When the boys were all about the London Eye before our trip I was dubious. Expensive, crowded, tourist trap…these were the words that came to my mind. And yet as we approached it on the afternoon of our ride I realized that like the Eiffel Tower it has a beauty all its own that comes partly from the sheer grandeur of size, partly from the human folly that led to its creation, and partly from the tremendous feat of engineering that keeps it rotating in a circle that is somehow both efficient and lazy.
Travel-with-kids tip: If you will be visiting the London Eye at the height of tourist season as we did, it’s worth it to spring for the Fast Track tickets. Yes, they are almost twice as expensive. But we saved ourselves nearly two hours on line and the boys loved the little knapsacks they got each of which contained a pair of binoculars, a pencil, and a small pad of paper.
I actually found the ride to be worth the money, largely because it offered such a new vantage point for viewing the city. And each of us saw something a little different. I gave Tommy my point-and-shoot camera and he spent the entire ride like this:
I now have photos of any number of buildings in London, most of which I don’t recognize, especially since he spent more time taking pictures of the Southwark side of the Thames, not noted for its architectural distinction. He did snap this beauty though, which I love:
Teddy realized his dream in the London Eye of seeing a pod of dolphins in the Thames (that’s his story, and he’s sticking to it, thank you very much – if you or I didn’t see them, that’s our problem). He spent the first part of the ride searching for them diligently in the water using his binoculars. When he “found” them swimming alongside one of the tourist boats that move up and down the river he gestured excitedly and told everyone in our car that he had seen a pod of common dolphins and one bottlenose. Then he decided that like any good scientist he had to sit down and sketch his observations.
And me? I simply enjoyed getting such a different view of a familiar cityscape. The spans on the Jubilee Bridge looked like violin strings or spiderwebs, so fine and white were they against the gray water.
I’d never seen the front of Buckingham Palace so clearly, nestled almost cozily into the surrounding trees.
And I loved the rain-dappled Houses of Parliament.
But my absolute favorite had to be seeing Nelson’s Column, normally so high above it all in Trafalgar Square, looking small (yet still self-important and imperious) tucked in amongst the buildings and cranes of an oblivious city.
Riding on the London Eye was one of the dreamiest parts of our trip and I’m so glad now that the children persuaded us to take a spin. Have you any Monday dreams? Please feel free to share them below. Questions? See About Monday Dreaming.