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Daily Pampering: Carriage rides in Vienna
When you find yourself in Vienna, surrounded by palatial architecture and the echoes of history's most brilliant classical musicians at every turn, a kind of nostalgia sets in. This is an excellent time to take a ride in a horse-drawn carriage.
When Cinderella's fairy godmother came to visit, one of the most important things she did was turn a pumpkin into a horse-drawn carriage. In Vienna, horse-drawn carriages are called "fiacres" (or "fiakers"), named for Saint Fiacre, "patron saint of taxi drivers." Yes, he's also the patron saint of gardening, but Hotel de Saint Fiacre in Paris used to rent carriages, and the moniker ostensibly originated there.
The drivers of Vienna fiacres are usually part of family-run companies, so they are competitors and it's a good idea to tip. You can haggle a price outside St Stephen's Cathedral for a large or small tour of the city (that terminology will help) for as little as 20 euros. If you're looking to make a special night fancier, though, opt for an enclosed carriage; the kind with doors and a little more privacy. The prices are usually about the same (unless you're a professional barterer, in which case ... good for you) -- just ask your concierge how much it will cost and they can make arrangements for you.
From then on, you may refer to your concierge as "my fairy godmother," but it may be frowned upon. Check your local hotels to ask if there are fiacre services in your area.
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My visit to Vienna was sponsored by the Vienna Tourist Board, but the opinions expressed in the article are 100% my own.