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The Wheel of York

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by Katie Thompson (subscribe)
University of York Graduate, aspiring to be a journalist with dreams of one day publishing my own novel. Blog: twotwothompson.wordpress.com/ Published work can be seen at www.theyorker.co.uk and www.yorkvision.co.uk
Event: -
Let's go round again
York has made the headlines recently with the River Ouse bursting its banks, so why not get an up-close-and-personal view of the chaos from high in the sky? The York Wheel is a perfect excuse to get a better view of the city and is conveniently located by the train station at the Royal York Hotel-debatably at the risk of annoying its higher-paying customers, who may have got a little more than they bargained for when asking for 'a room with a view.'

Nevertheless, to the rest of us mere mortals, the wheel makes a welcome addition to York's skyline, and will continue to do so until January 2013. With prices starting at 5.50 for NUS-cardholders (or, in my case, a flutter of the eyelashes) the wheel is pretty student-friendly and also family-friendly, with two adults and two children costing a reasonable 20, compared to the lone adult price of 8.50. Those with more extravagant tastes can purchase a VIP pod for 55, though this seems a little dear for what is essentially an empty pod with tinted windows.

If you're interested in the slow, dizzying heights of the London Eye, perhaps this wheel is not for you- typically, a ride will take 10 minutes and 4 revolutions, depending on the time of day, and in my experience, how bored the ride operators seemed to look. The wheel does revolve relatively fast- however, there is still ample opportunity to look out all over York, with views stretching as far as the university and the race course.

Teamed with these inspiring views is the optional in-car commentary, which provides a pretty fascinating insight into the city of York (and makes York residents feel ashamed for not knowing more about its history!) Did you know, for example, that the York Minster is the second largest cathedral north of the Alps? Or that York itself was the capital of England during the Middle Ages? With a rundown of pretty much everything there is to know about the city, the wheel doesn't require huge pods you can run around in to give you a taste of everything York has to offer.

After alighting from the pod, expect to be shown to the photo booth, in which a disinterested adolescent will try and flog you an over-priced photo package. After a very pleasant viewing experience, this is the only part that lets it down a little- with packages priced between 15 and 20, you could be forgiven for thinking it's a bit much for a photo and a CD-ROM. Of course, there is the fridge-magnet or keyring option at a slightly more reasonable 5, but I personally opted to just take a snap of my photo on my phone while the operator wasn't looking.

york wheel photo booth
The slightly over-priced snapshot!


All in all, the York Wheel may be an eyesore for some, but there are plenty of opportunities for Kodak moments, and at such a bargain price, it provides us with a perfect excuse to get to know this fine city a little better.
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Why? To get unforgettable panoramic views of the beautiful city of York
When: Today-January 2013
Phone: 01904 652320
Where: The Royal York Hotel
Cost: 8.50
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