Monday, September 21, 2015

Vienna's Tech City

Most people come to Vienna to see the museums and the Opera (amongst other things).

One thing you might not expect to see in Vienna is a modern technology village. While J was in his first conference session, I went exploring as I always do. Instead of heading straight to the city center, I decided to walk north to UN city. There is a large UN office and technology hub in Vienna Donau City. Young business professionals with company badges breeze in and out of high rises. There are gyms, restaurants, trendy coffee shops, and lots of technies. This little city is very modern looking and quite a contrast from the traditional Vienna landscape across the Danube.

To get to Donau City, you need to walk across the bridge over the Danube River. There is a pedestrian walkway under the bridge for non-motor vehicle travellers (like myself). Upon beginning my walk across the bridge, I was a little nervous that maybe I'd gone the wrong way. There was a lot of graffiti on the pedestrian walkway and I didn't see anyone else walking around me. Later, I passed a group of tourists with bulky cameras around their necks and I knew I was okay.

Once I reached the Donau City, it sort of reminded me of Washington, D.C.'s outskirt cities like Rosslyn in Northern Virginia. There is even a metro stop in D.C. called Vienna. Donau City must be the new up-and-coming place to work in Vienna. I certainly saw a lot of well dressed yuppies.

Because I like to really get to know a place when I travel, I spent some time wondering around Donau City. I took the pedestrian walkway on the other side of the bridge and this time passed many more people walking to work. There is a well connected Metro stop right at the center of Donau City, but I choose to walk whenever possible.

My next stop was the equally modern looking Vienna University of Economics and Business where the finance conference was being held. The campus is composed of bright, futuristic buildings. The Vienna University of Economics and Business could not look more different than my southern U.S. university.

Passing the St. Francis of Assisi Church walking the bridge to the Donau City.

Life as a yuppie techie in Donau City.

Leaving the Donau City back to Vienna center.
Graffiti galore along the bridge.
I would hate to be his ex-girlfriend, or current girlfriend.
The Vienna University of Economics and Business.

More to come on the museums of Vienna and Sacher chocolate cake!

Monday, September 7, 2015

Prater Park, Vienna

At the end of August, we travelled to Vienna, Austria for the European Finance Association annual conference. My husband and several of his colleagues were attending the conference from the university. I always like going on conference trips because I can sightsee while my husband is in his meetings.

I'd been to Vienna before, three years ago while I was finishing my first year in Spain. My American rommmate and I were taking a train trek through Europe on an InterRail Pass. The two of us arrived in Vienna from Munich. I remember thinking Vienna was a very regal city. Very 'old European' style.

This visit I was staying slightly further out of the city center, close to the university that was hosting the conference. Our hotel was conveniently right next to Prater Park, one of the oldest amusement parks in the world! We had great views from our window. At night you could even hear people screaming from some of the scarier rides. We had to walk through the park to get to the Metro, so we got to know it pretty well by the end of the trip . It's really an interesting mix of attractions: roller coasters, waterslides, merry-go-round, freefalls, horror houses, spinning teacups... you name it, they've got it. In summary, it's one part cheesy county fair, one part legit thrill rides.

View from our window of the Vienna Prater.
A few old-school roller coasters.
Spinning sombreros.
Carnival games.

J and one of his colleagues even felt bold enough to try the scariest ride in the park: The Turbo Boost! The description for this ride guarantees a 'zero-gravity' thrill. (

I volunteered to take pictures.

Smiles and thumbs-up at the beginning...
About to be slung upwards at incredible speeds.
The ride makes multiple 360 rotations, occasionally pausing mid-rotation, leaving riders sitting for several minutes suspended at the top. No thank you.

Upon doing further research of the park, I discovered that the Vienna Prater has the world's tallest chair swing! Every night when we passed through the park, I felt the pressure. I had to ride it. I mean, how often would I have this chance? Anyone who knows me knows that I don't ride thrill rides. Traditionally, chair swings aren't per se 'thrill rides', however one that rotates 383 feet above the air, I'd classify as scary. (To put that in real life terms, that 29 stories up!) 

On our final night in Vienna, I knew it was now or never. Against J's disbelief, I strapped myself in next to him on the highest swing of our lives. The combination of the chairs rotating and ascending is slightly unnerving. I thought I could handle it because I enjoyed the chair swing in Six Flags Over Georgia. Child's play.

From the top, you could see the lights from the city. The views were beautiful. But realistically, you're too busy trying to mentally distract yourself from the knowledge of just high up you are to really take it all in. Once we had reached the top and were making our rotations, I realized that I had barely breathed the whole way up. J also noted the tight death squeeze I had on his hand. Once I relaxed a little to breathe, I could momentarily enjoy the ride. I could make out a few of the iconic buildings we had visited earlier in the day. It was certainly an experience. I'm glad I can say I've been on the world's tallest chair swing! It's not something you get to do everyday! 

The Praterturm, all 29 stories!
Those tiny white dots are the chairs. Yikes.
Check off another experience off the bucket list!
Would you dare to do this swing?

Prater Park is also known for it's famous ferris wheel, an icon of the city built 1896/7. It's a slow moving rotation and you can even eat in the restaurant inside some of the cars. Check out more info about Vienna's favorite amusement park here: