Just When You Thought You Have Seen Everything

Vienna is a wealth of leisure activities, my favourite are the coffee houses and Eis salons, there are many other activities but one of the most famous is the Vienna Prater. Unlike our CNE which is only open for 3 weeks, the Prater is open at least 6 months out of the year 7 days a week.

I could also go on about the less working hours for all concerned eg. hard to find stores open beyond 6:00 pm and the longer paid holidays. One could say leisure is more important than working 24/7 (so why can’t North America adopt this lifestyle?). Hence the reason why Steve and I are always seeing full coffee houses, restaurants and wine bars everytime we go into the city. Most of the people filling these places are the people of Vienna themselves.

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Back to the Prater, the land where it stands was once hunting grounds in 1560 for Emperor Maximilian. In 1766, Emperor Joseph II donated the area to the Viennese as a public leisure center (even back then leisure was important). Where upon the emperor also allowed the establishment of restaurants and snack bars, thus began the birth of the Prater. The “better” class of people came here in horse-drawn carriages, Waltz King Johann Strauss performed here much to the delight of the Viennese people.

Now I wrote about this to tell you about a lesser known Prater. Around 1900 one quarter of the originally inhabitants of 10 district (Favoriten) in Vienna had come mainly from Bohemia and Moravia (now part of Czech Republic). Not only did they live in the 10 district the also worked for the largest local employer, the Wienerberg brick factory . Thus when a smaller version of the Vienna Prater came to be in the Laaer Woods about a 150 years ago it would be known as Böhmischer Prater (Bohemian Prater).

Steve and I enjoyed a pleasurable evening at the Bohemian Prater with family and friends. There was plenty of beer to drink and food to eat. An order of ribs meant you were getting two full rack of ribs. We also enjoyed an amusement ride as the owner (rides and booths are individually owned no entrance fee) was kind enough to open up for us (12), so we went around twice. After the ride we were about to discover a gem, the owner and her son are collectors of organ grinders of all shapes and sizes. To our delight she built a small museum of their collection which is not open to the public. Tours are only given by special invite and we were given one, good thing we did the ride twice.

There must have been at least 10 different ones, which my cousin and I were allowed to play one and she played the rest.

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The amazing thing here is how back then they were to create these drums or rolls with precisely positioned nails and tacks. The different songs they were able to create was so beautiful to listen to. I was astonished to learn that the even had organ grinder festivals, one poster was advertising a Festival being held in Berlin.

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Here is a link to a showing a organ duet performed 18 years ago in the Bohemian Prater and the lady playing is the lady who gave us a tour

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TTQBjzj2bYU

There is no history lesson so old that something new cannot be told. The reason why I will never tire from visiting the same city or country over and over again, as new surprise always awaits me.

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Published in: on July 3, 2009 at 3:16 pm  Leave a Comment  

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