Guide to Austria

Beginner's Guide to Austria

In September and October 2011, I spent a wonderful 6 weeks in the ideallic country of Austria. I was traveling and working on my own in a country I didn’t know much about. When I travel I like to be immersed in a country’s culture; eat the local cuisine, take part in events and do the things locals do and of course some touristy ventures as well. No matter how many guide books or internet articles you read, you can never really capture everything, so I thought I’d share some things I learnt:

1. Learn some German
The national language in Austria is German and even though you can get by with English it is (in my opinion) more useful and polite to know the basics of the language when conversing with the locals. Staff at Hostels and hotels and tourist sites will definitely speak English however not all locals, especially the older generation who haven’t had English lessons since they were 16 and people who live in the less touristy areas.

2. Always greet people
I think Austrians are one of the most polite people I have ever encountered. It is common to be greeted when you enter and leave a store or cafe. I was even greeted as a medical student every time I entered a patient’s room! Always! So it’s a nice touch to say “Grüß Gott” (Greet God- very common greeting in Austria & Southern Germany) or “Guten Tag” (Hello) when you enter and “Danke” (Thank-you) or “Auf vedersehn” (Good bye) when you leave.

3. Austrian cities are walkable
Bring a good pair of walking shoes and you’ll be able to reach most sites on foot!

4. Tipping
Although tipping in Austria is not compulsory it is common to show your appreciation of good service even with just 10 cents. The tipping system is different to what I know in Australia, instead of leaving change at your table and leaving the restaurant or cafe, you give the tip directly to the waiter/waitress while you’re paying. For example, if your meal cost €10 and it’s time to pay and you would like to tip the waiter/waitress €1. You hand her €20 and say “11 Euros” and she will thank you and hand you over €9 change. At first I found it intimidating because the perosn would n know how much you’re tipping them, but then I got used to it.. my rule of thumb is to tip around 10%.

5. Sundays are quiet
Sundays is still a rest day in this part of the world. So if you need to do an emergency run for snacks or a toothbrush do it on Saturday, as most shops are closed on Sunday. If you are really desperate, you can go to the main train station or petrol station however it is expensive. Tourist sites are still open and some restaurants too.

6. Bring your passport and student card (if you have one) everywhere
If you are under 26 years of age you are considered a student. Any proof that you fit into that criteria (ie. a passport) is enough to get you discounted prices to local attractions.

Trying to set up a tour myself

by kristenannb

I went to Poland, Germany, Czech Republic, Hungary, and Austria this past September and absolutely loved it. I am trying to get a group together of similar aged (I'm 26) people for this summer, and I'm friends with the tour guide that was on our trip who is willing to set up an itenerary and put everything together. If you want to put our efforts together, let me know!
kristenannb@yahoo.com

Got tolerance?.....LOL!!

by Euro_trash_INC

EU officials implore new immigrants to learn 'European values'
Friday, November 19, 2004
(11-19) 10:46 PST BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) --
European Union justice and interior ministers agreed Friday that new immigrants to the 25-nation bloc should be required to learn local languages, and to adhere to general "European values" that will guide them toward better integration.
Dutch immigration minister Rita Verdonk, who chaired the meeting, said all countries agreed to make integrating newcomers a priority, considering the growing ethnic tensions as EU nations struggle to absorb a steady stream of poor, mostly Muslim immigrants

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