Anything but Fine (Austria)

Austria ~ Vienna – 2014

As I walked the streets of Vienna, I couldn’t help but realise something; (well…aside from the gorgeous architectural heritage sprawled out on every block, and the cheery friendly folk inhabiting the bustling pavements!) No, instead what gripped me more intensely was something a lot less in your face – something that passes you by quite easily, but once you notice it – you cannot stop seeing it…Vienna is very clean, well maintained – which is great and everything, but it appears that rules are followed completely by just about everyone. I have probably lost you there, why is this a bad thing you may ask? So let me explain…the reason this struck me as unusual is that it all felt a little…well…forced. Yes, yes, people were following the rules but it was to the letter! Perhaps I am a hoodlum and I don’t even realise it, but it all made me a little uncomfortable at times.

It reminded me of a programme I used to watch as a kid – The Demon Headmaster; where the crazy head of the school would take off his glasses and hypnotise the kids into doing his will…sounds super, super paedo crazy these days I know, but it was a different climate, and the innocent child’s mind doesn’t see it that way. Anyway so in the show the afflicted kids would walk around in a daze just obeying orders, when I saw that crowds of people were standing at the pedestrian stop sign despite the fact that there was not a single vehicle in sight, it made me sure that there was something in the water here, or there was a hypnotism feature built into the Austrian television. It was the only theory that made sense to me.

Demon-Headmaster GIF

Of course my brother and I didn’t have the same problem, we simply assessed the situation and crossed the road – after all, we were drinking bottled water (ahem…okay, okay…I mean beer) and were only watching streamed episodes of our favourite comedy shows on my laptop. So we were safe! Coming to think of it that’s probably a top travel tip, so perhaps you ought to write it down? Just a thought.

You’ve probably already guessed that this policy of ours ended up badly.

On one ill-fated occasion we stopped at the end of the pavement for the red man – just as the rest of the drone population did, we looked right, then left – then repeated – feel free to compliment me on my road safety skills, cheers! – we subsequently came to a conclusion it was safe to cross due to there being NO traffic whatsoever and, well…did so!

WAAHHHHHH-WAHHHHH!” a bizarre screeching sound rang out behind me once I had reached the middle of the small road – I turned around slightly in shock, and in my peripheral vision saw a plump lady dressed in a strange outfit, still screaming and gyrating wildly – naturally I took her to be an absolute mental case, so quickly rushed myself over to safety! Phew!

Running GIF

“Fucking pigs!” my brother joked under his breath,

“What?” I chuckled, vaguely confused,

We continued walking as he explained that the high pitched noise had been two policewomen who had probably been kicking off about crossing the road on a red man – we shrugged in a ah well no big deal kinda way, and went back to the map, we were lost – that’s for sure – but we didn’t really care much, we had ate a huge lunch and a few…err…bottles of water, so we were happy to just wander about aimlessly…we got to the next block and stopped at the red man signal – this time around he was right, the road was impassible as cars streamed wildly in and out, honking as they went.

AAAY! AAAY!” something screamed in my ear hole,

“Erm, hi?” I replied – to the two extremely pissed off ladies standing next to me,

SHLURGUNN-SHLURGUNN-SHLOOZHLE, SHLIGINN…” one of them was blabbering away some total nonsense with aggressive vigor, as the other stood arms crossed, intermittently nodding in agreement.

Confusion GIF

“We don’t understand you, sorry, we-” my brother began,

“English – English!” I begged,

OH, O-KAY. YOU RUNNING AND LAUGHING!” she blurted out, red in the face with emotion,

“No…no…” I almost giggled at the thought of being apprehended for laughing, but held myself together…”I didn’t run or laugh, I would never do tha -”


Oh my goodness! I really was a menace, somebody stop me!

I glanced at my brother uneasily, glaring with wide eyes – we were both sporting the standard ruby coloured Taggart cheeks – as per usual in awkward situations such as these! I tried to plead my innocence but it was a lost cause, she had fabricated some story blatantly: I mean do I look like the kind of guy who would laugh? Or run? Or even worse, do them both together? Of course not.


“WHAT?!” my brother exclaimed,

YES! Eeen London you can’t jus cross the road…we knows zis…you have to-”


YAH – NO – you cannot in London, it’s the rule – so -”

“WELL IT’S A RIDICULOUS RULE!” he replied defiantly, “yes, yes! It may be a ridiculous rule – but it is the rule, so we have to follow it!” Urgh, what a great mentality to have…I glanced down at my feet because I wasn’t sure where to look, and became aware of the sympathetic stares from the other drone members of the public – which appeared to range from sympathetic looks to shakes of the head…I bet this shit happens all the time, I mean it should be an unofficial rule that if someone looks clueless and has a map in their hand there should be some form of leniency! My brother was going off on one, but despite the fact I was pissed off, I had sudden flashbacks to documentaries about young guys being locked up for years in foreign parts for some bogus crimes, and as we had a plane to catch the next day, I couldn’t see how this would fit into our itinerary:

Prison GIF

“Alright, okay. JAMES – shh…”

I grabbed my wallet and sniffled as I counted out fifty Euros, my brother muttered that he had barely any money left – “HE HAS FIFTY SO HE PAYS.” Of course, of course I do. As I handed over the money I felt my blood pressure rise and every vein in my eyeballs throb – “so where does this money go?” my brother began to inquire, “IT GOES TO US – THEN WE TAKE IT TO THE BUILDING AND YES!” So basically straight in their back pocket then. Fantastic! They began to fill out some little ticket sheet, didn’t once ask for names or any form of ID, or well…anything…just took the money and then that was that.


We began to walk off down the street (rather than crossing like we had originally planned), just to get away from them – but they followed, we quickened our pace to try and escape – but they stayed with us, largely because we had to be sure to stop and wait for the green man at every crossing. Eventually we looped around and made a break for it, eventually getting back to the hotel where I could top my wallet back up from my stash.

“Fucking ridiculous that!” my brother would repeat, over and over, “THIRTY EUROS?! Fucking ridiculous that!” I would nod and agree, shedding a private tear at paying FIFTY Euros for the privilege of crossing the road when my own brain told me I should. I was also a little irked that someone who had paid ten Euros was being more vocal in outrage than myself…perhaps he had forgotten…I should remind him…nahhh, save that for a rainy day – bank that gold for an argument in the future.

Celebrate GIF

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51 Replies to “Anything but Fine (Austria)”

  1. I think next time you should check how big is a fine in a foreign country you’re in before crossing while the red man’s on 😉 Damn, that’s a real fortune for such a small fine. But I must say that’s almost true for Lithuania too, since if you’re the unlucky one, you can get fined 50 LTL (that’s like 14,5 Eur), or, if that’s the first time you’re caught, you might just get away with just a warning. And I hear for tourists it can go both ways – either policemen will decide to fine you and rip you off, or they’ll decide it’s less trouble to just let the foreigner go his way and thus not bother with trying to fill in the fine form and even more trouble of explaining in English or any other language what that said tourist did wrong. Needless to say that somehow you’re good to go even with red man on anytime you think is safe, and quite a lot locals still do, but don’t forget to scan for cops who’d spot you.
    Ah, if not that and bicycling I’d be a fully law-abiding citizen 😉

    Liked by 2 people

  2. That’s hysterical, I love it! I thought ticketing for jaywalking was an urban legend. I would have been so screwed, I never have enough cash on me. Do you think they would take Visa?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Well me too, but no – no, apparently very real! I do feel that they felt a little ticked off thinking we had purposefully ran away, and wanted to throw their weight around to heal their ego…but hey…whatever, it was funny 😀

      We did joke about a similar thing, haha, wouldn’t doubt it!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I remember I was in Greece some 10 years ago when they tried to enforce such a rule. It was ridiculous, the police would follow people running away, ladies with their shopping bags. It was unthinkable to fine someone for walking through a red light. After a couple of days they just forgot about it. I wonder if they tried it again though. Gotta ask folks living there.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. But to have to pay one’s bills by going around being clownish and inspiring tourists and other foreigners to laugh with subdued hysteria, then having to chase them around to collect face-money. Sounds humiliating, to me. I’d rather scrape bubblegum.


  4. Reblogged this on Underground Energy and commented:
    This globe trotter doesn’t get nearly enough credit for his adventures. If you are not already following this blog, I highly suggest it. Every time he posts I read them out loud and laugh and laugh and laugh.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Loved the story, but I think only tourists pay. Usually when we jaywalk, we check first for cars and then for police. Enjoy Vienna, oh and btw it’s so clean because there is a garbage bin at every corner. So no need to litter.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. You´re a menace to the Vienna society, they are probably still having nightmares of the English man that walked their streets. So you´re basically traveling around the world creating “shock” in people and you will probably be responsible for a incline in the psychologist world, you´re going to make half the earth population go to see a shrink so stop traveling for the sake a humanity…..well, actually now that I think about it is not all that bad, bunch of nut cases around(not talking about myself, I´m excluded).

    30 Euros for crossing when not supposed to? They do seem a bit up tight to say the least. Good reminder for me not to go to Vienna.I´d probably last one day before they through me out of the country.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Sorry you got nailed with such a heavy fine for something seemingly innocuous. Coincidentally I went through something similar. In my own city!

    Many years ago I was running to class, I crossed two lanes of traffic and was looking toward the traffic coming from the opposite direction, forgetting a third lane of traffic. I heard a screech and everything, just like in the movies, went in slow motion. I was going to be hit by a minivan and there was nothing I could do about it.

    A police officer followed my ambulance to the emergency room and ticketed me for jaywalking!!!!!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. weeeelcome to austria. its insane, most people blindly obey everything, you actually hit the nail on the head! even an encounter with our beloved police and their notorious english skills! yay!


  9. You’re right that Austria has got some rules which are followed by quite a lot of people but I think you’re a little bit exaggerating by indicating that that’s the result of some kind of brain wash.
    And to the road-crossing: I think that it is important to wait for the green light when children are around because we should show them how to do that stuff correctly.


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