The Shard

After going to the Empire State Building last week and overlooking Edinburgh from Arthur’s Seat this week, today I completed the hat-trick. I visited the top of the newly-opened Shard in London so I could look over my capital city.

I had been apprehensive about going to London. Thanks to a former stressful job, I am overcome with fear whenever I visit. But it’s only an hour from my parents’ home and filled with lots of my friends, so there’s no avoiding it.

So I ignored the fears and headed to London Bridge for The Shard. The first difference with the Empire State is that you book a time slot (or pay a staggering £100 if you want to go straight up), and the second is that the staff are fantastically upbeat. Perhaps I’m too hard on British hospitality; this was great stuff.

Seeing what The Shard is used for (and I headed right to the top)

Businesses, restaurants and tourists live at The Shard

After a couple of lifts, we reached the 68th floor, and could view the city for five floors up to the 72nd. I headed straight for the top – and was disappointed that it wasn’t open to the elements, like the Empire State. It meant reflections in the glass in all of my pictures – but I suppose it did protect us from the howling winds and rain.

London Bridge

The Thames and London Bridge. Right, tracks to London Bridge Station

Looking down

Looking down

Looking towards the city, including the Gherkin

The city, including the Gherkin

The Shard

And it was quite the view – over the Thames, its bridges, Westminster and offices in the city, which looked minuscule from this great height. It’s about time London took on its rivals by building The Shard, which is more than 1,000 feet tall and the tallest building in the European Union.

More interesting than distant views of Big Ben and the London Eye were insights into the complex train lines which are usually hidden from sight. It was also interesting to see the sheer size of the city, as well as how low and spread out it is compared to New York.

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The London Eye and, to its left, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament

The London Eye and, to its left, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament

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Interestingly, visiting The Shard dissipated my fear of London for the first time in a long time. I was reminded that London is just another city – grey but vibrant. And from this height, it wasn’t so intimidating after all.

Shame about the rain

Shame about the rain