Wiener Eislaufverein: Pirouets and Punsch

Vienna’s Favorite Winter Pasttime on 6,000 Square Meters of Ice, One of the Largest Open Air Skating Rinks in the World

Wiener Eislaufverein

The Wiener Eislaufverein, pictured here in 1908, first opened in 1867 | Photo: AEIOU.at

A brief five-minute walk from the underground station Stadtpark (U4), past the InterContinental’s restaurant brought us to the Wiener Eislaufverein, the Viennese Ice Skating Association Rink. We were already excited, but our haste grew as we peered through the plexi-glass paneling at the skating public twirling, pirouetting and dancing away to the lilting songs floating across the ice through the outdoor speakers.

After paying the entrance fee of €5.50 for students (general admission €7), we walked along the rink to the rental hall, where it is possible to take out a pair of skates for a modest fee, PRICES AND TERMS and deposit bags and jackets at the Garderobe attended by two charming women, who also speak English. After paying the fee, a clerk checked the sharpness of the blades, we sat sit on the benches and get ready to hit the ice.

As I wobbled out of the rental hall on a rubber mats along the boardwalk, a joyous sense of anticipation spread through me, and I tried to quicken my pace to get to the ice faster. My ankle buckled and I promptly sat down.  To avoid embarrassment, I decided, it’s better to be patient, as speeding up will only catch the teeth of your skates in the rubber and cause you to nosedive, or just make you look ridiculous as you teeter along, attracting less than desirable attention. It’s really not that long of a wait.

When my skates finally touched the ice, it took me a couple of minutes to settle and regain my balance. Looking over my shoulder, I saw my friends were in the same situation. I forced a smile.

But after the first couple of rounds, our movements became more flowing, and we started worrying less about our backside greeting the ground, and more about blending in with the soft sway of the classical music and the delicious ease of a skater’s motion.  The longer we spent on the ice, the more secure we got, and watching the people around us dancing with magical grace and moving in sync with the music, we found ourselves trying to do the same.

Then it was time for a break and we headed to the Punsch Stand in the middle of the ice. This is an irresistibly handy feature, which serves alcoholic (to adults) and non- alcoholic drinks to skaters of all ages. Perfect for a little rest, it offers warmth and restoration to cold fingers and dry throats. In the restaurant adjacent to the rink (also accessible right through the rink, with the ice skates on), we found a wider variety of drinks than at the stand, and also various dishes, ranging from a snack or sandwich, to a plate of pasta or schnitzel with potatoes.

After three hours of intense ice skating, exhaustion got the best of us, even another  stops at the Punsch stand was not enough to “re-energize”. Unwillingly, we admitted that we had to leave because neither of us could master the strength to continue, we all made our way to the benches to get the skates off our sore feet. Walking in soft sneakers again felt like heaven, after three hours in the stiff leather of the skates

But we had enjoyed ourselves so much, we really did not want to stop, until utterly necessary (it was nearly closing time anyway). We are already planning our next time, and maybe by the end of the season, we’ll pirouette too.

 

Wiener Eislaufverein

Mon., Sat., Sun. 09:00- 20:00

Tue.- Fri. 09:00- 21:00

Prices: €6, reductions for children,

seniors and students (valid ID)

Last two hours: €3

Skate Rental: €5,50, Garderobe €1

Lothringerstr 22, 1030

Tel: +43(0)17136353-0

www.wev.or.at

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