You’d think that we would rest for a little while after an almost ten hour journey, right? Nope. Mummy’s trick for beating jetlag is to adjust to the time zone of a new country. It was quite effective in Vancouver and it turned out to be equally successful in Austria too.
As soon as we got to the hotel, we set out again to explore the surroundings. We came by a grocery store where Papa bought a sim card for Austria and some fruits as short meals. Papa loves his short meals; that’s one of his health secrets. But things got quite complicated as all the cashiers spoke only German. We somehow overcame the language barrier and paid for our things. We went back to our hotel and had an exotic lunch of cup noodles.
Soon, we left for Prater Amusement Park. The receptionist had advised that we would have to catch a bus from a spot quite near to the hotel. We walked a few blocks in search of the bus station but couldn’t find one. We turned around a curve and asked an old lady for directions. The poor old lady couldn’t understand English and tried to respond in German. She looked around helplessly and then her face suddenly lit up with relief. She pointed towards an Indian man in a nearby park. We thanked her and walked to reach the man. He seemed glad to find out that we were Indians and readily told us how to get to the amusement park. He whipped out his phone, searched up the stations and helped us with the various stations we would have to stop at and the many different means of transport we would have to take. He invited us for a cup of tea at his house which was only a few blocks away, but since we were already running late we had to politely decline.
There was a tram station just next to the park. We got into a tram which took us to the train station to take a train for the the main station, Wien Hauptebahnof. From here we bought tickets as per the destinations included in our travel plans for the days to come. Finally we got onto a bus to reach Prater Amusement Park.
Prater Amusement Park was exactly how I imagine amusement parks to be. A variety of seemingly dangerous rides, vendors selling balloons and toys at the sides of streets, people of all ages enjoying themselves, colourful posters adorning the entire place and huge queue at the ticket booth. We got into the line and bought Prater cards. The card armed us with free access to almost all the rides.
The first place we went to was Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum. Unless you have been living under a rock your entire life, you would know that Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum exhibits wax figures of famous achievers from different parts of the world and different eras. The first figure was of Maria Theresa, the last and only female ruler of the Hapsburg dynasty. Her wax figure was displayed alongside her daughter, Marie Antoinette, who went on to become the queen of France. As we kept going, we saw several other wax figures, such as Queen Elizabeth, Mozart, Beethoven, Mahatma Gandhi, Albert Einstein, Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe, Taylor Swift, One Direction, Barack Obama, Anne Frank and countless others.
The figures were so life-like! As if they would stand up and start walking at any second. Alongside the amazing figures, the area near every figure was meticulously designed to match their interests – including the things they were famous for. Barack Obama had an office to himself, Queen Elizabeth had a throne, Albert Einstein had a blackboard behind him with equation “E=mc2” inscribed on it and Anne Frank had a tiny, run-down room where she was writing her diary. A remarkable experience to walk through so many change-makers representing diverse eras.
We went on to meet Ishwinder uncle, a friend of Papa’s. He took us to an ice-cream parlour in the park called ‘Eismehr’. Those were delicious home-made ice creams, freshly prepared every day by the family that ran the parlour. What a lovely way to beat the heat. It was much hotter than we had expected. We had brought light sweaters and jackets expecting it to be cold! It was almost the same temperature as it had been in Mumbai, although a bit more pleasant.
After wiping off our ice creams, we went for a ride – a small roller coaster going through water. I was really excited, Mumma was indifferent and Papa was scared. It was not a very huge roller coaster, only one drop which was not even that deep.
Papa got really scared in the middle of the ride and wanted to get off, but we obviously couldn’t. When we went down the last slope, we got splashed with water. I got off the ride, dizzy but happy. Mumma had enjoyed it too. Papa… not so much. As soon as he got off the ride, he vowed to never try such stunts again.
Next, I went on a free fall. This time I went alone because no one else wanted to go with me. Also, because it was a kid’s ride. It was really fun.
Freefall is one of my favourite rides. When you ascend, you feel calm and just watch the distance between the ground and you increase, the people on the ground get reduced to tiny ants and you keep on getting closer to the sky. Then suddenly you start coming down really fast and you feel like you’re about to fly off your seat. When we had gone to an amusement park for our school trip, my best friend Aditi had advised me to keep looking upward towards the sky because if you look down, you’re going to get scared because of the distance. I had followed her advice and had a lot of fun, but she ended up not following her own advice and was screaming the entire time we were on the ride. Well, I did the same while I was on this ride as well. It was a marvellous experience.
Photographs by Insha Faridoon