We’ve lived in London for almost four years now; we’re past the classic visits to the Big Ben, Tower of London or Hyde Park. So every time we have a friend visiting we try to do things that are also new to us. In Alex’s case, I wanted to do something involving sports, him being a fitness enthusiast as well. And I can say he’s even more hardcore than us, having already done a few triathlons and we’re far, far away from that. He stayed with us from Friday evening to Sunday morning, so we had one full day.
Things to do if you have a fit friend visiting London
Saturday morning – Grovelands Parkrun with Alin
Alex knew we go to a thing called parkrun on Saturdays, but he didn’t know what that is. He wasn’t expecting something so well organised, so many people or it being a timed race. He was mentally prepared for a chilled out, easy run with Alin in a park and that’s about it. Haha, far from it. It was a hard trail run (they changed the route this Saturday to be on grass only, no pavement as it usually is) on a very cold winter day. But once they started running, the competitive spirit kicked in, and they made a great morning out of it.
Alex and Alin after the parkrun
Saturday afternoon – Up the O2 arena
How can you see a bit of the London skyline and get some adrenaline? You climb the O2, of course. I only booked our tickets on Monday and the only available slot in the afternoon was 1:45 so I took it. I didn’t know what to expect. With no research done, I had no idea how hard it’s going to be or how high we’re going to climb. I had no expectations and no fear.
Getting there is easy, as it’s just outside the North Greenwich tube station. Once we got close to the arena, we saw another group climbing up, and that’s when we knew that it’s going to be pretty easy for us and it’s not going to be a workout. And we were right, though we still had a challenge – the cold weather.
Outside of the arena, watching people climb up
We presented our tickets to the Base Camp office, and we were sent to a room to watch a safety video and fill in a form.
Then, with the form, we went to collect our gear – a onesie, a pair of boots and a harness. We were also given a box to put our stuff in. You are not allowed to take anything with you other than a phone or a compact camera which can only be used on the platform when you reach the top. We put our onesies on (I even kept my jacket on), stored the phone in the onesie’s secure pocket, geared up and then we were ready to go.
We had some photos taken at the starting point and then our guide connected us to the climbing platform. You are connected to a wire for the entire time through your harness, so it’s as safe as it can be. The worst thing that can happen is to fall on your bum and then be embarrassed for the rest of the climb.
The highest point is only 52m, so unless you have a severe fear of hight, there is no reason not to climb the O2.
We stopped on the platform to enjoy the view and get pictures. South London is not one of my favourite places in the city, and the views are far from being breathtaking, but the O2 is an impressive building, and the experience was something to remember.
The way back down
We also had to go down the O2; there’s no elevator from the top platform. And that part was challenging because the platform was very slippery and the last part of the descent was very steep. With 2 metres left until I touched the ground… I slipped. On my bum. Ah, the embarrassment. No injury, just a little wire burn on my hands, but I still had to fill an incident report form. Again, the embarrassment…
We finished, we returned the gear and got our stuff back. We exited through the store (d’oh, there’s always a store) and we politely refused to buy the photos they took. The whole thing took 1h:15min and we paid £35 per ticket. I do recommend it, but remember to bring or ask for a pair of gloves :).
Living in London and can recommend a fun thing to do when our friends come over? Have you done the O2 climb?