And what we had was a visit to the viewing platforms at the Shard.
It’s the highest building in Western Europe with views to Denmark and the Channel Islands (which might be a slight exaggeration, but you get the idea). On the day we couldn’t make out the iconic Wembley arch and only realised it ‘should’ be visible from the totally cool ‘telescopes’. There are a few lined up on the lower floor of the ‘public viewing area’ and they really are quite exciting. You grab hold of the handles and like some Star Wars fighter zoom in and out of the view.
But they offer so much more. You can change the view to show the city below at night, at sunset or in perfect day time light. Or ‘live’. And as you zoom around the target highlights important buildings with a further click giving a little potted history. Which is how we discovered Wembley, just to the left of a rather solitary Post Office Tower, hardly seen itself though the low cloud and gathering twilight.
For some reason I envisaged an ‘open viewing platform’ as being just that. Perhaps with eye level glass to stop anyone foolish enough to want to jump from 270 meters up, but the glass, sometimes a double layer, is floor to double height ceiling. I was rather disappointed. And more than a touch frustrated in my amateur attempts at taking photos through said glass.
We arrived a little after 3pm. The two ultra-fast lifts whisking us up at ear popping speeds. Impressive, but they gave little feel of actually how high up we travelled (apparently the visual aspects of the lifts were not working see below). The view was totally unique and unsurpassed; one can only imagine what it would be like in perfect weather (even the viewing machines failed to encapsulate the full wonder of the view). With the conditions we looked out on, it was as dusk fell and London’s lights turned on that really made for the best photographs.
Here are my attempts.
“In total, guests travel in four separate lifts up and down to the viewing galleries. The lifts travel at six metres per second, making the total lift journey time from Level 00 to level 68 around 60 seconds. Guests depart the ground floor in ‘kaleidoscopic’ lifts using video screens and mirrors to create the effect of soaring through iconic ceilings and roofs of London. As they ascend towards the pinnacle of The Shard so they pass through the dome of St Paul’s Cathedral, the Rubens ceiling at the Banqueting House in Whitehall, the spiral staircase at Monument, and the British Museum’s Great Court glass roof. Guests descend in multimedia-enhanced lifts that reflect the trip back down to earth. The sky recedes, the seasons change, and the hustle and bustle of the streets of London comes into focus.” View From The Shard
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