Pinkie’s Day Out! Visiting Gaia Zoo

Hello Island Guests! Once every now and again , I do fairly mundane stuff. Like going on a city trip, visiting a theme park and of course visiting a zoo. With Pinkie’s Day Out , I will tell you all about these little trips! Little moments of happiness with a geeky little twist. Usually I am accompanied by my best normy friend whom I shall call Hub Hub Pilana!  This is one of those tales! There might be more in the future though!

Hub Hub Pilana is a great friend who is super active, super cheery and like me very random!  He had his birthday when my first blog anniversary post went live and as a gift he asked me on a little trip despite the weird times. He wanted to explore how a theme-park or zoo worked with covid regulations. We decided to visit a nearby zoo so  should things be terrible and regulations be poor we could always move to do another thing.  As I can’t drive that was one of the few zoos in the country that made sure he did not have to go out of his way to come pick me up.  He would make a stop in my town and we would lunch together.  I had a pineapple and mango smoothie which was delicious! I ate a avocado and salmon baguette. Hub Hub Pilana ordered a greek salad, along with a sandwich with Gyros and Feta plus a smoothie as well. We had a nice catch up talk. The stuff that we talked about is private so just assume that it was mostly nice! With some encouragement going back and forth as well. A wasp came to our table and I had to flee in terror! 

My Sunshine Smoothie! To start a sunny day!

Then it was time to get in the car and move to the zoo! Here in the Netherlands mask are currently not required and use of them outside the zones where they are required is even punishable by a law against non religious items to partially cover your face. While I really hope they instate a mask rule or at least suspend the ban on masks like these, I could not afford to risk a fine so I had to make due with the rules that are set. I thoroughly disinfected myself and we were off to the zoo. Unlike me Hub Hub Pilana is very big on popular music and the music he chose in his car was RuPaul’s new album.. or at least something new on Spotify. It was a weird sensation, I didn’t really like this music but I really supported the message. Eventually I tuned the music out though and did not hear it anymore. I do that with a lot of music as music is an amplifier of things to me.. not a thing I give merits on it’s own.  So instead I held a plushie parade inside my head. Now on the way to the Zoo there is this super weird roundabout, every time we need to go in that direction to a town called Kerkrade ..we take the wrong turn! This time was no exception! Which was fine since Hub Hub doesn’t really know how to drive within the speed limit.. so we would have arrived quite a bit early! Our zoos currently have time slots you can visit the zoo in and we were 30 minutes early! We managed to decrease that to 15 minutes by driving the wrong way and me trying to photograph a cow..  that was in front of the zoo!  It did not go well!

I would have given you the album cover, but I forgot all titles so here is a pink picture!

The Zoo itself was pleasantly quiet and pathways had been slightly altered to accommodate our safety. Everywhere where you need to touch something, for example doors to the giant bird cages or the restaurants and toilets.. even the playgrounds had plenty of disinfectant available so I felt quite safe.  Distance was very much respected by 80% of the other guests and let’s say those other guests you can recognise on their demeanour so while they do not account for you it was easy enough to account for them.  Each building had a maximum number of visitors but it was quite enough that we were able to walk in anywhere. Now Zoo’s can be a bit boring just to walk through normally!  I mean sure the animals are cute and stuff is going on but we had to make it a bit more fun! So we agreed that the disinfection stations were checkpoints! We had 3 hearts and if we touched stuff 3 times before reaching the next disinfectant station we had to walk back! This stuff did not include our own person but more like info signs, sound buttons, doors or other stuff to interact with. It was actually a blast trying to flip info signs without using my hands  trying to tackle a door open or pick what button I want to press on those “hear the animal cry panels” because I only had 1 or if I felt really bold 2.  The zoo had four areas Taiga, where you enter, Limburg where the petting Zoo is,Savannah which is like a big fly  over Safari like walk and the Rainforest which has the Monkeys. There is also the Dino-Dome which is meant for kids so we skipped that one.. thinking kids don’t keep their distance as well as adults.

Map photography is not my strength

We also both gave each other photo objectives.  Mine was to photograph as many duck-likes as possible and Hub Hub Pilana wanted to make “sexy” animal photos. With our goals we set off . Also the one who broke the Corona rules the most had to order food from the restaurant ..even if we had an all you can eat Dinner 3 hours from then. So with these games in mind we decided to stay into Taiga as long as possible. It isn’t the most effective route but we felt like once we were in an area we have to see that before we can progress to the next stage. As a “boss” we had to capture a Pokémon in Pokémon go! Staying in Taiga was great for my goal but not for my safety points! Taiga has these huge bird areas that are essentially big cages without you  realising sometimes, meaning  a lot  the birds can just fly there somewhat freely. That also meant Ducks!  I was charmed by the blue bill ducks.. one of them took a liking to me and kept close ..he wasn’t very good at staying on camera! I followed him and stepped over the walking direction line 2 times.. but finally I got my picture!

Practice for when New Pokémon Snap comes out

Not very long after that I found a nest of young ducklings which was completely heartwarming I wasted a lot of time while Hub Hub Pilana already captured a Balloon Pikachu as his Boss Encounter for the Taiga area! But at least I found a red-ish duck and managed to move ahead in my main objective.A group of nesting parrots really startled me and while trying to photograph them I walked into a fence..which send me back to the last checkpoint..we deemed it to far away though and I just would get another strike for being forced to eat something heavy in the restaurant. Like .. we reached the next checkpoint.. I just bumped into a fence before I could use it.. We felt it would be to much of a waste of time. A wolf looked at me very disapproving though. In hindsight it’s good that I did not went back because it turned out it was a one way door before that checkpoint.  That would have been a complete Pokémon Go Hatch Detour!

I decided to name this wolf Kevin Sorbo

The next area had super relax chairs.. like an huge you can sit in, floating above the ground so you can twist and turn around a bit…unfortunately I forgot I get sea sick real easily..even on a swing as my world began to spin and swerve. I was so afraid I would start to look pale.If the zookeepers saw me like this I would surely be kicked out of the zoo. So when a few park cleaners passed by I got up and leaned on a fence twice.. so I had to reset to the last I could walk off my starting seasickness from relaxing in a floating relaxy chair for 10 minutes! Hub Hub Pilana never knew any better.. but he still gave me a rule strike .. I wasn’t going to win that one! I encountered a strange cow thing that’s more like a really patchy buffalo! I decided not to read it’s sign because I loved how it now was something random to me. So here is the patchy cow/buffalo thing.Do you know what it is?

This would be a great Pokémon Ground Dark Type.. I think Moorfur is it’s name!

Our journey through Taiga continued by encountering a few reindeer but I was to distracted by a nest of ducks.. who also just had ducklings!  It was very cute seeing them play at the edge of the water. One tried to climb a rock and slipped of in the most adorable way.  It fell into the water and got a speed boost running back to it’s mamma. Hub Hub Pilana found a mosaic bench.. that is a bit like those Gaudi mosaic benches in Park Guell Barcelona! We sat on it  for a while! I did not get seasick! Yet an old man was behind us.. walking in the zoo all by himself.. no matter how slow or fast we went he was always on our tail! So we made shaking him a off a bit of a miniboss. That took us through a little hedge tunnel that kind of looked like the one from my Neighbor Totoro!  Still he was on our tail! We never passed us and when we came out he was there again! So we “fled” into a little aquarium that had room for five viewers at a time. A mother and her two sons was in there so we willed up the quota.. The man walked in …. seemed to search for something.. then walked out..  a fish looked at me insulted as we had fun with our made up little game. I know it isn’t nice to pretend other people are out to get you! But it made for a fun little adventure! The fish disagreed for all of those who side with the stalky old man though!

Disapproving Fish Disapproves

After I captured a Ducklett in Pokémon Go in the hopes of finding a shiny one we moved into Limburg! The Part of the zoo that had local animals! Like when I say that I mean it and a Livar pig, two cows two donkeys and a petting zoo. The petting Zoo was closed due to the whole Corona thing so I missed a chance to get some extra ducks to my modifier. So instead I talked to the cows a bit when a German family  shoved themselves into my aura to pet a pig I was luring to my side! “Look that lady is gonna be able to push the pig.. push her away and Benny you pet the pig’  that kinda thing. It had me miffed and I vented to the cows.. in german so that they could hear I was annoyed.  They did the swagger walk away from me and I was finally able to pet the pig!  After which I double disinfected my hands.  Mostly for the germane! Hub Hub Pilana took a sexy photo of the Donkey who had shown its Dongkey. So he declared himself the absolute winner! No one could trump that photo he took!  He asked me if I ever saw such a large cock before and I told him I just saw a family of cocks!
We laughed .. disinfected yet again.. and move to the restaurant.

Luckily this cow knew what arschlöcher are and she agreed we just saw some!

The Restaurant marked the halfway point of our journey.. so clever the lay out of this place each big area also has its own small little restaurant but this one was the most tempting.. there was a better one we wish we would have gone to later.. but now it was time for my “Punishment” for stepping over lines to much! Our eye fell on a very rich and creamy looking Oreo cake. It was theme park food so probably It would be overly sweet as well so it would be the perfect punishment as it would fill me up before the evening. Or at least feel like stones in my stomach for the rest of the walk. Surprisingly the cake was actually pretty nice. It had some nice dark chocolate tones filled with some sweet but not overly sweet cream! It felt nice and cool and actually refreshed me! Bonus! During this we had a view of a Hippo in it’s pen! It wasn’t a very exciting sight.. the Hippo.. while one of the most dangerous creatures on the planet.. did that thing, why people don’t know it’s so dangerous.

Danger Incarnate

The Savanna area was one of the nicest zoo Areas to walk trough.  The Lions were up and about for once, the giraffe is always a  fascinating creature and the rhino’s were playing in the mud. They also got into a fight that was hilariously awkward. One of the Rhino’s managed to get his leg stuck behind another’s Rhino’s horn and the two were trying to break free with silly little humps jumps and half rolls and head shakes, after which they butted heads.  At the Cheetah place we did not get to see a lot though.. remember when I first told you about those people you can pick out on demeanour that are like “screw all the rules, I am here now” .. well there they were. Soccer T-shirts.. golden necklaces.. super large dark sunglasses and enough sunburn and sigarette air on them to look and smell like they have been inside a campfire. They had decided to make this sight their break spot and had fanned the family all across the wall.. sitting the children on the wall so no one but them could see. I gave the the Fortnite Award.. and me and Hub Hub Pilana moved on. Instead we encountered some meerkats!  We came up with a new challenge who would come up with the most creative way to break them out.. of course yours truly won that challenge! One of them seemed really excited about my idea!

I named one of these Freddie Mercury

I missed a Squirtle with A Party Hat so I had to settle for yet another Ducklett when it came to capturing Pokémon as we moved into the final area the rainforest. This was the area that suffered most under the Corona rule.  It is basically the area with all the monkeys… which means it is the area with all the crowds.  Since I am adamant on the distance rule this means this area we had to rush through a bit. People would just NOT move forward and since the Gorilla feeding show was not being held.. nor that of the other monkey’s  all the animals seemed a tad more cranky as well. A lot of the animals stayed in their shelter because.. they get fed inside instead of out.  So with only one Gorilla out in the wild and one sitting in the visible area of the shelter both not really doing anything we were done with the apes rather soon. The other monkey pen was being fed as we spoke so there was only a single Monkey out there.. eating an apple on a rope!  He was the first to get food and just rushed outside to eat it in quite. For come reason there was a Capybara in the pen as well.  I mention this because the monkey photos really did not turn out well! I decided to include it anyway since it’s a monkey..but Capy America deserves some love as well! That is right I named that too! There is also a bonus pig thing because how how WordPress galeries work!

A lot of animals here were either not present or sleeping in the rainforest. At one point we found this weird area that had like compost like heaps that are supposed to be filled with huge creepy crawlies.. but nothing was there. I got dared to poke one of the holes but I wussed out..imagining that if I poked it they would crawl over me and give me all sorts of creepy stuff .. and make me swell up to the size of a ball that had to be rolled out of the park. So instead we decided to go the to terrarium .. after we failed once more to find the ant-eater.. for some weird reason I have really bad luck with seeing anteaters in zoos.  The Terrarium was empty except for Hub Hub Pilana and me and well the stuff that was there. A Tarantula hid from Hub Hub real fast  which was quite funny to see his upset face that HE scared a spider. The best thing was in the Terrarium was the Tapir which was eating some witlof and lettuce. At least I think it was a Tapir.. it was a black pig like thing with no tail. Pretty sure that is a Tapir.

Winnie was oblivious to the three second rule it seems!

A few more duck pictures and exotic birds ahead and we were getting to the end of our zoo trip but we had dinner reservations and a tapas place later that night so we decided to sit down in the better restaurant I mentioned earlier for one more drink before we went. Why is the restaurant better than the other anyway you may ask? Well it was on the water side! Overlooking one of the largest flamingo heards I have ever seen. Flamingo’s are amongst my favourite zoo animals.. why? Well isn’t the reason obvious. However there was also a playground.. kids we playing with some old mining tools turned into playthings.. like a little water pump that made the most annoying noise I ever heard. After drowning the kids in the pool, in my head a few times those kids however led to the last challenge of the day! I do not condone actual harm to kids and typically try to be nice to them but imagine sitting in piece enjoying a drink and hearing constant finger nails scratching on a Nail Board.. even when Mamma tells the kids to stop… they keep scratching the chalkboard. But where Nails on a chalkboard is a slow process.. this one is the same sound in one second intervals. Non Stop for 20 minutes! So we had another creativity contest on how to kill someone off with a Flamingo as a weapon. We could have been more creative but there was like.. this annoying sound… that kept us distracted from going further than use it as a club! Eventually we just fled from the noise!

We had little over an hour left to burn so we ended up spending a few bucks in a nearby Slotmachine hall. It can’t be officially called a Casino here but it’s still a gambling place.
I played a gamble game where I had to collect all sort of space aliens.. you know because creature collecting is sort of my hobby! I also knew it is one of those games that is designed to give you the feeling that you are winning but you basically just keep breaking even. Prompting you to play a higher risk game with bigger stakes! This should help me pass the time without losing a lot of money with a chance to win the casino based jackpot.. which was like 80 euro’s or so. I would not have played but Hub Hub Pilana is really into gambling and this was his big day and he doesn’t like to play alone as it makes him feel like he is taking my time. So I spend about 10 euro in and actually made it twenty. After I knew I wasn’t going to lose money I spend my prophet on a fishing gambly game named Fishing Frenzy. Guess I was collecting animals yet again! I once more got to about 20 so I pocketed the earliest 10 now allowing me to drink a Cocktail or 2 in the restaurant next free of charge! The rest on my money I blew on a slot machine named Kaboom! Hub Hub Pilana was out of money so I played big and gained little!

Not me playing this is the online version

Then we went out for Tapas in my local town! There are two really good places but one Business owner called me chubby enough when we wanted to order another round I stopped going there. This other place has great Tapas as well and we had plenty. Some pretty creative ones too! I had like a mini bowl of spicy sweet potato soup which was truly delicious and severely types of Pinchos , with beef and Souvlaki among other things. It’s one of those places where you pay an amount and then can order two small plates as much as you can eat within 2.5 hours. The Soup was definatly a highlight but I also had a very nice Sea Bream! Hmm guess even when eating I love to collect animals! Using the gambling profit I bought us a cocktail.. but Hub Hub Pilana doesn’t like alcohol so his was virgin! I had a nice Pink Gin and Tonic.. cause even on Pinkie’s day out she has to stay on brand! Heck speaking about being on brand! I disinfected myself like 19 times or so that day! My hands were so soft they almost felt like plushies!

Now taking a trip in these times might seem somewhat controversial, but know everything I did
was well within the confines of our government’s established rules. I do not go out a lot but I am a sociable creature who needs to unwind sometimes. My friend needed m
e to. Will I do it again soon? Probably not! This trip happend before the thing began flaring up in the neighboring countries again. While here the numbers are currently quite minimal I always aim to be safe, my mental health is part of my own safety though.

A Theme Park Fit for Geeks: Pinkie visits The Efteling

Once upon a time there was this little pink blog that had a story to tell about a park that  is very close to her heart .Hello my sweet Island Guests, when writing this I have been away for the weekend.  After receiving some bad news in my family, I felt a bit down. My gay best friend took this to heart and treat me to a nice little weekend. One of the things he did for me was take me out to theme park The Efteling. A fairytale and local folklore theme park near Kaatsheuvel in the Netherlands. Why would I talk about this park? Well because I think it is one of the best theme parks you could visit as a geek.

Robot girls and talking Trash Cans

So what exactly is the Efteling? Well it all began in 1952 , when the town of Loon op Zand tried to attract tourists to the region to make them less dependant on their shoe industry income. What a horrible age 1952 must have been if shoes weren’t that popular that you needed to attract tourists! No pink pumps?! Anyway I will spare you the rest of the details.
The park started out a stroll around the forest where you can encounter certain fairytales, nowadays it’s one of the Netherlands biggest , popular and most technically impressive theme parks. What’s even more impressive  is that a lot of these still impressive animatronics stem from the 80’s and 90’s. Their animatronics are some of the best you have ever seen. Many put “It’s a small world to shame’. Not only can you still stroll through the forest to take a peek at your favorite fairy tales, like Rapunzel, Little Red Riding Hood or Hansel and Gretel, nowadays you can also visit one of the 5 (with the sixth reopening in spring this year) coasters, with many amazing dark rides, animatronic shows and classic rides stemming straight back from the 50’s. Like a steam powered carousel.  Most iconic though is the fairytale forest and the talking trash cans named Holle Bolle Gijs (roughly translating as Hungry Tubby Guy). These round rosy cheeked fellows are scattered throughout the park. If you feed them your trash they will suck it up like you just fed them something delicious and will thank you.

You are the Hero

‘Pinkie, that all sounds like stuff for little kids, why is it that fun for geeks?’ Well of course in general I have found that geeks oftenly enjoy the old fairy tales a lot longer than our “normal”  peers. So there is already the experience of seeing your favorite stories come to life right before your eyes, sure it might be catered to kids but there is just something magical about this theme park that resonates with my geek soul. The attention to detail, the way things are visually told to you. Regardless of language. You could visit the village of some people called the ‘laaf’ Laaf are a halfling like race, they are comparable to the hobbit. They live in somewhat hovel like homes and have their own customs and are little pranksters.  Already we can take a step within a little fantasy world. Even though the village of the Laaf isn’t as lively as it used to be, I would recommend paying it a visit if you are somewhat geeky. With just a bit of imagination , this is the Shire of the Netherlands. There’s also stuff to visit like the great Knights show. These aren’t just your standard knights. In brightly coloured armors and with an entire fantasy novel themed around them they can feel between a mix between Power Rangers, Fantasy and Knightly roleplay. Such a delight to see. 

What makes the efteling truly something special is in how many rides you a part of the story.  In the ride of Villa Volta for example we are a group of people (everyone riding is a participant) visiting a former bandit who swore his loyalty to satan. These bandits have existed in Dutch History and Folklore  and where known as the Bokkenrijders (Those who ride Goats) . Highwayman that were said to have demonic powers and who instead of horses rode Satan’s creature through the skies. In actuality they were all just regular highwaymen raiding churches but the goats sound cooler. History aside, in this ride you visit Hugo van den Loonsche Duynen.  A former bandit who desecrated a church and now is cursed with immortality .. but not just of any kind. Hugo can not find any kind of rest ever. Only if one with a pure heart enters his homestead and preys the curse away can Hugo finally find rest and redemption. As you sit in one of the pews, the room around you starts to spin, ever faster, up becomes down  forward becomes backward. But you are the one who has to help Hugo. In another ride you have to survive the legend of the flying Dutchman. In Joris and the Draak, a wooden coaster ride you and your band of fellow riders are a group of knights fighting a dragon, but there is also another group riding this coaster. Racing whoever finishes the coaster first is victorious. Still for a moment you are a group of knights! Racing in coasters is also incredibly fun and gives you the feeling of participating in some way shape or form. Symbolica , their newest darkride have you choose one of three routes through a fantasy castle. Through a context sensitive panel,   you can influence this ride, make this happen … or not happen, yet again you feel like a hero. A lot of the animatronics throughout the park as well as those trash can guys interact with you directly so somehow, more than in most theme parks you can feel like a hero! A sentiment I’d think many geeks would like.

Pixies and Sugar

The entire park has a very distinct old timey feeling throughout. There are hardly are modern buildings through the park. Most of it feels like you are travel through very medieval worlds. The origins of the park are also kept intact, giving you an insight in classic dutch culture. A little island holds a bit of a classic middle eastern village which is home of one of my favorite dark rides. The Fata Morgana. In this ride you travel on a little boat trough an arabian town, following the path of a powerful sorcerer.  Tigers, Camels and Crocodiles are alternate with seedy town filled with even shadier figures and even some mythical figures. My favorite dark ride however is a ride called the Droomvlucht (Dreamflight) we visit pixies and trolls as they dance around. We visit castles build on stars and other planets. We see a perfect world without strive. Pixies, trolls and whatever the green things are interacting together. Loving the animals of the forest. It’s a perfect little utopia there no one forgets to have fun. A really important lesson for us all to keep in mind. The Efteling also really caters to being super dutch, old/classic dutch to be exact. From the name and design of nearly all the stores and restaurants trough what you can find there, that old timey dutch feeling is woven throughout with just enough magic to surprise you every time. From classic stroopwafels to other famous dutch candies you can get it all here. There is something sweet for everyone. Maybe it’s a elf on a unicorn that does it for you, like me! Perhaps it’s one of the many dutch treats you want to try.

Princes and Princesses 

This theme park commits to everything it does, it does everything well. Being one  of the only theme parks in the entire Netherlands where you can get some solid food and have a meal that has character. You can spend an entire day here, and be completely content with the food on offer, as long as you are willing to pay theme park prices of course.  If you like shows there is quite a few for you two visit. From life action jousting to an animatronic ghost show, that despite being 32 years old still looks impressive. If you do not like rides this still a nice place to visit, despite the fairly high admission cost. The coasters are all their own unique thing and all feel like their own distinct thrill ride. A wooden coaster, a dark coaster, a classic coaster, a coaster with holograms water effects and more,  a hanging coaster with a a complete vertical drop 0/90 degrees.. I don’t know how to explain it so here is a capital /I …Like that! That’s a steep drop. The dark rides all vary a lot as well and add a great assortiment of mellow and swing rides to the mix and the Efteling is a theme park that is very suited for any kind of amusement park goer. That this park had to ban cosplaying already says something how popular it is among the geek community. (Mostly because of the large amount of disney characters showing up causing cues in inconvenient places and general saftey stuff) In this park you can walk trough a magical fantasy world, reminiscent of D&D, lord of the rings and those classic fairytales it is based on. It’s a park where you can be the hero or just stuff your face with sweets while sitting in little swan boats and old classic cars.
If you are a tourist in the Netherlands and geeky, this theme park is sure to please you. No matter if you want to be a hero or a lazy stroller, either way this park will offer you so much that you will feel like a prince or a princess. And as we know those always live happily ever after.