Results tagged “Attractions” from Eurasia 2012

Well it's taken two trips to Japan to do it, but I finally made it to Universal Studios Japan!

All to go on the Back to the Future ride. Which turned out to be one of the most underwhelming rides I went on. Ahem.

When I was looking at the park guide I was thinking there wasn't actually all that much to see. And actually it probably would have been pretty easy to see everything in a day. I went on all the rides (I think!) and saw most of the shows except for the Shrek 3D and Animation show. I'd seen a few of the other shows and they were all in Japanese, so still good and all but you don't get the full experience out of them.

I got there at 8:45 for a 9:00 opening. At least that's what the website said but it didn't actually open til 9:30 :(

First up I hit the "Hollywood Dream" roller coaster because it looked like the ride that would be the most popular later in the day (I was right!). Went on that three times in a row (as a "single rider"). (There's lockers right by the ride for this one).

Then had a wander round, doing Jaws (in Japanese, but I'd seen a video of it in America so knew about what was going on), Jurassic Park (the front left seat will get you very wet), Backdraft (first bit all in Japanese but fire show at the end was pretty spectacular), Back to the Future (meh..! long wait, no singles line, and not helped by having a really tall guy right in front of me obscuring most of my view), Spiderman (this was fun, went back on this later in the day), Space Fantasy (this was a great little roller coaster - in the dark with fairy lights so very pretty; I ended up going on it four times - twice early on and twice later in the day - and had a different experience each time because the carts spin around. Too much fluff at the beginning too), Terminator 2 show (bit of a lame intro with this woman being funny in Japanese, then into a theatre which had a reasonable 3D show with some live actors interacting with it), Waterworld show (at 14:30, and I'm sure a good chunk of the park was there - it was very crowded! But a pretty decent show), into the "Wonderland" to look around and went on the water slide.

So now I'm mostly done but it's still pretty early. So decided to do the Hollywood Dream roller coaster a few more times. Another four times in fact ;) The singles line meant no queueing which was totally awesome.

Had some dinner (very expensive beer and pizza, but it was nice), went back and repeated a few things (see above), then went back to Hollywood Dream, doing it another seven times.

So I went on the same roller coaster fourteen times in one day! Win!!
Best experience was definitely in the middle of the train. Front was ok, and back has the good dip at the beginning, but the middle gave you the best feelings of weightlessness as you went over bumps.

At 19:30 I got off and wandered around taking photos of the buildings with their pretty lights on.

And at 20:00 watched the Magical Starlight parade. I'd seen Nat's photos of this but wasn't prepared for how huge the floats were. For someone who likes bright shiny coloured things I was in heaven heh (although it was a little loud).

And then I went back to the hotel for a pretty late night.


Distance covered on the GPS: 50.8 km
Steps walked: 28564 (taking off 2000 for bumpy rides, although no idea how much it actually was)
Photos on the Canon: 136
Photos on the Sony: 69
Videos: 6

So today marks the longest I've *ever* been away from home (previous record was USA in 2004 at 42 days).

Last night I thought I'd try and do a web check-in for my flight from Billund to Copenhagen. So I googled the airline to find it, and saw some articles about it going bankrupt. Uh-oh. Clicked on the airline's webpage, and there's a single page there in Dutch. Got Google to translate it, and sure enough, they went out of business a couple of weeks ago and all flights are cancelled. You're freaking kidding me right? No!! Fail!! Well at least I found out the night before and not in the morning!! And thanks heavens for http://www.rejseplanen.dk/ which is a brilliant site for working out transport around Denmark.

So this morning I had breakfast and checked out, then hopped on a bus to Vejen. 58 kr - not too bad.

At Vejen got to the platform and some Russians were also trying to get tickets to Copenhagen. They got themselves a family ticket. I just got an adult single. 346 kr. Fricken ouch!! Good thing the machines take credit cards! So the train came but it was a tiny little train of three carriages, one set aside for families and NO FRICKEN LUGGAGE RACKS!! (except overhead ones). So I had nowhere to put my bag. And all the seats are groups of four, not two. So me and my suitcase took up three seats! Denmark trains fail! Fortunately it didn't get full enough to need the extra seats, but it came very close! Was very stressed about it for most of the trip :( I also finished my book - sad making! (both the book itself and the fact that I've finished it).

Arrived in Copenhagen, tried to figure out how to get out of the station in the direction I wanted (getting grumpy at Denmark already). Got out and had to walk the long way round the station to get to my hotel. Checked in (yayy!!), dumped my stuff and headed out again. Found the entrance back into the station that I probably wanted on the way out. But there's no sign, just a small doorway. When in doubt, follow the crowds. I'll try and get a picture of it tomorrow.

Then to try and get a ticket on the metro. The ticket machines are very confusing and the signage is worse than Paris. Much worse. I asked a local what sort of ticket I needed (apparently a 2 zone, even though I was staying in the zone 1, 24kr) and managed to get on the right train.

So off to Osterport and a walk to find the Little Mermaid (I also walked around some of Kastellet which is this little star shaped fortress which is pretty cool).

I knew there'd probably be a few people, but I thought the statue would be a little bit further out of reach and you'd view it from the shore. Turns out you can go right up to it, as dozens of people from multiple tour buses were trying to do. hrmmm.

From there on it was a really long walk zigzagging my way back through Copenhagen.

Past our good friend Mary's house..

Into the Marmonkirken (just missed a dome visit)..

Up past the Rosenborg palace..

Down Kobmagergade and up into the round tower (I was almost not going to go into this one. It was only 25 kr but wasn't really in the mood. Luckily I decided to, it was pretty worth it)..

Down Ostergade to Nyhavn to see the Lego buildings..

Back past Christiansborg..

And Tivoli Gardens (oldest amusement park in the world, but you have to pay even to go into the place)..

And the Rathaus.

So a pretty good effort for about five hours of wandering.

Then I tried to find dinner. Prerequisites: had to have a Carlsberg, and had to be under 100 kr total (I'm rapidly running out of money and needed the rest for the train tomorrow). I couldn't find anything that met these requirements other than getting the beer at 7-Eleven and a burger from The Scottish Restaurant. Sadly (or happily) the beer was cheaper than Maccas!! So weird.

Something wierd happened to my phone when I got here. It's somehow got a time that is *very* wrong - not just a different time zone, but even wrong minutes. So it's nearly three hours out. Very strange.


Distance covered on the GPS: 315.6 km
Steps walked: 22251
Photos on the Canon: 120
Photos on the Sony: 111
Videos: 2
DKK Spent: ?

So had to wake up at stoopid o'clock this morning so I could get to Hamburg by lunch time. So up, ready, out the door and at the station by 6:30. Three trains and six hours later and I'm in Hamburg (and I'm well over half way through my book).

Couldn't check in yet, so dumped my suitcase and walked down to Miniatur Wunderland!!

I saw this on the internet some time last year, and added a night in Hamburg to my trip just so I could see it. It's incredible!! The dioramas are of Hamburg and Germany, Austria/Switzerland, Scandanavia and the Americas. Most of the fun of the show is looking closely at the figures to find them doing funny (or rude) stuff. There's action going on everywhere. It's just amazing. I got there just after 1:30pm and stayed til nearly closing time (5:45pm). The crowds were starting to thin out by 3:30 and it was pretty empty by 4:30, so afternoon is definitely the time to go.

The biggest trouble I had was finding the entrance and actually getting in. The Hamburg Dungeon is right next door and gets all the big signage. The Miniatur Wunderland just a portable sign by a door further along the building. I wasn't sure if I was going in the exit (and it's up a few flights of stairs - next time - catch the lift up!). There's not a word in English so I wasn't sure if the line I was getting into was for people with or without tickets. There was only one line though, and it was all a big mess. Even when you got your ticket you're in the middle of the shop that's selling stuff and that's where the exit is too. It was just chaos. This is pretty abysmal for Germans who are usually so much more organised at that sort of thing.

Anyway, so after that I just wandered up through the city, passing St Nikolai's (which is being renovated - don't know what the view will be like) and the Rathaus and Binnenalster.

Went through the station, and looked for local beer and/or hamburgers for dinner. No local beers, but did find a hamburger (patty), but it was pretty dry.

Finally back to the hotel and checked in. This is a nice hotel from what I've seen so far, pity I only have the one night!


Distance covered on the GPS: 487.5 km (a bit more than this but the GPS kept dropping out on the last train :( )
Steps walked: 12415
Photos on the Canon: 421
Photos on the Sony: 71
Videos: 23
EUR Spent: ?

Alarm went off just after 5am this morning. After a late night this was not welcome. I was barely functioning as I got ready. Headed off a bit before 6am, and hopped on a train to Brussels. I partly dozed but didn't get any sleep. Stoopidly (again) I got an aisle seat. But the train was mostly empty so I took the window seat next to me. Why even bother asking for preferences on seating if you're not going to pay any attention to them??

So got to Brussels Midi and went and dumped my suitcase in a locker (4 euro, but if I'd gone to the place across the way it'd have been 3.60 .. doh!). Then went to figure out how I'd be getting to Amsterdam. Then to go get a Metro ticket. You can get an all day pass for 6 euro which turned out to be really great value (since individual tickets are 2 euro each). Brussels' Metro is a lot smaller that Paris, and generally much better organised and user-friendly. So had no problems figuring out my way around. They have these funky indicator boards that show where all the trains on the line are at (forwards and backwards).

Hopped on a train and headed up to the Atomium! Except for some reason I thought it opened at 9am, when it actually opened at 10am. Doh!

Didn't want to wait an hour there so headed to the Koekelberg basilica. Something like the fifth biggest church in the world or something. This area was completely devoid of any tourists which was a little scary. Walked up to the basilica which was supposed to open at 9am, but there were no signs anywhere. Eventually I found an open door and went in, but it looked like they were about to have a service, so I just took a picture or two and walked out again. I didn't bother going up the dome because it was too hazy.

From there walked down to the "Don't Trip!" sculpture. http://www.neatorama.com/2011/11/30/dont-trip/ The walk down had even less people around, and lots of guys just standing around by themselves. So that was a lot scary. But made it safely through.

Then on another train back up to the Atomium. This thing was built for the 1958 World Expo, and it was so popular they kept it. The view from the top would have been great on a clear day, but as it was it was a bit of a waste. But walking and escalating up and down through the spheres for the exhibitions was pretty cool.

Back into town again and straight out to Jubelpark to see the arch. You can actually go up the arch (and it's free!) via the military museum next to it (you just need to cloak your bags). On the way back out, I went and had a look at the hall of planes which was pretty cool.

Finally into the old town. Got off at Centraal and walked down. Saw a sign for Manneken Pis (translated: little man peeing) and then it was just a matter of following the crowds.

All up and down the alleys here are chocolate shops and waffle shops, as well as the souvenir shops. I got a waffle with brown sugar for 1.80. I have to say I preferred the paris waffle better - this one was quite a bit *heavier*. Also bought some Belgian chocolates .. oops :)

Continued on to the Market Square which was surrounded by beautiful buildings.

And down to Delirium Cafe, which I'd read online had a decent range of Belgian beers. Had an Affligem and a Trapistes Rochefort. Yum.

So headed back to the Midi station feeling slightly merry, and off I went again to Amsterdam.

Three hour train trip, I don't think I slept either :/

Got to Amsterdam and walked down to the hotel. After all the TripAdvisor reviews I'd read I was terrified it was going to be awful. But I ended up getting a room with a shower (I'd paid for a shared one). Yes it's super tiny, but seems relatively clean. And got some help with the suitcase on the super steep steps. Only main problem so far - the window doesn't actually lock :/

Headed out again to find some dinner. There's a laundromat directly opposite the hotel which is super awesome. And a fries and mayo place next door. But I wanted something with salad for dinner, so went for a wander. Walked down a lane that was full of south american grill cafes. Found something there (had chicken schnitzel though not steak).

And then kept wandering. There's such a lot of life going on here. Be better if the sweetie was here ....

And now it's 11pm. How does that work? Will attempt to sleep in... maybe... I was orignally planning to go see Anne Frank's house which opens at 9. Will see how I go. As for the rest of the day, I need some suggestions. What are *must dos* ?


Distance covered on the GPS: 581.1 km
Steps walked: 26891
Photos on the Canon: 207
Photos on the Sony: 67
Videos: 0
EUR Spent: ?

Let me start by saying that if you are any kind of Harry Potter fan at all, you HAVE TO do the Making of Harry Potter tour at Leavesden Studios. It's that awesome!!

So after breakfast I trotted out to Watford Junction (express train from Euston). Outside the station on the left there was a small bus interchange, so walked down there and the first bay had a sign saying Harry Potter shuttle bus. Waited for the first shuttle of the day (9:20) to arrive.

Arrived at the studio a bit early (I was paranoid about getting there late and missing out entirely), but that gave me plenty of time to get some photos, get my guide book and have a look through it, sign into the free wifi etc.

My ticket was for 10:30 so in I went.

First up is a bit of an introductory film.

Then into another room for a big screen introductory film.

Then they lift the screen and there are the doors to the main hall! Which they open to great effect and in you go. So fricken awesome!!

As it turns out, they actually moved the entire set from its original location in an old hangar to the current location in a purpose built building for the tour. Same with all the other sets they have there.

After wandering around the great hall, you go off into the "interior sets" room, which has several sets and *heaps* of props and costumes. There's the Gryffindor boys dormitory, Gryffindor common room, potions, Dumbledore's office, Hagrid's hut, the Burrow and the Ministry of Magic in this room. The place is packed with stuff from the movie, and have to make sure to LOOK UP! Because there's all sorts of things way up high. I think I spent probably two hours in this room. And it was surprisingly uncrowded - I was expecting it to be like it was in Sydney. Which incidently had some of the same things that were here now, like Hermione's Yule ball dress. There's multiples of costumes. I know in Sydney Snape's vest was actually purple, but it was black in all the ones here.

Next you go outside to the "backlot", which has an outdoor area where they've gathered a few things, including one of the Ford Anglia's and one of the motorcycles, both of which you can sit in, Tom Riddle's grave, a Knight Bus, the Privet Drive buildings (two of them), the Potter Cottage, the covered bridge, and some chess pieces.

Then it's back inside for some displays showcasing the work of the art and effects teams.

First up is the creature shop, with some videos hosted by Warwick Davis.

Then you get to walk through Diagon Alley.

Then you get to see some of the concept art and models. Amazing stuff. I loved the paper models. You get to walk by a whole heap of these.

And then the finale - the 1:24 scale model of Hogwarts Castle. It's spec-fricking-tacular! Absolutely enormous and intricately detailed, including hundreds of lights. The room cycles between night time and day time so you can see both. Amazing, just amazing.

Lastly you walk through some of the boxes of wands. Apparently they made and labelled something like 17000 boxes of wands, and they're labelled with the cast and crew.

Out through the shop of course. Everything was crazy expensive though (like £24.95 for a scarf or £24.95 for a wand or £7.95 for a chocolate frog - I don't think so!!). T-shirts were reasonably priced (£14.95) but I didn't really find one I liked.

And so I left. I was there for three and a half hours after 10:30, but could have stayed longer if I'd spent more time in the effects rooms. Hopped on a shuttle bus back to the station and straight on a train back to Euston.

From there I walked down to the museum and spent the rest of the afternoon there. There is SO MUCH STUFF in that museum it's ridiculous. I walked through the majority of rooms, but you could easily spend an hour or two in each room alone. I think if I lived in London I'd spend like an hour a week just exploring one room at a time (it's free entry so it'd be easy/cheap to do).

At this point I have £2 left in my purse. Which probably would have seen me through, however then I remembered I needed to do washing tonight. So went looking for an ATM. Now I've walked past like a thousand ATMs in this city, but the moment you start looking for one they all disappear (the exact same thing happened to Campbell yesterday). Ridiculous. Walked for like a kilometre around a few blocks trying to find one. Stumbled across Covent Garden at one point, but was super hungry and tired and grumpy, so when I eventually did find an ATM I just got money and went back to Earl's Court. Picked up a Subway and a beer and chilled out for a while. Headed out again to do the load of washing then back here to blog.


Distance covered on the GPS: 51.2 km (plus the trip out to Watford Junction that didn't record)
Steps walked: 16323
Photos on the Canon: 586
Photos on the Sony: 20
Videos: 12
GBP Spent: 35.36

Busy day in London today, but on paper it doesn't look like all that much.

Breakfast was super late today - 8:00!! I woke up at 5:23, so got up and spent some time organising what I'll be doing for the next three days.

After breakfast I headed into town and out to Elephant and Castle to walk down to Old Kent Road to add to my Monopoly street signs collection. I walked a good way down the street before I gave up and headed back (it seems this place suffers from the same problem as other places - they don't label the main road, only side streets). But then on the side of the overpass was a sign! Yay!

Headed for Tower Bridge, getting there around 10am. And there was sun! And the Tower of London wasn't behind white sheeting.

Thought I'd go rephotograph The Leaky Cauldron mark II before heading for Monument. But on the way I walked past the London Bridge Experience. It was on the todo list for another day, but it was just there and there was no queue out the door, so decided to just go in then. I had no idea what to expect. I guess I was expecting more of a museum. So the "experience" was all a little ridiculous. And the "tombs" was kind of like Inifinity on the Gold Coast, except with "scary" stuff, and guys running around yelling boo essentially, but with far too many sudden loud noises for my ears. You have to put your hands on the shoulders of the person in front and trundle through in a little conga line. Silly silly silly. I'm glad it was "free" on my London Pass otherwise I'd have been pretty disappointed. And it wasted an hour of perfectly good sunlight :/

Went and got my photos of the Leaky Cauldron, then walked across the Southwark bridge, and went and found Monument. It was getting a bit cloudy at this point :( But climbed the 311 steps anyway. Took some photos and continued.

Walked up to Leadenhall markets to get a photo I missed last time of the area of the first Leaky Cauldron.

Headed for Bank station, but it seemed like all the lines through it were shut down for the day. Decided it would be easier to walk back to Monument station. Except then I waited and waited for a train to High Street Kensington. So gave up on that idea and decided to go to Gloucester Road instead.

From there walked up to Kensington Palace. Got to walk through the big front gates this time (last time they were working on the gardens and the entrance was closed and you had to go around the other side behind the garden). Going in was a little confusing about where you had to actually go to get in. But got in, and the things you see are all off one central room. So went and saw the Diana exhibition (just a few of her dresses not seen on display before), then the "King's State Rooms" which were the most impressive, the "Queen's State Rooms" for Queen Mary II, and an exhibition called Victoria Revealed which had a whole lot of memorabilia from her life. There was a lot of stuff there and you could have spent ages looking at it if interested. And the best thing: you can take photos of it all!!

Decided I'd walk through Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park rather than taking the tube so that I could go up Wellington Arch, which closes at 5pm. I got there at 16:32. Guess what time the place *actually* closes? 16:30. So the buttplugs wouldn't let me in :(:(:( And the place isn't open the next two days, so I missed out completely :(:(:(

So I did the only thing a sane person would do - got depressed, gave up on the day and went back to the hotel. Via KFC.


Distance covered on the GPS: 25.2 km
Steps walked: 26027
Photos on the Canon: 189
Photos on the Sony: 57
Videos: 1 (?)
GBP Spent: 5.58