embodies the boroughs of London and rotates at 10 inches per second occurring in one round every thirty minutes. What’s quite astonishing about this Ferris wheel is the pace it moves at! Believe it or not, you can walk right into a capsule as the wheel is moving. Inside our designated capsule, we had access to interactive touch screens. It’s easy to operate! The interactive screen uniformly furnishes information about notable surroundings.
As the Ferris Wheel moves upwards, London’s skylines become more apparent and the city’s culture, people, places, vehicles more visible. This Millenium Wheel has a magnanimous height of 443 feet and width of 394 feet. However, unlike its taller counterparts Nanchang and Singapore wheels, London Eye is supported by an A-frame on only one side, thus termed as “the world’s tallest cantilevered observation wheel” by its operators. This high public viewing point abuts the western edge of Jubilee Gardens on River Thames, linking Westminster and Hungerford Bridge alongside County Hall, in the London Borough of Lambeth. Since it opened in 2000, it has attracted millions and billions of tourists.
In March 2020 London Eye celebrated its 20th birthday and created special-experiences including a pub in a capsule, a cinema pod and a garden party with floral compositions to symbolise the 8 Royal Parks of London. On the whole, riding this giant wheel was a great experience and yes, London Eye definitely deserves a visit when you are in the town.