From when Niantic announced the Safari Zones, I wanted desperately to get to one. My first ‘event’ was Chester in the UK which was where I met and got to know properly some of my fellow London Valor players who are such amazing and interesting people and hopefully some might become ‘friends for life’. I caught the first Articuno and Lugia also released in Chester – achieving there a catch rate that sadly failed to replicate across the legendary spectrum. But that was not an official Safari Event (and I’m a little peeved that despite completing the history questionnaire, the requested ‘prize’ poke stop in a little ‘dead zone’ in our London burb has never materialised).
I had planned to go to Paris but that was scuppered by the date change. (I have a young family and a full-time job that often requires weekend working. I started playing two days after the game launched along with our teen son, who’s had to take a break for GCSEs. My husband however has another addiction – the Telegraph crossword! Almost as intellectually stimulating as Pokémon Go, I tell him.)
So the only weekend of the new dates that was remotely feasible was the Stockholm/Amsterdam weekend. I love Amsterdam, always have. A bit unwisely, perhaps, I went ahead and booked a cheap hotel and flights. Before Safari booking had opened.
Now in London there are two ‘giants’ of Pokemon Go – both Valor of course. AndyDratini and GavStar. (I think both have more than 50m xp.) And it goes without saying, both are totally legit players. Gav managed to get a ticket for Paris. Once it became apparent how huge the ticket demand was and how almost impossible it was to succeed, I sought advice from them on how to go about it and read Discord avidly.
I spent about 3 hours to register for a Unibail Rodamco loyalty card at Stadhart Amstlvn in Amsterdam, familiarised myself with the Unibail website and Facebook page on Chrome and made sure auto-translate was on for Dutch.
At 8.55 on registration I was ready! Well, I made it to the ‘you are not a robot’ tick box, painstakingly filling out the loyalty card details, and then – nothing but an ‘empty’.
But I was going to Amsterdam on non-refundable tickets. And I wanted that badge!
I learned a lot from the Amsterdam registration. Being a super-fast typist (I am) was not enough. I shouldn’t have bothered with the loyalty card.
So I decided to have another go an hour later for Stockholm.
This time I flew through the registration, ignoring as many boxes as possible and guessing the Swedish which was not that different from Dutch. I didn’t even change the ‘bla’ ✅ to whatever Swedish is for red. Were Niantic really going to turn me away for that? Of course not.
Of course I had to go, now I had the first of the 2 QR codes. And really a quick city hop to Stockholm Arlanda would not be that different from getting a 🚌 to the burbs of Amsterdam.
I got the last seat on the first flight out of Schiphol to Arlanda and was up at 4.30. Then it was an easy train ride to Solna with a station just yards from the Mall of Scandinavia. The Dutch and Swedes really know how to do public transport. Free wi-fi on all the trains which are so roomy and luxurious. (Why are we crazy Brits with our horrible overcrowded narrow trains turning our backs on Europe?)
I was at Solna at 10.30 and had 5 hours before I needed to leave for the return flight.
I had four goals:
- Shiny Pichu egg
Anything else was a bonus.
I was very blessed that another friend from London, Elysha, had also got a ticket to Solna. She met me in the registration queue and then we did laps. The sheer number ofand rares was incredible. I’d emptied my egg storage and quickly accumulated 2k eggs which just as quickly hatched as we walked round and round, harvesting and plussing countless Larvitars (larvitae?), Chanseys, starters plus their , Mareeps – and a fair few shinies. My very first catch of the event was actually Elysha scooped at least one 💯 and I got more than a few high 90s including a 98.
It was so so worth it. Next time though – if I’m lucky again and there is a next time – I will take time to sit and catch as well as walk. The plus was much happier, with such a bewildering number to choose from, when we were stationary. I caught one shiny Karp. (Wish I had thought to do a witty ‘flushing’ AR for the competition but sometimes I’m a bit slow like that 🙄). Minutes earlier, another shiny when we were sitting down for lunch.
Next time I will definitely not book flights and hotel before getting a ticket. And also I’ll make sure I can do the full event and not have to leave at 3.30pm.
I got back to Amsterdam in time to catch some Suicunes at the end of the Amstelveen event, but not in time to see if my QR code worked in both cities. And then on Sunday there was still time to farm Karps and Dratinison that city’s beautiful canals on the eternal quest for those two elusive badges, big Karp and dragon. And to snap that is the first I’m trying for the competition!
It was just such a great experience in two of Europe’s greatest cities.
I love my event badge, my 10 Unowns (including thethat turned up one day during the EUROPE event round the corner from our house), my new shiny Karps and Pikas.
But still no Shiny Pichu for me 😭 – the quest continues!