Now the new year is here I will start planning adventures for the next twelve months. This time last year my partner and I began organising a springtime two week road trip around southern Germany. It wasn’t what we originally had in mind for 2017, but we put a visit to Asia on ‘the back burner’ and decided to check out what our host country had to offer. As we made our way from Bremen to Bavaria, we grew closer to the attraction that we were most looking forward to. The place that shaped our journey south. Germany’s largest theme park, Europa Park.
If you’ve recently moved to Germany and are looking for thrills in 2018, I can 100% recommend you check it out. We were excited about it throughout the 695km drive to Rust and it certainly didn’t disappoint. In fact, the family owned park made the list of top ten things I did in 2017.
It’s not the cheapest day out, especially for those with families, so best to be prepared for this. Unlike Heide Park, there doesn’t seem to be any collectable discount vouchers either. As thrifty British expats, we did our research, and then we stumped up 94 euros for two tickets. I should add this is less than Disneyland Paris.
As a large chunk of our holiday budget was being spent at Europa Park, we were determined to cram in every last ride, maybe even twice. Luckily, unlike British theme parks I’ve visited, queuing for the rides was really quick. Maybe it’s that German efficiency thing going on. Less time hanging around meant we could hop on the majority of the rides, which included Wodan, Euro-Mir and the Swiss Bob Run. I wouldn’t consider myself a thrill-seeker, but after surviving the 130km/h speeds and 73m drop of Silver Star, a ride themed on Formula 1, I felt ready to take on whatever the rest of the rides threw at me. Taking on the most intense ride in the park first was a good decision, everything after that was a breeze.
The park definitely caters to everyone, young and old, roller coaster junkie or non-roller coaster junkie. If you’d rather pass on the rides, throughout the day there is a range of shows in the arenas. We picked to see The Dark Prince. Set in Spain, it featured a princess, a prince, a few horses and a rescue as all typical fairy tales go. It was a nice opportunity to rest our feet but we were soon ready to jump back on the rides. First up after that, and one to wake us up, was Fjord Rafting. Don’t underestimate how wet you will get on this ride, a raincoat will not save you. Fortunately the weather in Rust that day was on our side and this was the only soaking we got.
If you didn’t get the clue in the title, Europa Park, is themed around the countries within Europe. The UK wasn’t the best, although it’s due to be improved in coming years, Brexit may change this though. Switzerland came pretty high on the list as a favourite purely for the shop that is dedicated to Milka (check my bio) and nothing else. Following that, I enjoyed Greece, mainly for the delicious lunch we had… there’s a theme emerging, food! As with most tourist attractions, the food prices aren’t cheap, but you do get large portions for the price you pay. And you definitely need it, it’s surprisingly hungry work sitting on all these rides, perhaps screaming burns calories?
Apparently, of the 5.5 million visitors each season, less than 1% of those are British. They don’t know what they’re missing out on. It’s a real shame that Europa Park isn’t marketed to British tourists. TV is flooded with adverts for Disneyland Paris, but where are the Europa Park adverts? Having been to both parks, Europa wins hands down for me. And it’s only going to get better as a 46 hectare waterpark will open this year!
One of the great things about being an expat is exploring all the different attractions that your new country has opened up to you. Living in the country will give you greater insight than being a tourist and you’ll get to find out all the hidden, less marketed places on offer. Our entire road trip is documented on Black Forest, Brauereis and Bathing.
In 2018 I’m hoping to return to Berlin and explore the east of Germany. If you have any insider knowledge of places to visit, please share your comments below.
– Sarah E