Home Tourist Up The Gherkin

IMG_2986Even after living in London for many years there are still parts of the City that I really don’t know very well.  In my own defence, I’ve never worked in the Square Mile: I’ve always been a West End girl, the furthest East I’ve been for any length of time was in an office just off the Strand near the Law Courts.

So when I was invited for drinks in the bar at the top of the Gherkin, I’ll admit it, even though it is one of the most recognisable buildings in the London skyline, I had to look it up online to find its address (30 St Mary Axe, for future reference!); and then when I was nearby I kept having to look up to make sure I was still heading in the right direction.  And, when I did arrive, I discovered that it’s right beside the Lloyds building and the site of the massive development that people have taken to calling the Cheese Grater.

Of course I’ve heard of all of these buildings, and seen their outlines from various vantage points from across the River or from one of the bridges, but I’d never before stood on the pavement outside and looked up at them.  And it’s clear these buildings are built for show, shiny and bright.

The bar and restaurant at the top of the Gherkin is a private members affair, so it was quite the treat to be invited.  It’s 40 floors up, a journey involving the presentation of ID, security scanning, and travelling in two lifts, the first to floor 34 and then the second for the final hop skip and jump to the top.  As you’d expect it’s all shiny and glass, and, with no soft surfaces, noisy, but there are views across London in all directions, and with an oddly New York vibe, is a good place to drink champagne.

The protocol dilemma was, of course, whether it would be simply too uncool to take photos?  As I’ve never been cool, it was a question which didn’t detain me long, although the combination of the reflectiveness of the glass, the night sky, the interior lights, and the relative lack of sophistication of my camera, made for some surreal results.

But if you hold your head to one side and screw up your eyes, you might be able to tell that this is Tower Bridge.

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