Ball and pit. The words on their own strikes dread and fear in some people…. but add in a hyphen and you’ve got yourself a party. Well I love parties, so I’m going to present you with the answers to all the questions you’ve never knew you had… about ballpits. I could say I’m revealing the seedy underbally, but that would be incredibly inappropriate and gross. I would never say that, so don’t worry.
Question 1: Where is/was the world’s biggest ball-pit?
The largest ballpit was made on 30 Dec 1999 in Wouwse Plantage, Netherlands by the Stichting Carnaval. (Carnies, it was always going to be carnies) The ballpit had a surface area of 252.9 m² with an average depth of 0.4 m and contained approximately 130,000 sweaty balls. It was open for three days and attracted 2,700 visitors in this time. There is no visual record I can find of this so I can only assume everyone’s cameras were swallowed up into the bally of the beast (or I’m terrible at googling in Dutch). Here’s an unrelated vintage photo of some synchronized swimmers ‘aving-a-laff in a ballpit.
The largest permanent ballpit I found in my research was at Fundazzle in Beijing. It makes sense that the largest ballpit in existence would be in China home as they have the most people to fit in a ballpit. You win this ’round’, China. (…right? cause its a ball!) On a sidenote, that kid has been stranded on that plastic island for so long he’s drawn a face on one of the balls and called it Wilson.
Question 2: Where is/was the world’s deepest ball pit?
There is no official record holder for the deepest ballpit but my money is on Italy’s balls. In 2008, performance artist Graziano Cecchini dropped half a million plastic balls down the Spanish Steps in Rome. Wow Graziano, you think of that all yourself? It was a ballsy move by Graziano who incited the rage of several stop owners. One guy said, “This is ballshit! I didn’t sell any gelato today.”
Question 3. Who invented the ball pit?
The first known ball pit was opened in 1976 at Sea World San Diego.It was designed by playground specialist Eric McMillan, who is often considered the “father of soft play”. (What a title. You kiss your mother with that title, Eric?)
I can’t find a verified photo of Mr McMillan so I like to picture him as half Einstein and half Mother Theresa. Mother Thereinstein. I also really dig Eric’s philosophy on adult play… “If adults played more,” McMillan is quoted by People magazine in 1979, “there would be far less fear and more understanding, because play is an open and honest exchange.”
Question 4: Who is the oldest person to enter a ball pit?
Patrick Stewart. I knew you wouldn’t believe me so here’s the visual proof.
That was sudden! When did Patrick Stewart go balld?!
Question 5: What is the world record for the longest continuous stint in a ball pit?
Great question, you in the back. I know that in Australia, the Crows Nest Pub near Sydney made a valiant attempt to take the record for biggest ballpit party. Despite the lack of actual bodies, there was probably someone (out of the seven people who turned up) that sunk a couple of coldies and then sunk to the bottom of the ballpit, only to be discovered 16 hours later. This is all conjecture though.
Question 6: Please tell me other ballpits of note, Camilla?
Well since you asked so nicely… There was a man called Josh Ente who in 2012 had a vision to turn an derelict, abandonned New Orleans house, damaged by Hurricane Katrina, into a giant ball pit with foam walls and no entrance fee. Basically utopia. With over 200 backers on Kickstarter, its a shame that Josh didn’t get council approval before he took people’s money. Way to kill the dreams of millions, Josh. Also thanks for not replying to my email.
In more successful news, at MIT in the US, students have converted a meditation room into a ballpit.
Probably so they can do this…
Hope you enjoyed this entry… I had a ball writing it! Here’s an adorable life-affirming, heart a-warming video from Soul Pancake which inspired this entry.
Ok, let’s get this travel series done, last installment, rip the bandaid off.
It seems strange writing about summer in Bavaria when it probably looks like the inside of a shaken up snowglobe right about now but… the blog wants what the blog wants. Basically, Baravia is the tits in summer – warm days, mild nights, cold beer and the most beautiful glacial lakes and inlands fjords.
The highlight was Lake Königsee, Germany’s third deepest lake located in the Berchtesgaden Alps. We stayed in the little town on the lake, Schönau am Königsee, at a lifesize gingerbread house called Hotel Schiffmeister which overlooked the water.
Lake Königsee may not win the prize for Germany’s deepest lake but it is the cleanest. No motorcraft is permitted and tourists are ferried from one end to the other in pretty wooden electric boats.
This guy and I had lunch (river trout, potatoes and beer) at the boat’s first stop, St Bartholomew church in the sunshine.
Here’s our dude of a boat driver steering us towards Eden (also known as Salet-Obersee, the last stop). The lake is flanked by walls of moutains which create a beautiful echo and to showcase this, every boat tour has a flugelhornist… (flugelhorner…? flugelhornet…?) on board. 100 years ago, in place of a flugelhorn, a cannon would be fired and the sound would be heard seven times as it bounced off the mountains.
The scenary was absolutely surreal. I felt like I was in Middle Earth. But a hypercoloured, disney version.
Once the boat dropped us at Salet-Obersee, we hiked for about 5km to get to Lake Obersee. The first part of the hike is easy and flat (see how cocky we are – “Here’s a rock, watch me climb it”) but then it starts to incline and you want to call out for your mother.
This is looking down at Lake Obersee. The water is so clear, its reflecting a mirror image of the moutains, the sky and the little boat house. Above the boat house is a little dairy, called Fischunkelalm, where they serve fresh buttermilk (also sausage salads) to weary, calcium-deficient hikers.
SPEAKING OF SAUSAGE SALAD… In front of Fischunkelalm there’s a swimming spot. The water is still pretty nippy even in the middle of summer and this guy lasted about 2 minutes. No one questioned his manliness though. No one. After this, we sat in the meadow listening to the cowbells, while we waited for someone to air dry.
Oh yeah, Munich is okay too…. if you like laughter and fun and goodtimes.
Inspired by the painted ivy trellis ceilings and just the general down the rabbit hole loveliness that is Madame Brussels Bar in Melbourne, I wanted to make my own giant piece of pimped up lattice to sit against my bedroom wall.
<- To help with the visuals, here’s Madame Brussels Bar – You can make out the ceiling in the reflection and all the tiny crisscrossy shadows made from their lattice.
I bought the lattice online. It was the biggest piece I could fit through my door frame. It was also a diagonal cut because it looks waaaaaaaaaaay classier. Next, I ordered ivy and floral garlands from ebay as well as some warm white LED fairylights.
Let’s take inventory on the bed:
Then things took a turn for the awesome. I received a (pink!) Nikon SLR for my birthday and I decided to take it for a spin with the time lapse video to end all time lapse videos. (NASA, this isn’t nearly as impressive as mine)
The whole project took about 3 hours. I only regret one thing and that’s my choice of crafting outfit, immortalised forever in that video.
I pretty much love my a huge, ridiculous, overkill of a night light. I like the effect the fairy lights make against the leaves and the whole secret garden vibe. I think, I’ll probably end up using it as a bedhead.
A hideous birdnest of power cords……. and my giant leafy nightlight on steriods.
I love all the creepy leafy shadowpuppets
Anyway, I hope it inspires you or at the very least gives you some insight into the mad hatter’s tea party that is the inside of my brain.
(Yep……….. I’m still going with this travel series even though the dust has well and truly settled on the trip………. just roll with it…….)
After the boozehaze of Sail Crotia lifted, we did Austria…. like a bosstria. This basically involved a buttload of wiener schnitzel (my butt is still loaded with it), being underground, crisscrossing strangely inconspicuous international borders and the highlight of (what I now understand to be) a previously unfulfilling existance: the Keltenblitz.
But let’s start from the very begining, a very good place to start….
Salzburg was named for its surrounding salt-rock desposits (salz) and a castle (burg) built from all those salty salt dollars. Nowadays, the city had two golden geese – Mozart (born there) and the Sound Of Music (set and filmed there). And those geese have laid their eggs everywhere – you can’t turn around without getting von Trapped in stores dedicated to only selling The Sound of the Sound of Music… Or Mozaaaasked if you’d like to upgrade to the Papagena Suite, which costs about half your kidney but is inspired by some feathery character from Mozart’s opera the Magic Flute so that makes it okay.
Yep, that happened…
This is the view from Hohensalzburg Castle – Look at all those cute ant people! Salzburg is one of the prettiest cities in Europe but seeing it on foot is akin to having Jillian Michaels from the Biggest Loser chasing your fat arse until you cry for your mother. There’s a lot of steps, stairs, ramps and alpine inclines… But at the end of every weight loss journey, there was a gorgeous view and an even better looking beer.
This is the Stieglkeller beerhall and garden. We discovered it by accident because it looked pretty inconspicuous, sitting pretty in a deserted cobblestone street – with no one ever seeming to leave or arrive. It’s actually a deceptively large venue because its carved right into the rocks of Mönchsberg Mountain. They serve ice cold beer, delicious traditional Austrian dishes (in huge helpings) and you get to drink in one of the prettiest vistas of Salzburg while you drink in all those amber-hued carbs.
We did a segway tour of the Sound of Music sites. It was particularly satisfying zipping passed and lapping Frauline Maria’s Bicycle Tour who all looks like they were going on ‘sweatsteen’ cause they were climbing ev’ry mountain with only pedal power. Here on the left we have my manfriend and I posing in front of the Mirabelle Palace Gardens where the Von Trapp kiddies “Do-Re-Mi-ed”, then in front of gazebo from “Something Good” and “I am Sixteen” (located in Hellbrunn Gardens) and finally in front of Leopoldskron Palace which was the Von Trapp’s residence and backdrop to the scene where Maria and the children all tumble into the lake.
Eventually we ran out of money and were forced down into the Salzburg salt mines. I got a big kick out of completing an international border crossing 200 metres underground. Look, the giant slides were also pretty great. And sailing across a subterranean salt lake. All in all, I’d say there’s nothing to the defeated phrase “Back to the salt mines” because being a salt miner looks like a pretty sweet gig.
Another weirdly inconspicuous international border crossing that seemed to be in some guy’s backyard. Maybe it comes from living in a country that’s also it’s own continent but whenever I cross international borders on foot I always want to do this Homer Simpson dance.
Unsatisfied with just one underground adventure we also did a tour of the Salzburg Ice Caves on Mt Hochkogel. The cave system is INSANE with huge ice formations that look like waves snap frozen, standing 20 metres high. It’s the largest cave system in the world and spans 42 km… Thankfully, the tour is only the tip of the Ice(cave)burg and you complete a 1 km circuit – which is all you can take after the backbreaking climb to the cave entrance. Man-friend captured our alpine deathmarch perfectly with this shot. Can you see me?
Another day, another mountain. In winter Mt Dürrnberg (about 20km from Salzburg) is a tiny ski resort with one ski lift. In summer, the mountain becomes the home of the Keltenblitz, pretty much the new centre of my universe. After buying tickets, the ski lift floated us up the mountain slowly so we could take it the views.
At the top of the mountain we came face to face with the Keltenblitz, a 2.2 km long taboggan run on rails.
The descent takes around 3 minutes if you floor it. It was like being on a tiny one man rollercoaster and the hills were alive with the sound of my shrieking. (Seriously, I have video – but I’m too ashamed to post and also I don’t want your ears to bleed.)
US ad agency, Crispin Porter & Bogusky, is pure awesome, deep fried and wrapped in bacon. In 2009, CP&B gave the world the Whopper Sacrifice campaign and challenged the pervading culture of amassing superficial facebook “friendships.” And now, they have single handedly turned the desperate courting of Facebook fans by big name brands on its head.
For those Australians playing at home, Grey Poupon is a Kraft-owned, US-based mustard brand with a massive aristocratic ego. It was launched in the 80s with this television commercial.
…which spawned this parody….
and this one….
….and probably a thousand other home jobs on YouTube.
The brand’s entire personality is cemented in this Richie Rich delusion. So, the campaign plays to that and transforms the almost robotic act of liking brands on Facebook into something more involved. Instead of trying to herd a group of possible fans to engage with their facebook page, they are weeding and thinning the herd with a selection criteria and an application process.
The brand’s fan page has been renamed the Grey Poupon Good Taste Society and explains,
Now, Zuckerburg might think Facebook is like sitting on a chair, but I’d probably liken it to buying a Ferrari… you only do things on Facebook to one-up everybody else. I’m not saying a sportscar is on the same level as membership to an ‘aspirational’ mustard fanpage on Facebook…. but who doesn’t enjoy being part of something exclusive?!
So nicely played, Crispin Porter & Bogusky. I tip my top hat to you.
I say top hat because I’m made the cut. Top 30th Percentile.
According to the CP&B creative director, “Our development team built an algorithm that gives high ratings to things like movies and books mentioned in The New York Times, Ivy League colleges, and top restaurants. It checks for spelling, grammar, and politeness.”
There’s only one explanation for my application’s acceptance. I must have broken the application algorithm by previously liking super weird and embarassing things such as Grease 2 and every single Australian feminine hygiene brand… no matter. I’m in and I plan to lord it all over you, exactly the way Grey Poupon intended.
After Sail Croatia, we visited the turkishly delightful Mostar. Mostar is in Bosnia Herzegovina and fifty or so kilometres inland from the Croatian coast. It’s only fifty kilometres but it might as well be on the other side of the world: the Croatia coast is all about hedonism and excess whereas Mostar, while its not hardline islamist, has mosques dotting its skyline. Also there are no no sea breezes in Mostar, its like the song walking on sunshine, but in a greenhouse. Inside a hot car. Parked in a giant oven. Located on the sun.
This is the ancient town of Počitelj near Mostar, a really old fortified Turkish settlement. I like the long thin towers attached to mosques (I think they’re called citadels?) because they remind me of Rapunzel.
This is a famous view of Stari Most, the old bridge, where the town gets its name: Stari means old and Most means bridge. The two towers that flank either side of the bridge are where the Bridge Keepers lived. They were called the “Mostari” and because the bridge was a huge part of town life, the city became known as Mostar. This bridge is the Eiffel Tower of Mostar. Its on every postcard and inside every snowglobe. It was build in the 1560s and stood for over 400 years until it was detroyed in 1993 during the Yugoslavian war. Reconstruction was finished in 2004.
The bridge stands 24 metres high over the Neretva river which is always freezing even in the heat of summer. It’s tradition for the young men of the town to jump off the bridge into the Neretva even though it’s illegal and attracts a $25 fine. This is now the bridge jumper’s fee they call for from tourists. You can see one professional bridge jumper poised ready to go. The summer before, an Australian guy doing Sail Croatia did the jump to impress a girl. They’re now married*.
This is the traditional Kujundžiluk (or old bazaar). We walked through this part of the town and snacked on Bosnian skinless sausage called Ćevapi. Then we watered that down with deeeelicious rosewater lemonade. Don’t tell Charlie but it was ACTUALLY the best lemonade of all time.
Most buildings are riddled with bullet holes from the conflict that played out here in the 90s.
Today we travel back in time (not far don’t worry, we’re not going to step on a bug and change the course of history) to June, when I boarded a dinky little boat called the Maya at the Port of Split, Croatia.
When you’re researching Sail Croatia it can be a little daunting- the bad reviews seem to outweigh the good and you start to envisage a week spent on a leaky boat, rooms infested with bedbugs and sharing close quarters with the type of people you usually cross the street to avoid. Luckily I didn’t have this holiday.
For me, the trip was smooth sailing the whole time. And I mean smooth sailing purely metaphorically cause that boat swayed and rocked so violently more than one person worshiped at the porcelain throne.
Speaking of food, as part of the sail fare, you get breakast and lunch daily. I only made it to breakfast once (too busy steering the boat…) but the 3 course lunches were basic and yum. Drinks are extra but really reasonable prices. If you’re lucky your beer mug will give you awesome DOUBLE FACE.
This is girice. I think its just fried whitebait but its delish if you don’t have an aversion to your food looking at you as you eat them whole. Croatians eat them like chips. Here we have the circle of life… what the Lion King took 90 minutes to explain, the girice accomplishes in a mouthful.
It should be no surprise to anyone that there’s a lot of boozing on Sail Croatia and while alcohol is great, my preferred social lubricant is bubbles… Seriously I met most of my friends on the bubble circuit*. Here are some friends blowing bubbles at this nightclub called Deep in Makarska which is actually a cave located right on the water.
And when I woke up, I was sticky all over.
By far though, the best night out was in Dubrovnik. First Ben and I went to Cafe Buza, an amazing hidden bar perched on a cliff face and then we went to meet our Sail Croatians at some awesome dirty nightclub. Here we are in the Old Town at 2am, after too much tea partying.
Even in the daytime, Dubrovnik is like some kind of shiny marble Eden. And everything is soaked in sunshine and gelato.
Most mornings we spent swimming off the side of the boat. Usually I’m afraid of deep water but I wasn’t here. I love this photo Chris took of Ana and I trying to sunbake in the water without drifting away from the boat.
A favourite highlight was visiting the Cocktail Bar Massimo in Korcula, which was located on top of a tower that used to form part of the city walls and is only accessable by ladder. The drinks are much more precious cargo and are delivered by pulley system up to the top bar. I also loved swimming and paddle boating at the beach in Makarska.
Now, we’re not talking your grandma’s paddle boat that she drives to church on Sundays, okay? These paddle boats were Lamborghini yellow and had slides and could catch waves… They were kind of like the magical schoolbus but less secretly educational and more THE BEST THING EVER.
So that was Sail Croatia in a slightly erratic nutshell. In summary, if you hate people, are a fussy eater and you don’t like pit-stop travel then Sail Croatia isn’t for you. But if you’re a normal person who needs to cram in a lot of holiday, you’ll love it.
We said a teary-eyed and bleary-eyed goodbye to Zagreb (it was 4am) and with our friends in tow, began to make our way across Croatia to Split on the bus.
On route we got off the bus on a long empty stretch of road fringed by woodland. In reality, we probably walked 100 metres but it felt like 4 km. I’m trying to keep my spirits up by oversmiling fakely.
We dropped our bags off and headed into Plitvice Lakes National Park. Then we weaved a path through hundreds of cascading waterfalls. It was mindblowing! I’d describe it as one part Jurassic Park (without the dinosaurs), one part that planet in Avatar (aka Fern Gully 2) and one part the Garden of FREEEEAKIN Eden.
I have a very suggestible bladder and the constant sound of rushing water meant I was always needing to pee. There are hardly any toilets and not a lot of privacy once you hit the waterfall walk. One suggestion would be to wear an adult nappy. Another would be to subtley wet your pants and try to pass it off as awkwardly placed sweat marks until it dries.
A moment captured in time. The first happy snap is me either taking my first steps… OR more likely running towards Ben for a photo. In the next shot, I’ve accidently and unknowingly kneed him in the gonads.
Love this girl.
We got turned around and had to run up the top of the hill to make our bus. It was worth the side-stitch, the wheezing and the “Go on without me, save yourself” proclamations for this view though.
Waiting for the bus to Split was a seesaw of emotions. One minute, we’d convince ourselves we’d missed it,we’d never get to Split, the boat would leave without us. The next minute we’d fall into hysterical fits of laughter. (Top right) Someone found this rock which in colourful lettering reads: “It takes so long to get a bus here, we have been hacky sacking for an hour waiting, I hope you can read English. I just really want to be on the bus to Zadar” Sure, it was blantant vandalism but we placed a lot of hope into that flat little rock. That Olympic hacky sack team must have eventually gotten their bus because they weren’t there still waiting and neither were their skeletal remains. Eventually the bus rounded the corner, we got on and all immediately fell asleep
I bring you a belated part 2 chronicling how my specialmanfriend and I got our wander on across Germany, Croatia, Bosnia and Austria. We say “auf wieder-something” to Berlin… and “ne govorim hrvatski” (I don’t speak Croatian) to Zagreb, Croatia.
Zagreb is hot, leafy and kicks some Italian buttface in the icecream/gelati department.
Here I am in Zrinjevac Park, which we walk through to get to the centre of town. The park has a fountain, a band pavillon and beds of flowers that look like kaleidoscope clouds. This park also boasts the highest number of kissing couples per capita of anywhere in the entire frickin world. In fact, pretty sure that fountain is running on their saliva alone. KISS ON, SEXYTOWN.
Ana and Dan took us to 22000 Milja, which is a bar masquarading as a submerged submarine complete with bubbles. You all know my penchant for bubbles.
The first known instance of doubleface was documented at this cute little fish restaurant up some secret stairs in Zagreb. Afterwards we took in this awesome view of the old town from the Lotrščak Tower, where an empty cannon fires at noon everyday. In time’s past, this alerted the bell-ringers of the city’s churches to get their chime on. Zagreb folklore also tells the story of the cannon being fired centuries ago, exactly at noon into a Turkish encampment of soldiers across the river. The cannon smacked a rooster right off its platter which was on route to feed the Turkish General. The Turks freaked, scattered and abandonned their plans to attack Zagreb. Pansies.
Here we are at Tolkien’s House – A Lord of the Rings themed pub. We drank delicious lemon beer and then moved on to the themed cocktail portion of the dusky evening – Dan ordered a “Bilbo’s first time” (A Bailey’s and Apricot liqueur shooter) and the very burly, beardy proprietor nearly coughed up a lung from laughter.
We move from bar to cafe to bar and this is actually how we see most of Zagreb. It was on route to more caffeine that we meet this statue in Radiceva street at the Upper town entrance. This is the dragon slayer St. George (post slayage). Some hilarious person I wish was me had hung a string of near deflated balloons off his lance. When we see the statue , someone (possibly Ana, equally possible it was Mossy or Dan) says “I’ve killed the balloon monster!” and it was the best thing anyone had said, ever.
Here we are posing with the great big bronze ball (representing the sun) in Bogovićeva Street. It was made by the sculptor Ivan Kožarić in 1971. In 2004 artist Davor Preis decided to secretly add in all the surrounding planets in a scale model of the solar system. Preis never disclosed the locations of the planets, so discovering them turned into a game for people. Kind of like collecting Pokemon. GOTTA CATCH EM ALL – PLANETMON!
My special man friend and I recently returned from a three week sojourn to Europe where we laughed and ate our way through four amazing countries. Although I would have liked to blog on the go, I was too busy enjoying myself. (Laziness is the moral obligation of all holiday makers!)
So here to start us off, is a salt-encrusted, cinnamon-dusted, chocolate-dipped aftertaste of Berlin.
There are so many unusual places to stay in Berlin, we didn’t limit ourselves to just one. The first 2 nights we spent in the Radisson Blu in the heart of the city. The lobby of the Radisson sourrounds the world’s largest circular aquarium (housing over 1500 tropical fish) which always bathed our hotel room in a weird blue light. We also took in the underwater views from the two-story glass elevator inside the aquarium itself which is where this photo was taken. The Raddisson also holds the title for the trip’s best buffet breakfast. We totally peaked too soon.
The next two nights we spent in this light-filled loft room at the quirky Michelberger Hotel in Friedrichshain. A 2 minute walk across the Spree river takes you into the the Kreuzberg district (pretty much the birth place of the hipster) and along the largest remaining stretch of the Wall.
In order to justify six platefuls of buffet breakfasts each day, we usually skipped a sit-down lunch and made the most of Berlin’s awesome street food, snacking on currywurst and pretzels.
Most pretzel purchases were followed by eating the purchase into a crescent shape and posing for pretzel-smile photos in front of tourist attractions. Here’s one in front of the Reichstag, where German Parliaments met from 1894 to 1933 and again since 1999.
When there were no pretzels to hand, we usually fell back on that old standard, the jumping photo. Here’s one in front of the Brandenburg Gate, the only remaining town gate of Berlin.
The weirdest thing we did was visit an abandonned GDR-era amusement park, Spreepark in Treptower Park forest. It was caught halfway between a horror movie set and a really kitsch place to have a picnic.
The highlight was discovering this rickety old teacup ride just as it started to rain! (Sidenote: How cool would it be if there were jacuzzi tea cup rides?!)
The creepiest part was the creaking ferris wheel and the dinosaurs all keeled over and cracked open.
This one survived!
Berlin has been called ‘the graffiti Mecca of the urban art world’ which has helped the city to earn a UNESCO’s City of Design nod. This was taken in an alley off Rosenthaler Straße, in the old Jewish quarter of Berlin. Check out Bubble Jesus!
No graffiti tour of Berlin is complete without a walk down the longest remaining stretch of wall, the Eastside Gallery in Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg. For me, the Cold War represents the most fascinating jigsaw piece of Berlin’s history. And the wall tells the story better than any history book – On one side of the wall, the free expression of democratic West Berlin, and on the otherside, the blank walls of repressed East Berlin. It blew my mind.
Other Berlin favourites include the DDR Museum (an interactive exhibition about everyday life in East Germany) Tiergarten Park (the city’s largest park where everyone nudes up as soon as the temperature rises above 21 degrees) and Berlin Unterweldten (guided subterratean tours of historical Berlin).
Then after Berlin we flew to Zagreb, but that is a story for another day!