December 2019
  • Day25

    Get around the Prater

    January 6, 2020 in Austria ⋅ ⛅ 3 °C

    Following our jaunt through Augarten to look at Nazi relics, we headed toward the Prater park with the hope of winter markets and possibly an amusement park ride or two (assumed it was mostly closed in the winter).

    Sweet Jeebers it was a winner. Roller coasters with no lines. Crazy high chair swings. Bonkers swinging pendulum things, and all the other theme park trimmings.

    We could walk up to any ride we wanted and jump straight on. There was a decent little rollercoaster to start, then the mammoth chair swing. It's 117m high, in a chain secured with some small chains with your feet dangling around in the wind, and I was petrified. I couldn't look around, up, or down - just dead straight the whole time. Lex enjoyed that a lot.

    To help calm down from this we moved straight on to the giant pendulum thing. Almost as high at its peak, but travelling a lot faster than the chairs-on-chains, with the added perk of tumbling you upside down. Loved the rush of it apart from the bit where it slows down and stops with us right up the top. Panicked a bit.

    That was it for heights based rides for me. Had a play with a couple of the go-kart tracks, and then gave a house of horrors/rollercoaster a crack. Being the big horror fans we are (not) this did seem a logical decision. The photo presented to us at the end of the ride proves otherwise (pictured).

    Grabbed one more indoor rollercoaster/laser show on the way out of the rides area and headed to the Christmas market for a glühwein weiß (mulled white wine). Great success for a non-planned afternoon.
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  • Day25

    Augarten Flugabwehrkanonen

    January 6, 2020 in Austria ⋅ ☀️ 3 °C

    To spare the over-processing waste, here's some information previously prepared on these ominous towers in Augarten park, eerily surrounded by playgrounds.

    "Flak" is short for "Flugabwehrkanonen" in German – i.e. 'anti-aircraft guns'. They are gigantic bunkers, between 7 and 13 stories high, built towards the end of WWII as bases for heavy anti-aircraft gun batteries on the roof. The lower floors also served as air-raid shelter space for the city's population.

    These towers always came in pairs – one for the actual gun batteries, called the "Gefechtsturm", the other, the "Leitturm", was for radar and other tracking devices, which needed to be separate from the guns in order to work properly.

    Three cities in the Third Reich (on the territory of today's Germany and Austria) were thus supposed to be better protected from the increasing Allied bombing campaigns during the second half of WWII: Hamburg, Berlin and Vienna. The latter two had three pairs each. Only in Vienna, however, do all towers still exist. 

    The guns didn't do much to prevent the large-scale destruction from the air, but they did serve their second role well – that of providing air-raid shelter space for the densely populated cities. They also served a propaganda function, creating the illusion of safety despite the fact that this war already was as good as lost at the time these towers were erected.

    After WWII, the Flaktowers in Berlin and Hamburg were largely destroyed but those in Vienna remain.

    The pair in Augarten are almost 180 feet (55m) and rise from the open plain of the Augarten (the city's oldest park), visible from far away. The larger Gefechtsturm is also of a unique design: it's 16-sided, i.e. almost round. The tower within the army barracks is of the same design, but you can't see it from anywhere, at least not from street level in public areas. The round structure was apparently meant to be more efficient and economical – it was the latest of the three designs of these uniquely (Nazi-)German bunker structures. The Augarten pair was only finished in early 1945.
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  • Day25

    Top of the world

    January 6, 2020 in Austria ⋅ ☀️ 1 °C

    We pushed on until we found a park at the top of the world, even better, a dog park! Worth the walk indeed - what a perfect view of Vienna and puppers.

  • Day25

    Grinzing

    January 6, 2020 in Austria ⋅ ☀️ 0 °C

    We caught the #38 tram out to Grinzing, a cute suburb/village about 20 minutes from the centre, where a lot of restaurants have their own mini vineyards. We'd heard the little uphill streets were worth a walk so we set about exploring in the general direction of up, seeing fancy houses and dry leaves on the cobblestones.Read more