Saturday, July 11, 2009

Belgium Journal, Day 5

11 July 2009, Saturday

Hello Little Ladybug,

Wow, did Marcel and Melanie have a special day planned for you today. We hopped in the car this morning and crossed the border into the Netherlands to visit a place called Efteling. As it turns out, Efteling is the largest theme park in the Netherlands, it opened in 1952 and is one of the oldest theme parks in the world. Efteling is located in the town of Kaatsheuvel, and has received various theme park awards over the years. The park appeals to “children” of all ages with a fairy tale theme and forest, a nature park with a playground, a several amusement rides and roller coasters.

Although you napped on our way there, as soon as you discovered where we were once we arrived, you squealed with joy… you were so excited to play. We started by wandering around the park, and came upon a boat ride called the Gondoletta that took us around a beautiful lagoon through the wonderful flora of the Efteling gardens. The ride lasted twenty minutes and gave us an opportunity to discuss what we wanted to do and where we wanted to go the rest of the day. Our next destination was the Pagoda, a ride that looks like a Thai temple. It gradually moved upwards and slowly rotated as it rose. Once up high above, we had a gorgeous 360 degree view of the park below.

We stopped for a little packed lunch, then took off for our next destination, the Maze, a life-size garden labyrinth that twisted around and around. You loved this attraction, dancing, running, crawling, playing, and laughing your way through the maze. At one point we even crossed a bridge that spit water over the bridge from side to side. We all tried to cross it without getting wet, and although you and daddy did great, you mommy wasn’t so lucky because I happened to get sprayed in the leg as I crossed. After drying off, we hopped onto another ride, the Carnival Festival, that is very reminiscent of “It’s a Small World” at Disneyland. You enjoyed your time, pointing to all the little animatronic singing children throughout the ride (on a side note, I noticed that the most the animatronic children, which represented various cultures throughout the world, were created using gross exaggerations of particular ethnic features, crossed eyes, buck teeth, etc. Not very politically correct).

Our next destination was the Fairy Realm where we meandered our way through some beautiful gardens created by the Laaf People ( hard-working, jolly, joking people who love to laugh). While there, you and Daddy crossed a little pond by skipping on stones, and eventually you found a park to swing and run and play in the sand making cobb salad (which, by the way, was the perfect place for the adults to rest for a bit while you played and worked off some energy). We then continued our quest through the Fairy Realm to visit Sleeping Beauty’s castle, a Gnome Village, Rapunzel’s castle, Hansel & Gretel’s home, Little Red Riding Hood’s place, The Frog Prince, Snow White’s castle, Cinderella’s castle, Indian Water Lilies, and a very peculiar attraction… the Donkey. The story goes,
After seven years, the carpenter says to the eldest son, "You have worked extremely well, my boy. So now I am giving you the best gift in the world to take home with you." And he gives the boy a perfectly ordinary grey donkey. The boy thinks, "What am I supposed to do with that?" But he doesn't want to be rude, and says nothing. "Wait," says the carpenter, and calls out, "Donkey - lift your tail!" And look, at least a hundred golden ducats roll out from under the donkey's tail. "Well, master, thank you!" the boy says, and sets off home singing…
Although this was a fairy tale that I was not familiar with, the attraction did open my eyes to the humor of the Europeans. You and daddy walked up to the donkey, which was placed high on a pedestal, put some money into the slots, and the donkey would then begin. His tail raised his tail horizontally to the ground… and out came a silver coin from under his tail. When we first was this happen, all of us seemed a little shocked (there is no way that this attraction would happen at Disneyland). Then, after watching it a few times, our shock turned into laughter. It really was silly to watch… although a bit odd.

After being at the park for most of the day, we finally piled back into the car and headed home. Our evening was spent relaxing after a very busy day, and reminiscing about everything we did. You loved every minute of today and shared with all of us your memories of today. I am so happy that you enjoyed your day. You are so much fun, and I feel so blessed that you are a part of my life. Thank you for making this trip so special.

Here are some more photos of our adventures today:
You watching some ducks ever so carefully,

You and daddy watching a show,

Daddy and Nana on the boat,

You and mommy in the Labyrinth,

You and daddy in the Labyrinth,

Daddy and the Ladybug on the twirly ride,

Argh... a pirate,

Peering in a window,

Daddy's kisses,

Resting with daddy after a busy day.

I love you darling,


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