When my husband requested me to go on Vienna’s well-known Ferris wheel for in regards to the thirtieth time simply earlier than Christmas 2015, I wasn’t anticipating something out of the atypical. I undoubtedly wasn’t anticipating to get engaged. Quick ahead six-and-a-half years and I discover myself right here once more, my left hand – full with marriage ceremony ring – firmly clamped on his arm as we make the identical journey once more, however this time with a little bit of a distinction.
As a substitute of admiring the view over the town from the security of one in all its 15 carriages, we have been standing on a transparent glass platform suspended between two of them, all whereas strapped to a steel bar some 67 metres off the bottom. “Take a look at your toes,” stated our chaperone Shivi. “No,” I considerably snappily reply.
What’s the Wiener Riesenrad?
The Wiener Riesenrad – to offer it its full title – has briefly put in ‘Platform 9’ to rejoice its a hundred and twenty fifth birthday. Suspended between carriages 8 and 10, the glass platform fills a niche left the place each second carriage was eliminated after struggling injury throughout World Struggle II.
By sheer coincidence, carriage 10 was additionally the one we have been standing in when my husband proposed – one thing seemingly unacknowledged by the opposite passengers on the time, regardless of my different half happening on one knee. If that they had observed, maybe we’d have a greater picture than a barely blurry selfie rapidly snapped as our experience ended.
The Riesenrad has lengthy been an emblem of Vienna
In-built 1897 to rejoice the Golden Jubilee of Franz Joseph, the Riesenrad has lengthy been an emblem of the Austrian capital. It was almost demolished in 1916, however was spared because of an absence of funds. It burned down in 1944 and was rebuilt simply three years later, along with different Viennese landmarks the Stephansdom, the Staatsoper and the Burgtheater, such was its symbolic worth to the postwar metropolis.
The Ferris wheel has been spinning ever since, solely stopping for the primary time in 73 years because of COVID. Simply as after the battle, it was ceremoniously reopened by Viennese mayor Michael Ludwig as an emblem of Vienna’s post-pandemic restoration. It stays the oldest working Ferris wheel on the earth.
Movie buffs could recognise it from the likes of Eighties James Bond film ‘The Residing Daylights’ or Nineties traditional ‘Earlier than Dawn’. However its most well-known cinematic hyperlink is with British movie noir traditional ‘The Third Man’, starring Orson Welles and set amid the corruption of post-war Vienna.
Past my engagement, the Riesenrad has one thing of a private hyperlink for me too. I grew up as a Brit in Vienna and spent many summers counting out my cash to go on the rides of the encircling Prater funfair – a lot of which haven’t modified.
However by the point I returned to the UK as a scholar within the late Nineties, I’d been on the Riesenrad a grand whole of half a dozen instances, if that. Then I met the person who ended up being my husband, and he has insisted on us taking at the least one spin on each go to to the town since.
How the Riesenrad grew to become an emblem of my very own
Ultimately depend, we reckon he has dragged me on it about 50 instances and it’s turn into one thing of a operating joke. Our marriage ceremony ‘save the date’ playing cards featured a photograph of us in entrance of it and my hen do began on it.
Once we bought married within the vineyards overlooking vienna in the summertime of 2017, the Riesenrad stood within the distance. A day later, we even bought a number of dozen of our marriage ceremony company on it, unfold throughout two carriages, with me getting a free ticket because of taking part in ‘instructor.’
So after we discover out the Riesenrad is operating Platform 9, it looks as if a no brainer for us to test it out. After reserving on-line, we flip up on the ticket workplace as we’ve performed dozens of instances earlier than. However as an alternative of standing within the common queue we’re taken across the again to signal a kind confirming, amongst different issues, that we don’t have a concern of heights. Together with chaperone Shivi, we’re then securely harnessed up earlier than being led to the entrance of the queue to attend for Platform 9 to reach.
It quickly turns into apparent that we’ve turn into a part of the attraction ourselves – with vacationers gawping as we step on to what appears to be like like a niche between two common carriages. For those who’re going to rooster out, now’s the time, because the wheel can solely reverse thus far.
Then off we spin. The Riesenrad is much from speedy – a full rotation lasts round 10-to-Quarter-hour – however my largest problem is popping round to face outwards, as I really feel safer once I can see the construction we’re connected to.
Driving Platform 9 is like standing on air above the town
Although my legs nonetheless really feel like jelly, the exhilaration of feeling like I’m standing on air quickly makes it worthwhile. A well-known view turns into that little bit completely different with the wind blowing in your face and seemingly nothing beneath your toes.
This being the smartphone period, you’re allowed to take your cell with you in a particular bag hanging round your neck – plus the chaperone is comfortable to behave as photographer. The images we’ve from the highest definitely make up for our barely disappointing post-engagement selfie.
However maybe probably the most surreal little bit of the experience is definitely happening, while you watch the individuals milling round like dots within the busy piazza beneath as you slowly rotate again to the place you began. Hidden between two carriages, it’s nearly like they will’t see you.
The Riesenrad has lengthy been a chunk of Vienna’s historical past. As we come to the underside, and the adrenaline settles, it happens to me that we’ve simply written one other chapter of our personal historical past, too.
The Wiener Riesenrad’s Platform 9 experience runs each Saturday and Sunday till 30 October and prices €89 per individual. E-book on-line right here.