The other day (actually our first full day here) we were able to kill two birds with one stone by hitting both Big Ben and the London Eye. After orientation for classes we had a short guided tour which was finished as we walked across the Thames River. During the tour I won a free cider from the tour guide for answering a question correctly. After the tour was completed we made our way to the London Eye. The London Eye is a huge ferris wheel which was open on December 31, 1999. It was built in celebration for the new millennium. At its opening it was the tallest ferris wheel in the world, today the record for tallest ferris wheel goes to one in Las Vegas.
We bought our tickets to go onto the Eye and preceded to eat first. We grubbed on our first truly British meal: fish and chips. Though I do not like fish, I just opted for chips (french fries). We ate as we watched ships sail along the river which was shimmering from the gently setting sun. I am terrified of heights so I decided not to dwell on the height of the ferris wheel–or even think that I was about to go on such a massive structure. Stomaching down our food we rushed toward the line and waited 5 minutes (if that) to ride the wheel. We hopped on to our capsule and had it all to ourselves. As we rose up I was fine until we slowly started toward the top, that was than I started to feel a bit queazy. At that point I had to close my eyes and sit on the bench because of my silly height paranoia. Yet once we reached the top I opened my eyes unto a beautiful site of London at sunset in all of its glory. Big Ben, Parliament, and the River Thames were just a few of the sites to see in view. People, double decker buses, and boats were just small specks quickly scurrying. Once we got off, we made our way to the most recognized icon of England: Big Ben.
Due to its popularity and tourist appeal, this was probably my top site on my list to visit. It was dusk as we slowly walked across the bridge that had Big Ben at the end. The clock and parliament was all lit up. Big Ben mightily declared it was 9 o’clock p.m. (or 21 o’clock in military time as the British commonly use) with its 9 loud, glorious ringing strikes. It was than that I think it finally struck me I was a in a different country. I have long awaited the moment to see Big Ben in the flesh and it finally happened. For some reason that clock and its ring has a certain charm that invites you to come fully experience England in all its capacities. It reminded me of the scene of when Jane and her siblings fly by Big Ben as they take off with Peter Pan to Neverland. Neverland a symbol of immortality, of youth. Immortality: something the old wish for and something the young (myself included) think we have. And so it continues: an American living in his country’s older brother.