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PTR: [Study] Abroad - The world and its coasters


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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

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Welcome to London - it's good to be here. Big Ben doesn't look nearly as big these days does it?

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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

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Some bridge

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And here we are at Thorpe, starting things off with Stealth

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Nemesis Inferno was prettier than it was forceful, unfortunately

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The sunlight off that deep purple track is awesome though

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Colossus upside down, as it's been wont to do

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If there's one thing Colossus does, it's make you wonder what happened that Intamin sold out to such an uninspired layout

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While more 'classic' than outright 'good', it was still a fairly enjoyable ride

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Saw though, was a really pleasant surprise.

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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.

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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

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As usual, we took everything pretty seriously.

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Just some older couple I creeped on

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Passing some time waiting for the train somewhere outside of Manchester

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And by around 7 or so, I had made it to Blackpool

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Making the long walk down the shore, you get a nice view at the end

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The front half of the park, home to easily the greatest mouse I've been on

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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

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Everything's built up off the ground, and it's just such a cool effect

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Back half of the park

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I really enjoyed the Big Dipper, that was a really fun old ride

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Look how good it looks! It's almost false advertising, to have a ride so bad look so good

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Pepsi Max was one of the most drawn out coaster experiences I've ever had. That thing just rolls on for miles

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The toboggan was fun, but they weren't running very many trains and it was a slow wait.

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Grand National final hops

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On the way up to Irn Bru I believe

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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

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That curvy intamin tracked turns out so good in pictures too

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Air, while definitely not intense, was thankfully more inspired of a layout than the Supermans (Supermen?) I was so used to back home

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It had a really cool spot in the back corner of the park too.

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The whole flying coaster concept just isn't new at all any more, is it? It's amazing how old that makes me feel

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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

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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.

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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

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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.

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It will be decades before this stops being a world class ride.

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This thing had a newish paint job, and it looked really fine

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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.

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'Hole jokes' abound

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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

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Close ups

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Sun came out a bit and the skies opened up

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It just gets faster and faster and faster, doesn't it?

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Tearing up out of the ground...

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And one last lap as i said goodbye to my 300th credit. Who needs paper, amiright?? Thanks for reading guys, hope you enjoyed it

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  • 5 months later...

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!

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Early morning bus ride from Igoumenitsa to Kalambaka, driving up and down through the mist covered valleys

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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

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Welcome to Kalambaka

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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

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I'd eventually end up way up there, but you have to kind of skirt around to the left and make your way around

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Hiking a side trail

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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

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Somewhere in Greece: A memoire

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One of my favorite pictures of my entire semester abroad. Unreal

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After a pretty grueling hike around back, came up to a view of this little guy

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In black and white

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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

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Obligatory self portrait

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Tree

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The whole valley out below

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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

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Athens the next morning, I loved the business of this place

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Athens Horizon

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Making my way up to the Parthenon...

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Via this little coliseum

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Couldn't resist throwing this one in here

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Props to architecture that endures for thousands of years. They were doing some work on it but it still looked pretty darn cool

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Some nice detail work

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Frontal view from across the way

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I love people shots

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The rest of the city

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These four ladies aged extreeeeemely well!

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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.

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Looking back

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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

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A nice little corner block resort

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Welcome to Athens' main amusement park!

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They had this little guy in a separate kids area across a small side street

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Walking around snapping pictures before the park opened

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Made my first stop at the Tovoli

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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

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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

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I've always thought Wild Mouse cars were the creepiest

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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

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The park from the mouse's lift

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Ride sign

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I can't imagine too many tourists have ever gotten this view of Athens

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The whole thing

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I don't mean to brag, but uhhh... I got the first ride of the day. Yeah baby

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Some Tivoli POV

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You kinda rocket around this thing. There's a looooot of foliage up in here. It was almost unnerving.

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Final credit

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Had a few nice solo laps

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There was a reeeeally weird cardboard cut out theme for this guy

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Just loving life

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One last POV shot

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In the distance

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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!

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I just realized looking back that it's been a longggg time since you've had an update, and I always followed this thread! Perfect balance of the culture and parks and some absolutely amazing shots. Keep up the good work and keep the reports coming (more often!). I'm extremely jealous.

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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.

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Ship off the shore of Tromso, often nicknamed the Paris of the North

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Inland fjords. Norway does this funky think up north where the land breaks apart and nothing is solid or connected

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The bridge to the Arctic Cathedral. Which was beautiful

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A man on a street

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One of my favorite views, ever. I was in the yard of some sort of factory getting this shot

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Big scarf and an Arctic bridge

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Crossing the bridge to get to the cable car

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Tromso from the top of a fjord

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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

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You really have to take advantage of the sunlight when it's February. This was around 2 or 3 in the afternoon I believe

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Around that mountain on the left was the way our bus went my last night, to get to Skjervoy

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One last look towards the Arctic Cathedral, you can see the cable car at the top there on the right

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As the sun sets, the city lights up

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I couldn't get enough of this view, this time as the sun was setting (which took hours, by the way)

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And at night, it's just stunning

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This is Julia, the girl I met from Berlin. Northern Lights buddies. She was more excited than she looks haha

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This was the best my camera could do. I promise you it's about 100 times as amazing as this

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Heading out on a little snowshoe adventure.

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Ope, there I go! I promise, it's way more tiring than you could ever imagine

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Just some arctic sled dogs I found

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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!

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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

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This is the statue park in Norway, which had a number of... reeeeally, really weird statues. Mostly beautiful

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My mom and I, overlooking the garden

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Probably my favorite statue in the park. This was one of the more normal, beautiful ones...

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Unlike this one, for instance

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Oslo city hall

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Speed Monster, from outside the park

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Best use of escalators I've ever seen. Then again, I've never been to Parque EspaNa

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So cutting edge!

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This ride was almost nostalgic. I know it's not particularly old, but it felt really... classic almost.

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Take off!

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The setting for the park is beautiful!

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One final corkscrew before the final turn

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Loopen! These are only fun if you choose your seat wisely

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This thing, though, was incredible. Definitely did not disappoint for me

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It was a very well grown in coaster - it felt like it had always been there

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And the line took you right under the supports for some really neat views

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Smallest coaster in the world

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POV

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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

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The flowers were just the icing on the cake

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Water coaster. It was nice, but I could do without 'water' in my life and in my lap

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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

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Lots of air, lots of speed, lots of headchoppers...

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And everyone was blonde!

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That second drop was amazing

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And the laterals on the turns were perfect

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Back on over to Speed Monster to close out the afternoon

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Love the way the park just disappears right there

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On the return leg

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Last picture at Tusenfryd. SM was small and fairly tame but it was smooth, and flowed really nicely

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Back in downtown Oslo at the opera house

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My mom and the opera house. It was modeled after a glacier I believe

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South, into the fjord

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Love this shot of my parents. Downtown Oslo at sunset

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This is the first and only jumping picture my parents have ever taken haha. Thanks for reading!

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  • 1 month later...

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

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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

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Artfully rendered, we had finally made it after catching the ferry by the skin of our teeth

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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.

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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

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Overlooking the city, hoping the weather'd hold out

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It was a cool view when the fog would clear

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Hiking up and into the forest

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And the next day we were on our way to Sojnefjord, which was expensive, but stunning. This here is Lucy

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And this here's the fjord

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One of the only normal pictures we have

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There's Lucy again. Nothing could distract her from her picture taking

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Eric, who is actually part Norwegian, brimming with Norwegian patriotism.

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Cute older couple

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And just the quaintest of villages

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Some sheep we found

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And a gift shop

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Beautiful little guy

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After walking a little ways, we picked a fjord and hit the ground running

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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.

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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

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Whether we were jumping or not though, this place was phenomenal

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There's that waterfall I was talking about

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And then there was a train ride up the fjord, with views like this one most of the way

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We were literally the only people on board, having taken the later train to catch the overnight from the station at the other end

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Kanonen was nice and fun

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A better view of the layout

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This was probably our favorite ride at the park though, for what it was

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There's Kano - ERICCC?!!??

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Thanks for reading guys, it was a pretty sweet trip!

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I absolutey love your trip reports! They're so full of life and positive energy no matter the situation, and your photos really show how much you enjoy living no matter what you are doing. Great jump shots too...how in the world do you do those? I'm curious what you found about Balder that didn't live up to the hype. Anyway, thanks for sharing, and I hope you keep doing these reports of your travels as they are easily my favorite to read on TPR.

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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.

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I love this thread because the pictures are amazing with coaster/parks or just the random shots of your adventures. I'm jealous also and seriously once my daughter is grown, my first and only thing on my mind will be to travel to different places.

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I would have to agree with your assessment of Balder. You made some really valid points, and while I do think it's a fantastic coaster, it's still just missing something for me personally. One thing's certain, however, and it's that I had a blast on it during TPR's 2008 visit (great trip participants on what is probably my favorite park day I've ever experienced).

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Very interesting trip report, thanks for sharing! This must be the first time Ive seen pictures of my hometown (Bergen) on TPR. Not surprised about the rain though, we are famous for it...

 

And yes, Norway is expensive. I'm going home to Bergen tomorrow after spending two weeks in Denmark and the price difference is just ridiculous. I'm not looking forward to going to the store or fill up the tank on my car when I get back home as its going to feel super-expensive! I feel my Visa card is going to cry...

 

I also agree with you about Balder. Its a fun ride but its very controlled. My favorite part is the first drop in the backseat, which feels quite wild, particularly in the evening when it seems to be going faster for each ride. But the overall ride does not live up to the hype for me. Considering the small footprint I don't really think the park could have done any better, but as for the rankings I don't agree. But its still a ride I enjoy a lot.

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Shoot you live in Bergen? Now you have me feeling really self-conscious about the fact that I repeatedly misspelled "Sognefjord". You live in a beautiful place, viking86, but you're pretty far from a coaster. The price difference in Norway is shocking. I mean, Denmark is definitely on the very high end of things, but Norway is just a whole other level. A simple meal at a McDonalds or other fast food restaurant goes for around the equivalent of $17 U.S.

 

I think Balder is great for what it is, and like you were saying, the first drop is great! After the ride was over, it was one of those things where I said "I could see it", in regards to how other people would like it. And maybe if it was really hauling I could see how it could be a favorite to some people. But I think I just look for different things in a coaster. I think it's a really important ride though, to have as a benchmark for airtime, and sort of a base mark Intamin standard that other rides can be compared to.

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Guys thanks so much for the comments. It makes writing these things all the more worthwhile.

 

I’m gonna take you way back with this update, tying in the first update of this thread with the rest of my trip through Italy. Italy was the start of my two week break, where I made it from Milan to Tbilisi across land and over sea. My stay in the fashion capital was brief – I had last minute plans to meet up with an old friend from high school who was stationed in Northern Italy with the air force, and was anxious to see him. After an afternoon flight, I hopped on a bus out of town to the west, got dropped off out of the city, and started walking, all the way around the bend to this small park, Europark Idroscalo. I didn’t spend long here, but long wasn’t needed. It was a beautiful day though, and in no time I had the wacky worm, the slightly different mouse, and the other Pinfari ride. It was a nice stop for the credits but nothing spectacular. Making my way back into the city, I caught a late bus to Bologna for the night, and stayed with a short old, wonderful woman renting out rooms for backpackers at semi-decent prices. This woman was Italy through and through, exactly like you’d see in the movies, and she treated me to a wonderful breakfast the next morning.

 

From there it was another train ride to Mirabilandia where I met up with my friend Ben, who I mentioned was stationed up here in the air force. Now, I’ve been wanting to ride Katun for forever, more than just about any other ride. I’m a huge B&M invert fan, and let me tell you, this thing did not disappoint. The ride is stunning, and sprawls out across the entire park. We didn’t have to wait long for it ever, and racked up some 17 rides throughout the day. This was the ride I’ve been waiting for. I could ride this thing all day and not get sick of it. This thing was a masterpiece and sits right now at the top of my steel coaster list with Goliath from Walibi World.

 

The rest of the park was spread out and maybe a little sparse. I know people love iSpeed, but to me it was only so-so. That layout is just all over the place. It meanders without making much sense at all - it didn’t even come close to Katun for me. We loved the vegetable themed kiddie coaster though, and loved the laid back atmosphere of things over here. We took a lunch break in Ravenna, driving through the beautiful old city streets for a while in an attempt to find a pizza joint, which we eventually did. Couldn’t have asked for a better day really. We spent the night in Ben’s room on the base in Aviano, and then headed off to Garda the next day, which I already showed you guys.

 

From there it was an early drive to Venice where I got about 25 minutes as the sun was rising, and then a train to Ancona to catch an overnight ferry to Greece, sleeping on the floor and landing in Iguomenitsa at around 6 in the morning. Overall, I can see why people love Italy so much. What a beautiful country, relaxed and charming, with incredible food and such a luxurious ambience. It wasn’t the easiest to navigate as a tourist, with hardly any hostels and overpriced transportation tickets and rooms, but the food more than made up for it.

 

Thanks for reading guys, and thanks for the comments, I love hearing from you!

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The little I saw of Milan

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And after a bit of a hike out of the city and some unclear directions, I finally catch a glimpse of the ferris wheel

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Welcome to Europark Idroscalo, outside of Milan. This guy is Storm, a pinfari model

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It was a nice little ride

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THIS little girl on the wacky worm... oh man, this was the most scared I've ever been on a coaster

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There's a bit more of the theming around it

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Here's a view of the park's mouse.

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The whole park was very carnival-esque. Looked like it could be packed up and taken down in about a day

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I had my huge backpack with me - it was weird walking around the park with it on and leaving it in the stations while I rode but... you gotta do what you gotta do

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This was the next day at Mirabilandia, after a wonderful night in Bologna.

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I love this ride, more than just about any other ride. This thing is absolutely incredible, and is laid out beautifully across the park's entire skyline.

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There's Ben

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This thing is a masterpiece, there's no other way to describe it. I could wake up everyday to this thing and never get sick of it

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Love the theming too, the whole area looked great

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Took a ride on this mouse before heading over to the other side of the park...

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To this hotsy totsy

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This ride wasn't nearly given the attention to detail as Katun was, but it still stood out

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A little bit of the trackwork. The problem I had with this ride was the layout. It didn't make any sense whatsoever.

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The top hat was a good one though

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A look at the kiddie coaster, complete with vegetable thematic elements

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I, for one, am a big fan of anything themed to food.

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Looking back toward iSpeed

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The last credit in the park for us to get...

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and then we were back to the love of my life

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There's Ben from the bridge

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I love how big this thing is, and how it sprawls across the entire length of the park. I love how much space it's given, how it's integrated into the landscape, how it towers over everything, and how high that barrel roll is

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I love how dramatic it is, how intense it is, how smooth it is, and how classic it is. I love the swooping turn out of the barrel roll, and I love how the butterfly loop is angled slightly. I just love everything about this ride... it's as close to perfect as I believe an invert has come

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There I go again

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A look back at the first drop while heading out for lunch

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We drove to nearby Ravenna, which looked like this...

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And got lost, driving around in circles for a while, driving us to look like this.

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And we're back, for the rest of the afternoon, camped out between Katun and laying on one of the lawns

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This panorama you get every time you leave the station still takes my breath away

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Finally out for the night, we head back to Ben's home in Aviano

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This was a smaller town on the way to Garda

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The day after that, we were at Venice before six as the sun rose, for me to catch a train to Ancona

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I received the briefest of allllll the Venetian tours, but it was nice while it lasted

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And welcome to the east coast in Ancona, where I endured the second briefest of all Italian city tours, before hopping on board the ferry

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And we were off by early afternoon, leaving Italy behind and steaming towards Greece. Thanks for reading!!

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  • 4 years later...

^ ^^ Ha! Guys! Thanks for dredging this back up. Now come to think of it, there has been a ton more like this I could share over the past few years. I did largely stop taking photos though when it became somewhat of a detraction from the actual experience for me, and I have grown out of some of the drama of my old college self [only a little though], but maybe if I'm in the mood I could throw some things together...

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