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Everything posted by coasterer

  1. Thanks so much guys, your comments really mean a lot. These reports are a blast to make. Haha, thrillerman1, most of the jumping pictures are timer shots with the camera propped up on whatever semi-flat surface we can find. And as for Balder, I guess we were underwhelmed by the repetitive and smallish nature of the airtime hills. It wasn't like there wasn't a ton of airtime cuz there was, but it was all very controlled. Where El toro hits its top speed never relents with huge sustained airtime, and Boulder Dash and Voyage keep getting faster and more intense as they charge along out of control, Balder just felt very much like one 50 foot airtime hill after another. And while the airtime was great, the inbetween segments were very much not as intense. In that sense, it felt kind of like a flat ride, one that keeps doing the same pop over and over, without feeling like much of a complete circuit ride. So for me, a ride like Balder wouldn't rank nearly as high as some other rides.
  2. My good buddy Eric came up to visit while I was there, and we did a bit of a whirlwind tour through Scandinavia. There was a bit of a struggle catching the ferry from the North tip of Denmark, as we cut it kind of close, but there really wasn’t any better way. It ended in us sprinting about a mile from the train station around this huuuuuge harbor, when we were told that the boat we wanted was actually way over theeeeere, instead of where we were. With about 3 minutes to spare, we burst into the office about as disgusting as you can imagine, and rolled onto the boat, completely exhausted, as the door shut behind us. And within a few minutes, we had pushed off from shore, dropped our things behind a row of chairs, and were overwhelmed by an older, non-English speaking Norwegian woman who regaled us quite spectacularly with the entirety of her homeland’s national anthem, with absolutely no prompting from us. 17 hours and a night on the floor later, we were pulling into Bergen, and spent the afternoon walking around downtown and some of the trails through the woods overlooking the city. The weather wasn’t great but we were able to avoid the worst of it, and crashed after a few mile walk to our hostel. The next day we made our way through Sojnefjord to a long afternoon messing with sheep herds and running up waterfalls. Up there in the fjords was easily one of the top 5 most beautiful places I’ve ever been. My only complaint about Norway is the difficulty it is to do any really budget traveling. They seem to have kind of commercialized just about everything, and it was all pretty expensive. But as such, we had the opportunity to finally be around a lot of other tourists, which I wasn’t super accustomed to, and it made for a few laughs. There was one woman sooo intent on getting pictures we often saw her leaned way over the laps or the heads of anyone who’d stand still long enough to let her, and sometimes even physically on people. She was great though, and we had a nice little chat with her. There was another Japanese tourist who kept feeding the seagulls, until they were literally dive bombing her to get the rest of her bread, driving her from the top deck with her hands above her head shrieking. That night we took the train up to the top of a fjord, and camped out in the train station til around 2, catching the overnight to Oslo, where we passed through to Gothenburg, arriving around noon and enjoying a small park in the city until Liseberg opened around 3. I didn’t expect Balder to be my new number 1, but I was expecting really good things, with all the love TPR throws at this ride. And to be honest, I was a little disappointed. Maybe it was moving a bit sluggish? Maybe I wasn’t so thrilled with the repetitive layout, and was a bit disappointed at the lack of speed and lack of out-of-control intensity, but I just didn’t really get it. It felt more like a flat ride that pops you up over and over rather than an actual full circuit coaster. It was okay, just not really my style. I much prefer Boulder Dash, El Toro, and especially the Voyage. The park itself was really nice though, and Eric and I both loved Lisebergbanan. Kanonen was cute, but not particularly forceful. We enjoyed the park but were expecting a little more from Balder. It just didn’t do it for either of us. From there we caught a train down to Malmo, and made it back home to Copenhagen late that night. Thanks for reading guys, -Danny My good buddy came up from Illinois for a week and we met up in Copenhagen, catching a quick flight to the north of Denmark for a train to the coast Artfully rendered, we had finally made it after catching the ferry by the skin of our teeth It was good to stretch our legs. These overnight ferries are always ridden by the weirdest people. I haven't had a normal experience yet. But while it had been a long night on the floor of the Fjord line ferry (people only understood what we were asking them when we pronounced fjord line like FUHYOOOOOORD line) it was nothing a few crooked buildings couldn't make up for Overlooking the city, hoping the weather'd hold out It was a cool view when the fog would clear Hiking up and into the forest And the next day we were on our way to Sojnefjord, which was expensive, but stunning. This here is Lucy And this here's the fjord One of the only normal pictures we have There's Lucy again. Nothing could distract her from her picture taking Eric, who is actually part Norwegian, brimming with Norwegian patriotism. Cute older couple And just the quaintest of villages Some sheep we found And a gift shop Beautiful little guy After walking a little ways, we picked a fjord and hit the ground running It took us up pretty high, we were walking for probably an hour or so. This isn't the end, but it was a pretty good view. What can I say, jump shots are our bread and butter. There was a waterfall nearby, but it didn't hold our attention near as well as the jumping pictures Whether we were jumping or not though, this place was phenomenal There's that waterfall I was talking about And then there was a train ride up the fjord, with views like this one most of the way We were literally the only people on board, having taken the later train to catch the overnight from the station at the other end We zig-zagged our way up that giant thing, where there was snow at the top, and enjoyed five hours in the "town" at the top. I use the term town loosely here, because there were some 5 buildings in it, none of which were inhabited. After a lovely evening of train sleeping and groggily making our way through a morning in Oslo, we arrived at this bad boy by the next afternoon. It didn't really live up to the hype for either of us. There was a slight moment of panic after we returned to the station one of the laps and Eric was missing his wallet, which included the combo to the train station locker in which was everything we owned, including our passports. But we were able to find it, thankfully (right down there actually), and they were incredibly nice and accommodating to us, as we had plans to leave the country that evening and asked very nicely. Kanonen was nice and fun A better view of the layout This was probably our favorite ride at the park though, for what it was There's Kano - ERICCC?!!?? Thanks for reading guys, it was a pretty sweet trip!
  3. Just got back from the park! We got in with the 5 pm discount tickets and got on Skyrush after 2 switchbacks and about 30-40 minutes. The ride was a blast! It was interesting, I brought a friend who had actually never been on a coaster before, and we both loved it. The first drop was incredible (we rode in the back), and the airtime definitely does not disappoint. She was a bit rattled, but the extreme airtime was actually her favorite part. I didn't reeeeally understand the hype for the ride - the layout seemed like a glorified Rita or Desert Storm, but I was definitely pleasantly surprised. Storm Runner has always been one of my favorites though, and while the two are very different, we both ended up preferring Storm Runner. But really, no complaints besides the loading, this thing hauls!
  4. My parents used me studying abroad as an excuse to get out of the country for the first time ever! So while they signed up with a tour company to see Norway and Denmark, I used them visiting meeee as an excuse to stop by Tusenfryd, meeting them in Oslo for a couple days and taking an afternoon during one of their scheduled tours to hop a local bus to the park. The bus ride wasn’t bad at all, maybe 30 minutes, and was very easy to catch from the center of the city. Oslo itself was mehhh.. it’s mostly just a city. The new opera building was spectacular though. If you’re gonna be in Norway, there are a million better things to see than Oslo. Seeing my folks though, was a great treat. It had been quite a while. Seeing them trying to navigate their way around a foreign country for the first time... well, words can't explain, I was dying. Tusenfryd I really liked though. It had a kind of backwoods feel to it, small enough but still with things to do, and Thundercoaster hauled. It wouldn’t take more than a few hours to do everything you needed to, but is well worth a stop. Speed Monster is beautiful the way it straddles the park entrance. The ride is super classy, but wasn’t quite as forceful as I was hoping. It was still a fun ride though. The rest of the park is pretty standard, with a Vekoma Tornado model looking pretty rusty, the water coaster waaayyyy in the corner, and the cutest of all the kiddie rides. That leaves Thundercoaster, which, as I mentioned, kicked some serious butt. I loved it. I loved it quite a bit. It was aggressive and you could feel the power, but I wouldn’t call it rough. And the layout was incredibly original. There was great air and sustained intensity throughout, and the whole way you just feel like you’re charging through the course. I haven’t ridden Loup-Garou, but I have ridden Robin Hood, the other Vekoma woodies, and I would call this one wayyyy better. It rides kind of like the bigger CCIs. Which I love. It’s solidly in my top ten. Thanks for reading guys, It’s been great hearing from all of you. I also just wanted to apologize for taking so long to get these updates up (especially after that long stretch). My last year of college happened, and it’s just taken me completely out of my coaster mindset. But hopefully I’ll be able to finish it this time around. -Danny This is the statue park in Norway, which had a number of... reeeeally, really weird statues. Mostly beautiful My mom and I, overlooking the garden Probably my favorite statue in the park. This was one of the more normal, beautiful ones... Unlike this one, for instance Oslo city hall Speed Monster, from outside the park Best use of escalators I've ever seen. Then again, I've never been to Parque EspaNa So cutting edge! This ride was almost nostalgic. I know it's not particularly old, but it felt really... classic almost. Take off! The setting for the park is beautiful! One final corkscrew before the final turn Loopen! These are only fun if you choose your seat wisely This thing, though, was incredible. Definitely did not disappoint for me It was a very well grown in coaster - it felt like it had always been there And the line took you right under the supports for some really neat views Smallest coaster in the world POV If a young adult came and squeezed next to me when I was four, without speaking my language and obviously excited to be there... I would be wary, that's for sure The flowers were just the icing on the cake Water coaster. It was nice, but I could do without 'water' in my life and in my lap The airtime was all over the place. Some were floater, some were fly out of your seat, some were catapult into the person next to you and some seemed to change each ride. It was wonderful Lots of air, lots of speed, lots of headchoppers... And everyone was blonde! That second drop was amazing And the laterals on the turns were perfect Back on over to Speed Monster to close out the afternoon Love the way the park just disappears right there On the return leg Last picture at Tusenfryd. SM was small and fairly tame but it was smooth, and flowed really nicely Back in downtown Oslo at the opera house My mom and the opera house. It was modeled after a glacier I believe South, into the fjord Love this shot of my parents. Downtown Oslo at sunset This is the first and only jumping picture my parents have ever taken haha. Thanks for reading!
  5. Copenhagen has a great thing going for it, in regards to its proximity to Norway. In fact, prior to arriving in Denmark, I would often daydream about Copenhagen as the ‘doorway to Scandinavia’, and often envisioned myself embarking on Viking ships out of port, and heading straight North on a polar bear, skinny dipping in fjords and camping in reindeer hide huts under the Northern lights. While none of this really happens, you can in some ways get really close, and while I have yet to ride a polar bear, I did do a fair amount of traveling with the aim to actualize these Nordic fantasies. I’m convinced Norway is the perfect country. It’s beautiful, and perfect, and everybody’s happy, and good looking, and employed, and even if they’re not, the government takes extraordinarily good care of them. I would love more than anything to one day get a cabin in the fjords up north, way in the middle of nowhere, and visit occasionally, but really not be obligated to do anything. Of all the places I went, the landscapes here were arguably the most stunning. And of course, the Northern Lights are to die for. If you’ve always wanted to see the Northern Lights and haven’t yet… I’m not sure this report is for you. I can’t promise I’ll be able to stop talking about how great they are. I took a February trip up to Tromso for the weekend, a small city waaaay up north, up above the Arctic Circle, mostly situated on an island between the inland fjords and Whale Mountain, which separates Tromso from the Arctic Ocean. The city is stunning and quaint all at the same time, and I just couldn’t get over it. I felt like I was at the end of the world. I did a lot of wandering. Norway is expeeeennsssive, and even the public transportation was like 6 bucks a pop. There’s a cable car you can take across the bridge and past the Arctic Cathedral, which takes you to one of the mountains for an overview of the city. Tromso is on a small island, about 4 miles long and less than a mile or so wide, with the airport right in the middle, and my hostel way at the south tip, which I would walk the two miles to and from. It was cold, but it wasn’t as cold as you would expect - probably about 20-25 degrees Fahrenheit most of the time. The Northern Lights were unlike anything I’ve ever seen. It was mind-blowing, and all the pictures in the world can’t prepare you for how surreal and hauntingly beautiful they are. They took a while to warm up, but all of the sudden this ghostly green curtain appears out of no where like lava, and slowly ripples its way from horizon to horizon, rending the sky in two. I met a girl from Berlin in her early 20s, who, like me, had gotten sick of her friends’ hesitancy to go anywhere interesting, and had hopped on a plane by herself to just get well off the beaten path. We ended up at the same place the next afternoon for a snowshoeing trek up a mountain, which was easily one of the most exhausting things I’ve ever done. The snowsuits sure were fun to walk around in though. I felt like an alien. One of the best things to do when you’re budget traveling is to pretend like you’re staying in really hotels. When you pretend you’re staying there, everyone thinks you’re staying there, and you can spend a large amount of time in the lobby, where it’s warm, and occasionally there’s a fireplace and access to their free wifi. Sometimes you’ll even be able to get a crack at a complimentary fruit basket, or a leftover supply of fancy banquet deserts. But you’re also presented with the opportunity to get in on tourist trips that you otherwise wouldn’t have known about. Like the roundtrip bus and ferry trip to Skjervoy and back. This I signed up for at the last minute and sat down to the most delightful company of an 80 year old Norwegian woman from Alta, who had made the long trek into the city to visit a dentist. The farther we got out of the city, the more beautiful things got. And I’m pretty sure it’s here where I saw the most beautiful landscape I’ve ever seen. The bus flits around the base of the impossibly steep fjords, which tower over you, and the late afternoon sun is just hovering below the horizon for hours now, sending an ethereal glow of purple and pink off the tops of the crooked mountains, their edges blurred by the snow being blown off into the twilight sky. The fjord inlets you skirt around shimmer silver blue, laden with ice, as the lights of the cabin or two across the water flicker on in the dusk like fireflies. And all this time the old woman next to you is telling you about her granddaughters, and you can’t shake the feeling that she must be a witch, because normal people can’t possibly live in places as beautiful as this. But unfortunately we didn’t make it all the way to Skjervoy – we were blocked by an avalanche, and I had to catch another bus heading back to the city, as they would have to take an alternate route and I would miss the roundtrip ferry back to Tromso. But fortunately, this afforded me one of the most incredible opportunities I’ve ever had. The guy at my hostel, who I had spent nearly an hour talking with, had suggested I make my way up to Whale Mountain my last night in town. So at around midnight, not having had the money to pay for the last night before my 6:40 am flight, I got everything on my back and headed out into the cold, catching a local bus to the other side of the airport and across the bridge to the town at the base of the mountain, where I backtracked a ways, and found a secret entrance to a set of cross country ski paths, which were walkable due to the snow being packed down from the skiers. And from about 1 am til 3, I was alone on Whale Mountain, the city far away now, the silence of Whale Mountain almost swallowing me completely, as I made my way blindly on the unmarked paths of packed snow, my way illuminated by the silver of the moon and the haunting green of the Northern Lights. And having finally made my way back to the airport, I snuck in through the parking garage elevators, which I had previously read from a travel blog were left on all night, and caught a quick nap under the florescent lights of the terminal, the Arctic cold of the night howling outside. Words of advice: get to Norway, and then just head north. Thanks for reading, I’ll be back soon with pictures of Oslo, Tusenfryd, Bergen, and springtime fjords. Ship off the shore of Tromso, often nicknamed the Paris of the North Inland fjords. Norway does this funky think up north where the land breaks apart and nothing is solid or connected The bridge to the Arctic Cathedral. Which was beautiful A man on a street One of my favorite views, ever. I was in the yard of some sort of factory getting this shot Big scarf and an Arctic bridge Crossing the bridge to get to the cable car Tromso from the top of a fjord Here you get a pretty good sense of the city. You can see the airport on the back half of the city and Whale Mountain behind it. My hostel was way off to the left, at the tip of the island You really have to take advantage of the sunlight when it's February. This was around 2 or 3 in the afternoon I believe Around that mountain on the left was the way our bus went my last night, to get to Skjervoy One last look towards the Arctic Cathedral, you can see the cable car at the top there on the right As the sun sets, the city lights up I couldn't get enough of this view, this time as the sun was setting (which took hours, by the way) And at night, it's just stunning This is Julia, the girl I met from Berlin. Northern Lights buddies. She was more excited than she looks haha This was the best my camera could do. I promise you it's about 100 times as amazing as this Heading out on a little snowshoe adventure. Ope, there I go! I promise, it's way more tiring than you could ever imagine Just some arctic sled dogs I found And I'll end with this one, taken at the start of my midnight walk around the cross country ski paths on Whale Mountain. This might be the most beautiful picture I've ever taken. Thanks for reading guys!
  6. Slow and steady on putting this thread together – I’ll be getting around to the rest of it eventually though, no worries. Thanks for hanging in there with me. This report features a little snippet of mainland Greece, some remarkably hobo-esque backpack stories, and a quick stop at Allou Fun Park in Athens amidst a few old temples on some hills I found. I made my way hastily through Greece on my way to west Turkey, after catching an overnight ferry from Ancona. The ferry got in sometime around six at Igoumenitsa on the West Coast, the dawn barely starting to peak over the fog covered mountains inland. I moseyed on over to the bus station, and caught the 6:20 bus to Kalambaka, with only myself and one other tightly made up woman, who was from somewhere like Russia, and admittedly not wearing very much clothing. She nervously approached me a half-hour into the ride, and pulled out a long list of English words, with which I got to help her work on her pronunciation. To be honest and maybe a little unfair, I was relieved that that was all she pulled out. In exchange, she offered me a few oranges and a couple kiwis, and from then on we watched the morning mist roll over the hills in silence, as the sun continued to rise. Kalambaka is a little town at the base of Meteora, possibly one of the most underappreciated sites in all of Europe. It’s essentially an old series of hermit monasteries built 500-700 years ago on top of enormous sheer-sided natural stone pillars. It’s easily been one of the coolest places I’ve ever been, if not most of all for the fact that it seemed fairly undiscovered. I mean, it’s not, but it’s no Eiffel Tower. I got a start out of Kalambaka at about 10 in the morning and started walking the few miles up to the monasteries, breaking off to follow unmarked, unpopulated trails around the base of the stone cliffs and up in between them, climbing over walks and around ancient remains of cliff dwellings, passing sheep herders and wild dogs, and generally backpacking my way all over one of the most beautiful, unimaginable places there is, almost entirely alone. I didn’t get back down to the village til around 5 and from there, after a nice rest in the central plaza, I made my way to the train station and hopped on a little guy making its way to Athens. Now, in most of my traveling, whenever it’s possible, I take advantage of late night/early morning transits to spend the night in the station or airport or whatever and save a few bucks. But when we rolled in to Athens at about 11 at night and I tried to pick out a nice bench, me and the rest of the bums were all kicked out within the hour as the station closed down, where I was left on my own to wander around downtown Athens at midnight, looking for a hostel. I wouldn’t ever recommend doing this. Needless to say Athens isn’t the safest city. Nor were they experiencing what we like to call “economic stability”. But, thankfully, things all worked out within twenty loooong scary minutes. Greece I’ve heard is wonderful, and from what I saw, it was. But I’ve also heard that it’s not recommended to spend any time at all in its capital, if you can avoid it. But with the Acropolis providing one of the most tempting lures in all of mainland Europe, it was tempting to pass up, so I did what I would soon come to find I was very good at, and crashed my way through the city in less than a day, taking what I wanted and nothing more. I’m not gonna say it isn’t an exhausting way to travel, but boy is it satisfying. Backpack strapped on and ready for another long day of walking, I made my way through downtown Athens and a few of the markets and up to the parks around the Parthenon, where students can enter for free (what a pleasant surprise!). From there, it was only a 3-4 mile walk to Allou Fun City, which is least easily gotten to by following (roughly) the path across and down the mountain park toward the distant harbor, following the road diagonally in the same direction until you went about 40 minutes, cutting vaguely right when you sense a highway is near, walking the half mile through the trucking station, up and over the crossing highway and then follow that left shoulder right until you see the ferris wheel. All for the love of the adventure. It was a nice small little park with three credits, a mouse, a Tivoli and a wacky worm, a few stray dogs and a surprisingly large amount of students just out from school. The park didn’t open til 5 or so, so I spent an hour or so chilling in an arcade next door with wifi and airconditioning (HalleLUjah), then got back and hit em all quickly before running to catch a ferry out of Piraeus by way of the metro, which took me out into the port. Exhausted and famished, I finally ambled on board the liner to Izmir via Chios with a half hour to spare, and watched the sun set over Athens as we pulled out into the Mediterranean. I ended up meeting a few Greeks in their early twenties and spending the 8 hour ride playing cards and laughing between the 20 mutually distinguishable words we could understand from one other. We crashed around 2, to be waken up and dropped off at around 3:30 in the morning at Chios, a hop skip and a jump from mainland West Asia. Pictures below, more to come soon(ish?), thanks SO much for reading and feel free to leave comments, I’d love to hear back from you! Early morning bus ride from Igoumenitsa to Kalambaka, driving up and down through the mist covered valleys My new Russian lady friend and I enjoyed this view over her pair of oranges... there's no inuendo there, that's actually what we did Welcome to Kalambaka I did a little bit of wandering through side streets and probably what was peoples' yards, accidentally. I can't believe people just live here I'd eventually end up way up there, but you have to kind of skirt around to the left and make your way around Hiking a side trail Things were going swimmingly until i got too close to a woman's sheep herd and then got chased off by her vicious dogs. She was laughing mostly. I was pooping my pants Somewhere in Greece: A memoire One of my favorite pictures of my entire semester abroad. Unreal After a pretty grueling hike around back, came up to a view of this little guy In black and white I went in a few of them. I think there are six left standing. But none of the pictures from the inside turned out too great, so you all are stuck with these Obligatory self portrait Tree The whole valley out below This was from the deck of one of the monasteries. From here I made my way back down to town on another hidden back pathway, before catching a train to Athens Athens the next morning, I loved the business of this place Athens Horizon Making my way up to the Parthenon... Via this little coliseum Couldn't resist throwing this one in here Props to architecture that endures for thousands of years. They were doing some work on it but it still looked pretty darn cool Some nice detail work Frontal view from across the way I love people shots The rest of the city These four ladies aged extreeeeemely well! Ok, this is the way you want to head to the port at Piraeus. Follow this little mountain, take one of the diagonal streets headed straight, and just keep walking. Looking back I can't imagine there were tooooo many Americans before me to make the 4 mile(ish) walk from the Acropolis to Allou Fun Park across town. Needless to say, I was pretty proud of my navigation skills A nice little corner block resort Welcome to Athens' main amusement park! They had this little guy in a separate kids area across a small side street Walking around snapping pictures before the park opened Made my first stop at the Tovoli This thing ran aaawwwfully close to the surrounding plants. You can see them poking up out of the trak there. At one point, I had to literally lean the out of the way as my head brushed that giant brown dome thing on that large helix If I remember right, they were taking a few minutes to get her started so I kept on going to hit up the mouse first I've always thought Wild Mouse cars were the creepiest Probably wouldn't have been a strong advocate of the pink and green color combo were I on that board, but other than that, no complaints, really The park from the mouse's lift Ride sign I can't imagine too many tourists have ever gotten this view of Athens The whole thing I don't mean to brag, but uhhh... I got the first ride of the day. Yeah baby Some Tivoli POV You kinda rocket around this thing. There's a looooot of foliage up in here. It was almost unnerving. Final credit Had a few nice solo laps There was a reeeeally weird cardboard cut out theme for this guy Just loving life One last POV shot In the distance After a long day I made the 7 o clock ferry out of Athens and was left with this final view of the city. Thanks for reading guys!
  7. Thanks for the Report, Steve, I love reading reports where it's so clear the writer had a great time! I'm also really glad Thunderhead is still running so well. In my opinion, that coaster often gets a little left out in best-coaster-talks with all the new stuff going on, but it's great to hear it's still up there with the best!
  8. These are great, I looooooove new Mitch Hawker Poll release days!!! I'm getting really antsy for some new rides to start breaking up the usual spots!! I mean, if you think about it, the two newest rides on here (FP's El Toro (really??), and Prowler), have been fully functioning for three whole seasons now. El Toro and the Voyage, as much as I love the both of them, are both six years old now, and even T-Express is becoming "old news", relatively speaking. It would be wonderful to get some new blood in here, to make the top 20-25 spots a blood bath of ruthless top-tier coaster brawling. Can you imagine how great it'd be if there were so many great new rides that the Voyage, El Toro, T-Express, and Boulder Dash were fighting to even make the top ten, let alone the top spot?? I mean, of course there's more that goes into building a ride than just making it "the best", but as the years go by and engineering gets more and more refined, a new ride's ranking should more or less reflect that progress, imo. That being said, it is so cool to see some oldies-but-goodies still chugging along. Seeing Thunderhead and Balder and BD still hold their own, and freaking Phoenix over 25 years old - that's so great haha
  9. Hey guys, I just wanted to thank you all so much for the comments and feedback. It's so nice to hear back about this stuff, and you guys are always so appreciative, it really makes me love being a part of this community and putting the time in to these TRs. This next update is gonna be pretty brief I think. I know the UK has been done time and time again, so I won't belabor the issue. I had a long layover in London after the middle east trip, and was able to visit a friend from school who was studying abroad at Oxford at the time. We did a short *most-touristy-of-tourist-spots* tour in the morning, then headed over to Thorpe for the afternoon, before heading up to Oxford for the evening, where I didn't get any pictures, but I can assure you that wizards live there. London I don't love. I visited a long time ago, so I didn't feel like there was much I neeeeeeded to see, and granted we did very little in venturing outside the main places, but it's just not my type of place. Outside of the city is much much more enjoyable and beautiful in my opinion, and I really enjoyed the night we had in Oxford. It was quaint and quiet and interesting and clean and we had a good night, hanging out with a few of her English friends. Thorpe park I also didn't care for too much to be honest. It was definitely decent, but it didn't have a ride that really stood out in my opinion. We did our lap, hit all the major rides, and really didn't feel too compelled to go back and reride anything. Stealth I actually ended up enjoying less than Rita, Nemesis Inferno was tame and forgettable, and Colossos was a little rough. Saw actually impressed me, I usually don't love the Eurofighters, but this was a pretty good one. Later on I went back for a short trip into Manchester, and visited Blackpool Pleasure Beach and Alton Towers. It was a little bit of a rough trip getting in, our flight was delayed around 10 hours. This meant we got free meal vouchers at the airport, and a bunch of us on the flight grabbed a pretty fun meal together. But it also meant that we didn't get in til around 2:30 am. So it was a rushed cat nap in the airport, before grabbing the first train to Blackpool, rolling in sometime before 7 and holing up for a couple hours in a coffee shop. The strip down the shore was really wild, and a bit sketchy for sure, but it was a cool atmosphere. Both of these, BPB and AT, have been parks I've been drooling over for a looooong long time, and it was really surreal to be there. BPB is a really cool park in regards to the fact that there is hardly any conception of a 'ground'. Everything's just suspended and built on top of everything else and wraps all over the place and it's all brilliant and gritty, and I loved it. I tried to emphasis this in the pictures I chose, the fact there's never any ground. It's a really neat place, and that mouse is SO much fun. I met a couple enthusiasts here, including Simon, who showed me around a little bit, and who I'm very thankful to for meeting up with me. There were a few rides closed for a while which made getting to them a little tougher - Pepsi Big One was down all morning, and so was Grand National. But they both opened eventually and were both pretty fun. Grand National is a blast, but I still preferred the mouse. The next day I made it to Alton Towers, and made my way around the park counter clockwise, starting with Oblivion and ending up with Nemesis. The rides here were just about as good as I've always expected them to be - which was pretty darn good, if not a little on the shorter side. Nemesis blows everything else out of the water though. This was my 300th credit, and was just so good. B&M inverts are my favorite, and with as much hype as this ride gets, it definitely didn't disappoint. I grabbed a dozen or so laps on it, loving every second of it, and then headed out around closing and headed to the airport for another early morning flight. Thanks for reading guys, and I hope you enjoy this next batch: I know these parks have been done to death so I just included my favorites. Enjoy! -Danny Welcome to London - it's good to be here. Big Ben doesn't look nearly as big these days does it? I met up with a friend from school early in the morning, Caroline, and we grabbed a bite to eat and then ran around all the major tourist buildings before heading to Thorpe Some bridge And here we are at Thorpe, starting things off with Stealth Nemesis Inferno was prettier than it was forceful, unfortunately The sunlight off that deep purple track is awesome though Colossus upside down, as it's been wont to do If there's one thing Colossus does, it's make you wonder what happened that Intamin sold out to such an uninspired layout While more 'classic' than outright 'good', it was still a fairly enjoyable ride Saw though, was a really pleasant surprise. If I remember right the inside seats were way more comfortable than the outside ones, but I think we rerode this one a few times. We grabbed one more lap on Stealth, which became a sort of irrelevant ride when things like Storm Runner and TTD became the rocket coaster norm, before heading back to the city As usual, we took everything pretty seriously. Just some older couple I creeped on Passing some time waiting for the train somewhere outside of Manchester And by around 7 or so, I had made it to Blackpool Making the long walk down the shore, you get a nice view at the end The front half of the park, home to easily the greatest mouse I've been on The SLC's paint job looked great, and the setting was cool over the water. Other than that though it was pretty standard for an SLC Everything's built up off the ground, and it's just such a cool effect Back half of the park I really enjoyed the Big Dipper, that was a really fun old ride Look how good it looks! It's almost false advertising, to have a ride so bad look so good Pepsi Max was one of the most drawn out coaster experiences I've ever had. That thing just rolls on for miles The toboggan was fun, but they weren't running very many trains and it was a slow wait. Grand National final hops On the way up to Irn Bru I believe The next day I made it to Alton Towers, which was really a beautiful park. I was more impressed with Rita that I was expecting, to be honest That curvy intamin tracked turns out so good in pictures too Air, while definitely not intense, was thankfully more inspired of a layout than the Supermans (Supermen?) I was so used to back home It had a really cool spot in the back corner of the park too. The whole flying coaster concept just isn't new at all any more, is it? It's amazing how old that makes me feel For whatever reason, riding on my back gave me an awful lot of chins and I led to uncontrollable bouts of giggling. Is that normal? Don't answer that haha And then I fiiiinally made it to Nemesis, a ride I've been looking forward to since the internet brought about the realization that there were other theme parks in the world, way back in the third grade. It's been said a million times, but this is one of the most BA rides ever been built, and it still hauls around the carved out rocks and virgin blood like no other Easily one of the most unique B&Ms, easily one of the best. This ride settled pretty high up in my top 5 in no time. If I remember the timing right, it might have even been my favorite for a few days, before Katun came and changed my life. It will be decades before this stops being a world class ride. This thing had a newish paint job, and it looked really fine And finally back to Oblivion. I thought I wouldn't really care for this ride too much, with how short it is, but it was a really fun little jog for what it was. 'Hole jokes' abound That drop was just great. Another in-park legacy to coaster revolution that has since been far surpassed by the sweeping tide of progressive modernization. Oblivion we salute you Close ups Sun came out a bit and the skies opened up It just gets faster and faster and faster, doesn't it? Tearing up out of the ground... And one last lap as i said goodbye to my 300th credit. Who needs paper, amiright?? Thanks for reading guys, hope you enjoyed it
  10. This whole TR is just wonderful. Your pictures are stunning and I, for one, am a sucker for reports that include a little more than just the coasters. It seems as though you're having an incredible time and I can't wait to see the rest!! Thanks for uploading! -Danny
  11. Dude this was stunning!!! Your shots are top notch and your sense of composition throughout the entire video was just gripping! I felt like a little kid again Thanks for uploading this, we all definitely appreciate the work you put into this
  12. Thanks for the comments guys, it's really great hearing from all of you I just wanted to give a few thoughts on what I remember of the ride. The REASONS the ride was so great, I've already kind of touched on. Power, ejector airtime, were a big part of it. Uniqueness and theming was another big part of it. But let's go through it a little more slowly. The lift hill, as you can kind of tell, is at about a 60 degree incline, taking a sharp right turn right out of the station with the smallest turning radius I've ever seen. It takes you riiiight up into the rafters and out of sight of the rest of the ride. I remember getting the best rides in the front, getting pushed over those tight hills and around those curves, but I have noooo idea how it rides with anyone else in the train, let alone a full ride. It dips right down into a tunnel after a double dip, blaaasting you over a a small hump with and into a tight turn with ferocious power. The ride is basically a figure 8 with a right hand helix at the end, but the simplicity of the ride is something that DEFINITELY eludes you, and the way it's set up there's a bunch of head choppers and cross overs. I think my favorite part of the ride was that heavily banked hump right into the helix after the turn around. The airtime on that thing was unlike anything. Even the last pop, no more than 2 feet high right before the station, was enough to get you out of your seat. But I think a big part of why the ride is so successful and memorable is because it tracks incredibly well. The spine is solid and sturdy and the wheels are on nice and tight. There was no rattling and no shoddy transition work, and the thing was as smooth as anything. On a ride with transitions that tight and so much extra power, it's pretty uncommon to experience a ride that also exudes so much control. And I think THAT, that not only was it aggressive and powerful and unique and explosive, but well-put together, solid, and relatively comfortable... I think that's why it ranks so highly with me, and probably with others who have ridden it as well
  13. I also caught a POV of the ride, which as far as I know is the only one up on the internet. There's a lot of noises in it haha, just be forewarned, but it's a great example of just how powerful the ride is. ENJOY! (If an admin sees this and isn't okay with a youtube link, I have an 8 MB m4v file, I just wasn't sure how to upload it properly)
  14. Thanks for the comments guys!! I really appreciate it. Now in the first post I believe I had some UK parks scheduled up next, but I think I’m going to switch that up. Let’s go to Bahrain and knock out the last of my Gulf adventures. Why Bahrain you might ask? Jungle Storm, straight up. One of the wildest coasters out there, having gotten a little bit of the spotlight in the last couple years with Dave and some of those super-human credit hunters Richard and George and the all them, I had my sights locked and loaded on this coaster. And let me tell you, the world had a lot to say to keep me away. This trip was originally supposed to be to Egypt. But a few days before I booked the trip, the protests erupted, rendering that trip maayyyyybenotthebestideaatthetime. I remember thinking, “Welp, I guess that’s that, we’ll just have to save Egypt for another time, at least all these other gulf countries are still open and safe.” ….. and then wouldn’t you know, EVERYONE jumped on the protest bandwagon. And here I’d just like to say, it very much looks like IIIIiiiii jumped on the protest bandwagon, and I guess I kind of did. But, I’m in no way trivializing these protests or the rights of the people behind them. And I’ll be the first to say that lamenting over coaster plans while this area of the world is erupting in civil reform is callous, selfish, and ultimately an insensitive display of western consumerism and egoism. I’m ALSO not going to sit here defending my actions in the self-righteous name of “a boost to the tourism industry of the struggling countries”. I had booked my trip before the protests in Bahrain started, and I did so choosing to fly through Bahrain, honestly because the double extended layovers in Bahrain and in London was the cheapest trip home I could find, after a looooot of searching. This also allowed me the opportunity to both stop by Chakazoulu, if it was open, and visit a friend who was studying abroad at Oxford. I had originally had my eyes on a connection through Baku that was a bit cheaper, that would have eliminated a trip to Bahrain and allowed me a full day in Azerbaijan, but there had been a change in the US entry policy a couple months back making it impossible for me to enter the country. So I ended up in Bahrain a few weeks into the protests, fully aware and expecting that I might not get my way this time around. But I’m not one to sit around and hide from the dangers of the big, scary world. So I went through customs paying the ten dollar fee for the “exit the airport” visa, hailed a cab, and made my way to the Al-Dana mall, around backroads and road blocks and check points and armored tanks, and a bunch of empty streets, an amazing insight into history making itself, where issues and ideals manifest themselves in every facet of physical living. And while the mall was just about empty, the park was in fact open, and I had Jungle Storm all to myself. I paid for three rides but the ride op and I quickly hit it off and he gave me around 6. The ride itself is insane. It’s small, and funky, and does things no other coaster does or should, but man that thing is a blast. I think I remember Richard Bannister saying that if this ride were more mainstream it would be a top ten ride, and I think he’s kind of right. It is, in fact, in my top ten steels, but I think a large deal of that is its uniqueness. If it were mainstream, it wouldn’t be the same. It’s a testament once again to the fact that your response to a coaster is the summation of the entire experience, not just an objective angle on a single isolated lap. The ride explodes with airtime and power, and is just a blast. I’ve never ridden anything like it, and I would love to see more of these pop up in other places. It was hard tearing myself away, but there were other things to do and to see, such as the military base camp right outside the mall, a huge razed area enclosed by barbed wire, where a bunch of tanks and armed officers were hanging out. This was also where I nearly got arrested. In hindsight, it was a dumb idea to be holding my camera out in the open at that point, after a long encounter from some guys in an unmarked vehical with guns, radioing in my passport number for a background check and scanning through my pictures. Whoopsiedoopsies. There was definitely a small part of me sure that I was gonna be making a call to my parents from inside a Bahraini prison, but luckily I got out of there with no harm done. Now walking around a protesting Bahrain probably wasn’t the best line of attack. But being short on cash, I just didn’t have any other choi…. Oh wait, yes I did. Hello hitch hiking. I was picked up by a local right past another security checkpoint, and was driven to Adhari park through his home neighborhood, entertaining a lovely discussion on the horrible effects the protests were having on the economy in some horribly broken English, and waving at his house. This was one of the coolest things I’ve ever done, and while I certainly wouldn’t recommend it as the first option, it just goes to show how wonderful and hospitable the vast number of people in this world are. Adhari park was another interesting story, as the park wasn’t open, simply because there was just no one to be there or to work there. The guy who owned the place met me at the gate and apologized for the inconvenience, to which I just assured him how blown away I was at his concern and hospitality, and that he shouldn’t worry about it in the least. In response, he had one of the security officers walk me around the park and gave me a personal tour of the place, which was completely unexpected. It was a decent looking place, with a decent number of things to do, impressively clean and well-kept, and quite a nice surprise overall. From there I was picked up by an expat from Indonesia I had met through the couch-surfing network, who showed me around the city for the evening and made me dinner. I got back to the airport late that night before the curfew, and caught an overnight flight to London. The country was in a critical state, and it was just unbelievable to see how they were managing through it all. It’s amazing to see real world problems, and real world conflicts working themselves out, and real people caught in the middle just trying to get by. I met way more wonderful people than I ever imagined I would, and am just so thankful for the experience. Thanks for reading, and if you ever get a chance, don’t pass up Jungle Storm, there just aren’t enough gems like that left in the world. Welcome to currently protesting Bahrain. This place was crazy. If you look closely you can see a few tanks just above the railing there, and also take note that nobody else is on the road. I little unsettling, but absolutely fascinating Al-Dana mall, home to one of the great hidden treasures of the coaster world. Love the portrait decor up top Chakazoolu. Open for business. I was the first person to the park that day, and it was like 3 in the afternoon The lighting is all dark and mysterious and great The whole place was like a jungle gym - fitting name Wait. WAIT, is that a normal picture???? The whole place is just a mess of track Smooth, powerful, unpredictable, this thing rode just like I like them the entrance temple Even by the end of my rides, the layout was hard to follow "He touched the butt" THROUGHHHH THE TRACK!!! the whole project was just beautiful, really from across the room Some very intricate trackwork What great park visit would be complete without a shot like this? The main military camp in the center of the city In between the big buildings After a wonderful hitch hiking jog across the city, welcome to Adhari Park The whole park was closed because of the protests, but the owner was kind enough to give me a private walk around It looked like a bit of a goofy ride, but nothing like Jungle Storm around the rest of the park Sunset The park's central lake disko Arabian Gulf sunsets were beautiful you guys Just some parks-that-aren't-opened-in-Bahrain dances across the lake really, it was a surprisingly great lookin park Outside the park, across the way flowers waiting for my host From the roof of her apartment again down at the biggest mosques in the country late night visitor one of the government buildings One last shot from one of the smallest, but most hospitable countries I've been to. It was a rushed ride to the airport before curfew, and then a late night flight to London. It was an unbelievable opportunity, and from the people I've kept up with from Bahrain, the country is doing a lot better. Thanks for reading guys!
  15. Sorry these things get so long. There's just a lot of good stuff to say So, Dubai gets a lot of criticism for being things like “not-the-true-Middle-East-at-all-not-even-a-little”, “a-gross-display-of-wealth-that-is-only-superficial”, and a place where “everyone’s-an-immigrant-getting-underpaid-and-they-can’t-wait-to-move-out-anyways”. And it was, it totally was. BUT if you can get behind the gross abuses of wealth and the lack of nationalistic identity in the face of materialistic supremacy, and the lack of attention to any humanitarian concern at allllllll… it’s just a really neat place to be. NOWHERE else in the world grew a city like this, and nowhere are the effects of an exploding, hollow, decayed, superficial capitalistic market more overtly displayed. What it lacks in functionality, it more than makes up for in obscenity of lavishness. And I guess it kind of failed as a project. So it’s interesting, more than anything, so soooo fascinating, and that’s why you should go there. The buildings are unbelievable. The public transportation hubs look like space stations. The infrastructure completely dwarfs the human scale, rendering things like “walking” obsolete. There weren’t any real people. And to have all this on display as the manifestations of the most disastrous capitalistic investment ever, was just delightful. Dubai is not how cities should be made. Yet to see how far we’ve come, and how far people thought they could take it, was absolutely fascinating. I got off the bus somewhere in the middle of the city while the sun was setting, with still a few hours left before I was set to meet up with the guy I was couch surfing with, who had spent the week in Doha for business. So, with nothing more than a couple fuzzy google maps I had printed out, I set out in search of some credits on foot, taking my best stab at the location of my whereabouts and just heading in the direction of the Old City. Now, anyone traveling in Dubai looking to go coaster hunting should never do what I did. Never. This city was not made for walking, nor was it made for roller coasters, nor was it made for poor college students, nor was it made for backpackers, nor was it made to be walked around in at night, nor was it made for clear cut directions and a pristine orientation. It was made for the wealthiest of them all, which didn’t apply in any way to what I was setting out to do. I wandered through sand fields, I cut along back roads, I crossed major highways on foot and walked along shoulders. I hopped over fences, snuck through barbed wire fences, and cut through yards. I asked shop owners and restaurant owners and anyone out walking and I walked for miles and miles. I read and reread inaccurate maps and had to reorient myself way too many times due to inconsistencies. But I managed somehow, which leads me to the incredibly exciting reward of three parks that night. My first stop was Stargate, a huge, beautiful public park area full of families enjoying the early evening together, with an indoor game center towards the back set in-ground as a bunch of planets. There was a funky coaster bursting out from one of them that looked like it hadn’t run in a while, and with my prospects low, I went inside to find out that, indeed, it hadn’t been running in a while. I did manage to find a torn up picture on the wall of a B&M invert, so.... hopefulthinkingfutureplans??? Actually the place was super sketchy and I got out of there as fast as I could. I had heard from previous reports that the coaster here was on its last legs, and I guess it had finally run its last lap. Of course, all this was in March, so I don’t know what Stargate’s been up to since then. The next park took an awful long time to hunt down. I found myself in the backyards of the embassy strips, and in a rush to hurry away from the Pakistan place, found myself in a number of back-alley slum-ish backyards, climbing over fences, and sneaking around desert dumpsters and running away from dogs. The only reason I found Al-Nasr Liesureland at all was that I finally spotted the ferris wheel poking out above the houses. It didn’t help that NOBODY had ever heard of this place, and could offer me directions, even within a couple blocks of it. DubaiDave, if I remember his story correctly, had lived here for years before stumbling across the ferris wheel like I did, completely unaware that this place existed. And was it worth it?? OH MY GOODNESS hahahahahaha. When I met up with Dave a couple days later, all I had to say was Al-Nasr Liesureland and we both burst out laughing. After making my way through the seedy entrance, and around the deserted, dilapidated carnival rides all themed to tropical fruits, there was a small, homemade looking Blizzard coaster in the back corner that looked like the most poorly assembled project of any kind I’ve ever seen, even in the dark! After minutes of scouring the place looking for an operator, I was told I needed to get tickets first. Where were the tickets being sold you might ask? Right behind the giant pineapple. Was there anybody there? Don’t be ridiculous, of course not. It was the same ride op who told me to go buy tickets who ended up coming 10 minutes later to sell me them, and then meandered with me on back to the world’s-worst-looking coaster to give me a couple laps. Now, normally I’d be quite grateful for the extra lap, but when this thing started going around again, my body started reacting very violently, a la werewolf trying to escape its inevitable fate. There is a something very, VERY wrong with the transition out of that first drop, making it the second most painful coaster experience of my life, just behind a ride in the middle of Turkey (see pages 3 and 4). But wait, there’s more. Running out of Al-Nasr Liesureland as fast as I could, I still had one more park to hit before the night shut down around 10, and wandered the 18+ mile journey over to Wonderland. Now, this park is notorious for not having rides open, as a few of you may know, so I wasn’t really alllllllll that hopeful when I strolled in around 9:40. But, as luck would have it, since it was so late and they were trying to hurry me out, I got a personal escort to the two coasters, a janky old wild mouse, and a roller skater on the other side of the park. The ride op I was with would walk over to the deserted rides that looked like they had been abandoned years ago – seriously, I think we had to walk across grass to get to the wild mouse - and start them up for me. Tired, bruised, and hungry, I retired for the night to a huge Egyptian themed bar thing out in one of the malls for the local couch-surfing meet up, and met my guy, Erik, who I stayed with for a couple of days. For those of you who don’t know, couch surfing is a great great network where you can offer your couch up to backpackers and backpackers can stay on it for a few nights, to save on costs and to see the city through the eyes of a local. You’re expected to contribute both ways if you can, and it’s really just a great way to meet other adventurous, interesting people, and have some help while you travel. I had a great time with it, and really appreciated everything Erik did for me. He was a great host, and it was so nice to be showed around by someone who knew what they were doing. The highlight of the next two days was hitting up the fish market the next day to grab some stuff for a barbecue out on the beach with a bunch of friends who came from all over the place. We had people from the Philippines, from Iran, from Lebanon, from Egypt, from everywhere. It was incredible. And we spent the beautiful afternoon out on the beach under the shadow of the burj, on one of the greatest days of the whole trip semester. We went and got dessert later on in a little place right next to that big ol’ hotel, which was unbelievable, got denied from a place because we didn’t have a nice enough car and weren’t nationals, and spent the evening hanging out in the malls under the Burj Khaliffa, watching the fountains and catching the Sega credit. We ate a late dinner at a Karachi place out in the residential area, and turned in after a couple drinks. The next day, DubaiDave was kind enough to pick me up and show me around the Sharjah parks, the easy highlight of which was the spinning coaster at Space City. That thing was wild. Dave’s car ended up spinning more than I’ve ever seen another coaster spin, and it was just great. I also want to touch on the Burj, which I feel I’ve sorely underrepresented here. IT. WAS. SO. TALL. I just couldn’t get over it, it was so tall. I mean, we’ve all seen tall buildings before, but THIS!!! It was unbelievable. I mean, I’m studying civil engineering and architecture, this is the stuff that gets me going, and it was just…. It wasn’t real. It was the craziest thing I’ve ever seen. It was that tall. Overall though, I had such a great time there, with everybody, and couldn’t be more thankful for the hospitality people showed me. The city was unforgettable. Thanks to everyone who made it that way! Enjoy the pictures guys Dubai, a land where buildings are too big for pictures My first stop was Stargate, a very very strange place with a beautiful outdoor public park, and a ride that we're all a little thankful is no longer running Al-Nasr was the weirdest place I have ever been It was also one of the hardest to find. It's hard to tell, but the transition out of the first drop was one of the most painful experiences of my entire life And in yet another wonderful progression of a goose-chase of an evening, we've arrived in Wonderland. I was told it was unheard of that I managed both credits on one trip. I believe it. It's been a long night, but what a great find This is the roller skater credit on the other side of the park Man, the theming on everything is all or nothing out here Next day at the fish market That thing is so freaking tall!!!! this was one of the greatest days of my life. Fish barbecue out on the beach under the burj. Unreal Our beach Too nice for words. A small sandstorm started picking up later in the afternoon, but it was still incredible. That in itself, watching the Burj al Arab slowly disappearing on the horizon, hidden by the sand, was mind-blowing A closer look at the Burj al Arab Ooooohhhh baby, this thing is unbelievable. I think I checked prices online, and they were around 2000 bucks a night. Four of us in front of the burj - Mostly, I just couldn't believe it was a real building These pictures get a little goofy Group jump shot Things that shouldn't exist in the desert This was just a mall. But I don't think I've ever seen anything closer to a sultan overlooking his kingdom The Burj Khallifa at night Real world Eisengard This place was just mind-blowing and a fountain The Sega coaster- I sat across from two kids, the youngest of whom was just SCREEEAMING bloody murder the whole way. Poor guy Late night south-Asian dinner I went back to get a few pictures of this guy in the daylight, and it was just mind-boggling These are the Dubai space stations This was the most excited I've been since ... traveling 149 mph through the desert in Abu Dhabi the other day Just the base alone was impossible big The surrounding neighborhoods, with sky scrapers and half-finished projects Almost the same size Traveling with Dave around Sharjah A couple powered coasters - one of them wasn't up and running, buuuuut, the goooood news, was... I got a free Adventureland hat out of it! The ride op picked up the hat left in one of the back seats on the ride, and asked if it was ours. We said a hurried "nooo..." but then he asked again, and after a quick look at each other, we shrugged and said "oh yeah, yeah, that's ours that's right!" And there we go. Been wearing it all the time ever since. This was space city, at the top of the second mall we went into. THIS ride, was unlike anything I've ever been on. I'm not sure exactly what it was or what it did, but it did THIS to Dave Our last park - unfortunately we couldn't get them to open the coaster for us, but it was still a great time. Last picture before I caught a flight out of there to start heading back to Copenhagen, via a strategically scheduled double layover in Bahrain and London ....during the protests. Stay tuned guys, thanks for reading!!
  16. Hey guys - it’s good to be back. Sorry, to those of you interested, that I never finished this thread. Things got away from me, and I never had a solid internet connection. But now I’m back at school, and as I should be studying, I find I have all this extra time to procrastinate with. So I figured I’d kick this thread back into gear and try and see it out to its completion. For those of you wondering where I had got to, sorry to keep you waiting – and for those of you thankful that I had finally quieted down, I’d like to indulge your patience a little while longer, and ask you to forgive me. There are a great deal of pictures I have left to share. If I’m not mistaken, I left off in Dubai. I’m going to break this up into a couple parts, starting with Abu Dhabi. I’ll get to the rest of Dubai in a little bit. ----------Abu Dhabi--------- As it turns out, there are quite a number of late-late-LATE flights and early-early-WAYTOOEARLY arrivals in Dubai International airport. I was on one coming from Istanbul with a late layover in Doha, due to land at about 3:30 in the morning. So I, along with a great horde of others, scoured the airport for that last remaining bench, and dozed off into an wonderfully excited sleep in a part of the world I had been dreaming about ever since I saw that ridiculous hotel on the discovery channel 12 years ago. I pulled myself up around 7 and wandered out to catch a cab, depositing myself at the bus station without too much hassle. The plan was to go straight to Abu Dhabi today and come back that same night to meet the guy I’d be couchsurfing with. If you’re unfamiliar with couchsurfing, I’ll get to it next, but it was the best. I’d recommend it to everyone The bus to Abu Dhabi was a little confusing, but if you ask enough people, you’ll eventually get shouted in the right direction. We made our way out of the city early enough that the roads were almost completely deserted, and landed in Abu Dhabi an hour and a half later. The thing that surprised me most about the trip was how little there was on the way. And by little, I mean there wasn’t anything. And by anything, there’s literally not a bit of that desert that has been touched in between those two emirates, and the whole thing just seemed very surreal. Abu Dhabi was big. And as I understood it, it was still getting bigger. It was the type of place that wasn’t meant for real people. The buildings were all big and flashy, and the blocks were at least half a kilometer each. Even that early in the morning, it was blazing hot and walking outside was almost unbearable. The roads were pretty empty and everything was clean. It was hard to believe that people actually lived there. I got to Sparky’s within 40 minutes – as you all probably know by now, the UAE’s reeeal big on their mall credits. And as far as operations go, they’re definitely hit or miss. This first one was a hit – but it was a close one. I was apparently the first and only person in the park, and they needed 8 to launch the coaster without it valleying. So, since nobody had anything to do, every employee in the park hopped in with me. Before everyone was in the car, let only safely seated with the lap bars down, the train was off and the employees were hopping in, jumping around, standing up and dancing, switching cars – everything you’re not supposed to do, they did it. And they sang while they did. Despite the precaution for valleying, we got stuck anyway. The solution? A few people get out of their cars and climb to the back and out on to the track to push while the manager tries to lever the train forward from the ground with a big stick. Did it work? Yup! Twice. The best part about these small parks are the quick relationships you inevitably make with the people working there, who are unbelievably surprised to see a westerner with any intention of riding these things, and excited for the change of pace. But even without words or communicable sentences, these guys were just fun to be around, and it was an encouraging start to the day. From there it was a quick walk to the beach, a short bask in the beautiful blue water, and then I hopped on one of the local busses to the next mall. This credit was unfortunately closed and would remain closed, but from there you can hop a bus to Ferrari World, so I didn’t feel like I had missed out on too much. This place is freaking huge. Jaw-droppingly huge. And while sure, it maybe isn’t really a great park and there isn’t a whole lot to do, it’s one of the most impressive places I’ve ever seen. And Formula Rossa??? Goodness gracious, prepare to poop yourself. For those of you skeptics, I have to say I was one of you. I mean I’ve been on TTD, I’ve been on Kingda Ka, surely 149 mph isn’t thaaat much faster right? Wrong. I wet myself it was that good. Words can’t describe. Front or not (I never rode the front, but I did ride row 2 and am tall enough that it might as well have been row 1), that much wind hitting you in the face without goggles is one of the greatest things I’ve ever experienced. Your face will do things you didn’t know was possible, I promise you. And from there the pop of air over the top just rips your butt through your throat, and you cant breathe even more than you couldn’t breathe a second before! And the next few turns are pure joy as you’re just FLLYYYYYYING over the ground. I kid you not, there is no other roller coaster experience like it. Is it my number one? Noooooope I don’t think so, but did it disappoint? Absolutely not. Blasting out into the desert like that and being steamrolled by a wave of heat and more wind than you’ve ever imagined, flying over the sands at a billion miles an hour and popping up to kiss the sky at the end of each turn – there are few joys like this joy. The dueling coaster was fine I guess – it was kind of like the lazy river of roller coasters. Like, “It went around a little bit over there, then did it’s thing over there, then like I don’t really remember… I was just more interested in laying out in the sun and trying to recover from the hernia I got from FRossa.” That kind of a thing. I made my way back to the bus station by dinner time-ish and was back in Dubai to see the sun set. But I’ll pick that up in the next post. Keep an eye out for that mosque. Oh and that palace. But other than that, until they finish the entertainment thing island shindig, Abu Dhabi’s more of a ‘work’ city. Formula One changed the way I thought about roller coasters. It was that. Good. More to come soon, thanks for reading !! I’d love to hear back from you guys -Danny After a long night on an airport bench, I was treated to this breath-taking morning view of the Burj out the bus window. This thing is twice as big as I ever imagined it would be. Abu Dhabi bus station On the way to the beach, by way of the mall - if you can swing money for a cab, your pits will thank you, and you won't have to change your shirt 5 times. First stop, Sparky's - now for all of you Abu Dhabi credit gurus, there are two Sparkys mall parks. This is the one closest to the beach. I didn't bother going to the other one because it was way out of the way and I couldn't remember the name of the mall anyways. One was enough though It took a lot of coercing in sign language to get this credit, but I eventually hung around long enough that they got the required 8 riders by getting every staff in the park to ride with me. Note: the train is started. I wonder what these guys would think if they ever saw the security in some of these US parks. Yeesh! Dancing all the way Why does it need 8 people you might ask?? Because it can't make it on it's own. This shows the park's manager trying to lever the train forward with a huge pole... ...And then the people getting out to push But the girls up front couldn't take it anymore and started dancing and singing in Arabic Just a short jaunt over to the beach from here! Abu Dhabi beaches - they're just great haha check out that water. What a gulf! Of all the gulfs I've ever been in.... Park 2 didn't fare too well. Apparently the credit had been closed for like a month So it was a short half hour trip over to Ferrari World. I tell you, the entire UAE is milking this park for all its worth - and the first views of this coaster took my breath away Formula Rossa, the World's Fasters CoaaAAOOOOOHHHHHHMYGOODESS!!!!!! I was a mess right now - I couldn't even form coherent sentences I was so excited. Welcome to the only view there is of this ride from the park. That hill is the El Torgasm of the middle east. The whole time you're just in shock that anything could possible move that fast And like, you could just watch it for hours, and say to yourself "ope, there they go", and just stand there and remember when youuu went that fast, and fawn at the beauty of it all Even by the end, you'd think those turns would get old, but I don't remember ever not laughing!! Into the hops!!! By this point you're so infatuated with the ride the airtime here doesn't even matter. Honestly I don't even remember. I think you get stapled in by the speed, and are just eager to turn and blabber excitedly at the person next to you, even though neither of you can understand each other What a wonderful place to be Portrait of a man Like I said in the writing, this coaster was nice just to get outside again, but as far as a coaster goes, it isn't too memorable On the way out, you can't help but romanticize the fact that you just may never be here again. Opportunity of a lifetime, but what a beautiful day The mosque on the way back. It's a big 'un And back in dubai over the skyline at sundown. My goodness what a place. Feel free to comment, I hope you enjoyed!! Thanks a ton for reading!
  17. I'm going to get this thing back in motion, hope you guys are all ok with that. Abu Dhabi pictures will be up within the half hour! -Danny
  18. A little bit of Germany For me, Germany was a very 'nice', 'pleasant' country, and I'm sure it's a great place to live, but as far as traveling through it, I generally think there are much more interesting countries out there. Berlin was a super interesting city, and we'll get there in the middle of this update. But the other cities were just 'nice cities' in my opinion, and didn't have that much to offer in terms of sight seeing. I did a quick trip to the Cologne region for a couple parks, and managed to get to Phantasialand pretty easily, and Movie Park Germany not quite as easily, but still pretty manageably. I had hoped to get to Klotten, but the train ticket was wayyyyy too expensive. And Toverland, also, appeared to be within striking distance, but there just wasn't a good way to get to the park via public transportation. Phantasialand was a beautiful park, with some really well-themed rides. I kind of had the feeling that without Black Mamba it would have been hard to fill a full day there, but the park was a decent size, and had some really fun things to offer. Winjas was really cool - a really fun ride with a few surprising elements, and some really great theming. Black Mamba was very nice, and of course impeccably themed, and I think I liked it more than some of the people that complain it lacks any forces whatsoever, but no, it was definitely no Nemesis. The whole Africa area looked great though. The seizure-inducing drop tower effects were an awesome touch in my opinion, and while I'm sure Michael Jackson gave a great ride, I just have an awfully hard time differentiating mine trains in my mind, even if this was one of the better ones. There was some construction going on in the main plaza area, so that part of the park was a bit of a mess, but overall it was a really nice park with a ton of beautiful theming and landscaping, and I really enjoyed it. Movie Park was actually better themed than I thought it would be. In my mind I pictured horrible rides AND janky ghetto-theming, but only half of that turned out to be true. Bandit- hahahahaha horrible, but we all knew that. That stand up floorless drop tower was a riot though, and I thought the mouse ran great. I didn't spend a horribly large amount of time in the park, and rounded out the day with a stop at SchloB Beck just next door, the small family do-it-yourself park with a nice kiddie tivoli. But Berlin!!!! That's where real Germany is, and I bet there are very few cities in the world that could give Berlin a run for it's money, as far as "interestingly relevant modern history" is concerned. We ended up in Berlin from a train out of Prague, which we only took because Diana and I missed our flight back to CPH from the Czech Republic due to our alarm being set on silent (not my fault). And even though we only had like a day and a half in the city, it was one of the few places I felt like we needed longer to explore. We ended up taking the free 3 hour walking tour (these tours are starting to pop up in a bunch of the major European cities, and are highly informative, and I highly recommend them as a starting point for your introduction to a city), and our guide was fantastic - I think he was a history student out of Ireland, and you could tell how passionate he was about what he was telling us, and it really was a great way to get a basic jump on the history of the city. My favorite part of Berlin had to be the New National Gallery (although I reeeeeaally really liked the Holocaust memorial), which was a looooong long wall along the river packed full of grafiti art pieces. Definitely worth checking out. Point of the story, while Germany is funnnn, I definitely think you don't *really* see the country until you see Berlin, despite the lack of coasters over in that area. I've got some Hamburg pictures too, but I'll probably put those up way later. I intended to go back to South Germany for some Geforce / Europa action, maybe starting in Switzerland, but it just never happened. Take care guys! Thanks for reading. -Danny WEEEEEEeeeeelcome to Phantasialand And a lake. beautiful Somewhere in Mexico - a child and a fountain "... and the WORLD will know, what you have done for China" I <3 Tibet Welcome to the creepiest ride in the world And then we're in Africa. Boy, this park really gets around, doesn't it?? While some may like Winjas better, Black Mamba definitely does a lot of stage-hogging The integration with the landscape was incredible. More parks should work in rides like these. It's awfully hard to judge though, when there's such disparity in theming between rides. I really can't remember if the ride was *great or not, because I just look at these pictures and my mind screams "Awesome!" Back to Michael Jackson. Coincidentally, I lived next to a Dane who is an obsessed Michael Jackson fan, and has actually been to and inside the Neverland Ranch. I didn't even know that was possible!!! Winjas were great. It's hard for me to remember which one I liked slightly better, but I believe it was the one that was on the right when you're in the station facing forward. Dooooon't remember which one that was though The line wasn't horrible, but the park was still more crowded than I was expecting for a weekday. Fun little transitional element It was definitely a very 'safe' layout. Cool integration, but definitely a safe layout I was a little taken aback to see only Africans working the ride, dressed in mock traditional clothes - is that even allowed?!?!? Then there was the Chinese dark ride... words can't describe Let's do the time warp again - we're gonna jump way back to Berlin now. Stay with me guys. This is the reeeeeal reason to come to Germany The morning train, after our 6:45 flight home from Prague just didn't end up working out. Whoopsiedoopsies. It was relieving though, seeing the cold stark eastern European landscape melt away into sunny Western-Europe civilization Worlds most alarming sign? the New National Gallery - a photoshoot Note the concern we're both expressing for missing class today. Hooooo well Favorite The wall. On a wall. GET IT!?!?!? We set our camera up on parked cars for most of these. But eventually had to stop taking timer shots because I couldn't move my fingers enough to press the right buttons to set it up. We all have our problems... Ope, wait no, favorite. the Reichstag Good morning Gate! Holocaust memorial. Very vague. Very sobering. Very eerie. Can you imagine?? I can't The main ministry building, I forget the name. I loved the mural thing on the floor though Thar she blows. The most famous wall there ever was. Checkpoint Charlie Memorial to the Victims of war and tyranny. Incredible Altes Museum, Schinkel, 1820s. Thank you Arc 204 Mid morning sax player. See ya Berlin!! Thanks for being exponentially more historically interesting than your fellow German cities!! Welcome to Movie Park Germany. Bad rides with weird themes? Check and mate. The place looked surprisingly great though First stop - Jimmy Neutron This wild mouse was better than most, I'd say Car. This was one of the most interesting theme park experiences of my life. what a trip hahahaha This on the other hand, didn't rate so highly And this? Oy. I'm pretty sure I could think of about 4 billion better services this wood could be put to the Feaux Boardwalk And a quick stop next door for the kiddie coaster Maybe a lot of you don't know about this park? It's called SchloB Beck Freizeitpark, and is literally a few hundred meters from Movie Park. Nice little place for families, and a fun little place to see Done and Done First boat jump - delightful haha. Whoa nellie! They sent this thing around 4 times each circuit. A little excessive, but it was a nice ride. Won't be my last boat jump, what a great ride this wraps up this edition of Germany, I honestly don't know when my next post will be, or what will be in it. Thaaaaaanks for reading though!! Take care
  19. ^ Steal away my friend !! Not to be presumptuous, but if you want a picture or two [or twelve], don't be afraid to just drag them off the page, or send me a message with your email and I'll hook you up with the originals. The world isn't mine - I'd be more than happy to share it with you
  20. Welp, I was gonna drag this out another day or five, but I think we'd all just rather have all our Turkey pictures up and in one place. There's only a little bit left anyways. Turkey ended a lot colder than it started. Snow just wasn't something I was expecting to see, and I was a litttttttle bit nervous about rolling into Erzerum, to be honest. I had done a brief brief check on hostels (there were none) and hotels (there were only two listed online), and they were both pretty expensive because Erzerum is a huge ski resort town. So we chugged into the center of Erzerum as night was falling, and it was settling down to around 40 degrees Farenheit, and I didn't have a place to stay, or actually any idea what i was doing. God was really watching out for me that night though - as we were pulling into the train station, I must have looked about as nervous as I felt, because a middle-aged Turkish man came up to me, and after a fair bit of gesturing and a couple of repeats, I was able to pick out the word 'Otel". And while normally I'm super defensive and independent in places like this, because I know how easy it is to end up somewhere you'd rather not be, or paying for something you'd rather not be, I was desperate enough to get across to him that yes, I do in fact need an Otel. God bless this man, he walked me about ten minutes up the hill out of the train station into a little part of the city I would never have found myself, and to a small Turkish hotel that ended up costing around an eighth of the price of the two Westernized hotels I had found online. And not only did he stop there, he checked me in (because nobody spoke English (neither did he)), and then got a cab for me the next morning to the bus station, and then bought me dinner and a few rounds of chai while we watched the Turkish news, and THEN he introduced me to someone my age who knew a few words, and He showed me around the city later that night. I mean, if you took a million trains in the United States, I don't think you'd ever end up on one where someone would be half as hospitable, and it just goes to show how much heart there is outside our safe white picket fences and Target shopping centers. The next day at the bus stop I had about three hours before the bus to Hopa left, so i drank more chai, and then had some more chai, and then in true Turkish style, switched chai shops and had even more chai, before walking around the city buying a little Turkish hat for a dollar and a half, the one that all the old men wear, and then coming back to the bus stop to get more chai. The bus to Hopa wasn't so bad, only like 6-7 hours, and the driver was super helpful telling me when and where I needed to change busses, and making sure I was all taken care of. We had to pause for some avalanche clearing along one of the gorges, but otherwise the ride went real smoothly. By the time I arrived in Hopa, a town on the Black Sea around 15 km from the Georgian border, night was setting in, and I was torn between my original plan to get to the night train in Batumi across the line, or to wait it out in Hopa for it to be light again. I opted to just gun it, and threw out my thumb yet again, hitching a ride within a few minutes from a couple guys who, again, though they didn't speak English, went wayyyyyy out of there was to help me across the border, dropping me off north of Batumi at the train station, walking inside to help me buy a ticket, and then showing me an ATM across the street when they wouldn't accept my credit card at the counter. I'm telling you, you would never expect it from the burly disposition and the hardcore way they go through a pack of cigarettes in like an hour, but these people are the nicest most hospitable people I've ever met. I'll leave you at the Georgian border, where a tired looking woman in her mid-twenties stole herself for a second while looking at my passport, then rolled her eyes up at me sarcastically, and said, in an outrageous accent, "I hope you have great impression of here Country." It was all I could do to not start laughing - the world is truly a wonderful place. And with that, me and my new Turkish buddies hopped back in the truck and headed out into the dark Georgian night. Thanks for reading, everyone, and I hope I've managed to convey at least a little bit of the love and respect this wonderful country deserves. It has been a pleasure sharing my experiences in Turkey with you. Next adventure I think I'll take you all through some of Germany. Something a little less exotic, but altogether still great. Take care everyone. -Danny Setting out into the wide unknown... again 40 of the last 48 hours have been in compartment the size of a walk in freezer, and things were getting a bit crazy Are those mountains?? Oh baby Is that a church!?!? Are we still in Turkey??? Family This guy. Nice guy. Now THIS, this is who I aspire to be when I get older World's greatest hole in the wall chai shop. He even offered me a place to sleep in it. Check out THESE mountains!! A man and his bird So many places to go. When they asked, everyone first asked if I was going to Trabzon. I wasn't, but next time. Also, if you're ever going to Georgia from Turkey, you should know that they call it Gurjistan. No one will know what Georgia is. Thank you Lonely Planet travel blogs. Just some kids I found near some laundry Favorite picture from Erzerum. This is what I want to do with my life. Bus stop on the way to Hopa. People came back to the bus with Loaves and loaves of the most enormous bread you've ever seen While waiting for the avalanche clearing And on the shores of the Black Sea, our jong journey through Turkey comes to an end. Turkey, you've truly written yourself across my heart, and I will for sure see you again. It has been wonderful. Thank you for reading!!
  21. ^HAHAHAHAHAhahaahahahahahahahaha. Thank you. Male younger set. That, that really means the world to me. And thanks everyone else, your comments and adjective choices [^^enchanting!! ], are so nice to read. Although this next post, might be a little shy of 'enchanting', and might even stop just a few miles short of 'creatively informative' in general Let me take you back a little bit, to Ankara. Just to repeat about this park, Lunapark in Demestre-something public park, "...The second park was a few long metro stops away up northwest of the city, in what seemed like a more residential area. This was a lot smaller park in a really nice public green space, again called Lunapark, though the public park area was called "Demestre-something". The park only had a wacky worm in terms of credits, but the place was closed until later in the day. Although I'm not really sure until when, because I was there around 3 o clock, and the only person around I could find was a young woman who knew no English, but said that the park opened at 23 o clock... so I'm not sure if she just got her numbers confused, or misunderstood the question, or if the small children's park actually opened an hour before midnight. Either way I didn't stick around. I DID, however, meet a group of high school guys playing leap frog, and joined them." Here are some great, great, great great great great pictures. Hahahaha. Youguysit'swaypastmybedtime. A mammoth. If more parks had slides like these, I really think the world would be a better place A local gang. These are the friends I made. We had a great time Ope, there they go Here we are, at the top of the hill, behind the pavilion fountain lake thing Wacky Worm credit, denied The place was closed... apparently until 11 pm according to one of the locals, but that just doesn't make any sense. Through the fence THERE IT IS AGAIN let me ON IT!!! And then we're back on the road [train?], where I caught you guys up with Ysa. NOW there's one more Turkey post left, before we're out of here. Thanks for reading everyone
  22. The rankings look great!! I just really wish more people would vote, especially the big hitters, it'd be soooooo nice to see valid comparisons for some of the more "out of the way" rides. Gosh I love "new-Hawker-poll-posting" days!!
  23. I still have another park in Ankara I forgot I didn't show you guys, but I'll show you these pictures first, even though they technically came afterwards, just to even things out between parks and non-parks. Welcome to the greatest train ride you've ever experienced. As I think I already mentioned, a large part of the reason for going on a trans-Turkey train trip was because the original plan to bum the Trans-Siberian railway fell through. And at first I only imagined that the most interesting people and stories you've ever experienced only existed on long arduous train journeys in obscure parts of the world, but now I know it for sure. Let me paint you a picture (haha..ha...well, you'll laugh later.) You're in Ankara. It's not so hot anymore but awfully humid and you're a little damp from the drizzle, but otherwise just excited, because you know now for SURE you're heading out into the middle of no where. The train rolls up around 45 minutes late, and you run to find your compartment from the 20-odd car train, which isn't in any numerical order, like you might expect. You finally leap the gap to the train and scramble up the few steps and down the tight hallway, arriving at your room towards the end, sliding the door open just hoping beyond hope there isn't some enormous weirdo - And then you see him. Ladies and gentlemen, meet Ysa (Esau? Yssa? Isa? Couldn't tell you.) Now before I really introduce him, let me just preface this by saying that this guy is seriously one of my favorite people that I've ever met, and I've been praying for and thinking about him more than I've been praying for and thinking about anyone. Ysa was tall and skinny, and super super Turkish. Your first impression was that he was the type of person who only looked at home when there was a sheep present. He had an eNORmous face, and an eNORMous nose, and had long slivery hair somewhere between Gandalf and Jesus length, complete with a 6 inch goatee. And I wish I could do this in person for you, but when he talked, he would make the GOOFIEST faces, and everything became super animated and he would lean forward and jut his face way close to yours, his eyebrows raised to his hairline, his eyes wide as dinner plates. And although his English was surprisingly good (he later said he picked it up because he was in the selling-things-people-don't-need-to-unsuspecting-tourists industry). And sometimes he would use his hands like flags and wave them every which way when he talked, accentuating the shockingly oscillatory way in which his voice boomed through the small cozy cabin. His stuff was all over one half of the cabin, leaving me the empty seat right next to him on the same bench, and he welcomed me warmly. After brief introductions, which i thought would wind down to a respectful silence in no time, we both found it quite impossible to stop talking to each other. He ended up making me around 6 glasses of tea (recall that we're on a moving train), and pulled out a huge supply of sugar cubes and crackers to share. Me, I offered him a banana and some M&Ms. Turns out Ysa comes from a small town of 30 people, way off in the middle of nowhere, the every one of the 30 people in his town sheep (or goat, I don't remember) herders. Except, of course, for Ysa. No, Ysa wasn't a goat herder, he was a landscape watercolor painter. And to make a living in this small, small town, he made the 30 hour train trip to Istanbul and back twice a month, to sell his paintings where the tourists had at least a somewhat decent taste in art. I asked him if I could see one of them - I wanted SO BADLY to see one of them - he said that he some in his bag but didn't want to take them out because it would make a mess and potentially ruin them. Ysa and I ended up talking laaaate into the night, for hours, touching over topics from upbringing to religion, and spent a good three or four hours discussing the differences between Christianity, which I had given my life over to, and Islam, to which he had given over HIS life, turning from a life of sin to look with shock and disgust on the world of depravity as it sat today. And while debate became difficult because I knew nothing about the Qu'ran and he knew nothing about the bible, both of which we were trying to use as foundation for everything we said, I'm pretty sure I learned more about myself in that three hour talk and with what I wanted to do with my life, than I've ever learned in three hours. Turkey? I'll be back, and next time, I'll be more prepared. Without getting too spiritual on you guys, we parted the next morning at his stop around 1 in the afternoon, for which we were already a few hours late, and I don't think I've stopped thinking about him since. Dear Ysa - I know we'll meet again someday. Love, Danny. Ysa, I love you. This is the only picture I got with him. This last segment of the train was around 28 hours or so, Ysa leaving around 18 hours into it. This river that we jogged along with for a while, was the Euphrates. How cool is THAT!?!?!? Civilization was BORN AND RAISED on this river. SHEEP HERDERS The coolest thing about the train journey was seeing how much the landscape changed, the farther east you got. It literally felt like you were traveling to the ends of the world Finally, after around 18 hours with this guy, we arrive at his small dinky stop in the middle of no where, where I look out the window to see him LEAPING from the train, bags flying everywhere, landing on the dirt platform ungracefully. Enrico Polini, from Rat Race? Anyone know who I'm talking about? It was very much like that. He stood there for a while - just taking it in, I guess. I'm gonna miss you, brother. I'll see you again some day, for sure. The town at his stop, an overview - from which I believe he still had a 5 hour trip to his village. Amazing
  24. Ankara update: In a nut shell, Ankara would probably be the place I least recommend to go, while in Turkey. However, it's also the place from which it is easiest to get anywhere else, so if you do end up there, it's no problem getting out of there. I only had around 8 hours there switching trains to continue onward across the country, but I burnt out after around 5 or 6 hours, once it started drizzling, and spent the remaining time pretending I was a guest in the Radisson Blu lobby and bumming their internet (for anyone traveling in Europe, the Radisson Blu hotels are super nice, always have people who speak GREAT English, have great maps, can help with almost any plans, and have nice free bathrooms and great lobby internet connection, as well as an occasional bowl of fruit at the front desks. And they're always pretty tall and pretty easy to spot from most any where.) The first park on the list in Ankara was called something something Lunapark, I'm not really too sure. "Lunapark" seems to be the going term for "amusement park" in Turkey, as they're all called this. RCDB had the place listed as Genclik Lunapark, but I didn't see the word Genclik anywhere. Anyways, unimportant. This park was conveniently located about 50 feet outside the main train station, and is impossible to miss. The place had a really decent selection of rides and was pretty heavily attended, as far as Turkish parks go at least. There were a number of Satanic-sex-fetish dark rides, a ton of flats, a couple bigger flats, a Galaxy coaster, two powered coasters, and something themed to a giant octopus. The day was really overcast so the photos are not the most beautiful I've ever taken, but it was a nice place. The highlight was the game stall where you would throw rings at a huge table of cigarette boxes to win one if you hooked it. It was easily the most popular attraction in the park. I didn't ride much because it was pay for ride, but it's a great way to get a credit for like a buck and a half. The second park was a few long metro stops away up northwest of the city, in what seemed like a more residential area. This was a lot smaller park in a really nice public green space, again called Lunapark, though the public park area was called "Demestre-something". The park only had a wacky worm in terms of credits, but the place was closed until later in the day. Although I'm not really sure until when, because I was there around 3 o clock, and the only person around I could find was a young woman who knew no English, but said that the park opened at 23 o clock... so I'm not sure if she just got her numbers confused, or misunderstood the question, or if the small children's park actually opened an hour before midnight. Either way I didn't stick around. I DID, however, meet a group of high school guys playing leap frog, and joined them. The rest of the day I wandered around the market and caught up on my people watching and scored two HIDEOUS sweaters for about 7 bucks a piece, and a jar of stuff that was exactly like nutella, except golden (pure hazel nut, maybe?) It was probably the best stuff I've ever had out of a jar, and made the bananas I had gotten the day before taste like magic. The market was super easy to get lost in because the streets don't adhere to a very strict grid, and the place was enormous. And by 6:30 or so I was caught the train towards Kars and shared a compartment the coolest man I've ever met. More on that later. Sorry updates have been so infrequent!! The vast expanse of rural Turkey The windows of the trains had the decals of the Turkish flag on them, which made for some great-yet-occasionally-overly-kitschy dramatic landscape shots. Just a town I wish I could say I grew up in Here we are in the first park. It was one of those things, getting off the train, where I was all set to begin figuring out my way from scratch in a new city, and begin the arduous voyage that so typically preceded small park visits, and was wonderfully surprised when I emerged from the train station looking for a street sign, and found a ferris wheel. Genclik Lunapark. I don't know what THAT is but let me ON IT! Tower of Thor (Do they even have Thor in Turkey???) First powered coaster, Takaido. Done and done. Close up A Turkish man and his powered credit The cigarette ring toss game. Classic. Easily the most popular attraction in the park Credit Coaster #2, Tornado Ren Expresi. Check and mate! Name shot It was themed to reindeer. Because THAT makes sense.. Here's the Fun House themed to Satanic rape ... and the dark ride themed to witchcraft and develry A child etc Hawaiian themed Turkish flat rides Finally, a credit! ... if that's what you're in to. A decent one, at that! I don't want to say these next few on ride photos were taken without permission from the park but it's more like they probably would have sent the train around if I was doing a handstand in the car, rather than they verbally gave me consent to photograph during the ride. Love riding with the locals!! An overview of the park - pretty decent sized place First drop Action shot This one wasn't nearly as bad as the ride in Izmir My main ticket man Even on roller coasters, national pride is expressed. How wonderful these kids were too chicken And this is the dark ride tribute to muscular satanic theology and lore some 'other' rides And finally the park entrance - I should had this picture up at the front of the report, only I came through an open gate at the back of the park that I think, in hindsight, somebody had left open, and wasn't an official access point to the park Horse and man - a monument to Ankara The old ruins that I was gonna go see before I realized it would have taken a whole more climbing than I had bargained for So I settled for some hard core people watching instead And the market of Ankara, is an incredible place to do that Found this little temple market square thing that, once you were in, was almost impossible to get out of. ITS A TRAP Just some hat shopping I observed And if anyone needed some stolen goods and looted appliances - I found just the place for you And once again, 6 o clock rolled around and it's another 28 hours on a train. I'll try and update a little more often, I've got one more segment in Turkey left. Thanks so much for reading guys!! It's always good to hear from you.
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