I was back in London a few weeks ago, and spent much of my time there exploring the city by foot. It’s not that I had any reservations about taking the Tube; it’s simply that London is a highly walkable city.
After spending the first afternoon walking off any potential jet lag by exploring Covent Garden, I caught up the next day with a friend. Paula lives in the West End, so we settled on Covent Garden as a meeting point to begin explorations of the South Bank and more.
There, on a late September afternoon, Paula introduced me to the tradition of Pimm’s on the South Bank. The drink itself goes back to 1832, and one James Pimm (natch), who owned an oyster bar in the City, near the Bank of England.
Originally from a farm in Kent, Pimm began offering his tonic, which contained herbs, as a digestive aid. The fact that this tonic also featured gin and lemonade no doubt added to its appeal. With garnishes ranging from strawberries to apple slices and/or mint, this strikes me as the Brits’ counterpart to sangria.
… and so we got to enjoy very up close views of not only the London Eye, but also Big Ben and other London landmarks, as we sipped our Pimm’s and soaked up the sunshine. These photos will suggest that it was a cloudy London afternoon, but that’s the city for you; give the weather a minute, and it will change!
The London Eye, installed in 1999, is 135 meters or 443 feet tall. It’s Europe’s tallest Ferris wheel, and the fourth tallest in existence.
(If you want your city views from even higher perches, three Ferris wheels built after the London Eye will offer just that. There’s the Star of Nanchang, topping out at 160 meters and built in 2006 in China’s Jiangxi Province. Singapore’s Singapore Flyer is 165 meters high and opened in 2008. Not to be outdone, Las Vegas came up with its High Roller ferris wheel in 2014. It rises to 168 meters, or 550 feet!)
Back to the Eye: It was, for some time, the most elevated viewing point in London. That changed with the 2013 opening of The Shard’s observation deck. At 244.3 meters or 804 feet, it also offers sweeping views. The fact that it’s no longer the highest public viewing point doesn’t change the fact, though, that the Eye is one of London’s most popular tourist attractions … it’s said to attract 3.75 million riders a year!