Almost end of summer and I have a lot of pictures to share with you. 2 nights before we travelled to spain for a few theme parks, we went out in the city of Antwerp with some friends.
Before we went out, another quick visit to my favorite park close to my work
I so love this artwork
As we were going to Spain, what's better than a spanish dinner in Antwerp
The restaurant was next to the big annual fairground in the city
Make my day
Beautiful at night
If I remember well, it was 2 AM when we left the fairground
And teleporting to Parque Warner Madrid was succesful
New credit for me. I don't remember the coaster's name
I remember their names
Upcharge maze. It's ok, not more than that.
Surprise, surprise, this one was closed.
Though i love the theming in the park, the park was quite a let down.
This was my second visit to PW. My first visit was in 2006 or 2007 i think. At that time, I loved the park, the rides (except Coaster Express of course) and operations were ok.
This year, I've witnessed really inefficient operations (La Ronde style), but also the coasters were far from what I remembered them being like during my first visit.
Overall, it was nice to be at this park again, we had a fun day, but it will take some time before I will be there again.
We spent the night in a village called Pinto, quite close the PW.
Not much is happening in this village, but we found a nice pub serving some good spanish food.
Me, Hans and Mike
In Pinto, also after school hours, the local government is learning the kids how to count to 6
First evening, still full of energy
Even after eating some marinated .... pig ears. Still wonder whether this is a real local dish, or the pub owner served this as a joke to us because we were foreigners. Next up : our adventures in Benidorm
I've heard a lot of stories about Benidorm : there are only older people, all skyscraper hotels, very busy, more strollers than cars, ..... and it turned out to be all true. But there is a themepark which we didn't visit before, so because of Terra Mitica, 2 nights in the lovely Benidorm were scheduled. Just before the trip though, despite several earlier mails with them confirming the park would be open, we noticed on their website the park would be closed during our stay. A lot of new emails were sent, but even a simple sorry wasn't given to us. In fact, I'm still waiting for their press manager's reply on my last mail Oh well, TM will be forever on my to do list. I will never go there again (unless they decide to open one or the other huge new signature ride of course ). We visited the next door Zoo and had a fun 2 days (and nights).
On our way from Madrid to Benidorm
Yeah, you f***ers
Extremely good food in the Tapabars though
And 1 nice nightclub called Penelope
Yeah, closed gates .... you f***ers !
No, not on the streets of Benidorm but in the Zoo
Really a nice zoo. Unfortunately a bit too hot during summer to attract larger crowds
Authentic Indian village
Don\'t fall asleep Hans
Mmmhh, first time I notice that thing there
Short visit to Greece
Benidorm downtown as could be seen from the zoo
After a lap in the zoo, we went for a cocktail and a beer at the beach
The skyline is in fact quite ok from a distance
Probably my favorite picture of the year so far. I couldn't believe my eyes
Ready for the night
At Penelope of course. Meet elephant guy
And robo dude
Penelope was the only nightclub where there was some crowd at night. As from 1 AM that is. Why is everybody going out so late nowadays :-(
Hans decided to be the bouncer
Michael concentrated on taking pictures of the beach at night
Late breakfast after very long nights. Next up : Port Aventura. By far the highlight of our trip.
The last 3 days of our Spain trip, we spent in Port Aventura and Salou.
We also visited their expanded waterpark and went to the themepark itself, 4 days in a row. Here's what i wrote in the PA discussion thread shortly after our visit about the waterpark and Shambhala.
After getting blue stained all over from the speedslide and Twin Peaks at the waterpark of Movieland in Italy 2 years ago, I didn't dare to ride the speedslide at Port Aventura. It 'looks' less brutal as the one at Movieland, but that's just my optical opinion. I rode the red slide though, and that was really enjoyable. Keep in mind, I'm really not a fan of waterpark slides because I'm afraid getting hurt, so me saying I thought the slide was enjoyable, probably means to most of you that it is a tame ride.
The waterpark more or less expanded by a 100 % with the new slides and pools, so that's certainly a good thing. The new slides are ok, and adverting they have the highest speed slide of Europe will attract some more visitors, but most Europeans have seen a speed slide by now, but what we don't see that much in Europe are the bowl slides or Tornado's or what are the names of all those huge slides in the US waterparks, or the giant master blaster things like in Holiday World, THOSE would attract people in my opinion.
Still, I like the expansion of the park, but it still needs at least one 'big' slide.
Shambhala : WOW what a coaster. I didn't know much about the coaster. i didn't even see a POV of the ride before. I was absolutely blown away by the ride. The first drop into the tunnel is really steep and gives already a lot of airtime. Every following hill gives airtime from the top till bottom. The speed hill in between is really good. The figure 8 turn is very original. Only point I think could have been better, is the water part. Sure, it's a nice photo point for non-riders, but it doesn't add anything to ride itself.
it's still very fresh, but being a fan of smooth rides, at this moment I'm placing Shambhala on the nr 1 position of all coasters I've ridden, in front of El Toro, The Voyage,... and the 7 steel coasters I've ridden in Mitch Hawker's steel poll top 10. As said, it's still fresh, maybe in a few weeks, I will be more down to earth again. I'm going to ride EGF during summer. We'll talk again after riding EGF.
I didn't make it up to Holidaypark yet so far, but I can say Shambhala is 2.5 months after riding it, still my favorite coaster
We arrived in the afternoon at PA, threw our stuff in the hotelroom, and headed up immediately to the back of the park to ride Shambhala
Such an awesome ride
I love how DK is dwarfed by Shambhala.
We stayed at the Caribe Resort Hotel of Port Aventura. It's the hotel the furthest from the park entrance but that's the only minus I can think of.
Salou nightlife is just awesome
Maybe I'm getting old, especially when I'm saying the following : why isn't going out anymore like in the 80s ? Full party at 9 pm, closing of the party at 2 am. Nowadays, the party starts at 2 am :-(. I don't want to sleep till afternoon while outside one of favorite parks is opening in the morning.
Salou in the evening.
Note the difference in Hans' eyes with earlier picture here above ;-)
Miniature of the waterpark
I so love the new skyline when you enter the park.
Dragon Khan WAS an impressive coaster but looks so tiny now.
Templo del Fuego still kicks A$$
New skyline view from outside of the park
Biggest disco in Salou : Pacha. This is the original Pacha with which the worldwide Pacha franchise all started.
About 6000 persons fit inside so it's huge. Unfortunately, 5900 of them only arrive by 2 am and we had to check out at 11 the next day :-(
Still, it was worthwhile the visit. I never heard such crystal clear music sounds in a big room disco
It also holds a deephouse outside part.
(sorry, but multipictures uploader is loading in reverse order, so we are going back in time). Earlier that night, we had the most excellent dinner nearby Pacha. I had the best Gazpacho soup ever.
Hans and i don't remember what he was eating
Michael and his fishsoup costing 5 euro. And that was for the complete bowl !!
Some more pictures taken from the backside of the park
One more picture of the Caribe Resort bar/lounge.
Still my favorite restaurant in PA
Last day at the park. (I changed the display order manually for this day, so they are in the correct order more or less)
Oh, i didn't tell you yet about our express pass. We stayed 3 nights/4 days at the resort. The express pass costed 54 euro ... for the 4 days, including 1 front row ride on DK, Baco and Shambalah; If you stay 1 week, the express pass is costing you ... 54 euro, if you stay 2 weeks .... 54 euro, and so on. It came in handy for our marathon rides on Shambalah :-)
Btw, front row was not really enjoyable because of the wind in your face. Hardly possible to keep your eyes open. Any other row is amazing.
The usual theme park food
A M A Z I N G first drop
Bye Shambalah. Hope to see you again soon
See what parties as from 2 am is doing to us ?
S E E ?? And this concludes our Spain trip. Next update coming soon.
Last edited by robbalvey on Sun Sep 01, 2013 1:01 pm.
Time for an update. Before reaching my next theme park visit report, here are some short reports of things i did in between. As some might know, I really like electronic dance music since a year or 2. We visited a lot of festivals last summer. End of June we were at Sunrise festival. A smaller sized festival some 30 miles from where I live. Beginning of July, my kids, my wife and I visited Mini-Europe in Brussels and on our way home, we made a short stop at Fort van Breendonk which was a concentration camp during and after WWII. The next day, we went shopping in CentrO in Oberhausen, Germany. But not without a few rides on the nearby alpine coaster and a visit to the new Legoland Discovery Center in CentrO. Last pics in this report are from the XO festival in Holland. Next update will be Disneyland Paris
Sunrise festival : Of course, it's the same like in an amusement park, the earlier you arrive, the more fun you have.
My friend going nuts
Picture from the main stage (from the Sunrise Festival website)
Another one from the official website
I just love the festival setting
Finnebassen, my favorite deep house DJ/producer
Solomun @ work
We had an awesome day at the festival
Mini-Europe : all miniature buildings of every country in the E.C. Here's Vilnius in Lithuania. I would see the real building a few days later on.
Mini-Europe is near the Atomium landmark in Brussels
Giant killer pigeon invasion
Grand place in Brussels
Ben and Big Ben
My daughter, the Eifeltower and the Atomium in one picture
My youngest daughter seen through the Paris' Triumph Arch
On our way home, we made a quick stop at the Fort of Breendonk
It was a concentration camp during and after WOII
When you're standing there and realize people where shot here, it makes me think really hard about life.
Alpine Coaster in Oberhausen is short, but when you're nearby a must-do of course
We rode it each 5 times. Great stop.
Lego Land Discoverycenter
Not really worth while but we had fun
Yep, I'm a Darth Vader nerd
XO dancemusic festival in Eindhoven, Holland
We had VIP tickets so we had access to the VIP stages and lounge. Excellent views and spacious
Disneyland Paris. The first time I visited DLP back in opening year, I was blown away by the sense for details, the attractions, shops & restaurants, the vibe in the park, .... Every other park seemed like not worth while to visit any longer. The past 8-9 years, by visiting a lot more parks in Europe and the US, and at the same time, the quality of DLP going down year by year, DLP is not even in my Parks Top 25 any longer. The park seems always overcrowded, they hand out too many fast passes, not too many new attractions, the hotels need refurbishment, unfriendly cast members, ... the resort isn't what it used to be anymore. This said, we went to DLP for another visit, with an open mind and ready to have a good time. And although we had a better time than during our last visit, it will take another few years until we go again. Even the new attraction next year will not make me go again next year, or maybe I will, if I win a free stay :devil:
My sister and youngest daughter with some random ducks
The wait for the tram tour was surprisingly short
My youngest daughter's first ride ever on the tram tour. During all previous visits, the wait was an hour so we didn't ride anymore since she was born.
I like this ride
We stayed in the New Port Bay Hotel, on the Admiral Floor : it REALLY needs refurbishment.
Fireworks as could be seen from the hotel
The weather was excellent
Top ride of the resort imo
Bay area at nights
We still like to shop at Disney but there isn't that much new to find the last few years.
Thanks for the update, it's a shame to hear that the park isn't really improving in the same way that the others are. Having just been back to WDW for the first time in 6 years I was struck by how well presented the place was and I had a great time there. I fear I wouldn't get the same feeling at Paris, it's been 5 years since I visited and I wouldn't mind if it was 5 years until I go again and it's a shame but I think I'm not the only one!
Ratatouille is the only thing that would make me contemplate making the journey but I doubt it will go anywhere for a while so I think I'm of the opinion that I'll get there when I get there!
Vilnius, Lithuania : I never imagined going on holiday here. I knew it is the capital of Lithuania, but it sounded very eastern european, not really a perfect holiday destination. Until my brother-in-law told me about the place last year. After some research my friend and I decided to give it a go past summer. And what an extremely lovely place it turned out to be : very western, excellent hotel, a lot of historic things to see in the old city (the old city is Unesco world heritage btw) , excellent restaurants, cheap food and drinks, amazing bars and nightlife, .... and the girls, wow wow wow, it was like we ended up in the Playboy mansion. Not kidding, if you'll ever be so lucky to go to Vilnius, you will know what i'm talking about. It's doesn't to justice to how great this place is, but in the next post, I'll put a short video online of a random bar we were and I filmed a 360°. I wonder who will be able to count all the blonds in that 30 seconds :b In any case, I had tons more fun than I had in DLP. You will notice that from the amount of comments I have to tell. If you compare that with my report of DLP ..... :devil: Enjoy the pictures
View from my hotel room. According to several websites like booking.com, tripadvisor, ..., we had chosen the best hotel of Vilnius. The hotel is in the old city. The old city is not that big. You walk in 15 minutes from the one end to the other. There are some 50 different churches in the old city. And every church is unique. I'm normally not that into visiting or even looking at churches, but the one in Vilnius are really great to explore.
The lounge of our hotel
The assortment of whiskey in the hotel :-)
The Shakespeare Hotel, our home for 6 nights
The company I work for has offices everywhere so there's also one in Vilnius. My usual contact was so nice showing us around in the nearby places.The first evening he and his girlfriend took us to Trakai.
We ate the local dish, Kibinai. Really great food.
The place was sooooo damn nice
There is also this castle. Isn't it a beauty ?
After a great night, we ended up exhausted in our hotel. I found this in the minibar and I had a party on my own in my room :-)
Breakfast à la carte in the hotel
We went to do some running the next morning and ran up the nearby hill for some nice views.
Panoramic view from the hill
The new city of Vilnius
The television tower where the 'January Events' happened : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/January_Events_(Lithuania)
Vilnius old city
One of the 50 churches
The Naris river
Excellent food at the La Bohème restaurant
Another church. When Napoleon saw this one, he wanted to pick it up and plant it down in France
The hotel had free bikes for us to explore the city by bike
Inside the cathedral
Wedding in progress
Vilnius old city is really nice and safe to walk around
One morning i took a walk a bit further away out of the city and found this 'unsafe' place
Great lunch salad
Because the food was so great in La Bohème, we decided to eat at the same place the next evening
I just love the food there
We met up with my colleague and he showed us some great bars. Most of the evening, we spent at Paparazzi
My colleague Donatas in the middle
Oh yeah, almost forgot this picture. This is a bank during daytime; During nighttime, it's a ....... casino !!!!!! I swear, i'm not joking. It's really a bank and casino at the same time !!
Next morning there was a short thunder storm and one of the trees inside the french embassy decided to do the wall and hit a car
Main shopping street on a Saturday afternoon
Where is all the traffic ??
And one small statue makes Vilnius rock : Frank Zappa
Zappa doesn't have any bond with Vilnius whatsoever but a local group of artist made this tribute statue in honor of Zappa.
Sunset at Naris river
We had dinner on Saturday at the Skybar in the new city. It's on the 22nd floor of a hotel and the view is simply amazing
Amazing, no ?
Great bar, great food, great music
Sky bar entrance/exit
We then headed up to the Tarantino nightclub.
It really had the Tarantino movie vibe.
Because there wasn't a real crowd, we headed up to Pabo Latino at the other side of the street.
I'm not the biggest fan of latino music, and luckily they didn't only play latino music.
It was one of the best nights I ever had. This place is absolutely awesome and amazing.
There a inside room, but during summer the outside part is THE place to be.
You have to see it in person to understand the awesomeness of the place. The best nightclub I have ever been to. The video I will post is shot in this place.
My friend and I already talked about going back for a weekend only for this place.
Another random church
And another one
Great italian restaurants
Considering the traffic, it's really hard to believe you're in a capital
It's such a nice place
Salento bar. The only nightclub open every single evening
Story time : we came in, ordered our drinks and I went to the restroom.
I returned from the restroom only 3 minutes after we entered the bar and my friend Michael was on the dance floor with about 7 blond girls dancing the night away. I was like : how long did I stay in that restroom ????
Our last evening and my colleague invited us at his parents place, some 20 miles outside Vilnius. We made a quick stop at one of the former capitals of Lithuania (don't remember the name of the place, sorry).
I've never read it, but this place is described very thoroughly in Tolstoy's War & Peace I was told
Look at the size of the trees. You can see people underneath the trees
A non Vilnius church
So we were invited at my colleague's parents home. Something like that can go both ways : either it's terribly inconvenient and awkward, or it's a great evening.
Turned out to be the latter. It was the most awesome night we could have imagined. The parents didn't speak any english, but with some home-brewed alcohol, the father managed to 'understand' us. Such amazing and friendly people, we had the best night.
The prepared a buffet of local specialties from the village and the food was just awesome
My friend was a bit cold and was offered a russian coat
a night I will forever remember
If you ever have the chance to go to Vilnius .... just do it. I'm seriously considering a post Scandi trip add on to Vilnius.
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