Saturday, 19 July 2014

The View from the Shard

Until The Shard opened, London was the only city in Europe whose tallest building didn't have a viewing platform.

The Shard puts this right in style. Tickets are sold in 30 minute slots to avoid huge queues (as I remember from my trip to the World Trade Centre back in 1999) but there is no limit to the time you spend on the viewing platforms at levels 69 (inside) and 72 (outside).

We went there on the opening day back in February 2013; it is pretty much the same now as then, but with a few touches of finesse (some 'sights' plaques on cardinal viewpoints, some astroturf on the external platform and a champagne bar).

It isn't cheap (about £27 a head in advance and an extra £5 on the day). The express lifts fly you to the sky lobby and before you know it you are up viewing. 

The first time we went it was the lower view followed by the external platform, this time we went to the top first and then down to the inside area. All of the staff are unfailing cheerful, polite and helpful - they clearly love their jobs (and to be fair, it's a job I wouldn't mind!).

There is a small shop at Level 68 and a larger shop on the way out, where you can also buy the almost standard shot of your party, taken in front of a green screen on your way in and then put in front of a choice of views. Compared to similar deals at the London Eye and London Zoo you don't get much for your money here... but that is the only fault I can find with the whole experience!

Friday, 18 July 2014

Messing about on the River

Taking a trip along the Thames is still one of the best ways to see London. There are a number of options you can use; but if you already have a travelcard you will get a discount on a Thames Clipper fare; their various routes cover Woolwich to Putney and in between. If you alight at North Greenwich on an empty boat on a quiet day you can take a seat out the back and watch the scenery unfold (you may get splashed a bit).

OT River Trip

An album by nat_grove
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2014-07-18 15.08.302014-07-18 15.21.34

The Thames forces its way through London; almost as if London was there first and the river had to find its way through! Canary Wharf pops up all over the place as you round the Isle of Dogs and the same is true of most of the route. If you don't know London then one of the guided tours may be more educational!

Greenwich Ecology Park

Tucked away on the Greenwich Peninsula; take a bus towards North Greenwich and alight at Oval Square for a short walk, or divert from a wander along the River Path.

Probably at its best in Spring (when the birds are bringing up families) or in the Autumn (when migration is passing by); on a hot summer's day the best spots were sitting in the bird hides on the edge of the water. Several kilometers of dry and wetland which houses birds, bugs, butterflies and amphibians.

There are events on occasion so it is worth checking out their website.