Thursday, April 14, 2011

Vienna has gone to hell in a Fiaker

On Sunday a pair of Fiaker horses went berserk and caused havoc.

(I am guessing it is difficult for only one of a pair of Fiaker horses to go berserk. The other one would not have a bar of it).

According to the Austrian Independent it was almost a major catastrophe which would have finished Vienna as a tourist destination.

To quote (selectively):

‘Dozens of holidaymakers fled in horror as two horses bolted in the heart of city.  The Fiaker carriage horses thundered through the Hofburg Palace’s main passage  – which is frequented by thousands of vacationers every day. Several tourists strolling through the busy passage managed to get clear at the very last moment as the crazed animals came galloping from behind them.

(Does this mean that some other thousands of tourists did not get clear? Did some tourists move before the last moment? Did the horses appear in front of any tourists or were all the tourist moving in the same direction? Ed.)

The incident was the latest in a wave of unfortunate occasions involving Fiaker carriage horses, which are one of the capital’s main tourism attractions.

Earlier this year, a six-year-old horse died on the spot under unclear circumstances in the city center.

(It apparently does not take much to constitute a 'wave' for the Independent. I am unsure of the relationship between thundering horses and a horse that dropped dead on the spot – other that that they were all horses.  The horse that dropped dead does not seem to represent a risk to tourists – unless they were under it at the time. Ed.)

The fatality was preceded by an incident in which a Fiaker driver was run down by his own carriage after the horses suddenly bolted.’


(Well that is just plain stupid. The driver is supposed to be on top Ed.)

I think they should put up posters on street corners. ‘Beware Thundering or Crazed Horses’ (In many languages of course). The German word for horse is Pferde which of course is complete nonsense.

Then on Monday a tourist was knocked over by a tram. This is a problem for many tourists who are not familiar with trams – which often come from – as far as they are concerned  - the wrong direction. This is a weekly event. (but with different tourists)

Sure trams are big and noisy but tourists wander about staring at buildings and taking photos with their mouths agape – and then Whammy! 

We may have to equip trams with big rubber bumpers – like perhaps the ones on jumping castles - because this happens a lot here - and you just cannot stop a tram on a dime. 

Two days ago there were fire fears at Schönbrunn Palace. Fire fighters rushed there because the alarms went off and they found a hot cable. The Independent is worried about the impact this may have on tourism.

I mean if there had been a fire – and if the palace had been packed with people – and they were trapped inside – and the doors had been locked – and the fireman had left their axes behind – and had no water - well it could have been a catastrophe. This was another narrow escape which could have ended tourism as we know it in Vienna.  

And just to top things off. The most photographed statue in Stadtpark is that of Johann Strauss.

I walked through the park yesterday and – would you believe it – it has been boarded up for renovations – until September. So it is obscured for all of the main tourist season.

What sort of message does that send to the hordes of people who flock there daily? I mean you may as well go to France and photograph one of the thousands of cathedrals under scaffolding. At least you go to France knowing full well that all the cathedrals are covered in scaffolding - and as far as I can tell have been since the 19th century. 

I am not sure where we go from here. The only good news on the horizon is the Toni and Guy (those hairdressing people from the UK) are planning a dramatic expansion in Austria. They currently have only one store in the city so I guess any expansion would be dramatic.

This should pull us out of the doldrums while we work our how to calm down the crazed Fiaker horses – and also stop them from dropping dead in their tracks.


  1. Horses, by nature, spend most of their lives standing up, i.e. they don't lie down very often.

    I don't see why it's surprising, therefore, that one should 'drop dead'.

    But, then again, I'm not on the reporting staff at the Independent!

    As for the statue of Strauss, the City probably thinks it will make tourists return in a year or two when it will be displayed in splendour. Or is this too far-sighted for your bureaucrats?

  2. Where in the world do you find that newspaper?

  3. Brilliant stuff pp. Do the independent and the tele share journos?
    Actually that should be "journos"

  4. It's been far too long since I've visited Vienna...

  5. Wanderlust: Indeed - there is much angst about this whole business.

    Annie: Well - they all dies sooner all later - and some will dies standing up. I am not sure the Independent people know this. Much to far sighted.

    lenny: They may as well. The Independent "journos" are based in the UK.

    Jessica: It's a perfect time....