Opened to the public on the 1st of February 2013, and designed by the architect Renzo Piano, the 'Shard' is officially Europe Union’s tallest building standing at 1,016 ft (309.6 meters). The Shard contains premium office space, a hotel (The Shangri-La London at the Shard will open in 2013), luxury residences, retail space, restaurants, and a five-storey public viewing gallery. The public viewing gallery is located between the 68th and 72nd floors, with its highest section at a height of 245 metres (804 ft). The Shard's observation floors, unlike most other high rise global landmarks, does not have a fancy restaurant, or a cafe. The cost of entrance to the Shard viewing gallery is £24.95 per head. Now, while this may sound expensive just to go to the top of a building and see the city, in fact the price is competitive (and somewhat acceptable) when compared to other similar global landmarks.
To put things into prospective the entrance fee for the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai is set at 100 AED (about £20) if you book in advance, and 400 AED (around £70!) if you pay at the door on the day. Well, OK, that’s the tallest building in the world I hear you say, and we are only talking about the tallest building in the EU (not even in Europe….that title goes to the Mercury City Tower in Moscow). Nevertheless, as with any new establishment, the price is going to be a bit high in the beginning so that the holding company can try to break-even, and eventually in time we hope that the entrance fee would go down (it’s been proven with the CN Tower, Petronas Towers (Malaysia) and many others). Thankfully the views are, as one would expect, priceless.
The trip to London was so short and snappy that it almost felt like a dream. Thankfully on the day of the flight from Heathrow we were gifted with a clear blue sky, and slight easterly winds, which allowed an excellent opportunity to take beautiful photos of London and beyond as the plane took off from runway 09R (heading towards Clacton-on-Sea, and then onwards towards Germany). I flew with Qatar Airways, so both the first flight (LHR-DOH, QR008), and the second flight (DOH-PVG, QR888) provided great opportunities to take some superb photos of the skyline of not just London but also Doha, Northern Thailand, Guiyang, Wuhan, Wuxi, Kunshan, and Suzhou (my home!!). And not to mention the magical sunrise that we were treated to somewhere over the Pakistan/India border.
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