Once upon a time London's most popular tourist attractions were Buckingham Palace, The Tower of London and maybe Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum. Now the London Eye, also known as the Millennium Wheel, has taken over, attracting more than five million visitors a year. Not bad when you think it was built as a temporary attraction.
The world's largest observation wheel, a type of Ferris wheel, it stands 135 metres high on the western end of Jubilee Gardens on the south bank of the River Thames in Lambeth. It is between Westminster and Hungerford Bridges, adjacent to London's County Hall, and opposite the offices of the Ministry of Defence. Spread below are London's famous streets, churches, palaces and monuments, and on clear days the view stretches 40 kilometres to Windsor Castle.
Sections were floated along the Thames on barges and assembled lying flat on pontoons. Once completed, it was raised into its upright position by cranes at a rate of 2° an hour until it reached 65°. It stayed in that position for a week while engineers prepared for the second phase.
The Wheel weighs 1700 tonnes and carries 32 sealed and air-conditioned passenger capsules attached to its external circumference. It rotates at .26 metres a second and one revolution takes around 30 minutes.
It is the focal point of London's New Year celebrations. Fireworks fill the sky with magnificent colour, blasting from the Eye itself.
When you're back on ground level and fancy something totally different and great fun, you should pop into the Berkeley Hotel for their Pret-a-Portea, afternoon tea with a twist.
On the menu are eclairs, fancies and frou-frou mousses in the style of fashion designers such as Bottega Veneta, Ralph Lauren, Valentino, Balenciaga and Versace.
The hotel's pastry chef attends London's fashion week for inspiration and turns out the most delectable and pretty sweet and savoury delights.
This season's highlights were a nautical striped raspberry shot glass, zesty lemon floral crunch, monochrome striped chocolate eclair, a coffee beach basket and Elizabeth Hurley fuchsia vanilla bikini biscuit. Pale mint green boxes with pink handles make the perfect gift with a few tasties tucked inside. There are also Pret-a-Portea gift cards and notelets for someone special. They are designed and illustrated by fashion artist Anzu and come complete with pink tissue-lined envelopes.
For the ultimate fashion touch, The Berkeley has forged links with Thomas Goode of Mayfair who has produced a bespoke collection of Paul Smith fine bone china to be used for the tea. The icing on the cake is surely sipping chilled champagne from coloured Baccarat crystal flutes!
London, the capital of England.
The London Eye tickets cost around $32 for adults and $17 for children.
The Berkeley Hotel Pret-a-Portea afternoon starts at around $75 per person. It is served in the Caramel Room from 2-6pm every day.
Emirates has return flights to Gatwick with sales and flight dates dependent upon city of departure.
To Gatwick from fare;
Adelaide via Melbourne, $2432
Darwin via Singapore, $2527
Please note that the prices listed are valid at the time of filming.
For further information
British Airways London Eye
Riverside Building County Hall
Westminster Bridge Road
London SE1 7PB
Ph: 0870 5000 600
Fax: 0870 990 8882
London SW1X 7RL UK
Ph: 44 20 7235 6000
Fax: 44 20 7235 4330