Sunday, 15 September 2013

The Devil wears Prater

Sometimes you need only go a few streets back from the main touristy areas, and you will enter the 'real' part of a country.  Gasthaus Kopp is a restaurant about 20 minutes away on the Vienna Underground from Westbahnhof Station, plus a 10-minute walk.  Jean saw a review about the place, claiming the food was of the highest quality.  We went there last night, and found the restaurant and clientele were very Austrian.  No English spoken here.  I had the most massive Wiener Schnitzel, while Jean had a delicious meal whose name we can't remember.

We spent the morning today at the Praterstern, a large amusement park to the northeast of the Altstadt.  The amusement park sits at the northern end of the Prater, which is a very large public park.  The Prater boasts the famous Riesenrad, meaning giant wheel, which was built in 1897 for the international expo held in Vienna in 1896-7.  It was meant to be Vienna's answer to the Eiffel Tower, built for the Paris expo a decade earlier.  Like the Eiffel Tower, the Riesenrad was meant to be only temporary, but it stayed.  Each 'carriage' in the Riesenrad looks like it has enough room for half a dozen people.  Then, there's also the more modern ferris wheel about 200 metres away that stands taller.  In the older Riesenrad, romantics can enjoy a candlelit dinner for two in the evening.

We found that this amusement park was very pleasant.  Many varied rides are here for kids of the youngest ages to adults almost in old age.  There are pony rides and tame little car rides for toddlers, horse-drawn merry-go-rounds for slightly older youngsters, as well as dodgem cars and an assortment of roller coaster rides.  There is also the ride where two people get strapped in and then catapulted to the stratosphere in about one second.  Not for me.  There is a Madame Tussaud's here,  a mirror maze, a ghost train, as well as a number of gift and souvenir shops.  There are plenty of cafes and beer gardens.  We took coffee in the Schweizerhaus.  Later, we had pork knuckle for lunch.

Afterwards, we decided to be devils and went on the roller coaster ride that hits water hard near the end.  I took photos (see below) and tried to video too.  Not easy.  It was all good fun.

Inside the Gasthof Kopp: very good food and very Austrian
I had wiener schnitzel....
The Riesenrad at the Prater
The more modern ferris wheel goes higher.
An assortment of rides is available for kids of all ages.
The first kids' merry-go-round I've ever seen with real ponies.
At the Schweizerhaus, we had coffee and tea.
For lunch, we had pork knuckle with sauerkraut and chillies. 
These mini-trains appear all over Europe.  We first saw them in Biarritz in France.  We rode one in Biarritz and another in Cannes.  I call them 'puffing billys'.
These kids are harnessed and can't fall.  Thus, they're free to test their coordination skills and their nerve.  There's something at the Prater for everybody.
Jean and I thought 'what the hell, let's do it'........
...... so, we went on the water slide.
Will we get wet.........?

Heading for the big drop....

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