Things To Know Before Visiting Austria
Austria is a wonderful country, and pretty easygoing – so you’re unlikely to be at risk of any serious faux pas! However, every nation has its individual quirks. Here are a few things you may not know about Austria, which will prepare you for your trip:
Everything Shuts On A Sunday
Two thirds of Austrians are Roman Catholic. While religion in Austria is by no means strict, or structured into the state’s governance, many Austrians still choose to take a day of rest on Sunday. And why not? A chilled out, work-free day at least once a week is a tradition to hold on to! However, it does mean that you can’t nip out for supplies, or change your currency, or grab a coffee on a Sunday. Best to stock up and complete your business in advance, and take Sunday to relax!
Nobody Cares About ‘The Sound Of Music’
We know, you’re obsessed with ‘The Sound Of Music’. A lot of Brits who come to Austria are – and even those who aren’t can’t resist humming a bar of ‘Edelweiss’ as they head into the mountains. However, though the film can almost certainly be found playing on at least one English language channel at any given point, most Austrians have never seen it. So, if you’re wanting enthusiastic discussion about the Von Trapps, seek out another Brit…
Pudding Can Be (And Often Is) A Main Course
Forget the ‘savoury before sweet’ rule. Austrian cooking has a serious sweet tooth – so much so that cakes, sweet pastries, and all manner of delicious desserts are eaten at every opportunity. Should you so wish, you can order something sweet for starter, main, and pudding. A dream come true for all the cake lovers out there!
You Can Drink Beer At Sixteen
‘Soft alcohol’ – that’s beer and wine, basically – can be bought and consumed legally at the age of sixteen. ‘Hard alcohol’ (spirits and other high-ABV stuff) comes legal at eighteen. Good news for the older teenagers of the family (and something for parents to be aware of!).
Be Careful With The Bread
All around the world, restaurants often leave a basket containing bread rolls. In the UK, these tend to be complimentary – so you could be forgiven for making the same assumption about Austrian restaurant bread. In some cases, the bread is indeed free – but you’ll often find that you’re charged for each piece that you eat, which can come as a nasty shock when the bill arrives! So either curb your appetite for starchy carbs, or be prepared to fork out.
Traffic Rules Are Heavily Enforced
In Austria, you can’t just dart across the road when you see a viable gap in the traffic. You absolutely must do what the crossing-light people say. Even if there are no cars, you must wait until the green man appears to cross the road. Frustrating though this seems, you can end up with a significant fine if you are caught crossing the road at the wrong time. Austria takes their pedestrian regulations very seriously indeed – so much so that they’ve gone all out to tackle the problem of people walking while under the influence of their phones. Luckily, Austria are pretty good at making their crossing systems work smoothly.
Public Transport Is Not Actually Free
Viennese public transport operates on an honour system. Tickets are sold by machines, and there are no ticket barriers. Passengers are expected to sort out their own fare, and procure their own tickets. This may seem like an excellent system to exploit, and travel for free. However, there are occasionally ticket inspections, and fines are issued for people attempting to travel for free. Not to mention the fact that buying a ticket is just the honest thing to do.
Old Ladies Rule
If you get to be an old lady in Austria, you basically earn the run of the place. If you don’t stand aside/give up your seat/give up your place in the queue for old ladies, the likelihood is that they will simply push you aside anyway. Accept this as a fact, and defer your space to old ladies at all times. If you happen to be a lady of a certain age yourself – you’re in for an excellent holiday…
Guest article from Gemma Hall