A view of London – from the London Eye

London Eye capsule

I really enjoyed my ‘flight’ on the EDF Energy London Eye (formerly operated by British Airways). High above the Thames you can see the north bank and the Victoria Embankment and King’s Reach. The nearer bridge is Hungerford Bridge, the railway bridge which leads into Charing Cross Station (it also has pedestrian capacity). The further bridge is Waterloo Bridge, with its graceful arches. If you look closely, you can just make out Cleopatra’s Needle on the Victoria Embankment. The Needle (and its twin in Central Park, New York) have NO connection with Cleopatra, they were commissioned by the Pharaoh, Thutmose III. After a dramatic sea voyage from Egypt, including breaking free from its tug in the Bay of Biscay, the obelisk was finally erected on the Embankment in 1878.

Below the Needle you can see a fabulous luxury steam yacht ‘The Yacht London’. This vessel was built in 1927, and if full of magnificent details, including stained glass. It is now one of the city’s premier event venues, and is fully licensed for weddings; your party can continue until 3am if you want! Beyond the bridge you can make out the small former sloop of the Royal Navy, HQS Wellington, the Headquarters Ship of the Honourable Company of Master Mariners, a Livery Company of the City of London. This is the former HMS Wellington, a ‘Grimsby’ Class sloop, which served as a patrol vessel during WW2; it is a floating museum and event venue. In the upper right corner, you can make out yet another floating events venue, this time in the form of HMS President (1918). This is the former HMS Saxifrage, a famed ‘Q’ ship, designed to lure German U-boats on the First World War to the surface (she was built to withstand being torpedoed) and then shell them! Now home to media companies and host to events, she is one of only three surviving British warships from the First World War.

The Thames has always been a busy place, but you really need to get above to appreciate just HOW busy it is. If you ever get a chance to ride the London Eye – do so!

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