Last Sunday was Valentine's Day. For the past two or three years, I have been wanting to go onto the London Cable Car (also known as the Emirates Air Line) for Valentine's Day, but we never got around to it until this year. The Emirates Air Line has offered chocolates on Valentine's Day for the past couple of years in order to get people to use its services, and I am pretty certain that this did not cost anything extra. Last year, there was even a proposal! However, it's been marketed this year as a proper Valentine's Day event requiring tickets to be purchased in advance at the high price of £25.00 per person. For that price, you get four chocolates (two chocolates each), a glass of champagne each, and a paper viewing guide. Romantic music is also played during the trip, and the television screens show heart imagery.
As this was ticketed and I thought that the price could only keep going up next year, I purcashed tickets for Sunday (Valentine's Day). I learned a day or two later that all tickets for Sunday had sold out, and some of the Saturday slots had also sold out. At least I can tick this off my London bucket list.
We were asked to go to the North Greenwich side to take the cable car. This terminal is located a five-minute walk from the O2 and North Greenwich tube station. When we arrived, we got into the queue to take our journey. A lot of people were around, and there was an even larger queue for the public who wanted to take the trip in groups. Many people were asking about taking the Valentine's Day ride, but they did not realise it had sold out. We waited in the queue until someone came to get the groups of couples, two or four at a time. Each couple was led to the terminal to take a private lift to the top where the cable cars unload and pick up passengers.
At the top of the platform after we disembarked the lift, the bloke rushed me to get on the cable car for some reason (I guess because the staff person was there and the car was leaving), and that left me very flustered (I really *hate* when he does that to me). I rushed to the cable car, but as I arrived to get on the cable car, we were then called over by another staff member. We were given our glasses of champagne, viewing guide, and box of chocolates. I just remembered! No time to think being rushed around! It all happened very quick and too quickly for me to gather any thoughts and get any photographs. We were rushed into the car immediately. (As were were about to get in, my camera battery died too so I had to use my mobile to get photographs.) Talk about really bad timing!
We sat in the car and were whizzed into the air. I'm not great with heights, but everything was happening too quickly for me to think. We were whisked up in the lift, had to grab our champagne/guide/chocolates, and were rushed into the cable car. Feeling rushed and quickly in the air, I was a little too uneasy about getting photographs. I just remember the wind knocking the car and pushing it around as I was trying to hold onto my champagne and get my mobile out to use it as a camera.
In the rush and fear of height, I managed to hit some button on my mobile which cast every photo that I took with a blue filter and I had to stick with the setting until I downed my champagne and could sort it out. I did manage to fix it after about fifteen photographs or so. I was also a little too afraid to really look at what was around me, but the bloke was telling me that he could see the Thames Barrier. I was too frightened of the height to look behind me at that time.
On the return journey, when I was relaxed with the height, I did see the Thames Barrier in the distance. If my battery had not have died, I would have been able to zoom in to get a better photograph.
We approached the other side of the river where the end terminal is located, and there was also a queue of people waiting on this side, but it wasn't quite as long.
We remained in our carriage as it went back the other direction and back to North Greenwich.
By now, I was very comfortable with the height and managed to look behind me and take photographs and actually move instead of sitting perfectly still in the car.
On the way back, we also opened our box of Godiva chocolates to share. Neither of us looked at the visitor guide because we wanted to focus on the view.
I saw some amazing views of the O2 and Canary Wharf. We even pointed out buildings in the City of London and the Shard.
Seeing the O2 made me think about when the O2 was "The Millennium Dome". Visiting it often brings back those memories of the summer of 2000 when I visited it, and at one time they did keep some old relics of the sculptures in the building. These seem to have been removed at last now as I have not been able to find them for the past few visits. I also thought that the next time I go back home, I will go through my photographs of my visit to "The Millennium Dome" and scan them. Yes, these were the days before digital cameras and mobile phones. Not everyone had a camera, and those who did have one were interested in photograph and/or tourists who were interested in capturing memories. Because cameras wrote photographs to rolls of film using light and chemical reactions, you only had up to 36 shots per roll of film. Hence, we did not take too many photographs. It was also costly to buy and develop film, and you also had to carry it around. I had my SLR (which took excellent photographs and was better to any digital equivelant), which I had to properly adjust the settings (speed and F-stop) for and click and just hope that the photograph turned out well.
I was happy at being able to appreciate the views now, but I wished that the ride did not come to an end and we could go around one more time.
But our journey was over. Boo. The journey was supposed to be a longer one of twenty minutes in total on the cable car (ten minutes both ways) and slowed down for us to enjoy the views. I don't actually think it was slowed down, and maybe they changed their mind because of all of the crowds that appeared on the day. It seemed to go very quickly to me, but I didn't time it.
Also, the price is a little steep for what it is, which I already knew when I booked it, I guess. I was very disappointed at not being able to go last year, so I wanted to do it. I've never been on the cable car, and despite the rush and so on, it was good fun. I just wish that we had not been rushed at the beginning and also wished that it could have lasted a little longer so that we could really enjoy the view. I am a little frightened of heights, and it does take me a short while to get adjusted.
After we finished, we did manage to get a seat at O2 Nando's for late lunch. We got there just in time as well because "Strictly Come Dancing" was on tour at the O2 and it was late in the afternoon. When we left Nando's, we saw a very long queue for it and the show had just finished. So, I guess we planned it right.
Originally, I was going to spend the day at Chinatown and also see the fireworks as the celebrations took place in London on Valentine's Day this year. I didn't get to do it, despite promising myself that I would for the last seven years. Next year is the rooster's year; it probably will not be as fun as the monkey, but maybe it will be the first year that I will see the Chinese New Year in London.