Thinking this would be a pretty cool thing to do and see but not really thinking that it would ever happen as London is nearly 300 miles away from us in Cornwall. However a few weeks ago I found myself standing at the bottom of The Shard looking up thinking 'Yes, Yes that is one MASSIVE building.
It was a little strange, as you walked through to go into the underground station at London Tower Bridge you were in the old run down sections of the existing tower bridge train station. The main entrances to the shard were facing the road, glamorous entrances with expensive cars pulling up outside where people could stay in one of the £400 a night hotel rooms or dine in one of the several restaurants. Yet around the back of this rather elegant looking entrance and within the old train station underpass we were handed leaflets and ushered towards a brand new shiny glass door leading away from the dark and dingey old parts of the station.
With only a few minutes of shall we shan't we and a slight deliberation we were going through the glass doors to purchase our 'flight' tickets. It then suddenly dawned on me that I don't really like lifts!
This was actually going to be one pretty big journey in a lift. When I say I don't really like them, what I mean is that I actually hate them. If there are the options to take the stairs over using a lift then you will find me in the stairwell. It's not so much the claustrophobia of being in a small space it's the feeling of being launched up and the dizzy floating sensation you are left with even once the lift has stopped. The sensation similar to being on a boat, it's this that I don't like.
Suddenly I realise that we have paid our money, we have tickets in hand and we are being ushered to the departures security.
The whole experience of The View is pretty amazing and very well organised. Once you have your tickets you are sent through a departure style security area. Your bags are x-rayed and you go through a walk through metal detector as you would before boarding a plane.
Once you are through security you have your photograph taken and are given an iPod style device on a lanyard which acts as your audio guide for the experience. With lanyard and device hanging around our necks we are then enticed to the lift. This is where my heart skips several beats. It wasn't busy in the lift only myself, my partner and another couple. The member of staff explained that we would go up just 33 floors and then would change lifts and continue the rest of the journey in a separate lift.
The lift journey was over in a matter of seconds but I still hated it and the feeling of being launched up so high so fast made me feel pretty wobbly. When we arrived at the top we were 68 floors into the sky and a slight glimpse at the view confirmed just how high we were. I grabbed a seat and tuned into my headset to read about the building and watch videos on its construction and to be honest I felt as if I was completely ignoring the fact that I was actually in the building until my heart had stopped racing after being in the lift.
My partner was already up close to the glass, looking down at the roads below, using the digital viewing binoculars to learn about what's in the distance. I stood up to join him and finally started to enjoy the view. My hatred for lifts has always been there and on reflection this really wasn't a bad experience. A clean, modern, smooth, lift nothing at all like the dirty, run down, urine stained lifts of old multi story car parks that I'm quick to avoid.
The whole experience was easy and enjoyable although expensive. It is definitely worth booking your tickets and time before you go as this saves £5 per person rather than paying on the day. The building and surrounding area still requires some work and there is extensive renovations going on at the bottom of The Shard which I would like to go back and see once complete.
I would highly recommend if you get the opportunity whilst in London to go up the Shard as the views really are simply stunning. I'd like to go again to watch the sunset and experience the night sky as feel this would be a completely different experience yet again.