That’s Big Ben behind us

Leon and I had a once in a lifetime experience while we were in London on holiday. We got to ring in the New Year with a quarter-million people on the Thames. Yes, I said once in a lifetime—we do live in England, but not anywhere near London. Aside from that, the crowds are such that we both agreed that one time was more than enough.

Nearly a quarter-million people came down to ring in 2011

We still very much enjoyed ourselves. Leon loved navigating the crowds. Everyone wanted to be in front of the London Eye where they would be shooting off the fireworks at midnight. I’m very much thankful that we moved past the major crowd to a less crowded group of people. There we sat for 4 hours waiting for the show to start. In our spot we could see both the London Eye and Big Ben, right in front of Westminster Pier. I’d say we had a good spot!

The London Eye

So, how did we pass the time during those four hours? Well, we really wished we brought a deck of cards or something (tip for those of you who may go in the future!). We also kept each other warm. It was about 5 or 6º C, but it gets cold when you’ve been standing there for a couple hours. :) We enjoyed ourselves while we were waiting. Leon and I took the opportunity to use the time for good conversation since we didn’t have anything else to do.

There was music playing most of the time we were there. However, they really didn’t turn it up until the last couple hours. So part of the time was spent dancing and moving to whatever music BBC Radio 1 was playing. It was rather entertaining because there was a group of people dancing in the middle of the street. Unfortunately, I didn’t get any photos, but these guys were there for nearly 2 hours dancing! The occasional passer-by would join in the dance party. And then there were the girls who decided to flirt with the “dancing guys.” By the end, they were exchanging phone numbers. Of course.

Two more minutes until midnight and the New Year!

Then it was time for the final count-down! The lights went up on the London Eye, and everyone waited in anticipation of 2011. They projected a countdown on the building across the river so everyone could see. Before we knew it, it was the New Year! Big Ben was ringing at midnight, fireworks began to go off, and no one turned into pumpkins at midnight. It was an incredible fireworks show. So many were shot off that we could feel them in us, and then that feeling remained for a few minutes afterward. Incredible.

Incredible Fireworks!!

Getting back to our friend’s home wasn’t as bad as we anticipated. I was really concerned about riding the public transport back after the fireworks. Free transport on the Underground could be chaotic. It wasn’t. It helped that the line we wanted wasn’t anywhere near the fireworks. To make a long story short, the station we were hoping to leave London from was closed due to a fire scare. We ended up walking a half-hour or so out of the way to get to the Tube. On the bright side, the trains were nearly empty by then!

This was our once in a lifetime very memorable New Year’s celebration in London. We spent New Year’s Day having a lie-in and then walking around Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland. We then headed back to Carlisle on the Sunday. It’s good to be home!

Happy New Year!!