During my recent visit to see Jay I saw a lot of attractions and places that I have seen before on visits. But there was one really unique place that we were able to see this time. Jay’s parents gifted us tickets to a local amusement park called Efteling. This small theme park is open year-round and puts up special decorations for winter. I am always a little hesitant to go to amusement parks since I have bad motion sickness and it’s difficult to go on rides, but the storybook theme was too intriguing to pass up.
We borrowed Jay’s parents’ car since the park was far from Rotterdam and went on our first Dutch road trip! It was fun to get away from the city and travel to a new part of the Netherlands. We passed by ice-covered trees and frosted fields of wind turbines, all the while Jay taught me a “Are we there yet?” song in Dutch….which he regretted shortly after because I wouldn’t stop singing it.
We zijn er bijna,
We zijn er bina,
Maar nog niet helemaal!
When we arrived, I was a little confused since the entrance looked nothing like any American park I visited before. There were big slopes along the main building, forming peaks in the roof. Once we got inside I was a little overwhelmed by the amount of people there. Who goes to amusement parks in winter? Dutch people I guess…We moved away from the entrance, walking down these stone paths with lampposts straight from a fairytale. There were fake icicles cascading down from the lights and there was a happy soundtrack playing throughout the park.
We stopped by a small stand for some breakfast because all of the roller coasters were still closed (due to below-freezing temperatures). I ordered a small coffee and we split a chocolate-topped sugar waffle…yummm! Then it was time to explore the park. We walked by the roller coasters and cross-country “skiing” before we headed for the indoor roller coaster. It was then that I realized it was the first roller coaster I’ve been on in close to seven years! And it did not go well….
This coaster was so windy and twisty in the dark and my stomach was not too thrilled I decided to go on it. Maybe there’s a reason I’ve avoided roller coasters for all these years. I felt pretty sick afterwards but we decided to find something to settle my stomach. We settled on a small food stand serving sausages and pea soup. I got the soup! I felt a little better afterwards but decided to avoid the next ride and just wait for Jay to go on it.
Afterwards we wandered through the game area where we won a giant stuffed frog! The girl working at that game asked where I was from and told us she worked at Disney World in Florida for a short time. It was fun talking to someone who had visited the USA and to hear her perspective. We then explored more food carts (yum) and got a spiral potato on a stick. which is basically a more exciting version of a french fry. Ours was even sprinkled with cheese powder!
After hanging by a fire pit listening to some Dutch singers we decided to try our luck on the Bobsleigh ride. I’m so glad we did! This is a really cool ride because the cart isn’t on a track, it’s dropped down what looks like a giant water slide and can freely move, so when you go around turns the cart moves up along the edge of the slide. It was a really fun ride (unlike any I’ve seen in the USA) and I’m glad I felt well enough to go on it.
It was getting late so we each decided to grab one more snack before heading home. I ordered a Chocomel because it came in a souvenir mug and Jay couldn’t tear himself away from a bag of mini doughnuts. We walked back through the park, all lit up with mystical lights at nighttime, and headed for the car.
This was the first time Jay and I went to an amusement park together and, despite feeling a bit sick, it was a really great day! We went on two big rides and some small boat rides (think of “It’s a Small World” but cooler), won a stuffed frog, and ate some pretty delicious things. I think I definitely want to go back to Efteling when it’s warmer so we can try some of the coasters that were closed for weather or renovation. Maybe there will be a trip back there next time I visit….