I’m always on the lookout for new ways to see London. New angles, new approaches, or indeed, new old stuff.
The recently opened cable car across the Thames gives Londoners and visitors a whole different experience. Not only does it offer a different crossing point to traverse the sinuous river as it snakes around the Greenwich Peninsula, but one is afforded a glorious panorama from a previously inaccessible viewpoint.
Brief though it is, and with no opportunity to actually stop and soak in the views, the Emirates Air Line is a marvellous addition the the To Do list of any eager Londonist. And it’s a bargain too.
When British Airways sponsored the magnificent London Eye at it’s opening couple of years, the opportunity for branding was not wasted. ‘Boarding Passes’ were issued for your ‘Flight’ though I don’t recall them trying to pass off those glass pods as Boeings. Emirates have taken a similar tack here. One must queue for a ‘Boarding Pass’ to the ‘Emirates Air Line’ (actually, not strictly true, but I’ll get to that) and as the cars swing slowly round to pick you up, folks not totally dissimilar to stewards/esses usher you to your seats. It’s all very slick.
About the queuing: little tip. If you have an Oyster card (and why wouldn’t you?) With Pay As You Go on it, it is not only cheaper (by about 25%), but you can skip the queue for a boarding pass entirely and go straight up to the platform, saving you both time and money.
The cars are efficient and cosy, and delightfully, though perhaps unnecessarily, a screen inside with a map on it, tells you about your progress on your journey, just like in a flight. Just in case the 360 degree views from the cable car left you in any doubt about how far across the river you are!
But from up there, as you are whisked through the air, you get a unique view of the capital. The Thames Barrier, the jostling skyline of Canary Wharf’s skyscrapers with the City beyond, The O2 (you know, the Dome) in front. The Olympic Park and Orbit is within easy range, as is the ExCel Centre and City Airport.
Ok so some of those are hardly iconic London landmarks, but as I said, this is something different. Because in London, there’s not much that is simple, quick and cheap. With the Emirates Air Line getting from A to B just got a bit more fun.
by Rob Young
Rob has recently written and published his first book ‘Gatecrasher’. It’s a cracking read and available through Amazon.