With our usual degree of advance planning for our travels, we are already at Dover awaiting the Channel Ferry before we discover that the only place we had identified as a must-see on this trip will be closed for the duration of our stay. The Parc Asterix website , which I’m idly browsing on my smartphone, informs me that this attraction operates only from March to October. I’m anxious that my daughter Laura (10), an ardent Asterix fan, will be bitterly disappointed.
My husband is less than helpful.
“Isn’t this what happens in the National Lampoon movie, Vacation?” he reminds me. “The Griswold family base their entire trip to visit a particular theme park and turn up outside its gates after a long road trip to find it closed?”
I sincerely hope that the similarity between our holidays will end there, and am starting to wonder how I have the nerve to call myself a travel writer when inspiration strikes.
“Plopsaland!” I declare. “Let’s go to Plopsaland!”
Some time ago we realised that certain European countries like to keep their best attractions a secret, discouraging visits from pesky foreign tourists and preserving all the fun for their fellow countrymen. Choosing names that do not sound alluring in other languages is another great tactic for repelling non-national visitors.
Exhibit A: France’s conservatively named Grand Parc, which sounds like damning with faint praise. It strikes me as a bit of an understatement for a place that is meant to outshine Disneyland Paris.
Exhibit B: Efteling in the Netherlands. Not only does the name mean nothing to the non-Dutch speaker, (it sounds to me like some sort of fish), it’s listed in the Rough Guide under “D” for “De Efteling”rather than “E”, which explains why I couldn’t find it until after we’d been there.
Exhibit C: Belgium’s Plopsaland. We’ve seen copious signs on the Dunkerque-Bruges roautes, but the name sounds so unalluring to the English ear that we’ve always passed it by. Laughing. Well, when you have a small child on board, it’s hard to ignore any signs that offer the opportunity for toilet humour. Apparently there’s also a PlopsaCoo and a couple of PlopsaIndoors too.
The Call of Plopsaland
Last Easter, on our way back from Luxembourg, we managed to collect a Plopsaland leaflet to show Laura’s cousin Tim, who embraces lavatorial jokes ever more enthusiastically than she does. He was delighted. So this trip, to compensate for Asterix playing hard to get, we decide before we’ve even left Dover that we’re going to make a bee-line for Plopsaland, where, according to its website, we can look forward to such treats as the Gnome Plops Garden.
“Well, gnomes have to poo too,” observes my husband, who really ought to have grown out of toilet humour by now.
And bee-line proves to be an appropriate word, because it turns out that Plopsaland was founded by a honey manufacturer. Sweet.
As we board the Channel Ferry, I’m already looking foward to visiting the gift shop, because I’m sure Tim would love a souvenir t-shirt saying “I’ve been to Plopsaland”.
- Catch up on the first instalment of this tour at my previous post: A Question of Priorities
- Coming soon: a full report on the Belgian theme park, under my new suggested slogan – “Plopsaland – Much Nicer Than It Sounds”