Saturday, July 04, 2009

The Wurstelprater

The Prater is a section of Vienna that was first mentioned in the 12th century. In the 16th century it was made a hunting ground for the Kaiser. In the 18th century, the then-Kaiser opened it up to the public. There was still hunting going on until 1920 (which thing I can't quite imagine now with all the sunbathers out in the meadows, but who am I to say?!)
In a section of the Prater, some cafes and restaurants became the start of what is now the Wurstelprater, an amusement park in the larger Prater green area. It is a kitschfest, with mainline and fair rides of sundry types. As you can imagine, it's a welcome break for the kids from the museums and castles and 'boring architecture talk' that we raise them on.
After lunch at the Schweizerhaus, we let them choose a few rides:
Here are Sebi and his dear friend Tomas on the Monzabahn. These two are three weeks apart and have known each other from birth. They already survived the trek from Vienna to Berlin when they were two. For each of them, this trip is all about, and only about, the other one. They have seen each other Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and all day Saturday, but all they want to know about tomorrow is whether and when they'll see each other. You can see by the faces that a car with no adults was a dream come true.
This concrete confection is the Hochschaubahn. In English, it calls itself Vienna's New Railway! which may once have been true, though it just celebrated its 60th anniversary. Rob takes everyone on it. It is a small rollercoaster with some garden gnomes and asphalt alps. But it is one of the oldest rides at the Prater. He also has a former student who wrote about it in his master's thesis as part of Austria's attempt to recreate its image after WWII (and they've done it -- do you associate Hitler now more with Germany or Austria? He was born and raised in the latter).
Because of the thesis, we found out that there was a homeless guy who lived in the tower for nearly a year. Things they don't tell you in the guidebooks . . . Posted by Picasa
And finally, the Donau Jump: a log ride. One of our favorites, and especially this week when the humidity has been stickifying.

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