Amusement Park Survival Guide

 

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Amusement is listed as meaning: mirth, merriment, hilarity, glee and delight, or from a slightly different angle: entertainment, pleasure and leisure. Whilst in Italy we traipsed into Garda Land, close by Bardolino on Lake Garda, and later Lego Land in Bavaria. Needless to say these were the  highlights of the road trip for the children. The park redefined these definitions.

For Garda Land we bought our tickets, which were expensive for four people, online before our departure. It saved very little, apart from a bit of queuing. The rides in Garda were pretty fast and high, at least for me, but of course the kids loved them! Take deep pockets for change, or better still hand over your small change to your wife who is sensibly staying on the ground. When climbing into the super spinning cup and saucer, don’t, repeat don’t think about the large pastry you untypically had for breakfast. Close eyes and focus on the fact that it won’t last long. If you feel the urge to projectile vomit as you climb off at the end, at least direct it from your group! If staggering due to a still spinning head, play act as if you are just pretending.

Remember before you join the long snaking queues that you really don’t have a head for heights. Then ensure you sit behind the children so they cannot see how strongly you are holding onto everything you can. Just get me down, oh nooooooooooooooo!

If the day is scorching hot, it hit 41.5 degrees in Bavaria, then ensure you go on as many of the log water rides as possible for a free soaking. Beware the cost of bottle water in these amusement parks. After selling one kidney and buying one bottle of water for each of us, we noticed the water drinking fountains where people were filling up empty bottles for free. Head gear is also useful and any cinema style inside attraction is a boon on such a  a hot day. Such cinema style attractions also have the advantage at not propelling me at muzzle velocity, perilously high in the sky! And finally, don’t forget to pack the headaches tablets, you know the super strength ones!

Road Trip to Castle Neuschwanstein

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On to a slice of 19th century romanticism on what can be only termed, the grand style, courtesy of Ludwig II in beautiful Bavaria. Our faithful car laboured up the twisting, narrow switchbacks roads (get the picture?) until we finally swept into Hohenschwangau.

After some nifty maneuvering the driver got us parked behind a small restaurant for a nominal fee. Well done driver.Safely leaving and forgetting our bottles of water in the car, so that they would be at boiling temperature on our return, we set off on foot in earnest.  Hold onto the hands of young children as motorbikes cars and tour buses  pound up the stretch of road to the shops, restaurants and ticket offices serving the castle’s visiting public.

The  town was packed and temperatures had risen to 40 degrees. Everything was rather expensive and remember to have plenty of small change for the toilets. Which in an un-German like manner were not very clean. Having decide to visit the castle we joined a long twisting queue for tickets. Being English, queuing is kind of in the genes. However no cover had been provided and it was hot and tiring on everybody, especially people with young children. The lady who sold us the tickets spoke English well and told us that our tickets were for 4.30pm so we had time to eat.

A comment about language. We had to stop a couple of times earlier in Bavaria. On both occassions I spoke to a man over 50 in his front garden, and a woman over 60 at a small provincial hotel. On both occassions they were not only helpful but spoke pretty good English, too. Much appreciated when lost with wife children in the car:-)

Back to food. We went through the town until we came to a restaurant opposite a lake and a small beach for the children to paddle and play in. For ardent sun worshippers there is a larger beach area a little further on.

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Restaurant.The menu was in German and everything had a fancy name, and an even fancier price. What turned up on the plate was basically a burger, for the price of a steak!  Having secured a second mortgage and settled the bill we left to take a bus to the castle. We had been told by our helpful ticket seller that it would take about 40 minutes to walk. In the stifling heat the bus was the sensible option. We got on in an orderly fashion thanks to barriers that formed a snake like queue. A word on the return. The bus drops you in a small clearing and you continue up to the castle. At the top there are no barriers and people pushed and shoved almost in desperation to get back on the bus for the downward trip. Why? It wasn’t the last bus! Your status as an older person, child, or babe in arms was ignored and the tourists behaviour was atrocious! We stood apart and waited for the next bus.Cattle prod, please. Barriers would be a good idea.

Then we walked up to the castle itself which was an imposing and wonderful view.

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We took a minor detour to go onto a bridge that hangs precipitously over a gorge nearby. Oh, how I laughed when a group of people decided to show how it could be made to move a bit. Great!

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And finally the castle itself. Good, solid, well made castle. It stands majestically and shone almost white-like in the sun drenched Bavarian vista. The visits were well controlled and we waited patiently for our group to gain admittance.

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Inside the castle itself it pays homage to one man’s Wagnerian obsession along with folklore inspired murals and decor. Strangely enough one of the most interesting places was the cookhouse and its ‘state of the art’ equipment. Wonderful to look at, but in the back of the mind was the nagging thought that it is really all a bit of one man’s folly. Great to visit, wonderful to see but not exactly an inexpensive day all in all. Take small change for the toilets, a friends credit card for the restaurants and don’t leave the water in the car on such a hot day, unless you want to make tea. Oh yes,  and mind peoples behaviour getting on a bus in a a semi-remote area!!!

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Next would be an amusement park for the children and a place for me to enjoy more heights.