Tuesday, 22 January 2013

The Shard in London

If you've been reading this blog for some time, or follow my Instagram feed, you will know that I have something of an obsession with the latest - and the tallest ever - skyscraper to adorn the London skyline. You can imagine how overexcited delighted I was when I received an invitation to a pre-opening 'View from The Shard'.

But as I walked from London Bridge tube station past the tallest building in Western Europe to the office this morning, on the day of the viewing, the weather didn't seem to be suitable at all. I couldn't even see the top of the Shard.

Luckily when I walked back towards London Bridge Station some eight hours later, the darkening skies were clear. I found the entrance with the help of some friendly men in fluorescent jackets (builders) and was welcomed to a waiting area. Then  it was time for the (now) compulsory security check which was followed by a photographic session. I found out later this is a way to fleece you after the visit. The picture is turned into a tourist shot with London skyline in the background which will cost you £15-£20. Oh well, it is a tourist attraction after all.

Just to prove it was the 68th floor...
But back to the main aim of the visit - the View! At last it was time to go into the lifts - there are two. The first one takes you to floor 38, then you wait for the final one which takes you the rest of the 30 (!) floors. After a very smooth ride (Finnish Kone knows their stuff), I was at the top and was rewarded for my patience. 

Only a few steps up and there it was - London at my feet.

It was fully dark now and the lights of all the famous buildings were twinkling. The first thing that I noticed was The London Eye, shining blue in the distance. Moving along the windows which cover all the walls, I saw The Tower Bridge, looking like a little Lego model from nearly 300 metres up. Thames with a barge going along it looked dark and fairy-like. Trains and cars were mere toys. It was just breathtaking.

I was a happy bunny...
On the way up to the topmost floor you can see London afresh. 
But there was more to come:  on the next - and top floor - where the shard-shaped roof (hence the name) is open to the elements, you really get the sense that you are up in the skies. I know there have been much criticism on the luxury aspect (and the source of its funding) of this building, designed by architect Renzo Piano, but it really is a very impressive project. I could have stayed up there all evening, admiring the amazing roof. When the friendly guide told me events could be organised on this floor with canapes and champagne, my mind went into overdrive. Now who could I convince to have a party at The Shard and invite me?

The uppermost floor is open to the elements.
The view up to the jagged roof.
Another corner of the Shard.
Finally, I had to check out the best loo in London. What a view!

A loo with a view.
Thank you Guild Travel - the expert in travel to and from Finland - and Encore Tickets for letting me have a sneak preview of The View from The Shard.


Lotta said...

That looks absolutely lovely! I wouldn't mind coming along to a party with canapés and champagne on the top floor (hint hint). If you love the skyline you should check out Gerry's t-shirts, he's done a print of the shard. God fortsättning btw, would be good to see you soon! x

James said...

Helena, great story on the building! I love the picture of the LOO with a view! You live such an interesting life. Read your posts with my Mom's blog (Bernie) "old? who? Me?" She loved your blogs and so do I now that I have found you. I started blogging after losing Mom. check mine out. Not as exciting as yours tho! LOL

chloeb said...

Wow, loo with a view! Not sure I could cope with that!

Unknown said...


I am so sad to hear about your Mom passing. I will check yours out!

And thank you for your lovely comments.


Unknown said...

Some people have been worried about helicopters regarding the loo...

Unknown said...

Some people have been worried about helicopters regarding the loo...