Eli Orzessek finds fun on one of the world's oldest running wooden roller coasters.

As the train travels closer to the northeastern corner of Germany, the landscape starts to resemble something out of a Scandinavian crime drama.

In the overcast weather, seaside cottages take on a gloomy tone and the atmosphere holds an eerily profound stillness and silence. On the vast green plains that reach out to the icy grey Baltic Sea, the only things moving are the giant wind turbines.

Having left from Hamburg, our journey to Denmark crosses rural areas, stopping in the Gothic port town of Lubeck, before reaching Puttgarden — the last point you can call Germany.


It's here that my father and I reach a giant ferry terminal — our final transfer before reaching Denmark.

The train rolls on to the ferry and later rolls off in another country. The whole journey, including the ferry ride, is included on our three-country Eurail passes and the process is simple.

It's a 45-minute crossing, but weather conditions aren't making it tempting to go out on the deck, so I charge my phone and gaze moodily out the window at that cold, rough sea. The journey goes by surprisingly fast and before I know it, we've crossed over to the small town of Rodby.

As we travel the final stretch, the Scandi-drama weather starts to lift. As we pull up at the main station in Copenhagen, we're greeted by sunshine and an immense sea of bicycles — the preferred form of transport for Danes.

The view from across the street is also much more colourful than the grey seascapes that started the day.

Just a skip away from the station sits Tivoli Gardens, an amusement park that holds the title of the second-oldest in the world. Over the high fences we can see the artificial snowy mountain that the ride simply known as "The Roller Coaster" careers around. Built in 1914, it's one of the oldest still-running wooden roller coasters in the world, complete with a brakesman who rides in the middle of the carriages to control the speed on the corners.

We taxi to our hotel and after a quick rest and a glass of Tuborg, we don't waste too much time getting back to Tivoli — it's the main reason for our visit.

On arrival, we relax for a while, enjoying a choral performance in the gardens, boarding the classic Ferris wheel to take in views of the park. But I'm itching for something more exhilarating.

The Demon provides the requisite spills and thrills, reaching 28m with three loop-de-loops — which my dad, perhaps wisely, chooses to sit out. I feel nervous waiting to board, but reassure myself that if kids are also waiting in line, it can't be that bad. But there's nothing like the bravery of youth. It definitely gets me screaming l as my stomach flips. But like most fast rides, it's over almost as soon as it has begun.

After that, we go on another tame ride together — the Flying Trunk, which travels through Hans Christian Andersen's fairytales. It's aimed at children, but it's here that I see Europeans have a slightly different idea of what's appropriate for young minds — the mermaids here display their nipples proudly.

I get the sense that my dad is getting bored with the easy stuff, so I ask if he's keen to take on something more daring. He elects to try out The Roller Coaster — at 80, it's not every day that you get the chance to go on a ride that's 24 years older than you. Unlike The Demon, this coaster doesn't feature any upside-down bits, but it does zoom up and down the slopes of the mountain.

It invokes memories of the last time we went to Europe together. I was 11, and we had a stopover in Disneyland on the way back, where we rode the Matterhorn together. In fact, it's here at Tivoli that Walt Disney himself had the inspiration to create Disneyland — hence the similarities between the rides.

Out of the corner of my eyes, I keep seeing one ride that makes me feel a bit sick just looking at it. On Vertigo, riders are seated in two fighter planes, suspended at the end of two giant rotating arms, reaching terrifying speeds as they are spun 360 degrees.

"There's no way in hell I'm going on that ride," I tell my Dad — who proceeds to bully me into trying it out.

Light displays at night. Photo / Getty Images
Light displays at night. Photo / Getty Images

"You should go on it," he says. "It won't be as scary as it looks".

I can tell you, it's every bit as scary as it looks. As I wait in line to board, I see the previous riders dismount, with tears streaming down their faces. But it's too late now.

I'm in a plane with two American dudes and we soon find out the reason for the tears. On the ride, you experience 5G force, meaning your body feels like it's about five times its normal weight. As we start rotating and the speed gets more and more intense, my eyelids are blown back with such force that the tears start flowing. I let out a loud series of choice words as the Americans continuously press the turbo button to make the plane go even faster. It's at this point I'm wishing I hadn't chosen to go on this particular ride so soon after eating. On landing I jump off with weeping eyes and an intense adrenalin rush.

The park is open until midnight that night, so after my dad has had his fill of fun, I escort him back to our hotel to sleep, while I return to cram in a few more rides.

Although I decide that one go on the Vertigo was quite enough, the experience has emboldened me enough to go on the Golden Tower.

Strapped in next to yet another child who looks way too young for such a scary ride, we slowly crawl up the 63m tower. I gaze out across the amazing views of Copenhagen and the harbour, breathing it all in before we suddenly plummet to the ground — and I'm hoping the kid doesn't understand English swear words.

I stumble away in a daze, as the nightly fireworks display begins over the Chinese Gardens, sending colourful bursts into the air above the park.

Forget Disneyland — this might actually be the most magical place on Earth.




flies daily from Auckland to Copenhagen via their hub in Dubai.

For information on Rail Europe passes, go to greattrainjourneys.co.nz .