An American Skater’s Guide To Europe

We left Philadelphia behind, bound for Frankfurt, Germany; Linz and Vienna, Austria; Prague, Czech Republic; and wherever else our skateboards took us. Tales of concrete and masonite skateparks, apple strudel, ledges of all kinds, and Europe On $5 A Day filled our heads as we endured the seven-and-a-half-hour plane ride. We were not disappointed with what we encountered.

Our first stop was Frankfurt, the industrial capital of Germany. This metropolis is home to countless ledges, benches, and really positive skaters. Hauptwache, the main skate spot, is found directly in the center of the city. Signs leading to the area are abundant, since the square is also a major shopping center. Locals converge at Hauptwache after school and work to skate its planters and stairs, then head elsewhere in search of new territory. Not far from the square is Old Opera, a picturesque building with marble ledges extending from both sides. This site is also a favorite. Frankfurt has a lot to offer in both talent and terrain, especially with the rate the city is building and expanding.

Linz, Austria was the second city on our agenda. Situated in the northern province of Upper Austria, Linz has beautiful architecture and a large variety of skateable obstacles. With a skatepark on the Danube River, marble ledges, mini ramps, gaps, stairs, handrails, and benches, the inhabitants of this area are very fortunate. This fact is certainly evident in their skating abilities. Unfortunately for us, we were unable to experience all that this fine city had to offer due to rain.

Two hours east of Linz is Vienna, the capital of Austria. This cultural center of Europe is astonishing, with its Gothic cathedral, St. Stephen’s, dating back to the 1100s. Once again, Mother Nature tried to hinder our skating, but this time to no avail. The spot we were taken to, Donauinsel, was sheltered from the rain by a bridge. The locals killed it. They attacked the ledges, stairs, and a picnic table with such consistency you would have thought a TransWorld photographer was in town. The only downfall of our limited time in Vienna was that our tour guides seemed content with skating Donauinsel both days we were in town.

Next we were off to Prague–the last leg of our trip. The capital of the Czech Republic was by far our favorite city. Prague is beautiful, friendly, inexpensive, and has more places and things to skate than we had time to see. The city houses three skateparks: Mystic Skatepark, which hosts a World Cup contest every year; Stalin, an arena-size square with marble ledges; and finally, for rainy days, a mini ramp and flat-bank area that’s located under a bridge. Prague could have easily filled a vacation on its own.

Going to Europe for the first time can be quite confusing. We were reminded of home by such domestic discomforts as overly concerned police officers, annoying Rollerbladers, and aggressive security guards. However, simple tasks such as using a phone, finding a free public bathroom, paying for things, reading a menu, and figuring out which trains to take proved to be difficult feats. For this reason, I have devised ten helpful tips to prepare a novice for overseas travel.

Ten Tips For First-Time Travelers

1. Bring extra skate goods. A complete setup can cost over 200 U.S. dollars.

2. Beer is served in McDonald’s.

3. Fares on public transportation go by the honor system, but you’ll pay a fine if you’re caught without the proper ticket.

4. Skateboarding on major roads is definitely not advised. European drivers are famous for their accelerated speeds and quick turns.

5. Everyone in Europe smokes. If you’re allergic to cigarette smoke, Europe might not be for you.

6. European soda is served warm and flat.

7. Be up on your skate gossip. Europeans like to hear the happenings of the American skate industry.

8. Europe is closed on Sundays, so make it a travel day.

9.. Have another interest besides skating (Come on, you can do it!) in case of rain.

10. Americans are generally thought of as terrible travelers, so, always thank your hosts. That way you’ll be invited back.