Friday, 13 September 2013

Chilled campsites, trippy truffles & Efteling

Thursday 15th August 2013

After the busy and hectic time we had had in Amsterdam and Rotterdam we decided to go explore the more rural and quiet parts of the Netherlands. We wanted to take advantage of the hot sunny weather by relaxing at a campsite but also some excitement too. We decided to Google theme parks in the Netherlands, having loved Parc Asterix so much in France, and found not far away was a park called Efteling, the biggest theme park in the Netherlands and one of the oldest in Europe. Based on it's own fairy tale characters unique to the theme park as well as the old classics like Hansel and Grettel. Quite a lot of it was mostly aimed at younger kids but the roller coasters lured us in.

Before that however, on Monday Adam wanted to check out where his dad and two uncles, with their parents, had lived for a few years when they were very young in a town called Hellevoetsluis. We found the bungalow with no problems, set in a very nice shady area from all the tall trees. We then found a campsite nearby, after trying two that were full. It was also Adam's birthday and his mission was to celebrate by relaxing in the sun, which I think we accomplished pretty well, with some fizzy wine and a chocolate cake.

Happy birthday!
The next day Mia hired a bike from the campsite and we all cycled into the nearest town for a look around. We were on the coast so cycled past the lighthouse to a cafe for a cake and a drink (and free wifi), before cycling to a canal for Adam to whack out his rod. He was determined to catch a fish after trying and failing all day the last try. Mia and I amused ourselves drawing windmills and birds until excited yelps alerted us to a potential catch. Adam had caught a tiny silver fish and was panicking with what to do next. I was summoned to get the net to help get it out the water and then Adam spent the next tense few minutes trying to untangle the fish, the hook and the net from each other so we could get it back in the water. I was surprisingly disturbed by this and didn't want the fish to go back into the water with a hole in it's mouth and probably die. I don't mind fishing if you're gonna kill it straight away and eat it but this seemed kinda cruel! I was assured he'd (I assume he was a he) be ok and off he swam back to his fishy friends and maybe the fish hospital.

On Thursday we headed towards Efteling to try and find a place to stay nearby so we could get their early for the day. We found a campsite just round the corner and a walkable distance to the theme park, and considering it was another 10€ to park in the Efteling car park this was pretty handy. 

When we were in Rotterdam we bought some truffles from a smart shop and we were curious to try them. Truffles started becoming more popular in the Netherlands when mushrooms were made illegal a few years ago and their popularity has risen with different strains being grown. They are formed when the environmental temperature does not rise high enough for a mushroom to form and the 'roots' grow underground to form the truffle and the active ingredient is psilocybin. 15 grams of Atlantis truffles promised strong intense colours and dreamlike visions. We had nothing to do on this slightly drizzly day before Efteling and it was a quiet campsite so we tried them out.
It's recommend not to eat beforehand so Adam ate his first thing in the morning. After seeing his funny reactions to things (staring at the curtain patterns a lot) I wanted to try mine so did later in the afternoon. The taste of the things were gross, a nutty texture but tasted like a muddy field with a bitter aftertaste. After about an hour I started to notice tiny movements more, like the wind rustling leaves, as it developed the leaves started to look a bit pixelated and at the height of it symmetrical patterns emerged and moved around kaleidoscopically. Colours did become more vivid and you just notice patterns in everything, mostly symmetrical ones. It was definitely something to experience outside as most things just became really interesting to look at. You do not 'hallucinate' and see things that are not there, nor are you completely unaware of what you're doing. I was fully aware I was staring at my kindle screen saver for 20 minutes while Adam & Mia looked at me quizzically! Adam & Mia put on the Harold & Kumar Christmas movie and I watched as Christmasy coloured snowflake shaped patterns kaleidoscoped on the screen then fell asleep. I did have a big giggly phase in the middle as well but can't remember what I was laughing at. There were no after effects the next day and as psyclobin occurs naturally in the brain anyway, all you do is increase the amount of it, their were no toxins going into my body to hurt me, it was just a relaxing and fun experience. (Hope that last bit reassures you mum if you read this!)

Today we got up early and walked to Efteling. The entrance gate looks pretty spectacular with a huge thatched building shaped into points. The whole park was beautifully kept with flowers and gardens everywhere which added to fairy tale effect and the roller coasters were awesome. There was a 4d WWF film about pandas and saving the animals, a stunt show featuring trained birds, horses and a massive mechanical 5 headed dragon beast thing that breathed fire, a museum showing the process of their characters being made and a lot more. They even had Adam's favourite Netherlands snack, a bami, available in hot vending machines, so a good day all round!

Tomorrow we're looking to leave the Netherlands behind to visit Belgium. Chocolate is calling us.

Pointy entrance to Efteling

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