Parque de Atracciones Monte Igueldo is far enough off the beaten track that many enthusiasts may never get there. Given that, even we were surprised that our trip planning brought us within the broad range of the place for a second time in less than three months. This broad range was needless to say well over five hundred kilometers. Nevertheless reason is invariably overruled in these situations; we wanted to go there, so we did. Sanity is indeed overrated.
We were making fairly good time on our drive until we crossed the Spanish border just north of San Sebastián. The city authorities had chosen today to close several major routes, including those we were planning to use. One might have expected trusty satnav to come into its own when faced with such things, but it was not to be; instead, it added insult to injury by leading us down a single lane mountain roadway all the way back towards the very same junction we'd had to detour from earlier. Eventually we found a road we recognised, but not before some particularly colourful language had been released into the wild.
The park was practically deserted when we arrived, and as such we were resigned to the fact that we'd be missing out once again. However, closer inspection revealed otherwise; Montaña Suiza (#1203) was open. A rather seasoned gentleman with a powerful smelling cigar was alternating between ticket sales and brakeman. We got the definite impression that he'd been doing both jobs for much of the preceding century. Be that as it may, he was quite happy to run his ride even for a single passenger.
Amusement technology has advanced somewhat in the eighty years since this ride first opened to the public. Nevertheless, Montaña Suiza has many things going for it. It has what may well be the most impressive natural scenery of any coaster in the world, surpassing even the rides at Ocean Park and Tibidabo. It has no restraints at all, allowing all riders to experience a modicum of carefully controlled airtime. It is sufficiently gentle that the whole family can enjoy it. In short, I liked it a lot, and was quite pleased to note it as my 1200th coaster. As one of the last remaining scenic railways in the world it is a true historical treasure and one that I hope continues to operate for many years to come.
It would be remiss of me not to conclude this report without at least a passing mention of a wonderful text message received from Martin moments after we told him we'd been able to ride. Though only one word in length, it nevertheless carried enough emotional content to make us laugh for much of the next hour. Thanks Martin; we appreciate it!