European Vacation (2011)

At around 0430 AM on Monday April 11th we set out for nearly a week long holiday on the continent. The trip started by driving from Cambridge to Dover where we got the ferry for Calais, France. We’d arrived nearly an hour early due to a bit of bad planning on my part but also due to no traffic on the roads at that insane hour. We’d arrived at the ferry port an hour early and managed to get put on an earlier ferry.  This was was great as it meant we could get to Disney that much earlier and also avoid more rush hour traffic around Paris.

Once in France it was a very straightforward drive to get to Disneyland Paris.  I think we got checked into the hotel, “Disneyland Hotel”, about 90 mins early. Not a problem as the kept our cases for us and gave us our park tickets so we could start to enjoy the park without delay.

The kids (and you can safely assume for the rest of this posting that I am including Yuki as one of "the kids") were mental and wanted to see the characters and get on some rides.

Read on if you want to read all the details of trip SmileThis is a long read .. so brace for it Smile with tongue out

Photos from Monday

The first park we visited was just the Disneyland Park, literally right outside the hotel entrance.  The first ride was “Flying Dumbo”, that took the kids about 70 minutes to get through the queue and the ride only lasted around 1 minute and 20 seconds … Not a great wait to ride ratio by any means. But they had a good time.  We spent the next hour or so walking around the park and checking out the lay of the land before heading to the hotel to get our room keys and get our bags sorted.

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We headed back out to the park again to get some more wait/ride time in. We’d taken a full loop on the “Disneyland Railroad”. This was bit of a disappointment as we’d expected to see some of the park from the train. However it seems this really is more of a transport device then a sightseeing device, which isn’t great since that was like a 45 minutes wait to get on that. Oh well it was still pretty cool though.

We’d had a quick dinner in the park consisting of pizza and drinks. Meals are certainly one of the most expensive things in the park. Most meals for us as a group of 5 was between €40 and €50.  After dinner we dropped Nana Shirley off at the hotel room and unloaded the days purchases from the shops and headed back to the “Disneyland Park” with the kids for some more rides.  This actually worked out quite well since a lot of the people had left the park already.  We had very short lines and managed a number of rides like “Star Tours”, “Peter Pan’s Flight”, “It’s a small World”, “Mad Hatter’s Tea Cups” and “Le Carrousel de Lancelot”.  The kids both loved the “Star Tours” ride, we ended up going back on that again later in the week.

Tuesday – April 12 – Photos from Tuesday

Tuesday morning breakfast was made a bit of a major production because of the rotating shift of characters outside the restaurant entrance. The kids managed to get one autograph for a character plus photo with two, I think.  Then it was off to the parks for the first full day.  We’d gone to the “Walt Disney Studios” today. It wasn’t a great day as it was way to cold at about 12 C. We weren’t out long before we decided we couldn’t survive the cold temps and wind much longer, and would need to head back to the room to put on more layers.   

Before heading back to the room though we went on the “Studio Tram Tour: Behind the Magic”  This was great, aside from getting a little damp it was nice because of the massive fire display, that warmed up us nicely for a short period of time Smile  Later in the tour we encountered more fire which was very much welcomed too.  Then we stood in line for the “Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop” ride. After and hour waiting, and getting to within one or perhaps two runs of the ride for our turn, the ride broke down. They had service people on scene in no time at all. It took them another 30 minutes to fix it. I’d given up the will to live quite some time ago and with only two minutes to go before my pre-set bail-out time, they’d managed to get the ride fixed and working again. We’d managed to get seats across from each other so the kids could see each other as we went up and down on the ride.

Once that ride was done it was back to the room to warm up and get more layers. We returned to the same park for more punishment. We decided to all try out the “The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror”. All 5 of us decided to get on this one.  The kids were so brave on the ride. It really was a lot more then I had expected. Neither cried on the ride at all but Emma cracked first while beating a hasty retreat to terra firma getting off the ride as fast as her wobbly little legs would carry her. Haha the poor thing. We gave in and bought her a soft toy in the gift shop at the bottom of the ride. After we walked out of the building Lisa just blurted out "That ride scared the HELL out of me". I told her not to use that word but left it at that since I figured we’d deserved it for putting her through it. Haha. Also of note with that ride… Just outside of the building is a toilet block and an AED (Automated External Defibrillator), amusing in a twisted sort of way.

We were heading for one of the roller coaster rides in the area when we’d seen loads of people rushing towards the “Moteurs Action Stunt Show”.  I’m glad we followed the crowd on this one.  It was an awesome display of driving stunts. 

Tuesday nights dinner was pre-booked and it was well worth it.  We’d had excellent seats to the “Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show”. The place was packed and the show was great.  It really kept the kids entertained, and the adults too.  The show lasted a couple hours with dinner being served at our tables.  The food was awesome and way more then any of us could eat.  There were baskets of nacho chips and fresh bread.  Starters was a bowl of Chilli for the adults, excellent stuff too.  The main course was Chicken, Ribs and Sausages along with potatoes and something else (I forget what).  There was a desert of very hot apple crumble with vanilla ice cream on top.

After this, it was back to the hotel for some much needed rest, despite the protests from the kids to go on more rides.  It took them all of about 5 mins to get to sleep when their heads hit the pillows.

Wednesday – April 13 – Photos from Wednesday

We had another exciting breakfast with more photos and autographs from the Disney Characters.  The girls got several today.  Yuki was in a lot of the photos too.  We headed back to “Disneyland Park”.  We visited “Frontierland” and rode on “Big Thunder Mountain”, this kids loved this ride.  We headed over to “Discoveryland” and Yuki and I went on “Space Mountain: Mission 2”, the kids weren’t tall enough to go on this.  The ride was great, but Yuki managed to lose her very expensive sun glasses though.  A guy riding 2 cars behind us was saying (as we all walked off the ride) how he got hit in the head with something.  Sorry dude, but you were hit by Yuki’s sun glasses Smile, mean while my £5 Tesco sun glasses stayed put under my fleece attached to the £2 cord that keeps them around my neck Smile with tongue out.  After that we I think we went to “Alice’s Curious Labyrinth”.  We also had a wander around “Adventureland”, the kids like the walk around “Adventure Island”, that was a pretty slick tree house.  I would love to have a place like that.

Thursday – April 14 – Photos from Thursday

Today was our last day but having had the usual breakfast fun we decided to just hit the road rather then venture back into the park again.  The adults were all Disney’ed out by this time.  From Disneyland we headed to Luxembourg for one night.  We stayed at a reasonably nice place called “Hotel Piemont”.  It was an interesting layout and worked really well for us needing 2 rooms.  While the rooms weren’t joining, they were sort of attached by way of a small joining hallway.  We walked around the town Thursday afternoon / early evening.  We struggled to find a place to eat, we ended up just going to Subway and took a couple of subs back to the hotel and chilled out there.

Friday – April 15 – Photos from LuxembourgPhotos from Brussels

We left my mum in the hotel today to sleep in, she was pretty worn from the week of walking around.  Yuki myself and the kids headed back to the town centre to find breakfast and get some photos.  Yuki was checking out some of the shops.  All very nice places and big big names, but so expensive there.   We had breakfast at a cool place called CoffeeLounge. It’s a very small place but spread over 3 floors.  The kids were really intrigued by the “dumb waiter”.  They were amazed to see such a small elevator and even more impressed that it was only to move our food from the kitchen in the basement the wait staff so they could deliver it to our table.  They also have free WIFI available, you just have to ask the staff for the key.  One guy working there (possibly the owner, not sure) was just walking through the place and spotted our smart phones on the table and stopped to offer us the WIFI key.  After a lot of walking around and taking photos of some of sites we had to head back to the hotel to get checked out and collect Nana Shirley. 

Our next stop was Brussels, Belgium.  Our hotel here was the “First Euroflat Hotel”.  It is only about 100m from the European Commission building.  Once we got checked in we headed down to the Grand Place area of town to check out some of the shops and look for dinner.  We decided to leave the car at the hotel and get public transport downtown.  We took the Metro, eventually after finding the station.  We walked the long way around the EC building, then skirted a protest that was going on outside the building.  Once on the Metro things got exciting.  The train took off from the station at light speed, my mum hadn’t yet found a place to sit or hold onto yet and ended up laying on the floor.  It only took a couple of seconds for some bloke to jump up and help her to her feet along with myself.  After she was up a couple of lovely ladies offered her their seats.

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The choices of food was a bit mind blowing to say the least.  Streets like “Petite rue des Bouchers” are completely jammed packed with restaurants and staff of them all trying to coax you in with various deals.  We finally got sucked into place that promised free drinks and free food for the kids.  Yuki ordered the seafood platter and my mum and I ordered the meat platter.

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Seafood Platter
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Meat Platter

Saturday – April 16

Today was our last day of the holiday.  We packed up from our hotel in Brussels and headed back to Calais to get the ferry back to the UK.  We got on a much earlier ferry which meant we got back home that much earlier.  That pretty much brings an end to the holiday.

If your still reading at this point, well done Smile  Do go and check out all the photos, the links are next to the dates (if you didn’t figure that out yourself), the entire Photo Collection can be found HERE.  Thanks for reading.


One Response to European Vacation (2011)

  1. The only bit forgotten was just before doing the Alice’s Curious Labyrinth we stopped for the girls to get Rapunzel & Flynn Rider’s autographs. When they got to the front of the line they were to question Flynn about his “smolder”. He very nicely turned around, prepared his “smolder” and flashed it to the girls; at which point Rapunzel said “it still needs work”. You have to watch the movie to get this – but is was way cute and very funny! Well done!