Archive for July, 2011

July 24th, 2011

Travelling around Finland

One week of holiday is left, and we are travelling on northern Finland. Yesterday, we visited Kuopio to meet Sanna’s younger brother and his girlfriend, and today we are at Taivalkoski. Sanna is attending to the confirmation of her godchild, and I’m taking care of the boys. We’ll spend a few days here, and then head towards Oulu to see a newborn and meet friends. Finally, we drive back to Espoo through Tuuri — spending a night at Veljekset Keskinen hotel that I’ve written about several times — and pop over to Legopark exhibition in Ideapark.

All in all, six days and about 2000 kilometers on the road.

The original Legoland

The first Legoland was built in Billund, Denmark, just next to the Lego headquarters. Most of Lego fans consider it as the true Legoland that is later copied around the world.

I’ve visited all currently (July 2011) open Legolands and there is not much of difference between them. The concept is the same, albeit some local variation can be found — like beer is readily available and advertised in menus in Germany and Denmark, and not to be seen in California.

The parks are well suited for kids less than ten-twelve years of age. After that, some rides will most probably feel too childish or tame, and kids lose their interest in Legos anyhow. For the target audience, the park is spot on. There is a lot to do and see, the queues are not too long, and there is a lot of other kids of same age around.

Similar rides can be found in any amusement park, minus the Lego decals and motifs, so ridewise Legoland is not special. The secret sauce is the combination of rides, the Miniland, Lego sculptures, and the shops.

Food was surprisingly good for an amusement park, and the shops were well stuffed, too. The only minus — for us — was the long drive from Copenhagen airport to Billund. If you have direct flights to Billund airport, travelling is easy. If not, consider Legoland Windsor near London.

www.legoland.dk, Nordmarksvej 6, Billund, Denmark

Hotel near Legoland

Hotel Propellen is a children-friendly hotel located close to Legoland Billund. The rooms are large and in quite ok shape — don’t expect luxury, though. Beds were comfortable and there is possibility to accommodate two children in the same room with a sofabed.

The price includes typical Scandinavian buffet breakfast and parking is free. There is a restaurant on the premises, and it is reasonably priced and food is okay. Children love the pool area, and there are also sauna available. The main pool is surprisingly deep (1.5m) and the kids’ pool is really shallow, so preschoolers are sort of out of options unless they know how to swim.

As an additional perk, the reception sells Legos — and there is no hotel markup on the prices.

www.propellen.dk, Nordmarksvej 3, Billund, Denmark, +45 7533 8133

July 19th, 2011

Denmark travelogue

We spent the last week in Denmark. The main reason for the trip was Legoland in Billund, but we managed to visit one other destination, too.

The trip began on Monday with an early afternoon flight to Copenhagen airport. Boys are getting better to entertain themselves while at the airports or in the planes, so it was mostly really easy flight. We picked up our car from the airport and started driving towards Billund — about 300 kilometers west from Copenhagen.

Driving with a manual car is taxing after six years of owning cars with automatic transmissions. We got to Billund without any hitches, though. Tuesday and Wednesday were reserved for Legoland visits. The first day was spent in walking around the amusement park and trying out various rides. I was surprised how similar all Legolands are. We’ve now visited all of them (that are open), and there is only fraction of details that change. I was expecting the motherpark to be bigger, but nope, it was like all the others.

Still, Legolands are fun. Kid-friendly rides, Miniland, and some Lego shopping goodness. I ended up buying only a few boxes this time. The weather for nice on Tuesday and pretty horrible on Wednesday — raining almost all the day. Fortunately we didn’t end up going on Thursday, because the rain like quadrupled from Wednesday. Instead, we drove to Århus — an unforgettable experience in that storm.

We decided to visit some place else than Copenhagen, as we’ve been there already. At the end, we didn’t know where to go and for some reason picked up Århus. It felt like a mistake on Thursday, as it was raining cats and dogs, our hotel room was not yet ready, and there was no major perks in the city. The crux was boys behaving badly during our short shopping excursion. It felt really grand to be a parent.

Friday was a better day, weather-wise and otherwise. The city was found to be quite pleasant, there was a lot of small and nice boutiques, and everybody behaved well. We bough some Danish design, clothing, and more Legos — they were on sale. At the end of the day, we visited ARoS Århus Kunstmuseum — an hour well spent. The permanent collections featured only local — and thus unknown — artists, but there were a couple of really thought-provoking exhibitions: Get Lost by Fredrik Raddum and 101. There is also a nice “Your Rainbow Panorama” walking platform at the top of the museum, with nice views around the city and the surroundings.

To celebrate a perfect day, I and Aapo picked up some sushi to go.

The last day, Saturday, was a travel day. We checked out around ten in the morning, and drove to Copenhagen airport to return the car and check in on our flight. Then we had around five hours to burn. Burger King, shopping, and generic hassling around the airport consumed the hours, and finally we were on board of the aircraft. Flight was again uneventful and both boys were able to say awake until we were at home around 23:30. The next morning was a bit slow for all of us.