I mentioned in my last post that while I was in London over the Christmas holidays, my best friend and I decided to be tourists for the day and replace traditional gifts with "experiences" we could share as we don't see each other very often. We chose to climb the O2 as one of our activities - it's not every day of the week you get to climb onto the roof of an iconic building and we figured it would be something we'd always remember. Well we weren't wrong - an experience it certainly was and one I'll definetely never forget, but perhaps not for the reasons you've seen advertised....!
So let's go back to basics for a minute - for those not familiar with London's skyline and iconic structures, the O2 arena in Greenwich, East London, was originally the Millennium Dome, built to house the Millennium experience - a giant exhibition designed to celebrate, you guessed it, the Millennium, in 2000. At the end of an underwhelming year for the venue and exhibition, the Dome closed its doors and only reopened as the rebranded O2 arena in 2007. It's now a massive entertainment centre, playing host to some of the world's biggest music concerts and sporting events - and, most importantly, you can climb over it.
A suspended walkway takes adventurers 52 metres up into the sky, offering (on a clear day) unobstructed, 360 degree views of the city. Not, however, on the day we chose...!
The thickest fog...ever.
Still, we turned up 15 minutes before our scheduled "expedition" time, as required, and sat down to listen to the guide's briefing. I have to say that the experience is incredibly well put together. The short presentation you listen to at the beginning is informative and entertaining without droning on about health and safety, and before you know it you're collecting your climbing suit, shoes and harness. Everyone is required to wear the same outfit (they have a lighter option for the summer!) and you wander whether it's all a bit over the top....but it's not. The climb is no joke and involves a 30 degree accent and descent! It's serious business and it requires concentration and certain level of coordination - as well as the right equipment.
Fully prepared, it was time to head into the clouds.
The climb was fairly slow, which I would imagine on a clear day gives you time to take in your surroundings. On this particular day it was like staring at a jug of milk.... at least I had good company!
At the summit, you are released from the climbing gear and given a break to take photos on the "viewing platform" - I got excited when I thought I could see the lights of Canary Wharf, only to have my bubble burst and find out I was in fact marveling at the Holiday Inn...at the O2.
Given the lack of things to look at, we didn't spend too long at the summit and before long we were trundling carefully down back to ground level - of course slightly disappointed with the unlucky weather, but having thoroughly enjoyed the climb nevertheless. A few days later we also received an email from the box-office, congratulating us for showing up in adverse conditions and inviting us back for another go on a sunny day. And I must say, I look forward to it :)