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The London Eye is an observation wheel on London’s Southbank, a stone’s throw away from the London Aquarium and the London Dungeons. It is one of the most popular tourist attractions in London with more than 3.5 million tourists every year. So, what’s so great about it?
© pptara / Shutterstock.com
© Giovanni G / Shutterstock.com
The London Eye is huge. It has 32 capsules, but this is not a random number – each capsule symbolises one of the 32 boroughs in London. While there are 32 capsules, on closer inspection you can see that there is no number 13 after capsule 12, just capsules 14 to 33. Why? The number 13 is often associated with bad luck, so the architects decided not to tempt fate and left out number 13.
The London Eye turns slowly, at about 26 centimetres a second, to give people the time to see London from up high. But what can you see from your capsule? In good weather, you can see as far as 40 kilometres away. Your panoramic view covers most of London’s landmarks from that height, including the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, the river Thames, Buckingham Palace, the London Tower, Tower Bridge, St. Paul’s Cathedral and many of London’s parks. That’s a lot of bang for your buck!
Not only is the London Eye a fun thing to do in London, it also easy to travel to it. You can take the Tube to Westminster, Waterloo and Embankment Underground stations and walk from there. You can also get off at stop number 14 if you’re visiting London on a double-decker sightseeing tour bus.
Purchase your ticket online before visiting the London Eye, especially in summer or during the school holidays. Lines at the ticket office can get very long – there’s no sense in waiting hours for a tour that lasts 30 minutes!
Some fun facts about the London Eye that you may not know:
• The idea for the London Eye was the winner in a competition for a landmark to celebrate the new millennium. It was built in 1999, just in time for the new century.
• The London Eye has had many names – the British Airways London Eye, the Merlin Entertainments London Eye and the Coca-Cola London Eye, for example. Most of these names are linked to sponsors of the wheel. But today, it is most commonly known as the London Eye or the Millennium Wheel.
a stone’s throw away from = à deux pas de
huge = énorme
random = aléatoire
borough = quartier
to tempt fate = de tenter le diable
to leave out = exclure
height = la hauteur
a landmark = un monument
bang for your buck = en avoir pour son argent
the tube = le métro à Londres
a double-decker bus = un bus à étage
to purchase = acheter
to last = durer
commonly = généralement
happening = branché