A theme park: Dreamworld, Brisbane, Australia

Family get together

Family get together

My dear followers already know by now that, we do our best to spend one full day at a theme park at least once in a year. Phantasialand in Bruhl, Germany and Legoland in Gunzburg, Germany were among the ones, we’ve been before and I shared them in my previous posts. The Australia theme-park-highlight was the Dreamworld, a huge theme park of Dreamwork animation studios. Our day started early, with a private car and driver that picked us from our hotel in Brisbane and after about an hour, there we were, on the door of a very crowded theme park entrance. Once more we had the advantage of buying our tickets in advance, so we got in immediately.

Colorful environment

Colorful environment

Our day was very classic: lots of running here and there, buying some souvenir, waiting in the long queues of pointless rides (for instance Avis Vintage car ride is absolutely waste of time), and eating junk food. Here is a “Do you remember?” game.

Me: What do you remember from the Dream world?

Our son: The caramel fudge we ate.

Me: Any rides?

Our son: No.

You see? Nothing much special but a fun day out together with our son. Anyway, I would like to share once more my little advice to get the most out of your day on a theme park:

1. Study the park in advance. Which rides have the longer queues and which ones are close to each other and if there is any special program or show on the specific day you will be going.

2. Buy the park ticket in advance, so that you will not be wasting time of valuable early-morning hours.

3. Be there as early as you can. After 11:00 am you will come across with much much longer queues.

4. Plan your morning with the rides you want to ride most, and afternoon with common areas like shops, parks and eating and if you have any time remaining you can choose to ride a couple of ones you loved, for a second time.

5. Have some spare t-shirts for all. Otherwise buy a new one, as it is for sure you will get wet.

6. Never go to a theme park on a weekend.

and a final one from one of my readers: start at the back of the park because everyone starts at the front

Holland-but not Amsterdam-1

Like many travelers, for me, Holland was equal to Amsterdam, until we did our great Germany-Holland road trip with our super car a few years ago. After a few days of traveling around the Rhein and Mosel rivers, with fine riesling tastes (Which you can read from my previous posts), we headed to further North on a Monday morning, in late August, leaving our 4-day-home in Unkel and moving to our new 4-day-home in Den Haag. Holland trip was first time for our son, but second time for us.

View form our room

View form our room

Before reaching our new home, our first stop was Utrecht. Utrecht is a very typical Holland city, lots of canals and lots of bicycles, tiny cafes and restaurants around the canals and a huge bell tower. It was about 12.00 noon when we parked our car and found ourselves by a canal and heard the musical sound of the bells. We first just lost ourselves on streets, looking, shopping and searching for something to eat. After lunch we took one of the canal boats to listen the tour guide about the city a bit and see anything if we have missed. And finally, at the last (and the first) stop of the canal boats, just across the canal there was a famous De Oude Munkelder a pancake restaurant where you find dozens of kinds of Pancakes. Our stomachs full we went on driving to Den Haag, to our hotel.

A few hours after leaving Utrecht, we were at our hotel, which was very convenient in parking (which is very important if you have a BMW 740) and were just by a little shopping area, with some nice restaurants by the lake.

Cows of Holland

Cows of Holland

The next day, we drove our car to west, to visit Rotterdam and Antwerp. It is a pity that I did not have much time to study these two nice cities in advance. So in Antwerp, we did not do anything special. Just wandered around, with the main principle of “follow the crowd”. We came across with a big pedestrian road of shopping area. Fine by me, not for “the boys”. After a few hours, we got on our car and drove to Rotterdam. Again I remember nothing special about the city, except the cubic houses and the tower we got on, so that we could view the city from one point.

View from the tower, in Rotterdam

View from Euromast-Space Tower, in Rotterdam

View from Euromas

View from Euromast-Space Tower, in Rotterdam

When we decided to return our hotel, we still had time to go around, so we decided to stop at Madurodam, I suppose it is among the first of the “mini cities” sights in the world. With our son, we have been to Mini Swiss in Lugano and Miniaturk in Istanbul before. We and our son love to visit these sights which provides chance to explore the culture and best places of the country. The canal houses, airport, concert hall, stories of water, flower gardens and much more to see.

The concert hall in Moduradam

The concert hall in Moduradam

Next day, we went to Amsterdam. With my husband, we have been to Amsterdam before, which we loved to visit, but with our son, it is not the best place to visit. Why? First of all, a BMW 740 is not a perfect car, to visit this city. We already knew that, it would be hard for us to park the car or drive in Amsterdam, so we decided to use public transport to go from Delft to Amsterdam for the day. Secondly, to visit Amsterdam, you either have to be a fast and long walker, or a good biker. Neither fits to our travel habits with our son.

First from the train station, we walked to Anne Frank Hus, in about an hour. When we got there, we saw a long long queue of tourists waiting to visit the museum. What a pity. As you can imagine, we decided not to visit the museum and tried to find a place to take the canal boats. However, it was already lunch time, so we first wanted to find some nice place to have lunch. With the help of our Eyewitness book, we found a very nice restaurant with lovely dishes. But again, we were not the only one who found it, so we came across with a very slow service. It was already nearly 4.00 pm, when we finally could find the first stop to get on the canal boats, which were supposed to be a hop-on-hop of tour, but unfortunately we did not have time for any “hop off’s”. So here is the “Do your remember game” of Amsterdam:

Me: What do you remember of Amsterdam?

Our son: Walking and tiring in boring streets.

Thanks God, I have a very dear friend living in Amsterdam, and he took us to a fine Turkish restaurant, where we enjoyed an evening and returned to our hotel with the comfort of his car.

Next: Our final day of our trip, Markem, Volendam and Zaanse Schans

 

The shores of Mosel and Rhein rivers in Germany

Fine grapes

Fine grapes

The next two days of our North Rhein/Germany roadtrip of 2011 were full of visiting the small towns of the river with Koblenz and Trier. The area is one of the most romantic parts of Germany, famous with riesling wineyards, the little and picturesque towns of Rhein and Mosel rivers. Being a close neighbor of France, it is a French-like part of the country I can say.

On Saturday morning, we started our day by driving directly to Koblenz, about 50 km from our hotel in Unkel. Koblenz is a very strategic city, with “Deutches Eck”, the point where river Mosel meets river Rhein. After a little tour with our supercar, we found a nice parking place for our car and did a long walk in the “altstadt”, the old town part of the city. “Saturday” was everywhere, with a nice sunshine and lots of tourists around the city was lively. By midday, our son was already very very tires of walking around, so we decided to find a boattour on the river, which took us some time to find the right one that fitted for us (short enough, not to get bored and long enough to rest our feet). We took the boat of Markensburg company, which was about 2 hours return tour. Good thing was, it was possible to hop-on-hop-off on some towns that the boat stops, maybe to have lunch somewhere or enjoy some riesling wine. Bad thing on the other hand was, the towns that the boat stopped were not looking as if there would be a good restaurant in them, so we decided to stay on board and return to Koblenz.

When we got back, it was already 3:00 pm and we all were very hungry. Searching for a nice place to have lunch, we found a nice table at an Italian restaurant and settled down. After waiting a few minutes, we are told that the restaurant will be closed in a few minutes and reopen in the evening. What a pity, so we stood up, collected all our items, tried to find another restaurant, but it was not so easy, as we understood, all good restaurants were closed in the afternoons. After another hour of walking, we finally found a Cafe and could eat something.

Another attraction in Koblenz is the cable car, going over the river to high up more than 100 meters, to visit the Landesmuseum. Another bad news of the day was that, a ticket per person was €20, to use all day. So we decided that it was not a good deal to buy the tickets late in the afternoon.

What we decided to do instead is to take our super car and drive further south of river Rhein. We passed trough very nice towns one by one and we arrived to Braubach, where many tents of food and drink were surrounding long white tables to relax. While travelling, there is a very common rule; if there is a long queue, there must be something nice to eat there. We proved this once more, and waited in front of the tent with the longest queue.

Good smells

Good smells

And here it was fried curling potatoes with various flavors.

Yummy

Yummy

We ended the day with these tasties and returned to our hotel.

Do you remember game:

Me: What do your remember of Koblenz?

Our son: Where was that?

Me: In Germany, where we went to Rhein and Mosel rivers and little towns.

Our son: ???

Result: Lovely place to go but not so worth to remember for a 9-year-old.

Next: Roadtrip on Mosel river shores

Great Cruise Tour-day-6

Good morning view while approaching to Oslo

Good morning view while approaching to Oslo

The 6th day of our Great Cruise tour started with a lovely good morning view of Oslo. Unfortunately we only had a few hours to spend in Oslo, the capital of Norway. Moreover, this few hours would start even earlier than the days before. Therefore, I preferred to order my breakfast to our room, in order to avoid the hassle of 13th floor restaurant, and enjoy a superb breakfast with a splendid view of Oslo bay and islands. (Just a little tip here: order breakfast to your room, more than you think you will eat, as the plates are so small.)

No place to eat in our tiny room, so we did eat in our balcony

No place to eat in our tiny room, so we did eat in our balcony

Besides the breakfast, the early morning routines were pretty much the same. Today we took the “Introduction to Oslo” tour which I would not recommend if you are not a big group like ours. The only attraction of the tour was a superb Vigeland Park, which could be reached by a taxi, faster and easier. Other than the park, we did not have any chance to see the centre of the city, because of the traffic and not easy for the huge bus to go around, we could only pass trough the main streets and noted to come to Oslo again, sometime soon.

View from our balcony

View from our balcony

Vigeland park, is a must in Oslo, one of the best parks I have ever been. Home to some 192 sculptures by its namesake, the Vigeland sculpture park is the cynosure of Norway’s artistic landscape. The park is Gustave Vigeland’s artistic statement about the quintessential themes of life and relationships. A hundred meter long bridge bifurcates along a waterfall, each path adorned with large bronze wheels, while the bridge itself is adorned with granite depictions of humans at various stages of life, including Angry Boy, one of the most prominent sculptures in the park. Its other highlights include sculptures such as The FountainThe Monolith, and The Wheel of Life.

Angry boy

Angry boy

Wheel of life

Wheel of life

Vigeland Park

Vigeland Park

Another attraction of Oslo is the park where the winter Olympic games are held and the ski jump tower. The observation deck by the tower has a lovely view of Oslo and the Ski Jump simulator is very attractive for a child like ours.

Ski jump tower

Ski jump tower

Goodbye Oslo

Goodbye Oslo

I wish we could stay more in Oslo.

Another important thing to remember in Oslo is to redeem your invoices for tax free refunds, as Oslo is the last stop in Norway. To do this, you need to approach the tiny building by the Cruise, in which there are some souvenir shops and long queue of tax refund. Moreover, in the queue you find out that there are two different tax refund companies and if the invoices you hold comprise them both, you need to get in two different queues one by one. My advice would be either just skip it (which means  no tax refund), or ask your friend or partner to stay in the other queue (which is at the far end of the building). Other wise you spend a good half hour waiting in each of the queues. Is it worth waiting? Well, about 15% of the invoice, if you have a number of them, it may be worth it.

A chat from yesterday evening:

Our son: Mom do you remember the dance lessons you took.

Me: Sirtaki, Salsa, or Tarantelle.

Our son: Tarantelle, do you remember the dance steps?

Me: No, none.

Altough I enjoyed the Sirtaki class (yesterday), Salsa Class (The second day) and tarantelle class (today), during  the one week tour, when I try to remember any of them… No, not even one step is in my mind. What a pity.

Our day ended with long lunch, again in the Kaito sushi bar, the rescued island, far from the mass of people. And an afternoon nap, before dinner, after which we found – luckily- a place to sit in the lobby and enjoyed the live music of piano.

Weekly Photo Challange: Curves

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This weeks photo challange is the “curves”. Where on earth you can find curves better than Cappadocia? A land where nature is unique, where early Christians lived in the underground cities and caves, where every season has its something to show you and where children will love the adventures of being in a natural wonderland.

Clouds around curves

Clouds around curves

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A 3 to 4 day trip to Cappadocia with children will provide you more than you expected. The famous cave hotels to stay, will let you pretend to be living in early history. Each one of the undergound cities will come to life with the imagination of your children.

Autumn leaves of Cappadocia

Autumn leaves of Cappadocia

Do you remember game:
Our son: Do you remember the “Family Chimneys”, the father, mother and son?
Me: Yes, and the grand parents further in the back

Me: Do you remember our hotel “Cappadocia Estates Hotel?
Our son: Yes, it was like a cave and had a lovely breakfast.

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Do you remember game

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Sometimes (I suppose more than I expected)  we do not have to play the “do you remember” game, for our son to remember the unforgetabe moments of our travels. He made the picture above, at school. Probably his moment of unforgetable of our recent Geneva trip.

Do you remember game

This is a game we play with our son, quite often, usually at sleeping times. It is very simple actually; one by one we ask each other a question starting with “Do your remember” and try to ask a minor detail from our trips.

For instance,
– Do you remember The restaurant in Barcelona, the breads, how hard they were?
– Yes and my pizza came hours later, after you both finished all your meals

Or

– Do you remember the first post cards we bought from mount Etna?
– Yes and you yourself showed all the photographes to every person we met, and did not let them to see by themselves.

Or

– Do you remember at the hotel we stayed in Sorrento, we looked at the old photographes of the owner family?
– Yes and I remember the young days of the old lady in the restautant, how she married and came to the family, the man in the reception growed in the hotel and the restaurant part was much smaller.

This game is very useful, remembering where we have been and how much we have enjoyed our trips. This game also allows us to share the experiences further than the trip itself. Experiences that only three of us share with each other.