There is no question that my expectations for our 2011 Scandinavia trip were shaped by my experiences from 2004. Usually they led me to anticipate revisiting several parks that I'd particularly liked. The flip side is that I came to other parks with negative expectations, none more so than our next park, BonBon Land. It hadn't really been bad, but a few hours there had been more than enough, whereas we'd wanted more time at so many of the other parks we'd visited. However I did want to give it another chance, as well as see whether Mike and Chris liked it better than we had.
While getting ready that morning I made sure to get out my list of contact information for our hotels to have on hand. I was going to call Djurs Sommerland to see if they'd found my PDA, and if so, whether they'd send it to catch up with me at an upcoming hotel. It was one reason why it was a good decision to have the full list printed out in advance. Unfortunately when I called later in the day, they hadn't found it, and since it rained heavily that day, even if they found it later it would likely be completely ruined, so I had to give up on ever getting it back.
We were leaving the Jutland area of Denmark, and heading to Zealand (which was the area of Denmark we'd been in on our prior trip). In the process we went over a bridge that our coach driver said was the longest in Europe. After this we saw many small towns and fields. We passed by the town of Naestved. Like Fårup Sommerland, BonBon Land felt like it was in the middle of nowhere, amidst small towns and fields. I remembered taking the train to it in 2004 and then having to walk about 20 minutes to get to it. The sight of the inexplicably placed elephant statues in front of the park was familiar. As we walked into the park from the rather primitive grass and gravel parking lot, some of the park's unusual mascots greeted us. Really, the mascots were the most notable aspect of the park. Associated with a candy company, they all had some kind of humorous aspect to them, usually biological. Though BonBon Land was geared toward kids, the US they'd clearly be considered inappropriate for children! A few examples: a peeing ant used for men's room signs and a slide (a "Piss-ant"), and a cow with large, partially exposed breasts. We'd known about these before our first trip to the park, and the oddity of the whole thing was what had generated our original interest.
The first building we entered was called Fantasy World. It seemed geared toward the youngest set, with a little train ride and other kiddie attractions. None was operating at that point, and about the only reason we stayed as long as we did was that I took the opportunity to (fruitlessly) call Djurs Sommerland about my PDA. We never got back to Fantasy World, but others who did said it was actually somewhat impressive when everything was running.
With the weather still unpromising, we continued to look at indoor attractions, the next being a shop that I remembered from our 2004 visit--and in fact had sheltered from the rain in that time too. In fact of all things, they had 2004 T shirts for sale for some reason. I looked around at the varieties of candy on sale but couldn't find the strangest of them, Dog Fart candies (some kind of licorice).
Finally the rain let up enough for us to venture into the park and try to ride the roller coasters. We had a bit of trouble finding the way to the main one, Vild-Svinet (wild pig) since the exit looked like it should be the entrance. During our search, we came upon another coaster, Han-Katten, instead so we decided just to ride it. It was a spinning "Wild Mouse" style coaster, with a cat theme. There was "Garfield Go Home" graffiti on one wall of the station, a sentiment I agreed with! We got delayed for a while because one of the cars wasn't able to reach the lift without a push. At the same time we heard that Vild-Svinet was down because of a collision of cars in the station (not serious, but still enough to stop things for a while), and we could see another coaster wasn't running either. I was beginning to wonder if we'd get to ride anything at all! Fortunately, all three rides would begin running again and we got our Han-Katten ride without a lot of wait. It had an odd seating configuration in which pairs of riders faced each other; usually such rides have riders facing outward. The spin was minimal, unfortunately.
Next we moved on to Vild-Svinet, which they got operating after a brief delay. They ran all the cars on the track but, perhaps because of the prior collision, they only loaded one at a time. Janna, having ridden it before and not cared for it, opted out entirely.
The main feature of Vild-Svinet is its odd lift hill and drop. The lift is vertical, which is rather uncomfortable as long as it lasted, followed by a drop that actually undercuts itself slightly, so that it is more than 90 degrees. The remainder of the ride is a rather standard small looping coaster configuration. It was worth the one ride but no more.
By this time the other roller coaster, named Viktor Vandorm, was running. It was a very mild ride, with shallow hills and a remarkably long train. It wound around several of the other attractions including a shrimp-themed slide, and eventually went below grade. We were sent around for two rides. Though not in the least bit thrilling, of the coaster in the park I think it my have been the most fun in the end.
There was one final coaster to ride, the one that everybody was looking forward to most though it was even less impressive in size and scope than Viktor Vandorm. The reason it was so popular was its odd name, Hundeprutterutchebane, or "Dog Fart Coaster" (named after the Dog Fart candy mentioned earlier). The rain was picking up again as we walked over, only to find it closed. As far as I could tell it never opened that day. In the meantime, we had to rush to take shelter for ourselves.
We wound up at the Jungle Buffet. It was close enough to lunchtime that we decided we might as well take advantage of the opportunity to get something to eat. As the rain lingered, we stayed there for about two hours. Since it was an all-you-could-eat buffet we could just graze as much as we wanted. There was also the option to get unlimited beer, which I was quite tempted by, but I resisted the temptation. In fact I think even with the soda option they may have offered low- or non-alcoholic beer. It was probably good to avoid getting drunk; for some reason the floor was very slick, even sober I had to walk gingerly! For our soda option we were given plastic cups that would have made good souvenirs, but we didn't want to carry them around the park.
The selection at the buffet was pretty typical, neither particularly great nor particularly bad. I still did prefer the variety to a stand where there would be little choice among standard types of amusement park food. There were some decent hot foods, such as a pesto pasta, ribs, and a spicy kind of rice. I wasn't too fond of the pizza slices, though others in our group liked them better. I might have been more favorably inclined if I could ever find anything but cheese, but they only had cheese slices out whenever I went up.
Finally we decided to venture out again. On our way out we ran into a wet and friendly kitten!
Our friend Jon had recommended a 3-D simulator attraction called Hestorado, but since he'd recommended the disappointing Kot-Kot at the beginning of the trip, we went in a bit skeptically. I was less than thrilled to see it was a horse-themed ride. Having been on rides before that tried to simulate horse rides, I knew it could be an uncomfortable experience! Hestorado wasn't too bad in that respect. However, I didn't really get as much out of the ride as I should have. In addition to the rocking seats, we were supposed to shoot at things on the screen. We were given instructions at the beginning, but I didn't understand them, of course. As we shot toward the screen, numbers would show up where we were shooting, a different number from each seat. For some reason, though, I thought my numbers were targets rather than the point I was aiming at, so of course I wound up shooting the wrong things and being confused that I kept missing! Chris didn't have the same problem; he got the high score.
It began raining quite heavily again, so we took shelter in a store. Even here we couldn't escape seeing Confederate flags, perhaps a misguided attempt to add to the Western theming.
When the rain had at least calmed back to a drizzle we made another attempt to see if the Hundeprutterutchebane was running. There was no sign whatsoever of activity, so we gave up on it, and as far as I know it never ran that day. Several of our tourmates were very disappointed, but I knew the coaster was only remarkable for its novelty, not for its thrills.
We took one more ride, on their version of the spinning pendulum-style ride called Swingarmen. It wasn't as good as Tusenfryd's SpinSpider had been, but it was still our favorite ride at the park by a fairly long shot, though Janna was stapled a bit too much in her seat. The ride cycle was quite long, a pleasant contrast to other parks where it seems like the ride is over just as it's really getting started.
Otherwise we just wandered about the park for a while to spend the remainder of our time. If not for the intermittent rain we might have tried a few more attractions, but we just weren't in the mood. BonBon Land is simply not a good enough park to get past the misery of a poor-weather day, though few are. We did get to see some of the goofy attractions they had set up. One slowly rotating carousel (operating continuously, people could just step on and off as they pleased) had some of the park's characters, including vomiting rats and a dog with a clearly showing anus. Elsewhere was a totem pole with more characters, including the cow showing off large, bare breasts.
For all this, there were several quirky things from 2004 that were no longer at the park. Many were self-service style attractions that had no operators, such as an automated zip line where you could press a button to be sent to the far end and back. Another rather odd attraction that seemed to have disappeared was a large wooden rocking cow.
Perhaps the most significant thing that was missing was the park's lollipop outlet. In 2004 when we'd entered the park we'd been given a stick, and could visit a building where they snipped off pieces of candy onto it to make a fresh lollipop. That appeared to be gone too, a shame because it was certainly a unique aspect of the park.
One thing we noticed that we hadn't seen in 2004 was rather creepy, a tree with children's pacifiers hung from it. It was called "Suttetraeet", and I looked it up later. It turned out it was to commemorate kids giving their pacifiers up. Nevertheless it looked somewhat off-putting.
Of course, we could still get ice cream and did. It was among the cheapest ice cream we got on the trip, and maybe the softest, but still quite good. There were ducks begging nearby. One pestered Janna quite a bit until she began chasing it around, at which point it quacked at her aggrievedly while running away.
For all the time we spent at the park, there were quite a few attractions we never tried. Apart from never returning to Fantasy World, there was also a 4D theater we could have gone to, which might have gotten us out of the rain, though I'm not all that interested in such attractions. I would have been more interested in riding the Jungle Boat ride, but it wasn't a pleasant prospect to do so in the rain. There was also an intriguing-looking tower ride with a tilting rider platform that we never rode; I'm not even sure it ever operated.
I can't say that I liked BonBon Land any better than our first visit, but at least it can be said that the weather didn't work in its favor. I'm sure I'd have enjoyed myself better if it had not been rainy, but I don't think I'd ever have considered BonBon Land one of the better parks of the trip. And though some parks can shine through even a poor day, BonBon Land simply isn't a park that is capable of that.
The coaches took us to our final city of the trip, Copenhagen. We had one of our usual rest stops. By this point the coach drivers were offering their candy at 2 for 1 prices, a clear sign the trip was nearing its end! As we came into Copenhagen we saw some of its very distinctive buildings. One tower had a helix running up around it. Another very distinctive tower was formed from the tails of fantastic creatures spiraling around each other. I thought they were crocodiles. One of our coachmates actually thought they were "dudes". Looking it up later I found they were dragons. We'd see each of these towers more closely in subsequent days. We also drove by a canal with crowds of people on the walks to either side. I suspect it may have been Nyhavn, which we'd see more of that day.
Our destination was the Little Mermaid statue on the larger canal, the only "cultural" destination of our entire tour. In fact it was little more than a tourist trap, and we'd not even bothered with it in 2004. However I had no objection to visiting it during the course of the tour. It turned out to be a rather small statue, about life size, sitting on a pile of rocks a short way into the channel in what struck me as a contemplative pose. We were almost as entertained by the shoe somebody had left on another rock.
We settled into the final tour hotel, the Radisson Blu, not far from the gate of Tivoli itself. It was a pretty fancy hotel, perhaps as much so as the Gothia Towers had been. Our room was two doors down from the Arne Jacobsen suite, named after a famous designer. The bathrooms had floor warmers, of all things. The showers were about the easiest in Scandinavia to use, though the drain was inconsistent. The room initially smelled of smoke, but we were able to dissipate it by opening the windows.
It was during our time settling into the hotel that we learned of the Oslo terrorist attack that had taken place earlier that day. It was somewhat sobering to contemplate that we'd been in the area just a few days before. I was more concerned that people would worry about me at home than that I was in any danger myself. Having a laptop along was helpful because it meant I could communicate with people back home that I was safe.
We had the evening to ourselves for exploration, so after a bit of relaxation time we joined Chris and Mike. We were planning to visit the Strøget, one of Copenhagen's main pedestrian streets. We had a bit of trouble finding it initially. This was symptomatic of the way I felt a lot of the time in Copenhagen; just disoriented enough that I didn't have an easy time getting from place to place, but never getting entirely lost either.
We eventually came to the square near the town hall, from which we could get to Strøget. We lingered here for a few minutes seeing the sights. One famous thing we saw was "the Weather Girls", a statue atop a building that was supposed to indicate the upcoming weather by its position, but which apparently never worked properly. On a building nearby was this charming ad for Carlsberg beer: "Probably the best beer in town". We sent some email from an interactive kiosk and watched a group performing Native American flute music before moving on.
The Strøget is an interesting scene. Incongruously, to enter one passes between a 7-11 and a Burger King, but otherwise it's hardly Americanized (though we did see some other American tourists). Above the entrance there was a banner for the "Universalen Kongreso de Esperanto". Further along we came upon a fountain that had a statue made to look like it was lactating.
As had been the case in Helsinki, we were entertained by some street performers. We caught a guy (who gave his name as Johnny Ratoff) in the middle of his act. Like the guy we'd seen in Helsinki, he was setting up for his "grand finale" trick, taking a long time with a lot of jokes and diversions along the way. The final trick was to jump off a stack of milk cartons while juggling torches.
We walked the length of the Strøget. Past the far end was a canal with restaurants and other shops around it, Nyhavn, possibly the canal we'd passed by before. It was quite a busy area. Since it was dinner time, we looked at a few restaurants but they looked somewhat pricy. We looked in the window of a shop called Vaffelbageren, where we could see them hand making waffle cones, but we didn't get anything there either.
We continued all the way to the end of the canal--which opened onto a larger canal--stopping on a bridge to admire the view briefly. As we continued along we saw a boat that I was pretty sure would be our ferry a few days hence when Janna and I were going on our own to a nearby island (more about that in a later installment)!
Walking along the large canal, we could see the opera house across the water. However more interesting was a dancing stage set up on the boardwalk. It was fun to watch the dancers for a while.
We began to make our way back toward the hotel, still looking for a place to eat along the way. We took an alternate way besides Nyhavn, leading us past an area called Ofelin Beach. I liked the "Speaker's Corner" area, where there were places on the sidewalk marked out "agree" and "disagree".
We had a considerably hard time finding a place to eat. It was getting late and many places by that point were closing. Earlier I'd seen a nice-looking kiosk in a square midway down the Strøget, but when we returned to it, they were no longer serving any food. Other places on Strøget seemed to be more fast food oriented rather than fine dining places, but budgetary reasons prohibited us getting too fancy anyway. I was a bit amused to see that a place advertising Manhattan pizza served it deep-dish style.
In the end, we could settle on nothing better than a McDonald's. I was a bit annoyed that we had to do this in the midst of Copenhagen, but we were getting hungrier by the minute, and increasingly many places were closing up as we wasted time continuing to look.
Once done with our meal, we walked back in front of Tivoli to get back to our hotel, just for a foretaste. There was a huge number of bicycles in front of the entrance, indicating it was crowded, perhaps due to the Roxette concert that evening. We could hear the music even from our hotel. Janna recognized one of their hits.
This post is one in a series. For the other installments, see: