I’m an adrenaline junkie. Always have been, always will be. I guess that’s why I’ve been drawn to sports like gymnastics and diving all my life. Despite the fact that flipping through the air without always knowing where you’re headed can be freaky, it’s also exhilarating—and, I guess if I want to get all philosophical since I’m at the end of my long journey, kind of a metaphor for life. Needless to say, my love for spinning and twirling my body through the air extends to one of the better things in life: roller coasters.
So, when I heard that Vienna had an amusement park, I moved that puppy to the top of my list. Even though visiting the park was always in my plans, I kind of ended up there on accident. You see, I had planned to take a leisurely Sunday off of work. I wanted to do some shopping, then maybe sit at a café and read my book (I’ve been trying to finish it for a solid two years now—at least I’ve finally passed the halfway mark!).
Those of you who live in Europe, I know what you’re thinking: “Megan, you fool. It’s a Sunday. All the shops are closed! Shouldn’t someone who’s been gallivanting around Europe for seven weeks writing for a travel guide know that?” To answer your question—yes, I did know that. But I also knew that I was headed toward the Goldenes Quarter, an area near Stephensplatz known for its luxurious, high-end fashion brands and glamorous jewelry stores. I figured if any place was going to be open on Sunday, it would be Gucci or Louis or Tiffany, or at least my dear friend Chanel.
Alas, all the stores were closed! Everything except the darn souvenir shops. Yeah, totally not my idea of a good shopping day…but you know what could save the day?
An afternoon wandering around Vienna’s sprawling theme park, Prater, sampling delicious candies, devouring ice cream cones, and testing my wits on high-flying rides and gravity-defying death drops. Eager for some adventure, I took one last look around at the empty stores and hopped on the U to head to the amusement park.
For those of you who haven’t heard of Prater (probably all of you), just picture your county fair on steroids. Easy-queasy folks can enjoy the view over northern Vienna from the Giant Ferris Wheel or test their navigation skills in the Labyrinth, while more adventurous adrenaline-junkies can take a whirlwind of a ride while spinning, twirling, and waltzing around at 120km/hr on Extasy.
With enough time at Prater, you’ll be eating fried food and sickening sweets ’til they’re coming out of your (chocolate) eyeballs. We’re talking cotton candy, soft serve, bosna, and langos (Hungarian deep-fried dough). For the record, all I indulged in were some chocolate-covered strawberries. Yes, they were as delicious as they sound.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t stomach any of the other tempting treats. Turns out that trying Extasy doesn’t quite produce the high that you think it would. Sure, the first five minutes are great. The music, strobe lights, speed, and recklessness are like something from a theme park dream. Coming down from the high? Not so great. You know what they say though – what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. After that wild ride, don’t be surprised if you see me benching 200 lbs in the weight room next week.
Healthy base tan, courtesy of the unyielding sun in Megan’s hometown in southwest Florida? Check. An insistence that gallivanting through Germany and Austria all summer does, in fact, count as exercise – after all, those cathedral steps aren’t going to climb themselves! Definitely. A command of the native languages and the confidence that one mere backpack will get her through two months abroad? Now slow down there, she didn’t say she was Wonder Woman. While neuroscience and chemistry may be this coffee-loving, beach-bumming, fashion-adoring springboard diver’s forte, Megan is hoping to expand her appreciation for the finer things in life (beer, currywurst, schnitzel, melange…) before returning to the reality that all good things must come to an end, as evidenced by her impending senior year.