Up until a few weeks ago, I had never heard of PortAventura.
Lloyd, on the other hand had (apparently a friend had visited recently and told him all about it) so when we decided to go to PortAventura for a party, I had no idea what to expect. 😀 .
Now, the reason why you may not have heard of PortAventura when visiting Barcelona is because PortAventura is actually located in the resort city of Salou… (which is also next to the beautiful city of Tarragona).
PortAventura is just 1 hour away from Barcelona airport – which when you consider that it would take you 30 minutes to get from the airport to the Barcelona city centre, is pretty easy to get to! It gets even easier if you’re staying at the hotel in PortAventura as they can help you organise getting yourself and your friends/family there!
Just in case you haven’t guessed it by now, PortAventura is a theme park but it’s not your average theme park and is so unlike any other one you’ve ever seen in Europe! (For starters – did you know the fastest and the tallest rollercoaster in Europe is here?) It is gargantuan, expansive and so unbelievably impressive as far as European theme parks go.
Coming from the UK, where the theme parks are either far too tame (perfect for families with really young kids) or far too small (i.e. amazing rides but only a really small handful of them), I always thought you had to travel all the way to Florida or the US in general if you wanted to go to a theme park that would impress you and keep you busy all day every day.
A couple of years ago, back when the four of us (myself, Lloyd, Georgia and Chris) had our 3-week road trip across America, we had our first “super-theme park” experience and even the most skeptical of us (Georgia) absolutely loved it!
We got queue jumps (so worth it), stayed at the resort and arrived at the park an hour before it even opened (one of the perks of staying at the resort). This experience in Florida totally blew our minds when it came to theme parks and so, despite not really knowing what to expect, I was raring to go when we go to PortAventura!
Thing is though, we arrived into Barcelona in the middle of the night – leaving London at 10.20pm and getting in at 1am. Thankfully, our driver (all sorted by PortAventura) was waiting and whisked us off to the resort.
After a quick check in (and a quick bite to eat), we flopped into bed – sleeping soundly till breakfast time the next morning.
I wasn’t sure what to expect of breakfast so I left my camera in the room but the breakfast here is really good! In addition to having the regular stuff (pancakes and bacon with maple syrup…. followed by eggs, more bacon, sausages, toast… then followed by a lot of fruits and pastries), I had more than my fair share of churros!
Only problem with over indulging at breakfast was that I’d totally forgotten we’d be going on rides while wolfing down all those churros (not my best-laid plans) so I took the opportunity to go exploring more of the hotel ground (very slowly I might add) before venturing into the theme park.
The hotel, set in a very Wild Wild West theme, something which confused me initially as I kept getting excited by the signs and wanting to wander into random buildings to see what it was all about before realising that this was still part of the hotel.
“Save your enthusiasm for the park Yaya” I kept having to remind myself but thankfully I didn’t have to wait too long! A 2 minute walk from the hotel, you arrive at the park gates (restricted for only hotel guests) and are greeted by a ginormous wooden rollercoaster!
Now, I don’t know if it’s just me but I get major performance anxiety when it comes to rollercoasters. I love to go on them but from the point in which I decide to go on one right up until the ride starts, I get so nervous! (Aawww, who am I kidding, I’m nervous even after it’s started!)
Thankfully, this wooden one was the perfect one to get me started as it’s fairly nice and easy! 🙂 Once I got off it, I was ready for everything PortAventura had to throw at us. 😀
The rest of the afternoon, went by in a blur of rollercoaster rides, screaming in delight, running around from ride to ride and lots of hand waving! My inner child was unleashed and there was no putting him back in the box!
It was only when we were halfway through the park (several hours later) that I started to get a sense of how huge this place is. We’d barely even scratched the surface and there was still so much more to see.
It truly rivals the big ones in the US and I can’t believe I hadn’t known about this place (a mere 3 hours away from London) until now. A weekend trip here with our friends from London would have been so unbelievably easy to organise! (*I’m already planning that return).
After getting wet on a few rides (which is my favourite thing to do when the temperature is in the 30sC like it was here), we headed over to one of the restaurants here for lunch.
Turns out, all this fun in the sun works up quite the appetite so we went for calamari and salads (to share), Catalunya chicken (not to share) and Crema Catalan for dessert (also, not to share), all washed down with much welcome ice-cold beers and even colder sparkling water.
Lunch went by in a frenzied eating blaze!
Ferrari Land is home to that tallest and the fastest rollercoaster in Europe I mentioned earlier!
I can’t even pretend, I was absolutely terrified at the thought of going on this one! And just when I was starting to get fine with all the other rides too… lol!
I think if I didn’t know that it held the record for being both the tallest and the fastest, I would have found going on it a lot easier but knowing how scarier some other rides I’d been on in one of those smaller but more exciting theme parks back in the UK, the idea of conquering new heights (quite literally too) had me very nervous.
To work up my nerve, I wandered around Ferrari Land, making excuses to try out everything else, from the simulated experiences and the free fall towers (which is ironically the actual rollercoaster experience I am most terrified of – that unexpected vertical drop is something else) right through to stopping for beers in the sunshine at the Pit Lane.
Eventually, with about 40 minutes to go till closing time (Ferrari Land closes at 5pm – 3 hours before PortAventura), I picked up the courage to go on the dreaded one-loop ride!
^That’s me in the 3rd row. 😁
It. Was. Amazing! My dread and nervousness were very quickly replaced with exhilaration once we started – so much so that after going on it and subsequently failing to convince Lloyd to try it out (chicken), I went on it a second time! It was so good!!!
With my newfound high (unintentional-pun-now-kinda-intended), I set off to conquer all the remaining rides I hadn’t been on yet!
More of that in the next post here… (*It’ll be up in a couple of hours – couldn’t fit all the photos in one post. 😁)