Event: The Shard
Location: That really tall building next to London Bridge Station
I got tickets to go up the Shard long before it opened to the public. The tickets are pretty much solidly sold out in the upcoming weeks if you want to pay the regular price, but not to worry! You can walk straight in without lining up if you are ready to cough up a hundred pounds upfront. Yup. This panorama event really caters to the rich alright.
Despite the high price of even the normal tickets (about twenty-five quid), it was really an enjoyable event. The Shard is a newly built skyrise next to London Bridge Station, and its architect is the lovely Renzo Piano (also the man who designed those crazy-coloured Google buildings near Tottenham Ct Rd). I'm not going to write too much about all the architectural details as you probably read about it elsewhere, so I'll just talk about my experience going up to the View. It's always best to gaze over a great city if you know it well already: the price of London Eye is expensive, but worth paying for if you can get a lot out of every single minute of staring out into the vista, and the same is for the Shard. Unlike the Eye though, you are going to be so far off the ground that it's too easy to get a really foggy view.
I picked a decent time to go up, around 4.30pm, hoping to get a view of the sunset and enjoy both the day/night shots of London. The good thing was that it was beautiful and sunny when I went up. This lasted for about 30-45 min. After heavy security checks, two elevators whisk you up in a minute to the observation deck on the 68th floor. It's a very slick ride, and all the greeters and elevator operators were really professional. I was able to use the wonderful digital telescopes to see as far as Greenwich and Hyde Park/Royal Albert Hall.
Once the sun began to go down, the views were even more phenomenal (click on the Dusk view in the interactive!). Everything was layered in gold and auburn. All the miniature cars and people and streets, hidden by long shadows. Then the fog set, and the views were entirely wiped out! So ... I highly advise checking the weather to see when there would be a clear day before you go up. Otherwise, you'd risk paying a lot just to see a lot of grey clouds.