London Pass goes Up The O2

By Vanessa Teo

The O2 Dome on Greenwich Peninsula, South East London is one of London’s most exciting venues – and urban structures. Having opened in 2007, it can hold up to 20,000 people and takes the title of the UK’s second largest arena, after Manchester. Now, it plays host to world class acts like Kylie Minogue, as well as tennis champions Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal in various events from sold-out tours to the Paralympics. But spectator-sport aside, we wanted in on the action. Up at the O2 is the O2’s novel adventure which allows you to ‘conquer the summit of London’ and scale the dome, climbing to its summit of 60m. Kat and Lesley from London Pass head office were lucky enough to go and try it out, to tell you all about it! What made you want to go Up at The O2? Kat: I love active sightseeing anyway; I love to climb, cruise, walk and cycle my way around cities so this experience really appealed to me! Lesley: An opportunity to climb such an iconic structure, how could I refuse? I couldn’t wait to try it out. What made you think that London Pass customers might also like the experience? Kat: To begin with I thought it was just an unusual activity that would appeal to people with similar active interests. When I actually did the climb however, I realised that the view from the top is one of the best in London; not only because of how far you can see but also because of where it is positioned you can see every landmark in the city on a clear day – even Wembley Stadium! Then there is something very satisfying about reaching the viewpoint ‘the hard way’! Lesley: London Pass users have access to some amazing, unusual, interesting and educational places. Up at The O2 is all of those things and more. To be outside with the breeze in your hair and to see an amazing 360 ̊ panorama of London. All those skyscrapers... it’s simply incredible. Were you nervous before the climb began? Kat: I think it’s natural to get ‘butterflies’ before doing something like this! Once we’d been briefed and got onto the roof however, we realised that the dome of The O2 would never be more than a few feet below us, which was very comforting! Lesley: I was too excited to feel nervous, I couldn’t wait to get out there. Did you feel prepared for the climb? Kat: Very much so. We had a 30 minute safety briefing before the climb so we all knew what to do before we went out onto the roof. Lesley: Definitely. A safety briefing video that was both informative and entertaining really helped. Plus they kit you out with climbing shoes and either a full jump suit or specialist vest top, to stow away your camera or phone to take photos at the top. How safe did you feel during the climb? Kat: Perfectly safe. The equipment kept us secure; it was very straight forward to use and we had a guide with us the whole time. Lesley: The ‘path’ is made of a trampoline style material – there is a lot of bounce so keeping your feet nice and flat with each step minimises that. There is also a hand rail but I went daredevil and tried not to use it. With the harness set up if you were to lose your footing you’d simply drop to your knees and it’s very easy to get back up. How long did it take to reach the top? Kat: Around 30 minutes. It’s more like a steep walk than an actual climb. It could have been done much quicker but I think we all wanted to savour the experience and so made our way up slowly! Lesley: I don’t remember, the whole experience took about 2 hours from briefing to jumping off at the other end. I kept getting distracted by the view and the novelty of being on the dome of The O2. What was it like at the top? Kat: Breath taking! We could even see the London Pass office from the top! Lesley: Practically, it was nice and level. You can also unclip your harness and walk around to take loads of photos. The view is pretty awesome as you can see the sprawling skyline of London. How does this experience compare to other viewpoint attractions in London? Kat: It isn’t the highest viewpoint attraction in London, but it definitely rivals the best because the views are virtually uninterrupted. Plus this is a very interesting part of London that is under a huge amount of regeneration, the extent of which I never really realised until I was able to look down on it all! Lesley: It’s tricky to compare. Each building has its own merits so I couldn’t pick a favourite, but for this particular attraction I would say the full 360 ̊ panorama is a great feature. How was the descent? Kat: The descent was fun; you get a better feel for the gradient of the climb on the way down! Lesley: Bittersweet, because it’s all over! It’s a bit tougher on the legs coming down and I had to use the hand rail for balance. What is your overall opinion of the experience? Kat: Buckets of fun! Lesley: Genius! Such a clever use of space and very well organised. Would you do it again? Kat: How soon?! Lesley: Absolutely! London Pass holders can get 30% off weekday (Mon-Fri) climbs between 10.00-16.00. To redeem this offer, simply turn up at The O2 and show your London Pass. It's best to arrive early as the climbs are timed slots - so you might have to wait for the next available time if fully booked. Offer valid 1st July - 31st July 2014.

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10 Shakespeare Facts We Bet You Didn’t Know

"Some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon 'em." Born in Stratford-upon-Avon in April 1564, William Shakespeare is arguably the greatest playwright of all time. Generations of schoolchildren have - sometimes begrudgingly - studied his plays. Theatre lovers around the world turn out to see them come alive. But what do we actually know about his life? Check out some interesting Shakespeare facts we bet you didn't know. And if you can't read, or simply hate reading, why not go see for yourself at the Globe? Crazy Wordplay According to the folks at the Oxford English Dictionary, Shakespeare introduced almost 3,000 new words to the English language. As well as completely original words, he changed nouns into verbs and verbs into adjectives. Through combining existing words in new ways, as well as by adding prefixes and suffixes, he also gave new meanings to existing vocabulary. In fact, the term ‘box office’ was coined at the Globe theatre. Presumably, their ticket office was a box, or box-shaped. Sounds comfortable. Translations Through The Nations Shakespeare’s plays have been translated into dozens of languages and performed around the world. There's even Shakespeare in Klingon. Surely as beautiful as originally intended. Famous translators include Catherine the Great, who translated The Merry Wives of Windsor into Russian. Thanks, Catherine, you truly were great. And the first president of Tanzania, Julius Nyerere, translated two plays into Swahili. Plague Poetry An outbreak of the plague in Europe closed all of London’s theatres between 1592 and 1594. Since there was little demand for new plays, Shakespeare instead turned to poetry, writing many of his much-loved sonnets during this time. Turns out the plague was responsible for at least one good thing. Not sure if that outweighs all the...plagueness. But it's something! Names In The Stars Several moons orbiting Uranus are named after characters from Shakespeare plays. The likes of Titania, Oberon and Puck are plucked from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. And Ariel and Miranda from The Tempest. So there you go. Bet you didn't know that fact, did you? No. You did not. Birds Of A Feather The first starlings were imported into the US in 1890 by Eugene Schiffelin. Schiffelin was such a Shakespeare fan that he imported all birds mentioned in his plays. Well, at least the ones that didn't already exist in the United States, at least. From Playwright to Copyright Copyright didn’t exist in Shakespeare’s time, so scripts had to be carefully guarded. Actors often only got their lines once the play was in progress, courtesy of lots of careful cues. In fact, many of Shakespeare’s plays weren’t formally published during his lifetime. Perhaps they banned ink, quills and parchment from the audience, too? Otherwise, any old clever clogs would simply take notes and get rich. Shakespeare Or Shakespear..? No list of Shakespeare facts would be complete without some questions regarding the name. The first English dictionary was published in 1604 and only contained 2,449 words (none beginning with the letters W, X or Y). During most of Shakespeare’s lifetime, spelling was not standardised - he even signed his name inconsistently. In fact, there are no records of him ever having spelt it "William Shakespeare", as we do today. Stirred, not Shaken? No, that sounds silly. Lend Me Your Quotes Shakespeare is the second most quoted writer in the English language. Unsurprisingly, only the Bible is more popular. According to the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, Shakespeare wrote close to a tenth of the most quoted lines ever written or spoken in English. “Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears.” Will-i-Learn Over a million visitors come to the Stratford-upon-Avon theatres of the Royal Shakespeare Company each year. This is in addition to 530,000 children and young people who take part in the Company’s education work. Globe Today, Gone Tomorrow The Globe Theatre in London is built near the site of the original Tudor building. That's because it sadly burned down in 1613. Like the original theatre, it has three levels of seating as well as the ‘pit’. The original theatregoers who paid just a penny to stand and watch a performance were called ‘groundlings’ or, in summer, ‘stinkards’. Lovely... Love the Bard and all things theatrical? Be sure to pop by Shakespeare’s Globe for an incredible behind-the-scenes look and tour of the iconic playhouse. A reconstruction of the original Elizabethan playhouse built in 1599, Shakespeare’s Globe is a timber frame building with an open-air stage, maintaining the authentic feel of Shakespeare’s time. [qzzr quiz="380509" width="100%" height="auto" redirect="true" offset="0"]
Dom Bewley

Things to Do in London When it Rains

London having bad weather isn’t a myth, it rains a lot, so really there's never been a better excuse than to hole yourself away in one of the many great attractions in the city. From art galleries, to museums, indie cinemas and West End Shows, we've compiled a list of our favourite things to do in the city that mean you can leave your brolly at the door... Check out the latest exhibition From 11th February, the highly anticipated Vogue 100: A Century of Style is opening in the National Portrait Gallery, showcasing the remarkable range of photography that has been commissioned by British Vogue since it was founded in 1916. There are over 280 prints from the Condé Nast archive and international collections on display for the first time to tell the story of one of the most influential fashion magazines in the world. [embed][/embed] See a West End Show The best thing about the colder weather is it gives you an excuse to stay warm and inside, so what better reason do you have than to enjoy a matinee show mid week, followed by dinner and drinks. Our Concierge site offers hot tickets at discount prices so you'll finally be able to see the Lion King and Les Mis like you've always dreamed. Failing that, go backstage at the National Theatre, Royal Albert Hall and Shakespeare’s Globe which offer daily tours, to open up your eyes to what goes on behind the scenes... London's Markets Get a feel for London's unique boroughs by visiting the wide range of markets in the city. From Notting Hill's Portobello, to Shoreditch's Spitalfields Market, not to mention Camden Lock and Borough Market for the foodies. All of them have been modernised and are under cover so you can wander around the stalls and stables and stay warm and dry, whilst picking at your fair share of local produce and exotic food stalls along the way. Make sure you check their opening times as some vary and some are weekend only. Go to the Cinema Forget super-sized popcorn and sticky floors, head for something more indie and upmarket for a rainy day. Curzon Cinemas around London are some of the best to relax and unwind in with roomy, comfy chairs, a great selection of treats and even a bar, where you can enjoy the more artsy, European new releases. The Everyman in Hampstead and also on Baker Street is another alternative which provides an individual experience as an independent cinema network. They show smaller films as well as the blockbuster films of the moment but with a luxurious flair. Go to the Pub This is a no-brainer solution and is most Londoner's answer for a rainy day: find a pub with a fire, get all of your friends together and spend the afternoon with a pint (or two). There are plenty of cosy pubs in London, from the old man pubs in Soho, to the historic watering holes in Greenwich, just ask a local for some directions and you'll be well on your way to drinking your way out of the cold!
Vanessa Teo

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