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Everything posted by Electerik

  1. Yeah, I was really tired by this point, too. The whole "up early in Poland" thing was supposed to result in a mid-day nap in Sweden, but due to the flight snafu, I was just up for A Very Long Time the day before Liseberg. And, another fun side effect of my scoliosis is a complete inability to sleep when not fully and comfortably lying down--or, to put it another way, I can't sleep on planes or buses. We also just encountered a lot of weird stuff in the morning at Liseberg that kind of put me off--but it recovered. Not my favorite park of the trip, but still at least "good."
  2. Part 4: Buses and Glassbombers The plan was to gather at 4:30am, fly from Poland to Sweden via Amsterdam, and then spend a few hours at Liseberg before our full day there. Alas, the European heatwave caught up with us, shutting down Amsterdam's airport and sending lots of travelers scrambling. This was mildly stressful for us, but only mildly because Elissa and Robb had to do all the work. In the end, we flew out in several smaller groups, at various times, and while Misty and I missed the "half day" at Liseberg, we found that one full day was enough for us anyway. In fact, I found myself not really digging Liseberg--at least, not during the first half of the day. I thought their coaster collection ho-hum, they don't have a dark ride (actually, their old one closed last year, and they are building a new one for next year, but my assertion still stands), their opening times for rides varied wildly (as late as noon, in some cases), and a few other minor annoyances added up to us thinking that maybe this park wasn't so great. However, after going back to the hotel for a nap and coming back in the late afternoon, we were able to experience all of the other things the park had to offer and began to enjoy it much more. Kolmården is a sprawling, wooded and hilly zoo with large animal enclosures and a small collection of rides--the two most impressive of which are Wildfire (a "wooden" RMC) and an elaborate skyride with a view of animals. Our final park of the trip was Gröna Lund--a city park that reminded me quite a bit of Indiana Beach (this is a good thing). If Efteling was objectively my favorite park of the trip, Gröna Lund was more "my" kind of park. Krakow airport woes. (Or, trying to shut this one down too by overloading its electrical systems.) For the record, none of these belonged to Smisty or I. Flying into Munich for a quick layover. Which caused some debate: Does this count as having visited Germany? (In my opinion, no--even if you did have a pretzel at the airport.) At last, Gothenburg! Up until this trip, I had never experienced an airport "bus terminal." I most certainly cannot say that now. One nice thing about the US, I now know, is that our airports tend to be much roomier. Liseberg is most definitely an amusement park. No themed sections here. Valkyria is the park's new B&M dive coaster. I liked the restraints, but hated the seats, which were rather check mark shaped. Valkyria was fine. Enjoyable, enough. I rode it twice. The mist-filled tunnel was really nice (especially considering how hot out it was) and the slow roll was different for B&M. Still, SheiKra remains my clear favorite in this category. Liseberg had some interesting games, like this one where you use a robotic arm to stack logs onto a rolling cart. (Or, as I like to call it, the Swedish Citizenry Test.) Liseberg sits on a really interesting and awesome-for-an-amusement-park plot of land, with the left half of the park being flat, and the right being the side of a large hill. The park's early rides clearly used this to their advantage, but the newer ones, not so much. To make up for that, escalators! Helix's queue is weird as hell. Long, angular, crossing over itself randomly. Somehow both hard to shortcut through but easy to get lost in. A real tour de force of bizarreness. Helix was kind of terrible for me, by which I mean the restraints sucked. Misty liked it, though. This weird spinning kid's Ferris Wheel (center right) was great, though. (Toverland had one, too, but it was closed the day we visited.) Having given up on finding a proper restaurant that was open, we decided to give Max a try. mAx is a Swedish burger chain, so this is a bit like having a Subway or Panda Express in a Six Flags or Cedar Fair park. Still, maX was new to us, and we enjoyed it enough to go to another one in Stockholm a few days later. Kaninresan (or Rabbit River) was our second water cups attraction of the trip, and also ever. It was almost dark ride-esque, in that it had show scenes of wide-eyed green bunnies singing silently behind glass. Or perhaps they were bemoaning our ability as humans to eventually die. It's hard to say. Aw, crap, it's a Liseberg bunny and it's locked eyes with us. One of the group must now perish, for it is the way of things. This seems like a great idea. Balder. Okay. I'd heard a lot of good things. Some in our group really liked it. But, to me, it was just okay. Don't get me wrong, there was airtime, good airtime, several instances of it. But...every moment of airtime was almost exactly the same. And every turn was uninteresting in exactly the same way. Except for the first drop, every hill is 30 feet down, 25 feet up, and then followed by a boring turn. Repeat until you're at ground level. Okay, let's put this is terms I can understand. Let's say I promised you the most amazing ice cream sundae ever. But then I just served you 10 scoops of chocolate chip ice cream. I mean, chocolate chip is great, right? Therefore, this is the best sundae you've ever had. You're welcome. This is Pontus. I understand that his job at Liseberg is just dealing with coaster enthusiast groups. Which sounds like the kind of job you get assigned in hell to me, but he was awesome. He let us into an off limits area of the ride and let us scribble our names on the coaster. So now I feel like a real jerk for not liking the ride more. We headed back to our hotel to take a nap. I'm not saying that our room was small, but.... Much like the United States, Sweden also has buildings. Next to Liseberg was the Universeum. And since it was stupid hot outside and we weren't absolutely in love with Liseberg, we took some time out of our day to check it out. I bet Chuck and Larry and AJ don't have this in their trip reports! Funicular #1 of the trip! (Foreshadowing!) The Universeum has several different "environments." This is the ocean-y bit. I probably didn't need to tell you that, but I did, because I get paid by the word. I'm now being told that I don't get paid for these. Okay, let's try this again: Water. My getting out of the heat plan seemed solid until we got to the glass-enclosed tropical rainforest part. In other news, these stroller ramp death trap stairs are all over Sweden, but this one looks especially terrifying. Question: Can Smisty pull her hand away before the king cobra bites and kills her? Answer: No. But don't worry, it's just a simulation! Space I just now saw that little plastic bag there and I want to pick it up but that's not a sane thought because this was weeks ago and in Sweden. Maybe I could call them about it.... Back to the park in time for a TPR group dinner. And I literally can't name anything on my plate! Well, okay, strawberries. And an orange slice. Lingonberries. Bread. I literally cannot name everything on my plate. This is a legitimate ice cream innovation. Imagine a hard-scooped ice cream sundae, except replace the whipped cream with soft serve. Why is the US sleeping on this?! Smisty enjoying the wave swinger while I photo things. Such as Smisty enjoying the wave swinger. Liseberg's Flume Ride utilizes the terrain nicely, and has a slightly unusual layout. It starts with this long lift, meanders part way down the hill side, goes up a second long lift, and then drops three times in a row back down to station level. No animatronics or theming, really, but it does interact with Lisabanana is a fun way. Exciting splash-down wall! Lisabanana and Blomsterkarusellen. Also, a woman looking at a horses butt. I'm really happy with how this photo turned out. Smisty's favorite ride at Liseberg, and probably her favorite Tilt-a-Whirl. It was so good that she came and got me and made me ride it with her. A mirror maze I didn't discover until almost park closing. Lisebergbanan and almost the entire rest of the park from the Ferris Wheel. The first time I rode Lisebergbanan, I was disappointed. I'd really been looking forward to what Anton Schwarzkopf once declared to be his own favorite design, but it was unexpectedly janky. I'd ridden in the front seat, pretty early in the day, so I decided to give Lisebergbanan another shot at night, in the back seat, and enjoyed it much more! Lisebergbanan. We are not blocking the view. We are the view. So, yeah, in the end, I did enjoy Liseberg. A dark ride would help, of course, but that's coming. American coaster enthusiasts descend on the zoo. Well, not American Coaster Enthusiasts. Just coaster enthusiasts from America. Not all of whom were American, actually. It's a zoo. I know this place like the back of Misty's head. The animal enclosures at Kolmården tend to be large and elaborate, which is great. But that also means that they tend to be spread apart from each other and can make actually spotting the animals within the enclosures somewhat difficult. The park's Bamse World kid's area. Bamse is like Swedish Popeye, but a bear and he eats "thunder honey" instead of spinach and he's all about equality, not fighting over women like they're incapable of making their own choices. Bamse is nothing like Popeye. Rector described this family coaster as having "a pretty good first drop" which really just makes me not want to hang out with coaster enthusiasts anymore. (Okay, actually, he was kind of right. Dammit.) Man, they could at least clean up the dead ones. Mexican food at a Swedish zoo? Hell yeah! I've never had such authentic Mexican pickled red onions before! This is like maybe a quarter of the tiger enclosure. At last, a zoo that takes misbehaved children seriously. Pretty nice dolphin exhibit and possible show arena. (I say possible because there was another stadium next door where the actual dolphin show was. It certainly looks like they could have them here, though. Maybe when the weather is bad?) Not getting a train in my photos of Wildfire is going to be a theme. But I got a Delphinexpressen one! Safari is the park's 30-minute Skyride, complete with automated narration (available in four languages, including English) and a view of animals, Wildfire, and Bråviken Bay. Okay, so how does Safari stack up against the Skyride at Busch Gardens Tampa? Well, it's longer, certainly. And it crosses over and under itself. Plus, the trees and the bay are nice. But I'm not sure you actually see more or more interesting animals on it. So, better, but not by a lot? Wildfire. I rode it. Once. You know how I feel about these things by now, don't you? It was less good than Untamed, which I also only rode once. So I guess I like the "steel" ones better than the "wooden" ones. The, um, "turnaround" of Wildfire and Bråviken Bay. You know what? This is better than Busch Gardens Tampa's Skyride. But I love them both. Ooh, ooh, a train! Ending the Kolmården part of this report right here. Gröna Lund makes me want to live in Stockholm. We start the morning with a presentation from Gröna Lund's park historian, Andreas. What do you think he's explaining here? a.) The park's new attraction for next year. b.) The lengths people once had to go to see nudity before the invention of the internet. c.) What to do when women drop their clothes upon learning that you are a coaster enthusiast. We then were led into a giant pit wherein the park's under-construction B&M inverted coaster's station will be. So I guess it wasn't "a.)" We then got to ride some stuff before the park opened to the general public. Always nice to get some photos before everything fills up with people. AJ is dedicated to his craft. Jetline's cool funky curved lifthill. I believe I rode Jetline more than any other single ride on the trip. So, yes, I liked it. Wow, a coaster Erik actually likes! (Actually, there are two in this photo!) A games area, right after park opening. The park's traditional, yet rebuilt and modern, dark ride, Blue Train. AKA, the dark ride I rode the greatest number of times on this trip. Blue Train is everything I want to be. Note the tilting track. Also, the seats have a Bug's Life type thing going on. None of it makes any sense, and it's awesome. Look, I'm sure its theming, but I'm a foreigner here and I'm just not going to risk it, okay? While we're on the subject, Gröna Lund has two really ostentatious restrooms elsewhere, but I didn't take a photo of them inside because that would be weird and I'm not a weirdo who takes photos of the insides of restrooms. Ha-ha, just kidding. Here you go. I'm pretty sure this is the same layout as a bunch of other junior Vekoma "suspended" coasters, but I'm also pretty sure that this had to be the first one and custom (at the time) just because of the way it fits in with the rest of the park. House of Nightmares is a Sally walk-through haunted house which I didn't even know was a thing. Liseberg also had a walk-through haunted house that I didn't show because I AM MASTER OF ALL YOU SEE AND KNOW and also neither of these things allow photos inside because they have no confidence in their product (I imagine). Anyway, both were upcharges. Liseberg's was better, but this one actually had a semi-coherent storyline, so that was interesting. Run, Smisty, before the tree gets you! Pizza was pretty good. Also, I was able to get ice. Stockholm was much more understanding about this than anywhere else we visited in Europe. So, if you love ice, give Stockholm a go! It occurs to me that would make a pretty terrible tourism slogan for the city. Ben & Jerry's. I know, boring, right? But no! Because there are flavors that you can't get in the States! Such as, "Totally Baked Alaska," which consists of vanilla ice cream with a marshmallow ribbon and bear-shaped white chocolate pieces, and is my new favorite Ben & Jerry's flavor. Oh right, rides. This is Vilda Musen, a Gerstlauer Bobsled masquerading as a wild mouse! First of all, I love that the park decorates its coaster queues with information about other roller coasters. And, secondly, this queue is not designed for Americans. A second coaster I like! And in the same park! Like most of Gröna Lund's rides, it goes over and around other rides and buildings and just wouldn't make sense anywhere else. Gröna Lund has two sections, the large section (with mostly adult rides) and the small section (with mostly kids rides). We didn't spend a lot of time in the small section, but we did ride this. Small section towers. I am art. (or maybe Smisty is. I don't really know.) Wait, so the star flyer is supposed to be themed to hot air balloons? Normally, I find star flyers both boring and kind of terrifying. But this one was neither because I was so busy looking at all the cool stuff below me. The only "water ride" at Gröna Lund, the tunnel of love. I tried to order a pretzel from these guys, but they just ignored me. Tunnel of self-love. The old school funhouse was really cool, but it was all in. No bypassing things you didn't want to do, like the one at Toverland. A very inefficient way of getting from one place to another. The funhouse ends with a cool double-down carpet slide. Am I supposed to be making jokes? I'm sorry. I'll try harder. This restaurant is built on top of other buildings, because everything here is. In honor of our last TPR dinner, I took this photo of my food and not of anyone actually at this dinner. Gröna Lund sees your swing-ride-over-the-water, Indiana Beach, and raises you a castle in the distance. Twister was weird and a bit rough, but the restraints weren't terrible. (They looked like they'd be super awful for me, but they weren't.) Goodbye Gröna Lund, and goodbye TPR, but not goodbye Stockholm, and technically not even goodbye Gröna Lund, despite what I just said. Anyway, stay tuned for the final part of our vacation, and then maybe one update after that, if I feel like doing something weird.
  3. I feel like there's a hidden meaning in your letter selection and arrangement, perhaps implying some regret in your choice of walking...?
  4. Probably Seuss Landing at IOA. But I also really liked Avalon at Toverland. Cars Land at California Adventure is also quite good, I admit. Um...Seuss Landing!
  5. I'll defend Hyperion, for sure. And yes, Formula was good. I didn't ride Dragon, because I couldn't be arsed. But, hang on a second there, AJ. Legendia was "creepy"? How dare you, sir! Legendia is the bestest boy!
  6. They had a ride called Sky Flyer, but on one directional sign, it was written as Sky Flayer, which is just so much more metal. \m/
  7. Part 3: Planes & Pierogi The most intense day of the trip saw us visiting two smaller Dutch parks before boarding a plane for Poland. I knew almost nothing about Drievliet, but came away having really enjoyed our short visit there. It was small, but clearly loved by whomever owns it--and also by me. There's probably a lot of fun to be had at Duinrell, on the right day--but this was not the right day. It's probably better than I'm about to treat it, but it was still my least favorite park of the trip. Most of the really weird stuff happened in Poland. Energylandia feels like it's growing fast, but less in a thought-through way, and more in a game show shopping spree way. It was rainy and overcast the whole day we were there, so most of my photos will be super awesome if you're into the color gray. All of the park's rides had electronic wait signs that were (apparently) tied into a central system, so that you could see every ride's wait time from electronic boards throughout the park. Which sounds great, except that every ride was set to either zero or 10 minutes and never changed (either at the board or at the rides themselves) no matter what the actual wait times were. So, yeah. Still, we had a fun day here--though I feel like we maybe enjoyed the park more than most of our fellow coaster trippers did. Legendia might not have been the best park on the trip, objectively--but it's the park I've thought about the most since the trip, and the park I'd most like to go back to right now. I just want to pick it up and kiss it on its little nose and call it George. But make no mistake: this mixed metaphor has claws! Wait. What? The front part of Drievliet is aimed mostly at children, with a couple of full sized rides, and a distinct sea life theme. Yes, a grown up ride! [Photo by Elissa (and not Robb) because I'm pretty sure I owe her one.] The track of Twistrix didn't do much, but the cars spun like crazy, sometimes for no apparent reason. Smisty was in heaven. I rode twice, in the sense that one ride is two full circuits. Plus, I alone cracked the code on why it's owl themed. (If you think you know, keep it to yourself. It's mine.) Just a little walk through of Old MacDonald's Farm. Well, more just his barn, I guess. But the song is about his farm. Look, you're overthinking this. There are animals and you push buttons and they make animal noises. It's not that complicated. The park's newest, and biggest, coaster, the not terribly large Formule X. I rode it, and it was okay. (This matters. But there will be a couple more parks before it really pays off.) The US is still on 4D. I feel shame for my country. The Spookmuseum dark ride was very classic, and in really good shape. Also, there is a hedge maze, and this park is really nice.. Just a simple, model log flume. The building to the right houses its on-ride photo shop, some fun house mirrors, and a small arcade. Wet and misshapen. Kopermijn was wild in the very best way. Usually, I feel like the wuss of the group, but we loved this one, and almost everyone else seemed to think it was a bit too much. Drievliet has a little museum about itself. Not enough parks have something like this, and it's even cooler to see it in a really small park. You can't be considered a proper theme park in Holland without a pooping donkey. Duinerell is less a theme park, and more a campground with some rides. Maybe you're a fan of, say, Knoebels, and you're thinking that doesn't sound so bad. But in this case it was. Big trash. Bad bad beans. Okay, this looked pretty cool, though. Ever wanted to camp in an amusement park? And, I mean, IN an amusement park? Okay, sure, maybe so. And that's great for you. But what about me? Surprisingly, not Tennessee. I did like the way their three coasters were all painted the same woodsy color scheme and all intertwined with each other. Of course, I didn't ride any of the them because the park was extremely crowded and had no idea how to handle those crowds, but still. Note the splashdown boat and compare to the one in the next photo. Covered and non-covered options available. A lot of the trip participants just bit the bullet and waited in long lines for the credits. But that's not my style. My style is complaining. Fun story. I wanted to get a photo of this ride, but the cycle had just ended. So I got to watch the one ride op stationed at this ride let everyone out, go get a squeegee, slowly squeegee the water off of every single inch of the sloped concrete platform, almost fall in (twice), stand around for a few minutes, let the next group of riders in, and then slowly start checking their seats. The whole process took about 15 minutes, and I'm not even sure that it was entirely that guy's fault. The best part is that the fountains don't really even get the riders wet, just the platform. Happily, most of the campers were more interested in the thrill rides than the fairy tale / self-operated craziness section of the park. Boat jumping! I thought about it. I even climbed into a boat. But when the little lapbar didn't come close to being far enough down to latch over my big fat belly and just sort of pointed towards the sky like a sharp pointy stick of impalement, and I started to consider what the green stuff in the water would do to my open wound as I sunk slowly to the bottom of the lake, I decided to give it a miss. I'm not holding this one against the park. They get full credit for having the balls to even have this. I'm just too full of self-preservation. I went all the way to Wassenaar and all I did was not die! Duinrell is what I call...a cut rate park. (Yeeeeaaaahhhh!) Flying out of Amsterdam... ...and driving through Poland. Energylandia is like that friend you have who's always bragging about having 14 roller coasters, but then you go over to his house and 10 of them are rollerskaters. Hyperion was good, though. Really good. The restraints weren't the best for me, but it was still probably my second favorite coaster of the trip. When is free not free? When it costs 25 zoltars. This queue goes up a five story ramp for no apparent reason, does not cross the track, then goes down five flights of stairs to the station--either to save space, or to weed out Americans, I'm not sure which. A lot of our group found the outer seats to be rougher, but I didn't really notice that. Great layout, great ride, weird operations. Hey, it's me. "Speed" was even stupider than its name. The coaster part was slow and boring, and then I was sitting in water up to my waist. Well, since we're already soaked, we might as well ride the world's most boring rapids ride. Similar to, but legally distinct from, because it's a box truck or something, not a tractor. Also, like, if there are no humans, why do they have steering wheels? It's weird. The bottom floor of this building housed a gift shop and an interesting-looking game in which you had to peddle in order to power your slot car around a track. The second floor was an Italian quick service restaurant that was pretty not bad. The third floor was additional seating and essentially an observation deck. Here we observe Formula, which is basically a bigger, better version of Formule X (covered earlier in this post!) The park's newest section was in soft opening and over there. Note the currently under construction Zardoz. The new area looks pretty nice--but, then again, it's new. Smisty had been looking forward to meeting Energylandia's weird characters for months. It was very emotional. Water Cups are very popular in Europe and unjustly uncommon in the US. 7D??? Holland is still on 5D!!! This is Energylandia's "big" log flume ride. Yes, there is a smaller one. Highly enjoyable super-lame shooting dark ride. Like, seriously garage level. The smaller Splash Battle. This park has Cedar Point levels of redundancy. Also, lots of water rides. A big bucket of all the different ways you can fry chicken. I didn't actually ride it, but this ride caught my eye. The person on the inside seat has a steering wheel, which controls the back wheels, and the person on the outside seat has a gun they use to try to shoot a target on the back of the swerving car in front of them. Genius! The idea of a "Lights Motors Action" type show in Poland seemed too good to pass up, but was ultimately pretty disappointing. There was no story, but I had fun imagining that it was about escaping Alcatraz by car. The crowd's reaction. Damned dirty credit whores. Bitchin' souvenir, bro. In other news, this was Gearhart's 600th roller coaster. Wait, I said that at Walibi. Well, whatever. This is why you shouldn't count. Damn straight. I could've started with a photo of Legendia's entrance gate, which is lovely. Or of the cracky train station next door that I first worried was the entrance to the park. But it's me, so instead I'm going to show you a photo of this little dragon, which is listed on the map behind it as a thing--and yet, the map itself is not listed on...itself. What was I talking about again? Legendia is a city park that encircles a fairly large lake. This building houses an eatery, gift shop, children's play area, and the park's dark ride, Bazyliszka! Two of those things I said. Bazyliszek! Also, this park has Fast Pass. Or at least Fast Pass entrances. I didn't see machines for them, or points of sale anywhere. Or anyone using it. Maybe the signs were just theming. (I'd prefer that actually.) Grab your guns! Except they're mirror guns! Or something! It's all in Polish! And trackless! Bazkilishikas! So, a few days before this, if you'd asked me, I would've said that I might just skip this one. I mean, a weird-looking multi-looping Vekoma? Yeah.... But then I rode Formule X, which was okay, and Formula, which was good. And then Elissa mentioned that someone she knew at Vekoma had said something to the effect that if we'd liked Formula, we'd love Lech. So...yeah... Coaster of the trip. Imagine what I look like when I'm not enjoying a ride. Okay, so, if you can stop imagining that I'm pooping in this photo for a second, let's talk restraints. These were good, because the over the shoulder straps were soft and retractable/adjustable--which means that my hunched forward shoulders were secure but still comfortable. (I know, I know, I look pretty comfortable.) As for the ride itself: It was nuts. Good nuts. Also, my nuts were good. As in, not squished. I mean, now that you've seen this picture of me, I feel like there's nothing we can't talk about. [Photo by Satan.] This shirt makes me think I'm say Lech wrong. I understand, Golderg. I understand. Right after this photo was taken, he called his wife to tell her he'd found somebody. Diamond River is clealry an older ride, based on its air-hose activated restraint system and not-so-much-rolling-as-right-angle lifthill-to-level-to-dropping transitions. But the park has given it a nice new entrance, station, and gift shop. Apparently, a ski resort company bought this park a couple of years ago, and has been fixing it up and adding strategic new rides to it. And while it seems unlikely that we will be returning to Poland any time soon, I'm very interested in seeing where they go with it. This caption really has nothing to do with this photo, sorry. I guess what I'm saying is: Don't go to Poland for Energylandia. Go to Poland for Legendia. Giant Water Pump might be my favorite ride name ever (and the name of my new band!) Dreamflight Airlines or some such. Reminiscent of one of those old Schwarzkopf rides, but built in-house. The oldest ride in the park, and maybe the longest! It takes forever to get up to speed, and just as long to power down, but it's super fun! The penultimate seat of the coaster in the background faces backwards, because why not. Some people rode it, and gave it such glowing reviews as, "It wasn't terrible," and, "It didn't hurt that much." Our per-arranged park lunch. Erik Elness Beef Cake Ha-ha! No. Holy...! Have you guys ever heard of object sexuality? If you haven't, don't look it up. The "Legendia" sundae. Quite good, but be prepared for maximum mango. Wait, I'd like to change my band name. Goldballs surprises a ride operator by opening this unlocked control booth door. Although, in his defense.... This car ride is called, "Magical Postal Service." Which still makes more sense than Speed Dating. Lengendia's "Main Street." Part of Legendia's "Main Street" is a mountain climbing museum for some reason and I couldn't be happier. I just love this park so much. I wish we'd spent more time in it. Or that it was my home park except that I don't have to live in Poland. About two-thirds of our group left Legendia early to go on an Elissa-organized sub-trip to Auschwitz, but we opted to skip the depression tour and headed for Krakow's well-preserved medieval city center. This is the train station. THE TRAIN STATION. Sigh. Because, Poland. There were lots of things we wanted to see in the Krakow area, but we only had a few hours for sightseeing, so we went with "walking around and looking at old stuff." Wawel Royal Castle Oddly flavored candies in a Polish grocery store in a mall across from an American Embassy. Sure, I don't see why anyone would have a problem with this. Forced perspective! Take that, Disney! Literally the only thing that stopped us from going in here was the 100% certainty that we would be murdered. A nice area of town if you're looking for a good time with somebody's sister in exchange for money. More our speed. Yes, it's a Polish board game cafe in a medieval basement! Pierogi and a board game. (Technically, this photo was taken the next day at the airport, and it's my board game we brought with us, but it fits well here and as long as I don't say anything you probably won't notice.) ((D'oh!)) (((Do people still say, "D'oh"? Like, from The Simpsons?" They don't, do they?))) Well, kiss my grits. This is a "Teatr" and a nice photo and a good place to end. Next up: Sweden (if we can get out of Poland!)
  8. What I liked about Symbolica was that it seemed like the park was very much following its own muse. I mean, they could have made it shooting or 3-D or something for marketing reasons, but they were just like, "No, this is what we want." Or, at least, that's the impression that I got out of it.
  9. Part 2: Coaster Trains & Bitterballen Here begins our coastering around Europe with TPR. A few preparatory notes: We skipped the 0th day pre-trip add-on. Bobbejaanland looked cool, but as it was our first trip to Europe, we really wanted to maximize our time in Amsterdam. So you'll need to look to AJ, Chuck, or Larry's trip reports for coverage of that. Efteling is big. It's also really good, and in retrospect was probably the best park of the trip. At least, for us. The group stayed at the Efteling hotel for two nights and had about a day and a half in the park. This was ideal for us, as it meant we could really take our time at Efteling and go back to the hotel anytime we needed a rest (because we're old). The park was very lightly attended on our first evening there, and we were able to do quite a bit. It was a bit busier on our second day, but filming on the coasters in the morning before the park opened got us a lot of rides knocked out, and we were able to spend most of the second day checking out the fairy tale section of the park, re-riding things we'd liked, and picking up those last few things we'd missed. Next up was Toverland. I don't follow theme park happenings as closely I used to, and all I really knew about Toverland is that it was mostly indoors, with a couple of coasters outside. But that's not really the case. The park is bigger than I'd imagined, and their newest section (Avalon) is really good. We spent about three-quarters of the day there, leaving early (by more or less unanimous group decision) to stay ahead of a fairly ominous approaching storm. The third park I'll be covering in this update is Walibi Holland. This is a former Six Flags, so I expected to just ride a couple of good coasters and ignore most of the rest, but it turned out to be a fairly nice park. By this time I was convinced that The Netherlands is just pretty and all you have to do in terms of landscaping is to get out of the way. It also helped that the park seemed legitimately excited that we were there, and were very nice to us (not that the other parks weren't, mind you). We also visited two smaller parks in Holland, but I'm pushing those to the next update, whether it makes any sense geographically or not. I'm confident you'll forgive me. Speaking of me, it might be a good time to mention that my opinions--especially regarding roller coasters--are often very different than that of other coaster nerds. This isn't because I'm contrarian (well, not entirely, anyway) but because I have what parks call "unusual body dimensions." Not only am I overweight, but more importantly, I have scoliosis. Riding roller coasters doesn't exacerbate my condition or anything, but a lot of the newer restraints on today's wilder rides simply don't fit me well, and this often results in rather uncomfortable rides. So keep that in mind when I say things like, "I would've been more excited to ride Robin Hood than Untamed." I'm not trying to be provocative. It makes sense if you're me. Cool? That bus life. There was a mouse in our room! Also, a board game. And somebody else's red shoes! The Royal Beef at De Hoffelijke Heraut restaurant, in the Efteling Hotel, was amazing. Apples in the mashed potatoes?! Well done, Holland! (Restaurant name translation: The Courteous Herald.) The hotel has its own entrance at the back of the park. This Efteling's main entrance, and this photo was taken midway through our second day in the park. TRUST NOTHING. Most of Efteling's coasters are clumped together. But we're not really here for the coasters.... Dark ride rundown! The partially gravity-powered Dreamflight! The brand new (trackless and semi-interactive) Symbolica! The totally not racist anymore Festival Carnival! The 1001 Arabian Nights themed Fata Morgana! Efteling is not ugly. In fact, it's kind of like if Busch Gardens Williamsburg and Disneyland had a baby, but then Disney refused to acknowledge being the father, and then Busch Gardens was like, "I don't want your money, I just want our child to know his father," and then the child grew up and decided to spend a gap year in Europe and never came home. And his parents were both bitter in their own ways, but the child lived a happy life and never held any grudges. It's like that. I was under the impressions that Joris en de Draak were dueling family coasters, or like junior woodies, but I would say they both qualify as true and proper wooden coasters. Great fun! I took this photo. If Robb posts claiming credit, don't believe him. (And if you think this is an unflattering photo, just wait until we get to Lech Coaster in the next installment!) Efteling has a large fairy tale section, presumably lorded over by king stumpy here. I don't think "The Wolf and the Seven Young Goats" story ever made it over to America. Hey, it's the same board game from our hotel room! This rapids ride is called Piraña, which I haven't quite been able to reconcile with the ride's pre-Columbian cultures theme. Is it the fish? I believe "piran" is "pirate." Any Dutch speakers want to help me out here? There's a famous story about a Dutch child putting his finger in a dam that I suddenly no longer want to talk about. The Flying Dutchman was cool. A nice themed section and not too wet. This caption was not funny. But maybe it was informative...? The station may remind you of a certain famous Disney ride. Or maybe it won't. I don't know. I'm not you, am I? Look, it's like Pirates of the Caribbean, okay? Is that what you wanted me to say? Have you noticed yet that I rant when I'm trying to distract from sub-standard photo quality? No? Well then never mind. This guy may remind you of a certain famous Efteling animatronic. I don't even remember what's in here. Something minor, I think. This park is awesome. The Octopus is a quick service restaurant and play area with sort of a Rainforest Cafe vibe. It's also just a great idea. Bitterballen, which the internet describes as "bite-size beef and gravy croquettes" and I describe as the greatest fried food I've ever eaten. Goldberg enjoying throwing away his trash just a little too much. Prepare for rant. (In my defense, it was taken through a plexiglass window designed to protect me from burning coal.) I posted this photo on Instagram with the caption, "Do you like your job? - "Neigh!" and got a flurry of angry responses in Dutch from people who apparently thought I was some sort of animal rights activist. But as soon as I assured them that I actually hate horses and want them all to burn they stopped responding to me. Glad I finally won them over! I'm "Electerik" on Instagram if you want to see more photos of things on fire! Baron 1983 was fine. It's always weird when your first example of something (in this case, SheiKra) turns out to be the best of its type. [Copy/paste to appropriate photo in Part 4 of this report.] Cool coaster people! I mean, cool-ish. Well, they're coaster people. Efteling's version of Harry Potter robes. Also, Efteling's version of a talking tree. The Monosnail! It's not really called that, but it should be. Also, it's great. This building houses a steam-powered carousel, and, like almost everything is this park, is great. Same building. Model trains. I need a thesaurus to look up some other words for great. Sorry, I've just been informed that I am on the internet. Well, that's just considerably above the normal or average. Vogel Rok is like Space Mountain except it's better and I have no idea what's going on. We might be egg thieves...? Nice geese? Can geese be a suggestive euphemism for boobs? Smisty says no. Nice...um...boobs, I guess. Nailed it. Toverland's new entrance. Sorry for the lack of transition. We're at Toverland now. Surprise! The "front part" of the park is kind of a big water play area and seating areas surrounded by all your standard main street type things (guests services, lockers, etc.) It's cool idea, but it has a real water park feel that I didn't really dig, if I'm being honest. It probably works really well for them, and points for doing something different. Fenix was my first wingrider, so I wasn't sure what to expect. I really enjoyed it, though. The star attraction of their new Avalon section, which could almost be a cool little park unto itself. Someone's been to Island of Adventure. Wait, is there like a left-leaning Libertarian option or something? Political humor! Fenix and Merlin's Quest (the boat ride). This caption is neither funny nor informative, if I'm being honest. You knew which one was the boat ride. Merlin's Quest has a dark ride section, and now I am happy. Avalon is where King Arthur went when he died, and Toverland is where fat Americans go to die. (For clarity, I mean me, not the very nice people in the photo.) It's a restaurant. It probably has a name. Hey, I went to a lot of parks in very short succession, and I'm tired of looking stuff up, okay? These fools offered all-you-can-eat ribs with Americans in the park! Let's show them how we do! Moments before disaster. This spinning coaster (Dwervelwind, happy?) was quite good. Nice theming in the station, too. (If you know what I mean.) (I don't know what I mean.) Possibly my first coaster named after a classical city of antiquity. Troy! For me, all GCIs are measured against Thunderhead. This was less good. Still fun, though. Moments before disaster. The indoor/outdoor log flume. We skipped it, as it seemed to be having quite a few mechanical problems this day. (Why, this log just went down backwards!) A thousand ways to kill yourself at Toverland. Super crazy roller skater. I am decidedly not a credit whore, and I still rode it. Booster Bike. I always liked the look of this layout. Good ride. The weird restraints and seating position are actually just fine for me. I would like to try this with some sort of normal sit-down trains, though, just out of curiosity. Toverland's old entrance. We were tracking approaching bad weather all day, but we managed to get everything we wanted done and still get out before it hit. I liked Toverland. But more the outdoor sections. The theming of the indoor sections just sort of butts up again the warehouse look of the non-themed parts in a really weird way. But now I feel weird saying that. Moving on. Back to our next hotel a bit earlier than originally planned, Smisty and I decided to head out in search of food and oddventure! Well, not really "in search of." We knew exactly where we were going.... IKEA! In addition to the obvious meatballs and such, we just had to try some weird stuff that's not on the menu where we're from (like satay, for example). "Hardgaan" is Dutch for "this park has a shite layout because it used to be a Six Flags." The cover for our upcoming mixtape, "F#ck Slow, Hard Gaan." El Rio Grande (rapids), Xpress: Platform 13 (outdoor Rock N Roller Coaster), and Goliath (Intamin hypercoaster). Walibi Holland doesn't have a dark ride, but it does have a Vekoma Madhouse with a graffiti problem. So, they re-themed their car ride to "speed dating," but just in case that's not lame enough, they only themed the entrance. There is absolutely no mention, suggestion, or hint of speed dating, love, or anything even vaguely related anywhere else on the ride! This stand sells waffles. You can get them with white chocolate or cherry compote on them. Or, if you're me, you can use your smooth-talking ways to get both. I've seen people trespassed out of parks for less than this. This guy didn't even get a "sit down" spiel. Europe is different. Also, everything about this boat is designed to keep you from getting wet, and that waterfall wasn't going to do much more than drip on them. So I'm not sure what he's freaking out about. If you tore this down, it would be easier to get to Goliath. Also, this was Gearhart's 600th coaster. And I can't think of a more appropriate one. This was...messed up. This was probably the coaster I was most excited about going in to the trip. And I was not disappointed. (However, I ended up riding two coasters I liked even better later in the week. Foreshadowing!) I wish it were still green, though. I'm not sure who took this photo. It wasn't me. I'm just going to assume Robb. But, if you recognize it as yours, well, now you have an opportunity to post a reply! This log flume was ho-hum. EXCEPT, the double-down drop, which was great (considerable, substantial, pronounced) and which I now believe should be standard on all log flumes going forward. Walibi Holland had this one very Toverland thing, which was this self-operated rope-pull raft. Lost Gravity was so screwed up, in the best way. It also had probably the best example of "junk theming" I've ever seen. The idea is that gravity has gone crazy and things are just floating and sideways and weird. This ride was not on my radar at all, but was really funky and fun. The restraints weren't great for me, but they were okay-ish. I rode it two or three times before I needed to stop, but I have fond memories of it! It's just...it's so weird. Somebody's been to Islands of Adventure. People tell me this is the best Boomerang. So now I can say that I skipped the best Boomerang. Larry says this was great (significant, appreciable, serious). I guess we all just have to take his word for it. Walibi Holland's "main street" has a building in the middle of it. Or I guess you could say that part of their "main street" is covered. And has a coaster entrance in it. Xpress: Platform 13 has quite an elaborate queue. It's almost a walk-through attraction, starting as being themed to a normal train station and slowly becoming more sinister. Worth checking out even if you're not interested in an outdoor version of Rock N Roller Coaster. I would've been more excited to ride Robin Hood. I did ride Untamed once, since I was there. It was uncomfortable, but I lived, so yay. Do you want an anti-RMC rant? No? Okay, I'll ask again when we get to Kolmarden. These guys seem to have enjoyed it--especially Rector. It's like, instead of designing a proper roller coaster, they purposely designed it wrong, and then had to create a restraint system so restrictive that it "protects" you from experiencing the injuries this bad design would naturally cause. Okay, okay. Sorry. To be fair, this was the best RMC I've been on. Thanks, Walibi! Don't let my whining about Untamed get you down. Everybody else seemed into it. And I really liked Goliath and Lost Gravity! Join us again in some indeterminate amount of time for Part 3, which will mostly cover Poland!
  10. I feel like there's nothing Larry can tell me about that he hasn't already.
  11. Hello! Erik & Smisty here. You may remember us from such Trip Reports as Erik & Smisty's Vancouver Oddventure or Erik & Smisty at the Mall of America. We'd always wanted to go on a TPR trip, the timing just never seemed to be right. But now we have! We visited something like 10 parks in 10 days, covering The Netherlands, Poland, and Sweden. Since this was also our first trip to Europe, we spent a few days on our own both before and after the official trip. This first part will be covering our pre-trip wanderings around Amsterdam. But, not to worry, we've managed to sneak in a ride or two.... But before we get to the photos, more words! A few observations about Amsterdam: If you're at all worried about being lost or at a disadvantage because you don't speak the language, almost everyone in Amsterdam seems to speak English just about as well I do. Do be aware that it's very much UK English, though. So it's a lift, not an elevator. On a related note, I've never felt so much like a big old hunk of Ameritrash as when a citizen of a country I'm visiting apologizes to me for their poor English-language skills. Most signs are in English and Dutch, but if it is only in one language, that language is usually English. We were told that if you take a photo of a prostitute in Amsterdam, they will throw piss at you. Which is interesting because in America they charge for that. We didn't go to the Red Light District at all, except once by accident, where we saw a lady in lingerie hanging out in front of a window. I would've taken a photo, but, well, you know. In Amsterdam, "coffee shops" sell marijuana, "cafes" serve coffee, a "restaurant" is a type of fish, and "whore houses" are just places that play Burt Reynolds films. Crazy! The Dutch struck me as rather conservative in terms of dress and personal appearance, which is interesting considering how tolerant they are culturally. The city is beautiful, but there's a consistency to the look of the old town streets/canals that borders on sameness. A lot of the buildings are wonky. I mean, they're old and built on marshland. But, also, a lot of them were originally warehouses and built with front-facing facades that tapered out as they went up, so they could hoist things to the upper floors without cargo damaging the front of the building. If you look, you'll often see a steel beam sticking out from the front of the building near the top. The canals look cool, but don't seem to serve much of a purpose anymore, beyond transporting tour boats. There are no proper water taxis or citizens rowing over to their neighbor's house, that I saw, and no real industry (utilizing the canals) besides tourism. There were some houseboats, but they just sit there, so, really, those could just be land houseboats on land canals. There are a lot of bicycles in Amsterdam. No matter how many bicycles you are imagining based on that statement, there are more. As an American, we often think of ourselves as largely coming from England, culturally. But being in The Netherlands really reminded me of just how much my country was influenced by Dutch culture. Restaurant service is slow, especially towards the end, as full-service dining is apparently meant to be a leisurely activity, and you're supposed to feel at home and not like you're being rushed out. Not always ideal if you're on vacation and eager to get to the next thing. Holland is two regions of The Netherlands, and calling the country Holland is roughly akin to calling the UK "England," except that the Dutch don't really seem to mind. So I will mostly just say Holland because it's easier to type. Except, of course, when I don't. But within the context of these trip reports, forgive my ugly American-ness and just consider the two names to be interchangeable. What the Dutch call a staircase, Americans call a ladder. Okay, let's do this.... Part 1: Bicycles & Stroopwaffles - Page 1 Part 2: Coaster Trains & Bitterballen - Page 2 Part 3: Planes & Pierogi - Page 3 Part 4: Buses & Glassbombers - Page 5 Part 5: Ships & Meatballs - Page 6 Part 1: Bicycles & Stroopwaffles After 13 hours in the air, we took the train into the city-proper. THIS IS THE TRAIN STATION. Seriously? F-you, Amsterdam! Our hotel, the Sir Adam, part of the A'DAM Tower, beckons across the IJ River. But first we must cross the Intersection of Doom from the train station to the free ferry as pedestrians, bicycles and scooters zoom every which way in what was probably a well-coordinated dance until we blundered into the middle of it. The karaoke elevator. (Not pictured, but also in our hotel: the disco elevator.) Every room at the Sir Adam has a record player, and there are bins full of vinyl down in the lobby. Also, the view wasn't bad and whenever anyone asks me what my favorite thing on the trip was, my first thought is this hotel room but I try not to say it because that seems uncultured and bad. Atop the building is the A'DAM Lookout observation deck. The giant red horse represents, um, Holland...defeating...the horse tribes of Northern Europe...in the 1600's, I'm pretty sure. "Over the Edge" is a swing ride over the side of the tower. And while "Europe's highest swing" is quite nice, it's no Stratosphere. It costs 5 euros, but obviously I have no idea how much that is. Pictured here is our cousin Marcolio and his girlfriend Nefertiti. Also in the building, this high-end burger chain that a lot of trip participants seem to have checked out at one point or another. It was pretty good, too. This is what Amsterdam looks like. I'm going to try to post photos that look different from this, but those will largely be lies and trickery. This is Amsterdam. Bebo is the leading chain of faux-vending machine fast food places that have been all the rage in Holland since the invention of little doors. I imagine that one of the more stressful jobs in Amsterdam is driving instructor. If you don't think we went to the Amsterdam Cheese Museum, you've obviously never read one of our trip reports. It's really more of a cheese shop with some exhibits in the basement, but I honestly would've gone in if it were only a cheese shop, so it's a win in my book. Check out the Dutch stairs in the background. Good luck! Little known fact: Almost all of the cobblestones in Amsterdam were imported from Hell. Lunch with Marcorio and Nerfetti at De Carrousel. I had the ham, egg, and cheese pancake and strawberry nutella poffertjes. We skipped the Anne Frank House but this one's lighthearted name keeps it from being too depressing! On the other hand, it seems even more disrespectful than my comment that there is a road going through what is supposed to be a memorial to Holocaust victims. Based on our research ahead of time, we were going to skip the Rijksmuseum in the interest of not overmuseuming. But once we saw it in person, we had to go. I enjoyed this massive medieval mixed medium museum much, I must say. Rembrandts and the full museum experience. I don't know much about art, but I know what I like. If you're going to spend months carving a statue, I think you really owe it to yourself to ensure that it's picking its nose. We also went to the Van Gogh Museum, but since they clearly hate publicity and don't allow photography, and the Rijksmuseum has Van Goghs of their own, maybe just go here. One of these things is not like the others. Oooh, stroopwaffles.... Smisty, nooooooooooo! Approximately 15,000 bicycles are pulled out of Amsterdam's canals every year. That's actually not a joke. I did research. The Artis Amsterdam Royal Zoo opened in 1838, making it the world's fifth oldest zoo. The best part of this photo is that on the right hand side of it is a canal, and on the other side of that are multi-story apartment buildings. Which means that one could theoretically have an apartment in Amsterdam with a view of elephants, zebras, and giraffes. Which is honestly something I never even considered as a possibility but now is the only thing I can think about. Artis also has an aquarium in it, which I am for. And inside this aquarium, for some reason, is a black and white poster-sized photo of The Big One at Blackpool Pleasure Beach, which I nearly included a photo of here just so I could say there was a photo of a roller coaster in this section of the trip report. But, in the end, I decided I was above such trickery and besides you're reading it anyway. "Dude, I can totally see inside that apartment building!" I don't think I can poop here. This bird looks like it deserves to be in prison. I would have bought these guys, but there's no way I could handle that level of judgement. This is a monkey riding a cow. I'm not sure how consensual it is on the part of the cow. Maybe the cow is for it. Maybe they are in love. I don't know, and I'd prefer not to speculate. Micropia is a separately ticketed part of Artis dedicated to microscopic animals and bacteria. You are a disgusting ecosystem. Micropia isn't terribly large (which makes sense, I guess), but it is interesting. I wish I knew, kid. I wish I knew. On the right is the Hortus Botanicus botanical garden. We would've gone inside, but it was beginning to get hot in Amsterdam (foreshadowing!) and what we'd experience so far in the city suggested that a greenhouse here would likely not be equipped to keep us comfortable, temperature-wise. Oh, you don't want one of those, believe me. "Grillroom Donny" was a hole-in-the-wall, but it served amazing street food and the dude who ran it was awesome. The thing on the right is a waffle, by the way. It's just hard to tell. Soarin' Over Holland. Conveniently located next to A'DAM Tower and our hotel room. They create people here. Misty really liked that the preshow told you what parts of Holland you were going to fly over. This one also gets a bit dark, as at one point you run directly into one of the blades of those giant modern windmills, destroying it in a process that I can only assume would result in your immediate and spray-form demise. Oh, and pretty much every transition spritzes you, whether it makes any sense or not. So, yeah, awesome. Weird salad at the Eye Film Museum's restaurant. The Eye Film Museum and the IJ River at Sunset, circa almost 10:00pm. Stay tuned for part 2, featuring actual roller coasters!
  12. Hey, is everybody cool if I just take Chuck's TR and repost it with my name on it? Going through my photos now, and we have a lot of similar shots. It's almost like we went on the same trip!
  13. Thank you. That was exactly the goal. Sorry to those who miss the more direct commentary--just experimenting a bit with the form. In my own opinion, my photography is nothing special. If I have a strength, it's storytelling. As for American Girl, all I knew was that they sold dolls and had a cafe with an interesting dessert menu. I mean, I expected it to be both frilly and creepy--and wanted to experience that--but I never expected the hostess to ask us this question: "And would you like a doll friend to join you?"
  14. Quoth the Smisty: "I'm sorry for every other time I said I was cold. I was wrong."
  15. Ooh, ooh, I have memories! Scandia Ontario with Erik & Smisty Fun little park. Shame to see it go.
  16. I do miss Dollywood at Christmas--and every other time. Thanks, John!
  17. Coaster snacks, you say? Thanks, Chuck. I enjoyed your happy talking time!
  18. Thanks for that. I did not answer myself, because I did not know the answer!
  19. Our final day in Vancouver left us with a bit of a vacancy. Having moved up our previously scheduled oddventures, we had half a day to fill before we needed to be back on the train to Seattle. And I knew just the thing. Already, I'd been thinking about it...haunted by it. It was a risk, of course, but I had to know.... Erik & Smisty's Vancouver Oddventure Day 5: 84 Loonie Bruises Playland, for one reason and one reason only. C$37 per human be damned! But, we were also carrying our "luggage," since we'd already checked out of our hotel. So BC$20 for a place to put our two backpacks, with a VCR$10 rebate upon return of the key. This was fun, though. You can buy a loquer before the rope drop, but you can't access them until after. But look where they are! I just want to get myself sorted! For pity's sake! We were close now. I could almost taste it. I had to know if it was everything I'd imagined.... Tiger Tiger ice cream. Bam. Credit acquired. Thanks for reading, everyone! Oh, wait, there's more. I mean, since we're back here, we might as well give this thing a whirl, since it's running now. So, if you like your coasters violent, you'll probably really dig this. Me, personally, I'm more of a "strong floater air" type. So while I enjoyed the ride (mostly), it must also be said that it's not really my thing. We rode three times: once in the second row, once in the front, and once in the back. And in the back, for just a second, I honestly thought that I might've broken some ribs. Happily, this was not the case. However, Smisty still has bruises, and it's been 11 days. So, yes, happy we rode it, had a good time, are never riding it in the back seat again. Lest you think Vancouver is all monopoly money and licorice ice cream.... ...it too has issues with drugs and homelessness. Earnest Ice Cream had a mix of traditional and stupid hipster flavors, and was quite good. Seriously, ash and bone marrow are not ice cream flavors. Just admit that you don't like ice cream and go back to Starbucks. "Telus World of Science" "Tell you what?" "Tell us why people think puns are a type of humor." Science in Canada primarily involves throwing things, which is cool. This is more my speed. Just kidding. This stuff looks like you could make some pretty good ice cream out of it. The "torture a hippo" exhibit. Holy crap, is that the same kid?! Cool bridge in the former Olympic Village area. You can't hang with us. #icecreambitches A statue in honor of Vancouver's founder, Watchman Satanicus. Wait, is that an A&W in the train station? Iceless root beer in a frosty mug. I like how Canada is trying to be all hard here, but then just can't help itself. "Or, it might not be." Back on the train game. This is Patrick (probably). Patrick is an idiot who brought food back from the dining car to his seat, spilled his drink all over himself, and then fell asleep before the customs check. Can I just say that the Canadian customs officers we encountered were all super nice. I'll let you guess how the US customs officers were? Let's just say that one of them threatened to send Patrick back to Canada. Which, how is that even a threat?! That's like being suspended for missing too much school! "You're way too relaxed, mister! Back to the comfy chair!" Goodbye, British Columbia! You're not ugly! Yes, back in America! Go to hell, Canada!
  20. I really need to get to this park. And I don't agree that names are unimportant, but I also don't agree that this name is bad. The worst names are those that are already in use! The worst unique name is better than the best copycat name.
  21. Day 4 was spent exploring Stanley Park--which is sort of like New York's Central Park, except smaller and less central. And it's not in New York. Actually, it's nothing like New York's Central Park. In fact, everything in Vancouver is completely unique, no matter what any of those other cities might tell you. I'm not crazy. You're the one that's crazy. Erik & Smisty's Vancouver Oddventure Day 4: Sexy Room Temperature Bread If you're anti-spoiler, then don't look at this map. Or indeed any map, ever. Most of Stanley Park looks like this, except less blurry. Vancouver's Aquarium has a pretty good reputation, so we were excited! And, in fact, it was good. But not amazing, honestly. I've come to the realization that I don't like "west coast style" aquariums (which tend to have booth indoor and outdoor sections) as much as east coast ones (which tend to be entirely indoor). I'm not sure why. It seems like it should only be an advantage. Note the occasional lack of fencing beyond those doors--which, in the United States, would of course mean, "Please trample our exhibits." Monkeys Snake Oh, thanks heavens, a fish! Most people seemed to miss that you could light up the hanging jellyfish from this console. White Strawberry Jellyfish (I'm just seeing if anyone is going to call me on this.) Small Canadian Humans Remember how the Miami Seaquarium only has one Killer Whale, so they gave her some Pacific White Sided Dolphins as pets? Well, this is that same kind of dolphin. And, also, I'm sorry that this report is not as good as the one from the Miami Seaquarium, or that nothing ever will be. I already used this joke on Instagram, but.... Are we sure these guys aren't Americans? This looks pretty amazing here, but really those are just graphics. If you want to show your boobs to seals, but not other humans, the Vancouver Aquarium has you covered. Depressing aquarium is depressing. ...and features a weird art exhibit about trash. Okay, well, it kind of seems like you're part of the problem here, Vancouver Aquarium. They had a cafe, but it was mediocre. Also, they were playing religious music in it, for reasons that are lost on me. There's also a 4-D theater, but it seems to have long gross-looking lines, so let's move on. "I am sad that you hate my home." No no, Mr. Sea Turtle. It is actually a very nice aquarium. It's just...well, have you ever thought about moving to Georgia? You are not an octopus. I'm sorry. I don't know what they told you, but you're not. I love Canada so much. The figure at the very bottom right has frogs for boobies. Walking the seawall along Vancouver Harbour. (Yes, "Harbour." Damn you, American spellcheck!) I love Canada so much. "Girl in a Wetsuit" Copenhagen is watching you, Vancouver. Free water play area for kids. Free shady trees for adults. The Stanley Park Railroad was the surprise of the day. It was on my list as something we should have a look at, but it turned out to be pretty awesome. I think this might be the best pure train ride we've been on. Fight me. No one screamed in this tunnel. I love Canada so much. Maybe the surprise of the trip...? We thought about riding again, but then we got distracted looking at other stuff. Ever onward. Lions Gate Bridge San Francisco is watching you, Vancouver. Prospect Point Bar & Grill We have to keep our energy up! There are still more photos to take! Prospect Point is quite nice, and features a multi-level observation terrace that I'm not actually going to show you for some reason. But here's a photo of a cruise ship leaving the harbour, taken from said observation terrace. This photo was actually taken from Lions Gate Bridge, though that may appear questionable. Vancouver Harbour Do we have any Canadians here? Can you explain this sign to me? I am 100% serious. I think it might be that horse carriages can't park here, but anything else can...but maybe it's the other way around? Please help me. Of course there are gardens. Free, too. There's lots of stuff in Stanley Park. We didn't see it all, and we're not showing you everything we did see. But I think it's fair to say that no visit to Vancouver would be complete without a visit to Stanley Park. I love Canada so much.
  22. We generally have a plan for each day when we vacation, with some room built in for rearranging and/or spontaneity. The plan for Day 3 was Capilano Suspension Bridge Park and then board games. But since we were ahead on Day 2, we had already done the board game stuff, and when we ran ahead on this day, we brought forward some Day 5 stuff to here. If you're wondering why I've told you all that, I understand. Let's just assume that it might be relevant later.... Erik & Smisty's Vancouver Oddventure Day 3: Safety Nature Capilano is in North Vancouver, but wisely runs free shuttles from the downtown area up to themselves. Here we are aboard one such shuttle bus, crossing Lion's Gate Bridge. (More on that in Day 4.) Oof. That doesn't look good. But not to worry! First of all, this is the line to buy tickets, and we'd bought ours ahead of time. And second, this photo was actually taken on our way out, but I've placed it here for narrative purposes. (You've got to watch me; I'm tricky.) Totemy things, is the technical name for these, I believe. Here you can see the rest of our party: Damien, Becka, Backpack Man, Hat Boy, Hat Boy's Mom, and Angry Steve. These people are not with us. It might be worth mentioning that I love bridges--especially ones that move. Smisty...not so much. (Please use handrails.) Yub nub, eee chop yub nub. So...they built a crooked wooden house, but first they poured level concrete? These settlers have some very inconsistent construction skills. EXTREME BOARDWALKING "What have I done with my life?" "Dude, I can go." This is probably what Playland looked like before they paved it. Not that I'm bitter. Cliff House Restaurant I ordered the ravioli, with salmon. They forgot the salmon. I wouldn't normally make a fuss, but we were literally the first and only customers at this point. Capilano has a photo of me where I look fatter, on permanent display. These girls are not laughing at me. I don't think. Oh, god. We mostly kept ahead, but it did get a bit crowded. (It was Saturday, after all.) All told, we walked over 11 miles on this day. So here's a photo of the real heroes, our feet. (Well, one of my feet and those of a total stranger, but still.) Tourists can obtain more than 85% of their information from plaques. Nature thing. Quiet, it might hear you. The waterfall, I mean. It doesn't make sense. I'm trying to be funny. Sorry. While I appreciate the warning, a bit more specificity would be welcome. What exactly is the danger? Snakes? Rusty nails? Socialists? How can I be expected to make good decisions based on incomplete information? I don't know this person. But she wouldn't move, so now she's with us forever, in photographic spirit. This is an erosion display. But all it takes it for one person to reach out and touch it and soon all these idiots are washing their hands off in it. Like, you weren't even touching anything and this isn't the end of your not touching anything and it's clearly marked as an erosion display, what is wrong with you? God, I hate people. This photo is objectively terrible, but I love it, so here you go. "Man Explodes into Gift Shop." This "band" is named The Capilanos. I am not kidding. After a brief stop back at the hotel, we took a journey via Vancouver's hilariously named public transportation system, the Skytrain. We rode this all over town, and while it's a lovely amenity, there was not one second of it that was not underground. And where were we going, you ask? Well, thanks for asking! Queen Elizabeth Park. Misty is very proud of this photo, and rightfully so. I guess it's okay for people to be in this fountain...? I don't know how Canada works. Anyway, that dome is our next stop, the Bloedel Conservatory. Uncle Fester is no longer here. Stop asking. It's one frigging plant. Look, we have loads more. And statues. And birds. Seriously, we're more than just a home for Uncle Fester. Look at this thing. This is nice. There's a big dome. It's pretty. It's gone, and it's never coming back, okay. Check out these animals, instead. This Uncle Fester joke is getting tough to maintain, but the payoff is almost here. Wait for it.... Awkward.... (Bam. Nailed it!) Queen Elizabeth Park, as you can see, is very nice--even if the Conservatory is a pale imitation of itself without Uncle Fester. Smisty is good with bridges that don't move. I think this was a lynching. Canadian justice can be harsh. This sculpture ("Love in the Rain") was designed for people to attach padlocks to. (I'm guessing so that they would leave Vancouver's bridges alone?) Goodbye, Queen Elizabeth Park! We'd love to stay, but we have more trees and flowers to look at! Just a couple of blocks away from the Bloedel Conservatory (still my favorite Bond film) is VanDusen Botanical Garden. Are you sick of looking at trees, yet? Well, Vancouver says too bad! I hope you enjoy this brief moment of being inside. We wanted to sit for a minute, but these selfish jerks hogged up this bench the whole time we were there! Okay, that joke was dumb. They can't all be hilarious. You need to breathe on occasion. I'm just looking out for you. This is a fancier restaurant than the cafe back in the entrance building, but there was a wedding going on in it, just like everywhere else. Seriously, we saw at least three weddings at VanDusen, and two or three more back at Queen Elizabeth Park. Canadians need to calm the hell down with all their wedlock, man. This place is big. If we had realized just how big, we might not have tackled it on this day. We saw a good chunk, and what we saw, we really liked, but we weren't quite able to cover all of it. Ah well, another reason to venture back to Vancouver one day, I suppose. Istanbul, Not Constantinople Wait, that's not right.... I am so sick of looking at trees and flowers. I just need a few meters of concrete and like an A&W or something. Please. If I'm being completely honest, this is why we're here at VanDusen. A proper hedge maze! And it wasn't easy, either. Good stuff! Unless they get Uncle Fester back, you can probably skip the Blofeld Conspiracy, but VanDusen is definitely worth a visit. Christmas card? Yearbook photo? Album cover? Fear of fire ants? Something weird is going on here. I'd show you the Canadian one, but it wasn't as good. U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! No, I'm just kidding. We suck. I mean, look at this Canadian gift shop! It's brilliant! I'm hungry, though. Let's get out of here. When in Rome....
  23. No, he was just pregnant before. (Seriously, it's sort of not cool to ask about someone's weight...) I was just as surprised at how thin I looked in that Glass House photo as you were. That's why I included it! But, no, I don't think so. Fat as ever.
  24. When planning this holiday, there was a choice to be made regarding Playland. Should we try to visit during the PNE Fair, when the park expands with additional rides, shows, and crowds, or see it in its "normal" state? I won't say it was an easy decision, and I'm still not sure we made the right choice, but in the end we went with experiencing Playland in its flaccid form. (I know. I'm sorry.) Erik & Smisty's Vancouver Oddventure Day 2: Sad Fountains of British Columbia We don't visit parks as often as we used to, but it's still exciting to go to a new one! Playland exists within the boarders of Hastings Park, which contains quite a few other attractions and special event spaces. This is Momiji Gardens. It's free, completely accessible from all directions, and unguarded (at least that we saw). This thing wouldn't last a week in the US. Momiji Gardens represents an apology, because we're in Canada. This is around the back of Playland, and I assume most people miss it unless the Fair is happening. Fun story: Right after this photo was taken, and employee walked out and added "Roller Coaster" to the Attractions Not Operating Today sign. While there is some landscaping, it mostly exists in the form of planters and such. Playland is basically a "Fair in a parking lot" kind of park, which is baffling because it opened in 1910 and is in the Pacific Northwest--a region that will literally just grow beautiful trees and flowers all on its own if you don't stop it. Well, at least the Kettle Creek Mine Coaster is running. Two of my favorite things: Pirate Ships and Water Fountain Lions. They have a glass maze. It's super easy though because there are no mirrors and the wooden floor has a path worn into it. Still, it's cool that it exists. Bug Whirled was surprisingly fun for an extremely short kiddy coaster. That fountain is just pitiful. I honestly feel bad for it. We skipped the Vekoma Corkscrew. I'm more of a "unique experience whore." This photo is really just here to show you what kind of park Playland is. Which is not to say that it's a bad park, or that we didn't have fun. But if somebody told me that this was a top 10 park for them, I'd say that they hadn't been to more than 10 parks. Once I was the King of Spain (now I eat humble pie)! Wait, what? Does that say orange ice cream swirled with black licorice ripple? That's too weird, even for me. Canada is different, man. Best photo op cut-out ever. Yup, there it is. The star of the park. The main reason to come here. A ride that still shows up on some pretty well-traveled enthusiasts' top 10 lists. Can't ride it, though. It's broke. The park hasn't gotten rid of the crew yet, though. And ride engineers are out on the track banging on stuff. So there's hope still, right? Mini golf is included with admission, which is nice. You may not know this about us, but we like mini golf. First we'll get some sweet tats. Then, cheeseburgers. And poutine, obviously. I mean, you can get it in the states, but it's still fairly rare. It's seriously everywhere in Canada, though. And amazing. And us fat Americans should love it even more than they do. I mean, it's friggin' french fries with gravy and cheese(curds) on it! Okay, yes, the name does start with "poo," but whatever. Let's call it Freedom Salad and get it out there to the US masses! I'm generally anti-upcharge, but I make an exception for walk-through haunted houses. This one screwed with my American sensibilities, too, because the pop-out figures come very close to you, and in fairly confined spaces. Anyway, it was good. I think she's a ghost. The antlers are a dead giveaway. Misty's first Enterprise. She was skeptical, but I convinced her with the word, "Schwarzkopf." Starflyers combine being absolutely terrifying with the sensation of complete boredom. And this one was no exception. I'm not sure what I'm doing here. She asked me to pose and I panicked. Corkscrew as seen from the Westcoast Wheel, and that for some reason looks all tilt-shifted. Still no movement at Roller Coaster. *le sigh* See, like, what's going on here? I'm not asking you to be Disney. I don't even really like Disney all that much. (Their parks are mediocre.) But that's clearly a brand new trailer more or less permanently installed on a walkway. It's like you don't even want to be good. Model log flume. I can't even be arsed to look up who made it. But at least it has a cool name: "Flume." There's a path around the outside of Playland that allows for some additional views of Roller Coaster. Still, it's not the easiest ride to photograph. But at least I don't have to wait for a train to be in my photo! We waited as long as we could. I'm not sure if it eventually opened or not. But let us not dwell on sadness. We had fun, and there's more fun yet to be had! Slidey slides! That's what they're called. Seriously, go back to photo number 2 of this report and look on the map. Slidey slides. This playground equipment looks suspiciously like exercise machines. To the local hobby board game store! We bought a comic book and a Canadian board game. I have no idea how much they cost, though, because I'm stupid and the exchange rate confuses me. We might be bankrupt now. There's really no telling. I'm pretty sure the gas stations were charging like $150 per gallon. Er...I mean, per millimeter or something. Board game cafes are a thing in several cities now, but this is a board game pizza parlor. The Sticky Little Prince. Did you know that Hawaiian pizza was invented in Canada? You did? Well, I guess I'm not interesting then. Jesus Christ, Canada. You're making me cry here. That's a f**king shower head! Everyone is judging you! Perverted Ice Cream is the name of this place. And the ice cream was fine. But the esthetic was like a sex dungeon designed by junior high school kids who knew that their parents would eventually be coming by to see it. They're just trying way too hard here. It's soft serve, guys. I am immigrating to Canada. And then starting a fountain installation business. So far North, Superman lives here. Pixel Orca! (And like some witches or something. Canada is weird.) Thus endeth Day 2. Stay tuned for Day 3 in like a week or something.
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