So, as you may know, I’ve been travelling around Europe a lot and I plan to head back out into the big wide world sometime in the near future. But in the meantime, I’ve got this blog in which I will be recounting my memories, as I’ve done already here where I spoke about my road trip from Seville to Barcelona or this post where I put some tips into a piece about how to travel around Europe on a budget (even though my title is slightly different, you get the jist).
So, for this one, I figured I’d recount some of the more exhilarating memories I’ve got from my time travelling. Even though I took in a lot of sites and big landmarks, I also had plenty of time to go and enjoy myself and one of my favourite things to do when I’m home is to go to Alton Towers. Even though it’s a good couple of hours drive away, in my eyes, there’s no better way to spend an afternoon in the summer than whizzing around on the Nemesis.
Whilst I was on my travels, I was lucky enough to find myself at a few different theme parks. Well, four to be precise. One was in this country so it kind of doesn’t count but I’m gonna add it in anyway. So, here goes…
- PortAventura, Spain
This theme park is located just an hour away from Barcelona on the train and I actually visited here after my little road trip from Seville to Barcelona. I was surprised to find out that three million visitors a year flock to PortAventura on the Costa Dorada each year. Crazy numbers when you think about it.
It’s a rather colossal resort but I have to say, I’ve put it at number 1 because it was my absolute favourite theme park that I’ve ever been to (apart from Alton Towers) and even though the other three that will make my list are in no particular order and I enjoyed them all thoroughly, this one took the top spot with ease.
If you’re looking for a holiday complete with a theme park, this is the place for you as there’s a manmade beach on the resort so you can have just as much downtime as you want to recover from the hustle and bustle of the park.
If it’s thrills you’re after though you’ve definitely come to the right place. Even though it’s not up there anymore, the Furious Baco rollercoaster was, when it opened in 2007, the fastest rollercoaster in Europe at 83.9 mph and it still packs a bit of a punch and it is the shortest (in height) accelerator coaster to have ever been made by Intamin.
On top of the rides, there’s been a big focus placed on the scenery and landscaping in the park so you’ll certainly have plenty to take in when you’re wandering around the park from ride to ride and there’s also the final stages being added to the rather unique looking Ferrari Land which is set to open its doors in 2017 and is focused around, yeah, you guessed it, Ferraris.
The top and bottom of this is that you should absolutely go and visit PortAventura is you get a chance, it’s phenomenal and is quite like nothing that we have here in the UK.
- Gardaland, Italy
This is one that has the views to match the rides as it’s adjacent to Lake Garda and it also includes “Gardaland Sea Life” and “Gardaland Hotel”. This park is run by Merlin, the same company that runs Alton Towers and many more in the UK but it’s just got that little extra ‘something’ about it.
It’s good for thrill seekers too if that’s your thing. The park opened one of its most famous rides in 2011 named raptor and it’s pretty fast at 56mph but that’s nothing compared to the ride opened in 2015; Oblivion: The Black Hole. This ride is considered to be the sister ride to the iconic Oblivion roller coaster at Alton Towers and it’s the first vertical drop roller coaster in Italy. The big, big win for Gardaland is the level of theming that they have throughout the park which is something that I find is lacking a little at our theme parks at home.
If you’re looking for a specific something in a theme park then you’re likely to find it in one of the many sections that Gardaland has, eight to be precise. From ‘Kids Country’ and ‘Fantasy Kingdom’ to ‘Pirati’ and ‘Energy’ there’s quite literally something for everyone and when you add the views over Lake Garda when you’re whizzing around a coaster, what more could you want? Just hope you don’t end up there on a rainy day!
- Futuroscope, France
This is one that I never actually planned on going to but when you get on the wrong train from Barcelona and end up in a place that you’ve never heard of called Poitiers, what else is there to do after a near 10 hour train journey than get your head down, have a sleep then go and explore?!
Poitiers is inland from the coast and is quite quaint little place but once I found out about Futuroscope, that was all I could think about. So me and my friend jumped I a taxi which took us about 20 minutes or so to get to the park from where we were. I had no idea what to expect and when I arrived the view of the park didn’t help to ease this feeling as it certainly didn’t look like your traditional theme park.
Once in the park, it was clear to see that this definitely wasn’t going to be a typical theme park full of roller coasters that will swing you from pillar to post (which I was secretly disappointed at) but this didn’t dampen my spirits. Nearly all of the rides were 4D interactive rides. Almost all of the rides require you to wear binoculars, 3D glasses and sensor bracelets and you travel virtually in simulators as you get tipped, plunged and bumped around in flying spaceships ad on top of this, there’s numerous IMAX cinemas which will take you to a whole other world to see ancient sea monsters or collisions in space.
I have to admit that this was a welcome break from the usual theme park adventures that I go on and the evening show was phenomenal, I highly recommend this place if you’re a theme park lover but want to try something a little different than usual.
- Blackpool Pleasure Beach, England
This is one that is on my list when it shouldn’t be really. I didn’t go here on my travels I came here when I got back from my travels, me and the fam took a day out here as I’d only ever been to Blackpool Pleasure Beach when I was a little girl and seeing as it’s one of the oldest theme parks in the UK, and one of the most well-known, I asked the question and two days later, we were all headed up there.
I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect as I’ve not heard particularly pleasant things about Blackpool from friends who had been there in recent years but the theme park looked awesome and, unsurprisingly, it was awesome. My absolute favourite ride was The Big One, a classic that I’d heard s much about and with its top speed of 85mph, it didn’t disappoint one bit.
We ended the day with a bit of friendly family competition with everyone (including my mum!) getting on the Go Karts and having a whizz around the track. I didn’t win but I finished in front of my dad which was a bonus!