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Photo TR: Larrygator returns to Europe with TPR

Thu Aug 08, 2019 9:03 pm

First off a big thank you to Robb and Elissa handling the schedule and logistics. When this trip was announced I knew I would be adding a couple of days, and the amount of work that went into just planning three days in Belgium on my own was painstaking. So before I join TPR in Amsterdam I had 3 days in Belgium. Why Belgium? It has beautiful cities to explore, great chocolate and lambic beer, in addition to two amusement parks I had not visited before. I decided to base camp in Ghent and buy a rail pass for my adventures, since my main concern was not having to deal with carrying my luggage every day.

I was prepared for a lot of walking on the trip, but did not account for the added pressure of walking on cobblestones and uneven surfaces throughout the trip.

July 13th - Walibi Belgium (below)/Ghent
July 14th - Bellewaerde
July 15th - Plopsa de Panne/Bruges
July 16th - travel to Amsterdam
July 17th - Bobbejaanland
July 18th/19th - Efteling
July 20th - Toverland
July 21st - Walibi Holland
July 22nd - Drievliet/Duinrell
July 23th -Energylandia
July 24th - Legendia
July 25th - Krakow
July 26th - Liseberg
July 27th - Kolmarden
July 28th - Grona Lund

I had mapped out a schedule to be at Walibi Belgium at opening. However, I ended up in an insane Customs line and then had to head to Brussels Midi train station to store for luggage before I was off to Walibi Belgium. As I was on the train platform I realized my camera was in my luggage in storage. Since I was already running late, I did not want to miss the train to Walibi, so this first park of the trip in my Photo TR, will just be a TR.

I arrived at Walibi Belguim about an hour after opening to light crowds and a light rain. I decided to do a lap around the park to get the new credits that have been been since my last visit. Tiki-Waka was first and is probably the weakest Bobsled Coaster that Gerstlauer has built to date. After Fun Pilot, I took my chances that Pulsar would not get me too wet. I was fun and I stayed dry and this allowed my to enjoy what Walibi Belgium does best, indoor attractions.

I rode Psyke Underground about 5 times, because what's betters than a shuttle loop in a box. I rode Curse of Tutankhamon with a short 15 minute wait (much better than the one hour wait on my last visit) because what can be better than a trackless shooting dark ride. So I walked back on it too more times throughout the day.

Since I love Mad Houses, I had to reride le Palais du Genie, I forgot that the pre-show has some cool visuals. particularly the spiral staircase. But the highlight of the park turned out to be the ride I was most anticipating, Popcorn's Revenge. A second trackless shooting dark ride at the park. In this Bollywood themed theatre you use your gun as a utensil to shoot colored flavoring on to popcorn. I lived this ride cycling through the queue about 10 times, and luckily it was a walk-on the whole time. Which the park being so family friendly, I could not believe how few people were taking advantage of this great new park addition. Unfortunately the last indoor attraction was horrible. 4D - Tempo Attack was playing in the theater and this 4D movie was loud and pointless and did nothing for me.

Before leaving I hopped on my longest line of the day to ride Loup Garou. It's just a forgettable coaster. The good news for this park is that their Intamin is only two years away.

I left the park early to be sure I wouldn't be late for my B&B check-in Ghent. It's a simple 15 minute walk from the train station to the park entrance.

I'll post pictures of Ghent next.
Last edited by larrygator on Sat Dec 28, 2019 7:43 pm.

Re: Photo TR: Larrygator returns to Europe with TPR

Fri Aug 09, 2019 6:43 am

Forgetting electronics can be really freeing. I sometimes forget every one of us used to leave the house on a daily basis with no electronics at all. Glad you had a good time, and looking forward to seeing Ghent. It's a city I don't know that much about.

Re: Photo TR: Larrygator returns to Europe with TPR

Fri Aug 09, 2019 6:52 am

Excellent! I've been looking forward to your report from this trip!


Re: Photo TR: Larrygator returns to Europe with TPR

Fri Aug 09, 2019 7:02 am

While Walibi Belguim is weak when it comes to coasters, it's good that it features two great shooting dark rides.

Re: Photo TR: Larrygator returns to Europe with TPR

Fri Aug 09, 2019 10:29 am

My sightseeing photos will not be in order as I spent parts of two days each walking around Ghent and Bruges but it makes sense to put all Ghent pictures in one post and all Bruges in another post.

I estimated that I walked about fifty miles over my first three days and after retracing my adventures on Google maps it seems accurate. I calculated walking over 16 miles around Ghent (7 miles of which were because I took a wrong turn). I purposely stayed a little out of the way in Ghent to save money, get a higher rated B&B and make sure I got some walking in. I have no issues walking 3-4 miles at a time, so my 25 minute walk from the train station to my B&B was no big deal. (Except when it causes you to miss a train by one minute).

Ghent isn't as touristy as Bruges but does have many cobblestone streets, plenty of canals, old buildings, architecture and most importantly it was billed as having the only medieval castle with a functioning moat.

My first attempt to walk to Gravensteen at night by following the canals caused me to miss a turn when I was only 1/4 of a mile from Gravensteen which caused me to walk about 1.5 miles in the wrong direction.

One interesting feature in Ghent (which I assume to be the case in all Belgium cities) is the presence of both Day and Night convenience stores . The Day Winkel sold what you might typical buy during the day in a convenience store including drinks and sandwiches, When the Day Winkels closed and the Night Winkels opened and were stocked mainly with alcohol, munchies and smoking products.

I love European railway stations, but for some reason did not take photos of any of them on this trip. Ghent Saint Peters is not as grandiose as the stations found in major cities but still had nice architectural features.
Ghent Walk.JPG
This picture shows my daily walk to the train station (along the bottom). The two spurs show the path I should have taken to Gravensteen and the incorrect path I took to the shipping/dock area of town.
Ghent Walk.JPG (205.98 KiB) Viewed 5615 times
After realizing the it was difficult to follow the spurs of the canals or walk Ghent's curving streets with names that could not be pronounced I had to find a better way to walk the castle. A less stubborn person would have just used public transit, but I decided to follow the tram line wires that ran to Gravensteen.
I think this was the oldest building I walked past in Ghent
Typical building in the old part of town
After 30 minutes I made it to Gravensteen
Gravensteen is also called the Castle of the Counts. Gravensteen sounds much more imposing.
Since I arrived after a day at an amusement park it was started to get dark, not ideal for pictures, but I was happy to finally find the place.
I was initially upset about the moat it just didn't seem very big.
But in retrospect I guess it was pretty difficult to traverse 1,000 years ago when archers are shooting at you from the castle.
And then you would need to scale the wall. My bigger beef, the moat was advertised as fully functional yet it only goes around 3/4th of the castle. I guess I would have had to take to tour to get an explanation. I initially felt cheated not seeing a full moat , but half a moat is better than none.
Across the street (which probably used to be part of the moat) was a public square where the executions used to take place.
Over one hundred years ago the powers that be decided to put a better light on the plaza and installed these lights.
These lanterns are connected to the maternity wards throughout Ghent and slowly light up every time a child is born. No one was born in Ghent during the 15 minutes I stared at the lanterns.
They was some stupid festival going on during my first two nights in this area of town, was caused me to stay further away as hotel prices were ridiculous in this area.
After getting a better lay of the land I was able to follow the canal system back to my hotel.
Taking this route also allowed me to see most of the key architectural points.
I have no idea of the names of any of these edifices.
It's getting dark I better keep walking in case I get lost again.
Looks official
I think I found another church
Not just a church, a big church, like a cathedral.
Not a religious building!
That my B&B. Not the cool looking building on the right, the building above the hair salon.
A welcome sight at the end of the day. A Nacht Winkel.
Because the sell lambic beer at a cheap price.
Last edited by larrygator on Fri Aug 09, 2019 10:34 am.

Re: Photo TR: Larrygator returns to Europe with TPR

Fri Aug 09, 2019 2:46 pm

Great start, Larry. Now that I've seen a lot of the Netherlands I hope to spend some time in Belgium in the future, so I'm enjoying the view of Ghent and looking forward to seeing Bruges.

Re: Photo TR: Larrygator returns to Europe with TPR

Fri Aug 09, 2019 3:14 pm

The Great Zo wrote:Great start, Larry. Now that I've seen a lot of the Netherlands I hope to spend some time in Belgium in the future, so I'm enjoying the view of Ghent and looking forward to seeing Bruges.

Same here. I've dipped my toes in Belgium with Bobbejaanland so I would like to see more of what the country has to offer and especially Bruges. Looking forward to seeing more of your TR Larry.

Re: Photo TR: Larrygator returns to Europe with TPR

Fri Aug 09, 2019 5:33 pm

Oh man this town looks so cool! Amazing architecture, castles and cathedrals and all.

Re: Photo TR: Larrygator returns to Europe with TPR

Fri Aug 09, 2019 5:43 pm

Larrygator wrote:...Because they sell lambic beer at a cheap price. (fixed)

...And have a bottle of Centrum at every table, too. ;)

Great tour start, Larry. I love the architecture of Europe, old and new! Looking forward to more of your trip.

Re: Photo TR: Larrygator returns to Europe with TPR

Fri Aug 09, 2019 6:05 pm

Great report! Sounds like Walibi Belgium has some nice dark rides.
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