A Trip, And A Return

A report of the Europe trip

A great trip later (many small ones) and one huge experience richer. It’s of course impossible to summarize the entire trip as a whole except to say it was… interesting into the last minute. I’ve learned things and experienced things and felt things. I’ve had expectations tossed onto their heads and also experienced some pain.

When I was little we went on a number of vacations, sometimes to the coast, sometimes to the mountains between Sweden and Norway to ski, and sometimes we went out camping with our caravan. In later years we started renting a sailboat each year for a few years until dad bought his own which we then went out with up until I moved out. This has been my first proper vacation with no family.

The trip in question is a car trip across Europe, from Sweden to Spain, passing through Denmark, Germany and France to get there. The trip took place because my best friend Eric got married, and was planned by him and Elin, his now wife. They decided that instead of going on a honeymoon on their own they’d organize a trip with some friends. The trip involved them, me and Zandra and Filip, who is a long time friend of me and Eric.

The trip was also going to include a sixth person but they were unable to come.

The trip has been great in a number of ways, and bad in others. But overall it’s been great as an experience.

The trip has mainly involved lots of driving and much more driving. It was about what I expected on that front. The only regret there is that we should have brought some pillows I think.
Outside of that we’ve stayed at a great many hotels on the way, some better than others in various ways. I wont really go into that, or many of the minute details.
We saw a great deal of things on the way, a lot of country roads and small villages, especially in France where we stuck to small roads a lot to avoid toll roads.

Days of Driving

There was a lot of this…

The way down took 6 days, then we arrived at our destination, Calella, a relatively small city on the east coast of Spain, near Barcelona.
There we mostly spent our time walking around exploring, going into shops and restaurants, or going to the beach. I unfortunately got a sunburn, burning my legs, shoulders and forehead. It was a bit painful, but not as terrible as how Eric burned himself at least. I should have bought sun protection with me. A lesson for the next trip to Spain I suppose.

We spent four days in Calella before moving a bit further up the coast to a city called Lloret de Mar where we spent another four days exploring, shopping and eating.

We also ended up going to a few museums. I’ll list the ones I remember here because why not:

  • Museu Arxiu Municipal de Calella Josep M. Codina I Bagué – Calella, Spain
  • Museu del Turisme – Calella, Spain
  • Citadelle – Besançon, France
  • Übersee-Museum – Bremen, Germany
  • Miniatur Wunderland – Hamburg, Germany

Überseeworthy Things

Who doesn’t like skeletons?

The noteworthy entries here are Citadelle, which was a huge complex containing multiple museums, but most importantly a zoo, which turned out to be larger than I expected. They had many animals of different types, such as lions, kangaroos, a large variety of birds and primates, as well as some farm animals like chickens and goats. They also had a bug and spider exhibit, a small aquarium with an outdoors koi pond where you could touch the koi and a nocturnal exhibit with things like mice and rats and more. We spent a whole day there and took a lot of pictures.

A lioness relaxing in the shade

The second noteworthy entry, Miniatur Wunderland, is basically a massive model exhibit where they have multiple huge model cities representing a few regions of the world, such as the US and Europe, with small model cars and trains and even airplanes (in the airport section) moving around. It was incredibly detailed and I took a lot of pictures there as well.

It was slightly spoiled by the other people though, it was unfortunately very crowded when we were there. And the pockets that went into the models especially had people moving in both directions around the edge causing a lot of congestion. I wish they’d had directions to move in there to avoid that, but oh well. Maybe I’ll visit another time and get to explore some more with fewer people in the way.

The last three locations we visited on our way home of course.

Drinks

I don’t drink. The main reason for this is that I don’t like alcohol. The taste is just terrible. And thus things that have alcohol in them tend to taste terrible as well. But, during this trip I’ve had my first pleasant drinking experience I guess.

This has been in the form of, well, drinks, or cocktails. I have yet to be drunk though. The few drinks I had were not enough to actually have any noticeable effect. I’d guess the alcohol content of most of these cocktails that don’t have any alcohol taste is so low you’d have to drink quite a few of them to notice. I’ve had one or two that did taste of alcohol, and of course I didn’t enjoy those quite as much.

Maybe I should try actually getting drunk at some point, but I’m slightly afraid of how I’ll be then. I don’t like the idea of not being in control of myself, or unknowingly acting in a way I normally wouldn’t. It’s kind of scary. And I don’t know how much it’d take to get there. I’d wager not much since I’m not used to alcohol in any way. All I can say is that it takes more than a few cocktails.

Mojito, The Green Drink

I tried a bunch of different ones and I can’t remember the names of most of them. But the one that springs to mind first and is probably my favourite is the Mojito.

This is a cocktail consisting of Rum, Mint, Lime and Sugar. It tastes primarily of mint though. I like mint. I’ll probably have more of this at some point.

Zandra’s Piña Colada & my Paradise

I’ve also had a bunch of more colorful cocktails but I can’t remember the names of them. I did have a Paradise though as you can see on the left here.

Alcohol wasn’t always what ruined a drink though. I remember having one that I of course can’t remember the name of, but it just tasted of syrup, which it turns out is the base of a lot of cocktails. They use strawberry flavoured syrup for a strawberry flavoured drink like this this case. And unfortunately for that drink all I could taste was the syrup. It didn’t taste of strawberries or alcohol and I’d have preferred either one I think. But more so the strawberries.

Liseberg

The very last place we visited was Liseberg, an amusement park in Gothenburg, Sweden. Now this was something (which unfortunately involves more pain). I haven’t been to an amusement park in years. And I’ve never really been a huge fan of roller coasters and the like, being very afraid of high speeds as a child. And to illustrate this, there is another major amusement park in Sweden called Gröna Lund (it’s in Stockholm). I have one memory from there from when I was young. There’s a ride there called Nyckelpigan (The Ladybug) and it’s a children’s roller coaster.

It’s creepy looking, but it’s very small.

It doesn’t have any great drops or curves or anything really, but my mom took me to ride it when we were there at some point. I remember not wanting to go because I thought it looked terrifying (riding it, not the carts). I also remember panicking in the queue and trying to get out, but it was too late at that point and I ended up riding it anyway. I didn’t like it very much.

A tower of fear, with a great view

So, the reason I bring this up is because this time, at Liseberg, I rode AtmosFear. A ride where you sit firmly strapped in around a tower. You are then slowly elevated to the top 116 meters up. Then, sometimes after a countdown, sometimes in the middle of the countdown, or, like this time, shortly after you reach the top without warning, you are all dropped towards the ground, reaching a speed of 110 km/h and 4G’s (according to their website).

I don’t know what possessed me to go on this ride, despite my childhood fear. I didn’t want to seem afraid in front of Zandra I guess, despite it being obvious, and me saying that I hadn’t ridden anything like this before. If she wasn’t there I honestly probably wouldn’t have gone. I can’t say it was a pleasant experience either. It was terrifying, and made worse by the fact that during the drop I tensed up into as much of a ball as I was able given the restraints. I even strained some muscles in my neck to such a degree that it still hurts slightly now, three days later.

That said, I’d probably go again next time and try to not tense up again though. I wish someone had told me to look straight ahead before…

We rode two water based rides, the first one, Kållerado, was a slow ride where you ride in a circular craft through a water track, with water randomly spraying from spouts on the sides, the track is wide enough to fit two of the crafts and there is no set path you move along. So you may be missed by most of the water spouts, or hit by all of them if you’re unlucky. We rode it twice and the second time I wasn’t quite as lucky, but it was mostly my shoes that ended up soaked

The second ride, FlumeRide, is more like a roller coaster, except you’re riding a boat along a tray. It has two drops where you push up a lot of water when you reach the bottom which ends up splashing everyone in the boat. Me, Filip and Zandra rode this one and they put me in front. I ended up soaked. The ride also takes a picture of you at some point. I didn’t see it but the others waiting downstairs informed me that I looked hilarious.

We also went through Gasten, the haunted hotel. I found it more amusing than scary, but that may have been because I was in the back. I don’t know. I’d like to do that one again sometime but maybe be in front then so I get to see more.

I’m actually kind of surprised that I’d want to do some of these things again. But while that is true there are rides I will not ride. I absolutely refuse to ride anything where you end up upside down. And if you know Eric you know he tried to trick me into going on some of those. Of course claiming that they don’t make you go upside down, despite me seeing them in action and seeing that you can end up upside down in them…

I’d like to go back there another time. Which may likely happen earlier than going back to Spain, since it’s way closer.

A Few Snags

As I’ve implied some bad things happened during the trip as well. One of the hotels we had made a reservation at for the night, Ace Hotel – Bourges, France, turned us away when we arrived because they had no rooms. They helped us find a nearby hotel called Hotel ibis Styles, where we got rooms instead. We had to settle for two rooms instead of the usual three though.

Normally this all would have been fine, a tiny bump, and we’d just forget it and keep going. But, as it turns out, Ace hotel used the card details provided through booking.com (the service we used to book all our hotel stays throughout the whole trip) when making the reservation to charge us for the rooms, claiming we didn’t show up. We’ve of course been in contact with booking.com and provided evidence that we actually showed up and were turned away from the hotel. And they’re now trying to get them to refund the money they took.

There’s been another few incidents, some minor like errors in navigation or finding the path blocked by unexpected construction. There’s also been a few bigger incidents though. At one point he had failed to stop when a police vehicle was turning out from the other side of the road, trying to turn around, with sirens on, apparently going to chase another car. The policeman in the passenger seat made a rude gesture towards us as they proceeded to go after the other car.

Later that same day Filip almost failed to stop in time to avoid the braking car in front. It was very close, and he got very irate and agitated after that and even yelled at Elin to be quiet. He was probably more tired than he let on or failed to realize that he was too tired. After that we made a stop to switch to Eric driving.

Conclusion

Like I said earlier, the trip has been a great experience overall. But we pretty much all agree that we’re never going to do it again. Next time we’ll take a charter trip directly to Spain via plane instead. It’ll probably be cheaper that way.

I’ll have to try out more cocktails sometime for sure. And have more Mojitos too.

There are other countries I want to visit as well, but that’s for another day.

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