Thursday, January 22, 2015

In Vienna: Parks - Donauturm, Prater, Augarten

It was cold and windy when were in Austria so while we spent a lot of time outdoors we didn't linger too much in any one place; we kept our bodies moving to keep us warm. Going from point A to point B meant crossing through many of Vienna's parks, which keep the urban city feeling very green (and white, as you'll soon see).
One such park we traversed going from one destination to the next was the Donaupark (Danube Park). It's a massive park on an island of the Danube river with much to see and do, like giant chess boards, statues, a small train, a beach along the bank for the warmer seasons, skate parks, tennis courts, bike paths, a stage, and, in the spring and summer, it is filled with flowers and popular with the locals. Seeing the beauty of the park makes it hard to stomach the fact that during World War II it had been used as military parade square, a firing range, and an execution arena and then a city garbage dump until the early 1960s.
The Danube Park is also home to the tallest structure in Vienna - The Danube Tower. Its expansive views and cafes that rotate at 360 degrees make it a popular tourist attraction. It was so windy when we visited the tower that we only spent a minute on the observation deck before retreating back inside. If it weren't enclosed like a cage we might have been pushed overboard by the strong winds. In the summer the observation deck serves as a bungee jumping site for crazy people.
One of the parks close to my parents' apartment is Prater, an old imperial hunting ground turned amusement park that is open year-round. It boasts one of the oldest and tallest Ferris wheels in the world, the Riesenrad, along with many other rides and activities, including the Prater Dome, Austria's largest disco. There's no charge to enter Prater (tickets are sold for individual attractions) so we took a couple of strolls through it during our stay in Vienna. We didn't go on any of the rides, for shame, but it was too cold (in my humble Southern California opinion) to be whipping around in the frigid air.
Bird nerd tangent: these are fancy European crows called Hooded crows, a.k.a "Hoodies".
Yet another large park within Leopoldstadt, the district where my parents live, is Augarten. We walked there with Muneca on a snowy morning and even though I thought my toes felt on the verge of frostebite, it was worth it to experience the grandeur of the park first hand.
Do people who grow up living in gorgeous cities rich with history, like Vienna, get used to it and think of these sights as mundane? Because it was hard for me to grasp the enormity of it. "Oh, yeah, a Baroque park that the Imperial Family constructed. Yawn.  That? Just the second-oldest porcelain factory in all of Europe. Over there? Mm hmm, some boy's choir where Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, and Strauss performed and taught, no biggie. Those? World War II Flak towers the Nazis' built... ". I have no idea what their actual opinions are but I was mesmerized by it alll. Even the horrible Nazi-era anti-aircraft towers were hauntingly incredible. Like a stoner in a supermarket I was completely dumbfounded by so many fascinating elements.
Everything was so beautiful I kept thinking "I wonder what this looks like in the summer", imagining its beauty to be even more astounding. I can't wait to go back and visit The Imperial City all dolled up in its warm-weather attire. 


Mami said...

Ohhhh...! I love these pictures, you're a great photographer Nanita. Great post also. I feel nostalgic right now...not of the city .. not yet....but of you and Chris' company!
Miss you! ..and thank you again for allowing me to use your fantastic postings to share with my family and friends.

Coot said...

Wowowowowowow! Incredible! Also, I forgot to comment on the transportation post, WTF LOCALS NOT DOING SOUND OF MUSIC TOUR IN SALZBURG GIMMIE 1,000000000 TICKETSSSSS!