Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Whirlwind weekend

I spent most of last week in DC visiting Sara.  When I returned to Frankfurt on Friday, I already had guests waiting for me at my house.  My sister's Katie and Shelley and Katie's husband Paul began their two week European vacation with a few days visiting me in Frankfurt.  I took advantage of their arrival to knock a few items off of my German bucket list.

First up was a visit to EuropaPark, Germany's largest and most popular amusement park.  This park is like a bad mash-up of Disneyland and World's of Fun (the amusement park in Kansas City we frequented the most often growing up).  Thematically, it had a lot in common with Worlds of Fun as it had a geography theme with each area being named for a country in Europe.  We had lunch in Italy, then made our way to France, Russia, Greece, Scandinavia, Spain, Iceland, Austria, etc.

But more than Worlds of Fun, it reminded me of a bad Disney knock-off.  It has a mouse mascot named Euromaus, who talks with a squeaky voice and wears gloves.  They had a Haunted House that was exactly like Disney's Haunted Mansion except it didn't have the cool end with the ghost riding in the car with you.  Similarly, the Pirates of Batvia mimics the Pirates of the Caribbean, except it uses racist Asian animatronics instead of racist Native American animatronics.  One of its roller coasters takes place entirely in the dark ala Space Mountain.  To complete the glitch in the matrix, this roller coaster was located inside Epcot-ripoff geodesic dome.  We soon realized that much of the fun in those old Disney rides is tied up in the nostalgia of riding the classic rides rather than the rides themselves.  But once we got past that, we had fun.

The day itself was cloudy and rainy, so the park was fairly empty for a Saturday.  Although the rain ocassionally annoyed us, it allowed us to ride dozens of more rides than we would have had time for if we had to spend more time in lines.  Several of the roller coasters were quite awesome and I would recommend them in any park.  We had such a good time that we stayed until they kicked us out at closing.
The Mack family founded Europapark - a big part of me thinks they missed out on the opportunity to call the park "Mackland"

This is in no way related to Mickey Mouse

Not Epcot

Riding roller coasters in the rain

After a long day at the park and dinner across the border in France (cause, why not?), we made our way to Stuttgart on Sunday for the "Fruehlingsfest" or Spring Festival.  Everyone knows Oktoberfest, but this is its lesser known cousin.  Basically, it's exactly the same thing.  All the same lederhosen, the same beer, the same drindls, the same midway, and state fair rides.  The only real difference is that it is a bit cheaper and a bit easier to get a table reservation.  The four of us, plus a few of my friends from Frankfurt, spent an awesome Sunday afternoon "prost"ing with the Germans.  I got one more chance to wear my lederhosen (admittedly, I felt a bit odd when I was basically the only person in all of Frankfurt wearing lederhosen to and from the train station, but I fit right in at the fest).  If you are ever planning a trip to Germany and think you want to hit up Oktoberfest, I say skip the touristy crowds in September and come in late April or May and hit up the spring fest.  Same party is going on in Munich.

Beer and a Ferris Wheel with a mostly blue sky - what more could you ask for on a Sunday

How about a tent full of lederhosen- and drindl-clad Germans dancing on tables

Smiling for more beer

Pretty sure I am few beers in

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