Saturday, 2 April 2016

There's Something About Europe

I'm sitting writing this in the Legoland Hotel in Billund, Denmark after a full day in the Legoland park with my wife and all three of my boys (4, 5 & 13). The park is closed and it's a few hours before our flight.

If you're thinking to yourself, Paul don't you know there's a Legoland in England just outside of London, then you wouldn't be the first. We've been there and it was ok, but it's not as good as the real thing and wouldn't have given us the opportunity to take the younger two on a plane for the first time and to a different country (which isn't Wales). Of course there are other ways to achieve this, but as we learnt when we took our eldest to Munich a few years ago, city breaks and kids often don't mix.

There are two main reasons that Legoland in Denmark is better. Everyone, without exception who works in the park and the hotel, has been friendly and enthusiastic - everyone. They've all played with our kids and there isn't the reserved, arms length approach we see generally in the UK. Our kids have been gently teased and even occasionally prodded with a rubber sword.

The attractions are excellent and better than the equivalents at the UK park. Our kids have never been so engaged and we've never spent so long in a theme park as we did in Legoland, Denmark.

It got me thinking, this has nothing to do with Legoland. I think it might be a European thing. I've spent time in France, Germany and now Denmark over the last ten years and it just feels better. Three western European countries in ten years is hardly a comprehensive survey, but my gut feeling is that I'd find other western European countries much the same. Of course I haven't been engaged as an observer in the local politics, as I am in the UK. Maybe Europe is how it's meant to be and our cold, unfriendly, British reservedness and lacklustre approach to good customer service is what's letting us down. Even more so in Norfolk.

I'm more relaxed when I'm in Europe and could really see myself moving to somewhere like Munich to live when the kids are older, maybe even left home. Usually when we visit a theme park in the UK it's a long way from home and knowing there's long drive when we finish and shattered kids to put to bed when we get there knocks all the enjoyment out. Tonight we only needed to go the the airport and then straight into the Premier Inn at Stansted when we land.

One thing I am sure of is that I want to spend more time in Europe, both for work and pleasure. The ideal, for me, would be to achieve both at the same time.

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