Sunday, October 27, 2013

13th Edition: Lego Fair Holland, First Year in Utrecht

Facts about Lego

It started when I brought a bagful of Lego bricks at home from my in-laws' house. Honnepontjie was glad to see the old toys and remembered some events, when they were young. That evening we began sorting the pieces and made some figures like cars and houses based on the manuals included in the bag. We came up to an idea that we would like to have a Lego Christmas decoration on our windowsill this coming holiday season.

We bought a week after 2 extra boxes of bricks. Then a week later, Honnepontjie tumbled on a site about the 13th edition of the Lego Fair in Utrecht. In the hope that we could get special discounts in the fair for the other bricks that we needed, I bought two tickets the day after Honnepontjie visited the website.

The Lego Fair was first organized in Ijsselhallen, Zwolle, Holland in 2001. More than 70, 000 people visit the Lego Fair every year. To better accommodate the increasing visitors, they have relocated the event in Utrecht. Because the Jaarbeurs Utrecht is bigger than the Ijsselhallen.

When we stopped out the bus, the dozens of parents with kids were waiting to cross the street to the Jaarbeurs. Fortunately, a few in the crowd were couple without kids, like us.

The Lego Fair has occupied two halls. Hall 2 for adult visitors and Hall 1 for children. Since the entrance was in Hall 2, we started at the Lego Museum, which we thought very interesting to see. I have once watched in You Tube the film about the Lego story. Because of the video, I have got to know that Lego started making wooden toys before the modern bricks. I have posted here the video, so you can also watch it.

Video Source: LegoClubTV

In the museum, we have discovered some Lego pieces we have at home. We thought that it was not theirs.  It is called Fabuland, a 1979 Lego theme. The main characters in the Fabuland theme are animals. The bricks and the characters are smaller than the Duplo, but larger than standard Lego bricks. The pieces are colorful and suitable for toddlers. 

One of the themes they have created was the Lego Scala, which targeted the young girls. The characters are similar to the Barbie dolls. It was released in 1979 to 1980 and then came back to the market in 1997 to 2001.

We skipped the Duplo section and headed right away to the section: Emmen Zoo. The life-size animals inside the section were wonderful. It was one of our favorites.

Our next station was the Lego Fans exposition. Everybody drooled over their fantastic works.  A proof that Lego is also for big boys (and girls), too!

We skipped the Lego Cinema, too. Because we were running out of time. We decided to buy first some pieces that we needed for our project. Honnepontjie bought some bricks with different colors on the first merchandise. I have got two Santa's, one Christmas tree, and an Autumn tree with mushroom on the second stall. On the third one, we bought a pack of leaves, trunks, plants and an adorable mini bicycle.

At the Hall 1, we saw the Lego Friends, attractions like the Lego artworks of Dirk Denoyelle and other activities for children. The Intertoys Store was also present in the area. A small merchandise, where you can buy loose pieces of Lego, was interesting. Search for the pieces you needed, then they will weigh it and then you pay the amount per gram. We went inside.

The small loose-Lego-bricks booth is crowded. I was laughing while we both dug through the tubs of bricks. The digging caused a lot of nuisance and no one minded it. After one and a half hours our patience was rewarded with some bricks that we needed.

We saw almost everything and we are satisfied that we have visited the fair. As a bonus, every one got a Lego goodiebag at the exit gate. We all left the building with happy faces.

My brother and I did not own Lego Toys when we were young and you? If you own one, what is your favorite theme? Please share.

Friday, October 04, 2013

The First Day at Caniço da Baixo

It was already 7:30 in the morning. Soon as I woke up, I ran quickly to open the curtain on a glass sliding door to the terrace. I was excited to see the view outside. Our room lies on the 5th floor of the Four Views Oasis Hotel at the Caniço de Baixo, Madeira Portugal. It overlooks the promenade and the ocean. An orange tint on the horizon has welcomed me. It was beautiful. I called Honnepontjie while  I was opening the door to the terrace. I went outside. "What is this a perfect day!", I whispered and smiled.

After the breakfast we have got a brief introduction about the island from our contact person. She was friendly and assertive. She has also welcomed us when we arrived at the airport. After the presentation we have arranged the Levada Trips with her.

We walked down the promenade to the nearby Spar supermarket. The promenade made me think of the Baywalk in Manila, but it is not as busy as the Baywalk. I should not compare the two, because they are both beautiful in different way.  The promenade is very clean. I love the palm trees along the way. The view of the ocean gave me also a satisfaction. I love the place. It is very peaceful.

The promenade is a home for many endemic animals in the island. One of these are the Madeira wall lizards (Lacerta dugesii), which were constantly running across our path. Lizards are not really my favorite animal, except for the few species of it. The population of the wall lizards in Madeira is abundant. They are so many and they continously running here and there. Honnepontjie was happy to see them. His astonishment was lovely. How can someone be so happy just seeing the lizards? Of course I was happy, too! But he was two times happier than me. I guess all people with a Biology background have that.

There are many cacti and other succulent plants in the island and they grow bigger as the trees. Normally, in the Netherlands you can buy the succulent plants in pots as house decorations, but in Madeira, all these plants are gigantic. We were totally amazed. It was our first time to see cactus and other succulent trees.

at the Promenade Caniço de Baixo

After buying our necessities, we wandered a bit in the area. I noticed that most of the hotels are on the coast and the residence houses are located on steep hills. Almost all vehicles run fast though,  the roads in the island are zigzag with sharp turns.

Houses on the steepy hill facing the ocean.


We went back to our hotel and did siesta. Evening, we walked again in the promenade to the restaurant and then went back at the same route. I noticed that there are two or more stray cats along the way. I am surprised, I did not expect it. Other tourists have surely noticed the cats, too. A young one was following us and later his attention diverted to the flying insect.

Our first day was really, really great. The succulent plants and trees, the ocean, our hotel room and all other I have seen the whole day gave me full enthusiasm. I was excited for the day after - Our Trip to Funchal!

See you on my next post.