Last week I went up to the top of the Shard for the first time.
Three years it took me.
Three years to get round to seeing the view from Europe’s highest building, which is two years and 363 days longer than it took everyone in London to turn “getting taken up the Shard” into a phrase you can no longer say out loud without someone finishing the sentence with “WHEYYYYY”.
But last Thursday night, I made it. I went. I took myself.
JO, WHAT TOOK YOU SO LONG?
Part of me reckoned that if I hung on long enough, eventually I’d work for the sort of company that would whisk me up there for a Christmassy treat and give me Champagne for free.
Also proximity to all them bloody tourists stopped me, to be honest, and the assumption that on a nice clear, sunny, perfect up the Shard-y day it’d be too busy, and I’d have to queue. And on a rainy day, there would be no queue, but also… no view.
And aside from birthdays – which, despite my many attempts to stretch them out for as long as humanly possible, still only come around once a year – and romantic occasions, of which I have none, ever – there wasn’t ever really an occasion or willingness to pay £25 to go.
Until everything changed.
Until they made it silly not to.
Until they made it pretty much free.
Maybe someone looked around and realised this London attraction was lacking in…Londoners.
Whatever the reason, this year View from the Shard sold 2,016 annual “Love London” passes for £20.16 (yep, you’ve got it, you’re seeing the theme).
So for less money than it costs to go up there once, you can go up there whenever you like, as many times as you like – as long as you live in London.
The only downside is you can’t book, but because booking anything too far in advance makes me extremely nervous, the idea of turning up unannounced – no occasion, no expectation, no planning ahead – appealed quite nicely.
So a couple of weeks ago, I joined the queue just in time and bought a card.
Then last Thursday night after work, I used it.
And entirely unexpectedly…
….that view ended up being really, really good.
It’s like when a plane does that really good descent over London on your way back from holiday, but with bigger windows.
The very top floor is open air, and it’s also where you get the best photos.
But after a while I couldn’t feel my fingers so I went back down to the warmer level below, found a seat by the window, and looked out over the city for a bit.
Thing is, although lots of people have shown me pictures of the Shard, and I’ve read blogs about it, and I knew it was there – no one had really mentioned how nice and calming it is being so high up with everything so tiny below you.
So even though your immediate reaction is to take a load of photos the whole time, I thoroughly recommend putting the camera down for a bit, putting some music in your ears, and just watching the city do its thing.
So I think I’m just going to see how many times I can photograph that view over the course of the year. That means beautiful aerial views of London are going to get pret-ty commonplace around here over the next 12 months.