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Photo TR: Andy's 2019 European Adventure with TPR

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Sunday, July 14, 2019

Day 3: Dunes, Dams, and Depraved Santas


Now back in the Netherlands for the rest of the first phase of my trip, I headed west to the shoreline. I'd spend the first part of the day along the North Sea coast in the Zeeland province, visiting a small city, some large dunes, and one of the biggest flood control projects in the world. The second half of the day would be spent on a long walking tour through Rotterdam, one of the two large cities in the southwestern part of the Netherlands. I was excited to check out the amazing Markthal, and one of the first destinations I ever planned out for the trip: the Euromast.


We'll start at the sea...


Starting the morning on the pier in the small Dutch city of Vlissingen.


Not-so-fun fact: the parking kiosks along the seaside road in Vlissingen do not take American credit cards. However, I found a nearby meter that accepted Euro coins!


This was not exactly a "bring your sunscreen to the beach" type of day, but people were out enjoying their walks on the shoreline.


Vlissingen is located where the Scheldt River flows into the North Sea, so it's a strategically important spot.


Boat traffic is pretty busy in the waters off of Vlissingen.


There's also a fortification near the pier -- the Keizersbolwerk!


The Keizersbolwerk is quite old -- dating back to the 1500s. There's also a small museum within the casemates (De Kazematten).


Vlissingen has a population of about 44,000 people, and all the architectural beauty you'd expect.


The colorful buildings are awesome!


A fair was set up in Vlissingen's main square! See, there's sorta-kinda theme park content in this post. It was early in the morning, so nothing was operating, but I got some pictures anyway.


They had a Break Dance...


...a spot for a fully-licensed Avengers-themed Wipeout that didn't seem to exist...


...a Flying Jumbo, which is definitely not to be confused with Dumbo...


...a Thriller haunted dark ride, which may or may not be a credit...


And the Virtual World 6D theater, which is disappointing only because they haven't yet upgraded to 7D.


The background to the 6D theater ride is sure something to look at. Maybe if you're into robots...




Cannons along the harbor in Vlissingen.


To anyone wondering if they'll have to plan ahead to find windmills on a vacation to the Netherlands: you don't. You can't go 5 kilometers without running into another one!


Also, weird Dutch buildings. There will be more to come from Rotterdam.


Some sections of the Dutch coastline are obvious vacation areas -- with tall condos/hotels along the shoreline. Vlissingen has a bit of that.


I went a little further up the coast to Groot Valkenisse, a natural area with beaches and dunes and stuff -- you'll see in the coming pics.


First, a big staircase, which certainly answers the question -- is there any real terrain in the stereotypically-flat Netherlands? The answer is yes!


Here's the view down the other side of the stairway -- the beach of Groot Valkenisse on the North Sea.


A view alongside the rather large dune looking north.


So of course we're going to climb up there.


There's a nice trail that runs the entire crest of the dune.


Here's where the trail levels off at the dune's highest point.


This is the summit of the Groot Valkenisse dune, and the highest point in the Zeeland province of the Netherlands. That's the second Dutch provincial high point of the trip! This dune reaches an elevation of 51 meters / 167 feet above the North Sea, so yeah, it's pretty high above the water.


The view south. It's pretty impressive. Just wish the weather was a little better.


The Netherlands may be famously pancake-flat, but this area does things differently.


An odd view along the beach


In beachfront areas in the Netherlands, you'll often see restaurants built right on the sand. Even on this chilly, windy, cloudy day, many of them appeared to be quite busy.


Here's the view north from the high point.


Even a few people actually getting in the water.


More seaside trails and beachfront restaurants. This area would be absolutely beautiful -- and probably ridiculously crowded -- on a nice summer day.


Some very large boats just off the coast.


A comparison in size.


Weird perspective tricks in this photo, as the large ship heads north past the beach.


A little further up the coast is Westkapelle, another small seaside town. I climbed another dune, which I think is named Erica. I'm not sure why it's named Erica.


The view from Erica!


There's a Royal Netherlands Sea Rescue station here...


...and a pier...


...which was modestly busy with people fishing.


A look over a pond on the other side of the dunes.


This is the Vuurtoren 't Hoge Licht (Lighthouse High Light) in Westkapelle -- an old church tower that was turned into a lighthouse. It's open for visitors on certain days, but unfortunately, this was not one of those days.


Dutch rooftop scenes (and another lighthouse) in Westkapelle.


And, yep, another windmill.


I'm pretty sure that nearly entire stretch of dunes from here to Vlissingen has hiking trails that run atop them.


Sometimes, intentionally getting people in pictures can sort of add to the story of the day.


These peoples' stories are various derivatives of "why is nothing biting?"


The waterfront here isn't really a beach -- it's actually sort of a hard, bumpy, dark-colored rock.


Fishing from the rocks as the waves crash in.


Hope you and your bird friends enjoy the day.


Last pic from Westkapelle is the Landingsmonument.


"In memory of those of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines who died off these shores on 1st November 1944 whilst serving with landing craft of support squadron Eastern Flank."


"4 Commando Brigade

British Liberation Army

Landed here on 1 Nov. 1944 to liberate the island"


I left Westkapelle and did some more driving, heading further up the coast to de Baanjard -- a small community adjacent to both the North Sea and an inland body of water (Veerse Meer).


On the calmer side, there were some novices...


...but out on the open waters, the kitesurfers were out in full force!


So maybe this wasn't a classic beach day for most people...


...but the windy conditions were ideal for some!


Off in the distance behind the kitesurfers is something I knew I wanted to see as soon as I planned to go to the Netherlands. But I'll get back to that in a minute.


Wind energy of multiple types.


Seriously, wind turbines are everywhere.


(and I never did figure out what Bob is, so I should look)


(ah, it's a campaign against drunk driving.)


Another beach view...


...and more people out in the wind and cold (and yes, a little bit of rain).


A distant view of that big huge group of kitesurfers from earlier.


So, this is what I really wanted to see. It just looks like a big, strange bridge over the water, right?


This is a section of the Oosterscheldekering -- the Eastern Scheldt storm surge barrier.


The Oosterscheldekering is the largest of the Delta Works projects, the series of dams and surge barriers designed to protect the Netherlands from flooding.


Here's a view from a little further north of a different section of the Oosterscheldekering. The whole point of the barrier is to keep the North Sea /out/ of the Netherlands.


The Oosterscheldekering was officially opened in 1986. In normal conditions, the gates are open, but the whole thing can be shut off during storms to dam the North Sea from entering the protected areas behind.


The 3-meter mark is an important one, as that's when all of the gates have to be completely shut. It looks like the sea was behaving properly while I was visiting.


A closer view of one of the gates...


...and a look atop the bridge that crosses the northern segment of the Oosterscheldekering. When I was done seeing it, I got to drive over it.


A little more info on the Oosterscheldekering! It's just such a massive project that I had to see for myself -- it really combines engineering, hydrology, oceanography, and weather all together. I find that kind of stuff fascinating.

Edited by The Great Zo
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I arrived in Rotterdam in the mid-afternoon hours, driving into the center downtown after navigating my way around on the freeways and tunnels that circle the city.


Rotterdam is the second largest city in the Netherlands, after Amsterdam. It's a very diverse and modern city, which is generally a good thing. The sad part is the realization of why Rotterdam is so modern compared to other big European cities -- it was almost completely destroyed by the Nazis during WWII. There isn't any good that can be said about that, but as the city was largely reconstructed in the post-WWII years, it has a much different feel than any of the other European cities I've visited.


I'll share a little more about Rotterdam in the captions, but I want to go a little bit into the whole process of finding parking in European cities. It's one of the things I was worried about. In the US, every big city has easy access to a ton of giant parking garages, most of which are easy to find. As it turns out, Europe isn't much different. I do think that it would be hard to simply drive into a European city and hope to chance across a decent parking spot. Thankfully, I found it easy to plan out where I'd park ahead of time, sometimes even booking parking before arriving. Ultimately, I was able to drive right into (or to the edges of) any city I wanted to visit. As for the prices? They varied, but were generally similar to prices in the US. $15-$20 parking for a full day (or majority of a day) was common, but there were a few places where I parked for less than that.


In Rotterdam, I parked in the Markthal parking garage, which is an underground garage right in the middle of downtown. Here's what it looks like! The spaces and lanes are certainly a little more narrow than in most garages in the US, but ultimately parking wasn't anything to fear at all. A very easy process in a very modern garage -- with the red/green lights above each space!


The garage is under this building -- the Markthal (market hall), one of Rotterdam's main attractions. And oh, is it fantastic.


By now you're getting used to my travel trademarks -- high points, beaches, airplanes, observation towers, city skylines, and (of course) theme parks. But I also love visiting food halls / market halls when I travel -- it's a trend that has grown so much in the past decade, and one that I really love.


Rotterdam's Markthal is easily one of the best I've visited.


First off, just look at the building! It's 131 feet tall, with residential/office space along the edges, but a giant hollowed-out middle that holds the main part of the hall. It's fairly new, too -- only opened in 2014.


I skipped the wheel, but there's one of those if you're interested.


The inside of Markthal -- with dozens of stalls and individual vendors, most (but not all) selling things to eat.


There's a huge mural, designed by Arno Coenen, on the inside walls and the ceiling of the Markthal. It would be impossible to photograph the entire thing.


You can enjoy the artwork while straining your neck as you wait for your dinner to be served!


The huge windows on either end of the hall provide views out to the city.


The parking garage and some other stores can be found down the escalators in the middle of the hall.


You might even pass your time playing chess.


I'm not sure how many vendors are inside of Markthal, but I'm guessing 25-35.


Instead of one big meal, I tried a few different things -- croquettes, iberian ham, a falafel sandwich, and a coconut ball for dessert. Though Dutch was the language of choice, English was not a problem with any of the vendors, and many of them had signage up in English as well.


I'm not sure that Markthal contains my favorite selection of vendors of any food hall I've been to -- although it's really close with a couple others -- but it's far and away the most interesting architecturally.


Speaking of interesting buildings ... here's my hotel for the night. It's called the H2Otel.


If this looks a bit strange for a hotel, yep, it is. The entire hotel was built out of five lash barges originally possessed by the US Army. They were parked in a canal in downtown Rotterdam and converted into a museum, and later into a hotel.


This was another hotel that I booked just one day in advance, and was one of 2 or 3 I was seriously considering booking in Rotterdam. Ultimately, it was the least expensive of the three, but that's not why I chose it. It's a floating hotel! On a barge! Always go for the unique experience.


A better view of the hotel from the side of the canal.


The hotel has some parking spaces allotted in a nearby garage, but due to booking so late, they were already sold out. I just kept my car parked at the Markthal garage, which was only about a 7-8 minute walk from the hotel -- not bad except for the whole "suitcase on cobblestone streets" thing.


Here's a view from my room -- looking out the porthole from my desk.


So, after visiting Markthal and dropping things off in my hotel room, I set out for my walking tour of Rotterdam. It was a long one -- I estimate that I walked about 5 and a half miles in a few hours.


One of the first things you notice in Rotterdam is the skyscrapers -- big, modern, artistic, colorful skyscrapers.


Some really interesting building designs. It's a far cry from the historic look of central Amsterdam.


This is the Witte Huis (White House) -- built in 1898, it was at one time the tallest skyscraper in Europe. It's one of the few buildings to survive the WWII attacks.


Rotterdam is definitely near the top of the list for seeing weird architecture in Europe.


The Cube Houses are one of the main attractions.


These were designed by Piet Blom. Each cube is a residential living space. Wouldn't that be an odd place to live?


Looking up through the cubes!


Rotterdam's library is also interestingly designed.


This looks a little more like classic Europe -- it's the Grote of Sint-Laurenskerk (St. Lawrence Church). It was built in the 1400s/1500s, and it's the only remaining structure from medieval Rotterdam. Somehow, it also survived the WWII bombings, though not without some damage that had to be repaired.


Rotterdam's city hall (Stadhuis van Rotterdam) also survived the bombing.


It's actually not all that old by European standards -- built in the 1910s.


Would you like some of Rotterdam's finest Freshly-Backed Churros?


Interesting buildings are just about everywhere in Rotterdam.


Even the central station is awesome, with this bold, pointy design.


These buildings near the central station are not only colorful, but quite reflective.


Why use straight lines when you can be more creative?


Even the churches are weird in Rotterdam -- this is Pauluskerk, located just south of the central station.


This part of Rotterdam is very business-heavy, but with lots of restaurants and parkland that kept people milling around in the evening -- especially as the weather had improved quite a bit.


This is a statue of Santa Claus holding a pine tree.


At least, that's what sculptor Paul McCarthy wants us to believe.


I am not so sure. A perusal of the internet indicates that there are tons of people questioning the proclivities of this version of Jolly Old Saint Nick.


Use your imagination!


Oh, Rotterdam. Interesting place.


More random public art in Rotterdam!


I got out of the roads and skyscrapers and took a walk through Het Park, a large green space in the southwestern section of central Rotterdam.


I walked through Het Park so that I could get to my final destination of the day -- Euromast.


I initially started thinking about doing a solo trip through the Netherlands while making my first visit to the country on the 2016 TPR trip. When the plans got serious, Euromast was the second destination I decided would be a must-visit. It's been on the agenda since the beginning!


(the /first/ destination planned will come up on Day 5)


Euromast, like most observation towers, is operated like an attraction -- with tickets, a gift shop, and your typical tourist trappings. Here's the entry area.




It's not just an observation tower -- there's also a restaurant, and even a hotel room!


Heading up to the Panorama platform, 98 meters above the ground.


If I ever get my Observation Tower Review* website off the ground, Euromast is going to rank very high. The main platform is completely open air, offering unobstructed views in all directions. The views themselves are awesome -- a major downtown, a huge port area, a river, a park, and the Dutch countryside beyond. It was inexpensive, it was uncrowded, and it was awesome. It even looks like it would be night photography friendly, with plenty of room to set up either full size tripods (on the ground) or mini tripods (on the railing).


*not actually going to happen


Looking west toward Delfshaven.


Further west along the Nieuwe Maas -- a distributary river of the Rhine.


A lock on a canal just below the Euromast.


Looking north. The big building in the foreground is a hospital, and the northern end of downtown Rotterdam is just behind it.


Several tall buildings in Rotterdam, near the central station.


A wider view over downtown Rotterdam. Het Park is in the foreground.


Like most European cities, Rotterdam was very walkable. That's good, because I walked all the way to the Euromast from downtown over there!


The south end of downtown, and one particularly awesome bridge.


The Erasmusbrug (Erasmus Bridge) is one of the main road connections through the south end of central Rotterdam. It was named after the famous philosopher -- Rotterdam's own Desiderius Erasmus.


The Hotel New York is another famous old building in Rotterdam, built in what was once the office of Holland America Line.


The SS Rotterdam, a ship built in 1959 for the Holland America Line, now in business as a luxury hotel.


Boats on the river -- and the boat traffic is constant.


When taken as a whole, the entire port area of Rotterdam (from downtown out through the seacoast) is the largest in all of Europe.


Looking east up the Nieuwe Maas to another bridge.


There's one more thing to see at the Euromast -- the Euroscoop. See the little cabin with windows going up the mast? It's a rotating observation vehicle that reaches a height of 185 meters -- quite a bit higher than the main observation platform. There's also narration that explains everything you're seeing.


Normally, you'd think that something like this would be an upcharge, but this is Euromast, so it's included. Have I mentioned that Euromast is awesome?


Here's a comparison of the views -- this picture of downtown is from the main observation level.


This picture of downtown is from the top of the Euroscoop. It's a noticeable change in height.


You do have to contend with shooting through glass, and since the cabin is rotating, shutter speed is also a concern.


Still, for no additional cost, why not take the ride?


Looking down at the main observation level from the top of the Euroscoop. The water is way, way down there.


A quick picture of the Euromast restaurant level on the way out!


I had about a 45-minute walk back to the hotel from Euromast, and followed the paths along the river to enjoy the views as the light began to fade.


Boats and skyscrapers -- quite the scene.


Getting closer to the Erasmusbrug.


I really would have loved to do some night photography along the water, but the sun sets so darn late in Europe in the summer. I was already exhausted, and I don't think I could have stayed out another hour or two.


So, as dusk began to fall, I returned to the H2Otel to finish out the night.


Rotterdam is awesome, and I'd absolutely recommend it as a great #2 city to visit in the Netherlands after Amsterdam.

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I’ve been reading your stuff on here (still have not finished, will try not to) for a while now Andy. I absolutely love your TRs (personal favorite is your TR from the 2013 TX/Midwest Trip). You always have interesting stuff, and this TR is no exception. I love all the architecture and interesting points in the Benelux and France. If I were in the Netherlands, I’d visit the Binnenhof, in The Hague, the official seat of government in the Netherlands. Now, before I get into Dutch politics (I’m American). It’s a really interesting building. You definitely wouldn’t think it was a government building.


Can’t wait to see more!

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the surge barrier, and the unique architecture are so interesting!


(I looked thru your report tonight instead of paying attention to my conference call!. . LOL. .. better use of my time, I thought).


thanks for sharing Andy. Loving following along.

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I’ve been reading your stuff on here (still have not finished, will try not to) for a while now Andy. I absolutely love your TRs (personal favorite is your TR from the 2013 TX/Midwest Trip). You always have interesting stuff, and this TR is no exception. I love all the architecture and interesting points in the Benelux and France. If I were in the Netherlands, I’d visit the Binnenhof, in The Hague, the official seat of government in the Netherlands. Now, before I get into Dutch politics (I’m American). It’s a really interesting building. You definitely wouldn’t think it was a government building.


Thank you! I didn't know anyone still dug into the old TRs, but it's appreciated. Oh, and based on that comment, you might enjoy the next TR segment. Should be up by the end of the weekend.


(I looked thru your report tonight instead of paying attention to my conference call!. . LOL. .. better use of my time, I thought).


I am perfectly OK with my trip reports being used as a means of distraction from actual boring real-world work.

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Love the aesthetic of all those colorful kites again the gloomy sky. Very cool!


The Dutch must love turning boats into hotels.


They actually love turning boats into anything, lol! We saw delivery boats, taxi boats,

group event boats, huge long touring boats, day and evening, some as restaurants....


Rotterdam and Amsterdam both have great stuff to tour through, outside or inside buildings.

I love the architecture in both cities! Great TR Andy, looking forward to more!

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Monday, July 15, 2019

Day 4: The Deer of Den Haag, the Minions of Leiden


My travels through the Netherlands continued in the western part of the country, with visits to The Hague and Leiden on the agenda.


It was yet another day of almost completely cloudy, grey weather -- which sadly led me to cut out one of the planned destinations I had for this day of the trip. Scheveningen is the most popular beach resort in the Netherlands, complete with a huge hotels, tons of restaurants, miles of beachfront, and even a pier with a Ferris wheel. It's sort of the Dutch Santa Monica, and it's somewhere I'd been excited to go since I started planning things out. I just couldn't justify a half-day at the beach under such ugly weather (and photography) conditions. Scheveningen will remain high on my list of places to see on future European adventures.


That still left me with another huge flood control project to visit, plus a major city and a smaller city, along with a slightly gentler pace than I'd been keeping the previous few days.




On my way out of Rotterdam, my first destination was the Maeslantkering -- another huge Delta Works project.


Rotterdam, as I mentioned in the last post, is a huge port city. The river that flows through Rotterdam -- the Nieuwe Maas -- continues west from downtown, eventually funneling into a large ship canal called the Nieuwe Waterweg. This waterway is usually completely open to the North Sea, and susceptible to flooding as far upstream as Rotterdam and beyond. How do you stop that from occurring? With a giant mechanical double-gate that can close off the entire waterway -- the Maeslantkering. How big is it? Each of the two gates is about 700 feet long. Together, they close off a canal over 1,200 feet wide.


If you want to see an aerial view of what these two gates look like -- open and closed -- look here. Otherwise, enjoy my pictures from the ground after a quick visit outside the Maeslantkering visitor's center.


Here's a panoramic shot of the northern Maeslantkering gate, taken from a small hill on the grounds of the visitor's center. If it's hard to get a sense of scale for just how big this is, check out the cars on the right side of the picture.


Looking in a little closer at the hinge on the northern gate -- and you can see the southern gate behind it.


When the water level rises to 3m above normal sea level, the two gate arms are floated and rotated out into the waterway. Once they're out in the canal, they are then filled with water, and they sink to the bottom of the canal -- closing off the waterway completely.


The joints/hinges have a diameter of 10 meters, and they can move freely like any other type of ball-and-socket joint. Each gate weighs 6,800 tons.


Obviously, there were no impediments to ship traffic during this relatively unremarkable July day.


A view across the water to the southern gate. The Maeslantkering was built from 1991-1997.


As best as I can tell, the Maeslantkering has only actually been closed /operationally/ twice -- during storms in November 2007 and January 2018. Obviously, the gates are tested more often than that.


Some additional info about the Maeslantkering -- the largest movable storm surge barrier on the planet!


A guy on a bike in the foreground, with a waterway and wind turbines in the background. This picture is very Dutch.

Edited by The Great Zo
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The Hague is the third-largest city in the Netherlands, after Amsterdam and Rotterdam. It's located very close to Rotterdam, and was an easy choice for my next place to visit. Here's what makes The Hague interesting -- while Amsterdam is well-known as the official capital of the Netherlands, almost all government functions are headquartered in The Hague instead. That includes the Dutch parliament (States General), the office of the King, and the Supreme Court -- in addition to most foreign embassies and many United Nations judicial functions.


Den Haag -- as it is known in Dutch -- is a very dense city. To me, it felt like like sort of a blend of the modern downtown of Rotterdam and the older, classic architecture of Amsterdam. There's a bit of both! While The Hague was seriously damaged during World War II, many of the most important old buildings survived.


Again, parking was no problem -- I found easy access to a garage not even a 10 minute walk from the historic city center. My walking tour of The Hague was about 6 miles, and a little over 4 hours long.


A street scene in The Hague as my walking tour begins.


The Dutch Coat of Arms on the gate...


...of the Paleis Noordeinde, the official working office of the King of the Netherlands.


Outside of the Paleis Noordeinde, a statue of William of Orange. It's the oldest free-standing statue in The Hague.


Spiraly-globe thing. Sorry, can't be historically/technically accurate with every caption.


The Paleis Knueterdijk -- the home of the Dutch Council of State.


The front of the Paleis Knueterdijk, which is just northwest of the Binnenhof.


More foreshadowing! More HARDGAAN!


Hout. Staal. Hardgaan. = Wood. Steel. Go fast.


Approaching the Binnenhof -- the historic center of The Hague. This building across the water is the Mauritshuis -- a museum of Dutch paintings.


Across the pond (the Hofvijver) is the Binnenhof, the large complex of government buildings at the center of the city.


The Binnenhof was built primarily in the 1200s. It is very old.


Across the Hofvijver, several other historic buildings -- including the Gevangenpoort, and in the distance, the tower of the Grote of Sint-Jacobskerk.


Another view of the Binnenhof, and a contrast of the old and the new.


The Hague's main business district is located very close to the city center, so modern skyscrapers and 13th century buildings can line up in the same photograph.


On a plaza just west of the Binnenhof.


This old medieval gate -- the Gevangenpoort -- was built in the 1400s.


Another coat of arms above the Gevangenpoort.


The Gevangenpoort is now a crime museum.


Modern transportation!


A monument to King William II -- and not the first statue of the guy that I'd come across. You may recall seeing a similar statue in my trip report segment from Luxembourg, where he was also the Grand Duke.


Flags on the wall of the Hofvijver.


Ooh look, a secret passage.


Looking up!


The Passage dates to the late 1800s -- a cornerstone inside the center area is engraved 1884. It was the first enclosed shopping plaza in the Netherlands.


I like these open-air arcade passageway things, but I shouldn't act like they're all that special, because even Cleveland has one.


You really don't have to walk far to get from the Binnenhof to the Passage to this very commercialized shopping area.


This is why I came to The Hague -- to pimp up.


The Nieuwe Kerk. Which was built in 1649. Because "new" in Europe isn't really new.


Detail on the entrance of the Nieuwe Kerk.


This is new-ish, though -- The Hague's city hall.


It's a huge and very impressive building.


Den Haag is the official name of the city. The Hague, in English, is actually a pretty poor translation.


Looking up inside of The Hague's city hall.


They had some kind of art / photography gallery on the main floor.


The Hague's old city hall -- which appears at the end of this post -- is tiny. Sometimes, even in a historic city, you've gotta build new and large.


This is an interesting statue.


Not far from city hall is the former Netherlands Ministry of Justice building.


Now headed back to the Binnenhof for a walk inside.


This archway might date to 1899, but most of the buildings in the Binnenhof are far older.


A walk through the main arch into the courtyard.


The Ridderzaal (Hall of Knights) -- it looks like a church, but it's a big ceremonial government building.


A golden statue of King William II atop the fountain.


The walls of the inner courtyard of the Binnenhof.


Arches and columns in the Binnenhof.


Another view of the fountain.


The King delivers a speech from the Ridderzaal once a year.


The eastern gate on the way out of the Binnenhof.


Though I couldn't tell you exactly where, the Dutch legislature (States General of the Netherlands) holds session inside the Binnenhof.


Another view of the western Binnenhof gate from the other side.


Heading west from the Binnenhof, the old and the new align.


The Koninklijke Schouwburg -- the Royal Theater of The Hague.


Obviously not a historic building, but this is the Supreme Court (Hoge Raad) of the Netherlands.


Approaching the modern downtown area.


A view of skyscrapers over a small canal.


In the Koekamp park, there are deer.


Lots of deer.


Very peaceful deer.


Deer of different colors.


Deer with antlers.


Koekamp is located very close to the Den Haag Centraal train station, so if you're stressed after a day of travel, you can always go walk through this park and watch a bunch of deer do absolutely nothing.


Here's Den Haag Centraal -- the shorter of the two buildings. It's one of the /two/ main train stations in The Hague.


Another stop on my Dutch food hall tour -- this is MingleMush.


OK, I can't give good reviews to every place I go. Any food hall was going to be disappointing after Rotterdam's Markthal, but MingleMush was especially so.


The assortment of vendors was decent, but half of them weren't open, and it was just past lunch time on a weekday.


The place was not quite a ghost town, but it was not very busy. I had tacos. They were good, but not great.


A fountain and some colorful art outside of MingleMush and Den Haag Centraal.


More interesting art and modern buildings, as I make my way on a lengthy walk southeast from Den Haag Centraal.


From here, I had to walk alongside this busy road on what I don't think was actually intended to be a sidewalk...


...but I reached an overlook platform with a view of The Hague's downtown core and the tracks heading into the train station.


You'll notice the blue skies. I knew there would be a brief break in the clouds, and perhaps an opportunity to get a decent picture of the skyline that wasn't completely grey. I timed out my walking tour to get up to the overlook when the sun came out. It lasted all of 20 minutes.


Looking east from the overlook.


Another view of the train station, with one elevated platform.


Many of these downtown buildings are Dutch federal government office buildings.


The top of this building -- the Hoftoren -- is quite interesting.


You could tell it was a busy station -- trains were coming in and out every couple of minutes.


Leaving the viewing area and continuing southwest.


Another view of downtown. Electrotechniek is a cool word.


The tall building here is Het Strijkijzer (The Flatiron) -- or sometimes called de Haagse Toren (The Hague Tower). It has an observation deck up top, which was open six days a week.


It was Monday, the one day it was not open.


Oh well.


The second main railway station in The Hague is Den Haag HS (Hollands Spoor). The two stations were built by competing companies. East-west lines terminate at Centraal Station, and north-south lines terminate here.


Now heading north into a section of The Hague that looks a little more like Amsterdam.


Canals and boats and bikes!


I passed by an art/performance venue called The Grey Space. They had very weird things written on their five windows. I'm presuming they are supposed to be thoughtful, poetic, and artistic. I am posting all five of them because they amuse me.




[question everything]






Heading further north. This part of The Hague had a lot of cultural diversity. It was interesting to walk through.


Would you like to meet Haagse Harry? He's a character from a series of Dutch comic books.


Haagse Harry has left us a gift.


The Grote Markt, a busy outdoor dining area.


Last stop in The Hague is the old city hall.


This building dates to the 1500s.


Most of the city hall functions have transferred over to the gigantic new building, but some ceremonial purposes are still held here.

Edited by The Great Zo
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I spent the evening in a city called Leiden. Located about 10-15 miles northeast of The Hague, Leiden is the 20th largest city in the Netherlands, so it's considerably smaller than the last two big cities I visited on the trip. Leiden was a really pleasant place to walk around -- much more quiet and relaxed than any of the major downtowns, but just as scenic.


I parked at a garage adjacent to the city's west gate, and then walked all the way through the city center to the east gate and back again. The whole thing was about 3 miles / 2 hours, followed by a stop for dinner on the way out.


No hotel stories or pictures this time -- I stayed at a Hilton Garden Inn just outside of Leiden. Exciting, I know.


Entering Leiden just like they did in the 1600s -- through the Morspoort.


It slightly bothers me that this is just barely not quite centered correctly.


Leiden is a city of canals, traditional Dutch architecture, and windmills. Here's one of two windmills in the city -- the Molen De Put.


Here's how I described Leiden after visiting: all of Amsterdam's scenic canal atmosphere, and none of Amsterdam's "disgusting NYC plus weed" smells.


The classic red-and-white Dutch window shutters. One of the trademarks you see around the country.


A bridge over a boat near Leiden's main plaza. In the distance: the city's other windmill, the Molen De Valk.


These old lift bridges are another common sight in Dutch cities. This one is called the Rembrandtbrug -- named after the famous painter, who was born in Leiden.


Canals and boats and stuff.


This bridge is a bit more modern...


...and this one is quite a bit older.


This bridge -- the Koornbrug -- is maybe the most interesting in the city. It's not just a bridge -- there's a small pavilion / public space up on top.


This gate kind of reminds me of the ones near the Binnenhof in The Hague.


That gate leads to the Burcht -- one of Leiden's most important locations.


The stairway leading up the hill to the Burcht.


A little more about the Burcht -- a small castle-like fortification built near the city's geographic center, at the confluence of the Oude Rijn and the Nieuwe Rijn.


The Burcht was built on a man-made mound that dates as far back as the 800s. The brick structure was built around 1150.


The Burcht was never really used in any serious conflict, and it's been a public park since the 1600s.


The inner courtyard of the Burcht has several large trees.


You can climb a staircase to get to the upper level of the Burcht. It's one of the highest accessible spots in the very flat city, but because it's surrounded by trees, the views are mostly obstructed.


A view southwest to Leiden's city hall.


A view southeast to the Hooglandse Kerk, Leiden's largest church.


An old/new contrast. On the right, the Marekirk, dating to the 17th century. On the left, one of the buildings of the University of Applied Sciences of Leiden.


A flag in the wind.


Heading east through the quiet streets of Leiden.


In front of a small marina on the city's east end.


The Schrijversbrug -- a road lift bridge just outside the east city gate.


Leiden's east gate is called the Zijlpoort.


Heading back west into the city. You can see the water level in the canal, but look at the marker on the wall.


NAP (Normaal Amsterdams Peil) is essentially the Dutch equivalent of sea level -- meaning that the water level in the canal is probably a meter or two below.


Walking past the Molen De Valk, which is also a windmill museum.


Oh, just your usual evening canal excursion -- six guys and one minion.


I'm sure this makes sense somehow.


Stopping for dinner on the way out of Leiden at Oudt Leyden -- a Pannenkoekenhuys.


Pannenkoeken is basically a Dutch culinary staple for tourists and locals alike. It's their take on a pancake, though it's probably more somewhere between a pancake and a crepe. They can be served flat (in which they'll cover your entire dinner plate and then some) or rolled up, and they can be topped or filled with just about anything.


I went for the apple strudel pannenkoeken. It was like eating dessert for dinner. I'm on vacation. That's allowed. And that's it for the day!

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Thought that dude with the bike was the Dutch PM, Mark Rutte for a quick second. He’s been known to ride his bike around on days with good weather. Altogether, this is a really good TR.


PS, the chamber for the House of Representatives and the Senate are somewhere in the back of the Binnenhof complex I think. Also, if you saw an octagonal-shaped tower attached to the Binnenhof that was most definitely the Dutch PMs office.

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I love your tripreports! I live in the netherlands and it's fun to see my country through other peoples eyes, but you actually visit some places I hardly ever go to and basically know nothing about. It's also impressive how you took some shots of Rotterdam that don't make that place look like the most depressing town in the world.


For anyone who's planning on doing a simular city trip through the netherlands, I'd advise you to not rent a car but use public stransport. All major city's are easily accessible by train and are a much faster and cheaper alternative than driving.

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Thanks for the comments! But to be honest, I wouldn't have been able to make it to even half of the places I wanted to go to without a car, at least not within a limited amount of time. The big cities are certainly accessible, but they were just one part of my itinerary.


Part 5 (the last of the pre-TPR trip report segments) should be up early this coming week.

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Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Day 5: Old Birds and New Turbines


This was my final day of wanderlusting my way around the Netherlands before the official TPR trip began. So, if you've been waiting for actual theme park content, it's coming soon.


But first, one more day of sand dunes, wind turbines, gloomy skies, and airplanes.




Despite the grey weather, I was in the mood to climb another dune, so I started the day in Katwijk -- a small coastal community just northwest of Leiden. Katwijk has easy access to an area of dunes that includes the second highest in the South Holland province -- a spot called Vlaggeduin.


On the trail to Vlaggeduin, which is only about a 10-15 minute walk from easy public parking.


Here's the side trail that heads up some stairs to the top of Vlaggeduin.


The top is where that blue-and-white bunker-looking thing is.


At the 117-foot tall summit. This is what mountain climbing looks like in the Netherlands.


Vlaggeduin was originally thought to be the highest point in South Holland, but it's actually the second highest point. The highest point is ... in an amusement park? Yep. That's coming later.


A pleasant view over the dunes to the North Sea. Katwijk is a coastal community -- much more quaint and relaxed than, say, Scheveningen.


The white structure is the Katwijk lighthouse.


Foreground: the Andreaskerk of Katwijk. Background: wind turbines far out in the sea.


In the distance, you can see the skylines of Rotterdam...


...The Hague, at about 9 miles away...


...and Scheveningen. Yep, including a big Ferris wheel on a pier.


I'm knot sure, but I think these are some very large ships.


Katwijk isn't far from Schiphol, so there was plenty of plane traffic to watch. Here's a KLM A330 on its way in.


Also enjoying the trail was this completely random collection of 10 dogs.




After visiting the dunes of Katwijk, I drove well to the north for one more interesting look at the way water is controlled in the Netherlands.


This observation tower is located along the Afsluitdijk -- a 20-mile long dam and causeway about 40 miles north of Amsterdam.


The Afsluitdijk dam was built in the early 1930s as part of the Zuiderzee Works -- a huge system of dams, dikes, land reclamation, and water drainage projects in the northern part of the Netherlands. In this picture, the water to the left is the North Sea, and the water to the right is a lake called the IJsselmeer. Before the dam was built, the North Sea opened into the waters to the right -- an inlet originally known as the Zuiderzee. As with so many other places in the Netherlands, the inland areas along the Zuiderzee were prone to flooding. This dam essentially shut off the North Sea from the Zuiderzee, turning it into a freshwater lake, and reducing the risk of floods.


Here's a view looking southwest, with the sea to the right, and the lake to the left. You can also see a statue of Cornelis Lely, the civil engineer who oversaw the Zuiderzee Works.


A zoomed view of the above. The lake (IJsselmeer) averages a surface elevation of about 1 foot below sea level -- lower, of course, than the North Sea to the right.


Looking northeast, with the sea to the left, and the lake to the right.


In addition to being a huge flood control project, this is also an important road, connecting two otherwise separate regions of the Netherlands across a huge expanse of water.




After crossing the Afsluitdijk, I continued onward to one of the smallest communities I would visit on the trip -- a place called Urk.


This was the first thing I noticed upon arriving in Urk -- turbines after turbines after turbines. Most of these are part of the Windpark Noordoostpolder, one of the largest and most productive wind farms in the Netherlands.


There are lots of turbines, and they are huge, and they loom on the horizon and move in unison in ways that look almost dystopian. But I can't keep talking about turbines forever, so why not tell you a bit about Urk?


Urk was originally an island on the Zuiderzee / IJsselmeer, but during the middle part of the 20th century, the area surrounding Urk was reclaimed from the water. Reclaimed land in the Netherlands is known as a Polder, and this one is called the Noordoostpolder. While it connected Urk to the rest of the Netherlands physically, Urk retains some of its own characteristics from its days as an isolated island, and its residents even have their own distinct dialect of Dutch.


Urk is a charming little waterfront community, one built on a history of maritime involvement. One key piece of evidence for that is the Urk Lighthouse.


I managed to time my visit quite well, as the lighthouse was open for visitors!


The vuurtoren is open! At a tower height of 61 feet (89 feet above water level) it's not a particularly tall lighthouse, but it's perfectly high enough for a good view over the flat landscape.


I loved finding this inside the lighthouse museum -- a hand-written book of weather observations from the lighthouse keeper.


The weather observation book was opened to a page from February 1953. Looks like observations were taken four times a day at 08, 12, 16, and 20 hours.


Construction on the lighthouse tower began in 1844, so it's pretty old as far as lighthouses go. Watch your head on the way up.


Just one more spiral staircase to the top.


The fresnel lens at the top of the lighthouse.


Stepping outside for some wide open views over Urk.


A view of the beach to the north.


A view of Urk to the east.


A view of Urk's harbor to the south.


Lots and lots of boats. Also, Shamu.


A view southwest along the shore.


A sailboat!


More turbines!


I don't think I've ever seen this many turbines before.


Down from the lighthouse and walking through the Urk harbor. Here's a spot for some boat repair.


Tons of boats in the harbor, many of which are likely for fishing, which is a large part of Urk's economy.


On the plaza outside the Kerkje aan de Zee (Church on the Sea), which was built in 1786.


As I mentioned before, Urk was once an island, and thus it's made up of ground that was always /naturally/ above sea level. It's since been connected to the mainland, but on reclaimed land that is largely at or below sea level. Thus, Urk remains the highest point on the Noordoostpolder, and in fact -- the highest point in the entire province of Flevoland.


This totally nondescript spot in front of the Kerkje aan de Zee is the highest point in Flevoland, with an elevation of about 26 feet above sea level. That brings me to 3-out-of-12 for Dutch provincial high points. A nice way to end an early afternoon in Urk.

Edited by The Great Zo
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On the 2016 TPR trip, we visited Walibi Holland, a park that we'd be heading back again on this trip. While we were on the way there in 2016, I noticed that we drove right past a KLM Boeing 747 parked seemingly in the middle of nowhere, and I was curious. What was such a big airplane doing out in the middle of a polder this far east of Amsterdam?


Turns out, it's part of the Luchtvaart-Themapark Aviodrome -- an aerospace museum located at Lelystad Airport.


I spent a couple hours a the Aviodrome in the mid to late afternoon, and thoroughly enjoyed my visit. I don't always have the patience to go through museums, but with an interest in aviation, this one kept my attention.


The main entrance to the Aviodrome! Parked outside is a prototype Fokker 50, a Dutch turboprop.


The admission tickets for the Aviodrome are even designed to look like airline boarding passes.


The main entry also includes some nice touches that look exactly like something you'd find in Schiphol.


As an aviation museum, the Aviodrome contains a collection of older aircraft, especially those important to Dutch aviation history.


This one is a Douglas C-54A.


This building is a replica of the Schiphol terminal from 1928, compete with an observation deck up top.


Inside the "control tower" of the replica terminal.


A view over some other planes, like this one -- a Fokker F27 Friendship.


A look over another plane toward the main building.


There are also some military jets on display.


Another military jet at the Aviodrome.


Though it's mostly a museum, there are a few small rides for kids.


Of greater interest to me is this airplane... the one I saw from the TPR bus three years prior. But I'll get back to that.


Inside the replica terminal building is a replica of the ticketing / lobby area. This is how Schiphol looked almost a century ago!


A map of KLM destinations, from the middle east to Indonesia.


Air mail from all over the world.


There are several rooms designed to evoke the feel of the aviation industry from many, many years ago. They include log books from flights, luggage from the era, and displays about some of the most important people in that time period of Dutch aviation.


The Aviodrome also has a Fokker 100 on display, in its bright KLM Cityhopper livery.


This is not the only Fokker 100 on display in the Netherlands -- Schiphol Airport has one on their rooftop viewing deck!


US-based flyers may not be familiar with the Netherlands-based Fokker, but they were a major manufacturer of civilian aircraft for a good chunk of the last century, prior to going bankrupt in 1996. There are still quite a few Fokker 100s in service, primarily in Australia.


Inside a hangar are several older planes and parts of planes.


This one is a very old Douglas DC-2.


Everything else aside, it's this KLM Boeing 747 that first caught my eye three years prior.


Boeing 747s are largely being phased out as passenger aircraft, but several are re-appearing at museums like the Aviodrome.


Since no US-based airlines operate 747s anymore, finding one at a museum is probably the easiest way to explore one of them.


This particular plane is a Boeing 747-200 -- one of the older 747 models. It was delivered to KLM in 1978, and ended its service life in 2003.


The plane carries the registration PH-BUK.


747s are among the largest passenger planes ever built, and there's no better way to get a sense of just how large they are than to get to walk underneath one.


One of the four engines on the 747-- with an overall diameter of almost 9 feet.


This aircraft has the name Louis Blériot, to honor the Frenchman who was the first to cross the English Channel by plane.


A view of the nose of the 747.


The Aviodrome enjoys the little details, like setting up a tug on the front of the 747, and even putting a fake airport worker inside of it.


We won't be transporting any horses today.


Alright, let's take the stairs...


...and enter the plane.


Just inside, there's an exhibit with pictures that help tell the story of how the plane was transported to the Aviodrome. Although the 747 was still airworthy, the Lelystad airport is too small to accommodate such a large plane. So, it was partially disassembled at Schiphol, and then transported via land /and water/ to Lelystad.


Of all the things you may see in Amsterdam's canals, this is probably not one you'd be expecting.


A few shots of the final re-assembly at the Aviodrome.


This 747 is a "Combi" model, in which the rear of the plane was set aside for extra cargo space rather than passenger seating. They had it all stripped out so that you could see what the walls and ceiling were made of.


Heading into the main passenger cabin, which looks pretty much like any older widebody aircraft.


At the tip of the nose on the lower deck.


Up the stairs to the second deck.


A view out the windows.


Here's the view upstairs in the "hump" of the 747.


First class / business class seats were a /lot/ more plain back when this 747 was flying.


A view into the cockpit.


Lots of controls for operating this huge piece of machinery.


A quick step outside for some views of the fuselage.


Although KLM sold the aircraft to the Aviodrome for a symbolic price of 1 Euro, actually transporting it to the museum cost about 600,000 Euros. Much of the cost -- and the labor -- was donated.


An uncommon photo angle of an interesting airplane.


Looking down at the wing. The 747 has four engines, and is one of only three four-engine passenger planes still commonly found flying the skies -- along with the Airbus A340 and A380.


Finally, with the museum's closing time upcoming, I had just a few minutes to check out the main building -- including displays of more old aircraft.


This is one of the most important planes in the museum -- a Lockheed L-749 Constellation.


This one is a Douglas DC-3.


Going even older, here's a Fokker 7 that dates back to the 1920s.


Older still is this 1910s Fokker Spin, the first aircraft designed by Anthony Fokker.


There's a small space exhibit inside the main building at the Aviodrome, including this replica of a 1960s Gemini capsule.


Here's a replica Neil Armstrong spacesuit. There's also a replica of a European module of the International Space Station, and a display that honors Dutch astronaut André Kuipers, who spent time on the ISS.


That finishes things out from the Aviodrome! I thought it was a great place to visit. I'll note that virtually all of the signage and written descriptions were Dutch-only, so you may need to translate some things (or look them up online later). That doesn't take anything away from being able to see some great old airplanes, in a very well-kept and enjoyable setting.

Edited by The Great Zo
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Just a couple quick stops left on my return to the airport.



I headed northwest from Lelystad and crossed the Houtribdijk -- another large causeway/dam that separates two bodies of water with different elevations.


This is quite the oddity on the northwest end of the Houtribdijk -- the road ducks underneath the water.


This is the Krabbersgat Naviduct.


Opened in 2003, the Krabbersgat Naviduct is the first Naviduct in the world.


Although simple water crossings /over/ roadways are found elsewhere -- including at Walt Disney World -- this is different because it's an entire lock system built over the road.


When it comes to engineering basically anything that involves water, the Dutch have it down to a science.


A sailboat sails on in.


The gates and the control tower of the naviduct.


Why build the lock on top of the roadway? Space constraints. There wasn't enough room to build everything separately.


A view of a few more wind turbines from the naviduct.


My last stop before returning the car was at the Schiphol Airport Spottersplek Polderbaan -- a designated plane spotting park located along the oft-used Polderbaan runway.


Oh, and look -- it's finally sunny.


This was an opportunity to relax for an hour and just watch some airplanes -- including many carriers that are seen infrequently, if at all, in the US.


This 737 is from Morocco's Royal Air Maroc, definitely not an airline I've seen before.


Lots of planes from different European countries, like this A319 from Croatia...


...and this A318 from France.


The Polderbaan is the runway that is the furthest away from Schiphol's terminal area, so if you ever fly through there and feel like you're taxiing for hours, you're probably using the Polderbaan.


Here's a Turkish Airlines A330-200...


...and a China Cargo Boeing 777F, backed by turbines in the distance.


With that, I fueled up the rental car, returned it to the airport, and received another 100+ Euros in charges for the flat tire fiasco. Yeah, that was pleasant.


I had a little bit of time to wander the land-side retail area in Schiphol, including finding this airplane-themed store, Planes@Plaza.


Outside the store -- chopped-up pieces of a KLM DC-9.


Inside the store -- models of just about any kind of modern aircraft you can think of.


After getting dinner, I bought myself a train ticket, and hopped aboard an eastbound Intercity line.


I pretty much had the whole train to myself.


Getting out at the Bijlmer ArenA station...


...a place I was already familiar with from 2016, and would become increasingly familiar with again in 2019.


That brings me to the first official TPR hotel of the trip -- the Courtyard Marriott outside the Bijlmer ArenA station.


And that wraps up the first phase of my trip, and I promise there will be roller coasters in the next segment!


A map of my Benelux travels and most of the locations visited.


Some thoughts on driving!


I knew it was going to be a little different than driving in the US, but it wasn't all that tough to figure out. Freeway driving was essentially the same -- it was on the smaller roads where there were more things to watch out for.


First and foremost, if you ever head to Europe to rent a car, spend a /lot/ of time studying up on European road signs. They are considerably different than in the US, and you need to know those differences so you know what to do. You don't want to have to think about what the signs mean -- they should be something you're familiar with. That includes things like parking signs, signs about what turns are allowed, the whole "priority to the right" thing (which is very different from in the US) and where passing is/isn't allowed.


On this phase of the trip, I thought the toughest roads I drove were the smaller roads in Belgium. Some of them weren't constructed very well, especially going through villages -- with lots of tight corners and narrow stretches where the road abuts right up against buildings.


In the Netherlands, the road quality was generally quite good, but the challenges were in the obstacle courses that they /intentionally/ build to try to keep speeds down. I'm talking about speed bumps, planters that jut out into the middle of the roads from alternating sides that force you to do a slalom, random sections where the road narrows to one lane and you have to wait for traffic coming the other way to clear, bike paths (and bikes) everywhere, and of course roundabouts upon roundabouts upon roundabouts. Honestly, it got frustrating after a while, but that's probably the intent -- they want you to be /always/ paying attention while you're driving.


In the later phase of the trip, I found the roads in Germany to be of the highest quality overall, and most similar to what I'd expect in the US. Of course, the craziest roads I'd end up driving were in the Alps, but that's gonna be about 17 trip report segments later.


Final note -- I never use navigation systems when driving around the US, as I prefer to chart out my own routes. With so much else to pay attention to in Europe, though, I opted to trust the in-vehicle navigation rather than doing it all on my own. That saved me a lot of stress, and a lot of distraction.

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More great photos! I appreciate all the aviation stuff as it's a hobby of mine as well. I love the 70s era paint scheme on that Saab Viggen! Thanks for all the detail in your descriptions.

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More great photos! I appreciate all the aviation stuff as it's a hobby of mine as well. I love the 70s era paint scheme on that Saab Viggen! Thanks for all the detail in your descriptions.


Thanks for reading! And I just noticed the three crowns on that particular jet.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Day 6: Bobbejaanland


At long last! The theme park portion of this trip report has begun.


This was my second time at Bobbejaanland, having also visited with TPR in 2016. As would be the case with a lot of parks that I'd be making repeat visits to, the second time ended up being more enjoyable than the first. The weather was fantastic, and I took the day fairly easily -- skipping some of the coasters that I'd already been on in 2016, and instead spending time doing photography and riding the monorail and Ferris wheel. Our first time visitors had a rougher day trying to get through their credit runs -- the park was fairly crowded and several queues were moving very slowly, particularly for the coasters with VR. Nonetheless, everyone had a good time, and the park treated us well. They served us breakfast when we got in, and hooked us up with filming / ERT on Typhoon and Fury after the park closed.


Fury, new for 2019, was a coaster that might have slipped a little under the radar if not for TPR's coverage of it after our visit.

! And bask in the power of being able to choose if you're going to launch through the course forwards or backwards!


OK, here are reviews of the rides, but since I didn't ride much this time, I'll caution that some of this is gonna be as best-as-I-can-recall from 2016.


Fury: Bobbejaanland's best ride by a very comfortable margin. Really, it's an outstanding example of how to pack a thrilling and fun ride into a small footprint -- for a very reasonable cost. Perfect fit for a smaller park like Bobbejaanland. Some of the elements are just weird, and there's a good mix of hangtime, airtime, and intensity. Oh, and you might get to go backwards!


Typhoon: Fluch von Novgorod is my favorite Eurofighter, but you know what ... depending on how I'm feeling about Mystery Mine on whichever day you ask me, Typhoon might be my second favorite. It's smooth, it's got some intense moments, and the inversions are fun. A solid ride that was the best in the park before Fury came along.


Dream Catcher: Sort of an endearingly weird swinging kiddie invert that's now been bogged down by VR.


Revolution / Mount Mara: Worth riding just for how bizarre it is -- a giant spiral up, a giant spiral down, and a 400-car long coaster train. Also bogged down by VR, though the VR was actually kind of fun from what I remember from 2016.


Oki Doki: A perfectly decent family coaster with a nice setting along the lake.


Speedy Bob: A perfectly decent wild mouse.


Bob Express: A perfectly decent powered coaster over the lake.


Naga Bay: Previously known as Dizz. A not-all-that-great Maurer spinner. Block brakes every 5 seconds. Wasn't upset to skip it this time around.


Sledgehammer: A big huge frisbee. Good ride, as most of these are.


Indiana River: A really wet but mostly fun indoor log flume.


Wildwaterbaan: A pretty typical outdoor flume, with some good interactions with the powered coaster.


The Forbidden Caves: An "immersion tunnel" simulator -- interesting idea, but thoroughly unconvincing.


The El Paso Special: Good lord, where do you begin with this. I guess I could try to review it objectively as a shooter, in which case I'd say it's an older attraction with some interestingly campy aesthetic detail and a below-average shooting/scoring system. But that really misses the boat on this ride, which is easily the most unseemly, irreverent take on the old west that I've ever seen in a theme park. This is one you just have to experience for yourself to really understand. I ain't gonna endorse it, but I did photograph it, and I'll try to keep the photo captions PG-13 as best I can. No promises.

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