Mr P loves horses.  He is with horses the way I am with cats — luckily, he has enough common sense to know that, at present, owning even one would be untenable.  We had hoped to go to the famous riding school while we were here but knew in advance that they close for six weeks in the summer and the stallions are moved to a summer camp where they rest from their daily rigors and get some “R & R.” They also get to service suitable mares to provide the next generation of stars.

So instead of watching the horses being put through their paces I decided to offer Mr P his horse fix in the form of a horse and carriage ride around Vienna. I have to say that in the balmy sunshine the whole experience was most delightful.

We chose our carriage with care. Most of them are veteran, if not antique, and offer seats of varying comfort. As most of the inner city is cobbled, and we are both prone to the odd back ache now and then, we looked for a carriage that had well padded seats. Mr P was also keen on choosing one that was drawn by healthy looking horses who were well-groomed. we also wanted someone who looked as though they had made an effort — no jeans and T-shirt for us!

There are standard fares/charges in operation — these were 40 euros for 20 minutes, 80 euros for 45 minutes and 120 euros for 90 minutes.  You also have the option to hire for the day or half day.  Note this charge is for the carriage itself — not per person.  Most carriages will sit four people — sometimes a 5th can sit up front with the driver.  Some only sit two.

Let me introduce you to Wolfgang Fasching or Georg Fasching — otherwise known as the “Fiaker Baron” — our driver for the next 45 minutes.

Oh did we get lucky — just how lucky we were not aware of until we got home. We probably got the most infamous/famous Fiaker in Vienna.  You can read an interview with him on page 34 of this online magazine and there are videos of him on YouTube in German.

He spoke excellent English and after helping us both up into his carriage asked us what we would like to see. We explained this was our first visit and the rough route we took when we walked around. We then asked to see a little more of the history and the magic of Vienna.

Here is a photographic record of our ride around the historic center of Vienna.

First landmark is the oldest Irish Pub in town.

The Clock Museum — this is on the list for the next visit — as is the Hat Museum where you also get to wear fancy hats on the guided tour.

The fire house — the first of the historic quarters of the Fire Service in Vienna were built in 1731 and have been functioning as a working fired department ever since. The complex now comprises of three buildings all covered by “protected status.” This is still the main fire station for Vienna and the building has been adapted for modern use. One of the buildings serves as a museum which is open to the public.

Stunning building — shame about the name — however Wiener Koch is also a kind of Charlotte Russe or trifle composed of ready-baked cake or biscuits combined with a variety of other sweet ingredients for flavoring and arranged in a soufflé dish and this restaurant has specialized in baking these for centuries.

Schubert’s Restaurant — so-called because he once lodged here.

City Walls — mainly interesting because of the remaining original roof structure on the building behind.

No.13 Am Hof is the fairly stolid 17th-century Palais Collalto, famous as the setting for Mozart’s first public engagement at the ripe age of six.

Beautiful Ironwork — Hofburg Palace.

Approaching the domed archway into the Hofburg Palace.

Looking up at the domed archway Hofburg Palace.

There were many more nooks and crannies and back streets explored — all telling the tale of what shaped Vienna. The coffee houses, the churches, palaces and statues. Many famous buildings are now embassies, houses for the head of government, Mayor and ministers. Understandably, there were “no photograph” signs around these buildings.

After a most enjoyable fifty minutes — we got an extra five minutes thrown in we returned to our starting point by St Stephen’s Cathedral.

The Baron then shared his photography skills by taking a photograph of us in his famous carriage.

After we had disembarked and he had watered his horses we — well Mr P — then spent about ten minutes chatting to him about the horses, their breed, their characteristics, how far he had to travel with them to work each day and all things horsey.

I can recommend taking time out and taking a look around Vienna this way — try and get the Baron — he is definitely worth waiting for.

22 Comments

  1. This starts and ends as a horse story — without any horses! Do you have any photographs? I think your real tour guide had four legs! SMILE! I do love it that the first shot of the Baron has his ponytail on display — it really does look like a pony’s tail!

    What a magnificent ride. I could feel the city all around me. You are a most excellent tour guide! You really get a sense of history, I’m thrilled you wanted the “old route” and didn’t feel obligated to budge around all the new architecture!

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  2. Think that should be corrected by now – I forgot that first pic when I was sending them all ! DOH.

    Most of the old city is protected by statute and is also part of a World heritage site. Yes there are a lot of modern shops – Apple, Ferrari, all the major banks and even one arm of the UN itself – they all have to adapt the buildings they use. The Fiaker usually only operate inside the old city which has a lot of narrow cobbled streets as well as the large walkways – no chance of modern in there.

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    1. YAY! Fixed! I think that’s my favorite image of the whole tour. Your three tour guides, ready, waiting, and excited to have you on board! They’re all so beautiful!

      It is really fascinating to see a city honor its ancient soul. In the USA, we get so man tear downs of what the old cities used to be. Only the expensive is preserved. The antiquated ordinary is meant for the dustbin. Streets rarely survive. Buildings have a better chance of being “preserved.”

      They recently re-paved the streets in front of our house in Jersey City. That meant stripping off all the old road down to the base core of the “real street” below. The original street were cobblestone! So beautiful and rich and dating from the the early 1600s. I was amazed at the size and weight of each stone. Then, a week later, it was all covered up again with “new” asphalt to create a better, and less, brittle ride for the modern master. All that history was gone and covered up again and quickly forgotten. Such a heartbreak!

      It’s nice to know there are places in the world that still honor the old world — the real, and more revelatory world — and I’m glad you documented that magnificence for us!

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      1. SMILE

        They were just the ticket !

        I hope you took pictures of your street as it was before they recovered it.

        Lisbon still has cobbled pavements as well as some cobbled streets. The pavements are of a special white cobble called calçada portuguesa.

        Here is a video of them being made:

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        1. I did not take photos of the cobblestones! Gah! I was always mesmerized by them and felt such sadness that the beauty would soon be covered up. I’ll have to look for another street in the area to document!

          Love that video!

          Our cobblestones were like square granite bricks and they were put in the street end down — creating a long-lasting, and deep stone that would never wear away.

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          1. what a shame …………

            Live the sound of your cobblestones – the Portuguese variety are sometimes uneven and come loose – I always wear sneakers in Lisbon so I do not trip !

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    1. Hope the city at least archived it ………….. it seems a shame to have it all hidden away . Guess they are keen to look forward and literally build on the past.

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      1. I’m sure it’s much cheaper to just rip and replace instead of restore.

        At some of the major intersections Jersey City did install a faux “orange brick” for the crosswalks. Installed last Summer, the veneer is already cracking. It looks awful.

        Love the last photo in this article. The two of you look so happy and content and pleased!

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  3. Always is – especially if you allow the “old ways” to die out , very few people have the skills to restore these days and the ones that do quite rightly charge a fortune.

    Ah so the big Apple now has orange peel?

    We were very happy indeed – something had gone more than right – and the Baron has a knack of knowing what to bring to the party which made it all the better.

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    1. The orange peel crosswalks are in Jersey City. The first day they looked incredibly sleek and beautiful. Then the busses started running over them as the ordinary part of the day and they started getting tire marks and cracking in half. So they’re a brick veneer and not actually real bricks. Great idea, bad execution. They looked right for about three weeks. Now they just look run over and sad.

      I’m so glad you shared the Baron with us! He’s a once-in-a-lifetime sort of man!

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  4. Very nice photo at the end there. Guess you didn’t manage to get the drivers autograph? I am happy to know your trip has made a turn for the better from your initial post as you all started out on your journey.

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    1. Hello 🙂

      I / we are more than happy for you to link to this post from your website. I am also happy for you to use any of the images from this post provided you down load them from this site and then load them onto your server and that credit is given to me – Nicola Brown and to this web site bolesblogs.com . I can if you wish provide you with larger versions of your chosen image should you wish.

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