15+ Facts About Life in Austria That Confuse Newcomers

3 years ago

Austria is a country in the heart of Europe that consistently attracts tourists. It entertains visitors from all corners of the world — those who want to visit famous ski resorts and experience its rich historical and cultural heritage. Local landscapes are delightful and inspiring, which is why those who have visited it at least once, will want to come back here again for sure.

We at Bright Side got interested in what else Austria has in store for its newcomers and some facts astonished us to the core. Get ready to learn the most interesting ones as well.

Dogs are welcome everywhere. They can visit cafes, restaurants, subways, and many other public places and transport. Places that prohibit dogs usually have a sign saying so.

They don’t use taxis. It’s normal in many places to just call a cab or an Uber, although you’d only have to walk for 10 or 15 minutes. This is not the case in Austria. Taking a cab in Austria means you’re either very old and not able to walk anymore, or really rich and can’t be bothered. © Jakob-Manuel Krobath / Quora

  • The litter-burning factory called Spittelau is one of the capital’s business cards. Tourists get surprised with the way this building looks: its walls are decorated with colorful mosaics, while its golden tops joyfully shine in the sun. It was designed by the famous Austrian artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser. He was a true protector of ecology and started working on the project only when he got ensured that the new plant in the center of Vienna wouldn’t bring any harm to the environment.

  • You may not understand Austrians even if you know German. If you ask for a “tüte” (the German word for “bag”) at the checkout, you’ll likely get a surprised look. It would be more correct to say sackerl. Though Austrian kids learn German literature in schools, but there are a wide range of dialects in the territory of the country and, with their help, locals can find out which city or even district the person they are speaking to is from.
    Here is what a user with the nickname Afloat writes, "Austrian German is a headache for tourists. Just imagine that you are learning German, which itself is a difficult language, you go outside to finally practice it with someone but end up hearing a totally different language. There are 9 states in Austria and each one has its own dialect. Sometimes even they themselves don’t understand each other. © Afloat / Pikabu

  • Austrian don’t use bedspreads. If you check into a hotel, you’ll likely notice that there will be a neatly folded blanket lying on the bed in your room. The bed itself will have no cover on it. You will also rarely see bedspreads in the homes of Austrian people, while visitors or immigrants from other countries, for example, will often add it to their interior.

  • Austrians are straightforward. They don’t beat around the bush to make you understand that something is not ok for them. Don’t get surprised if you hear “rude” comments about your behavior or appearance when communicating with locals. That’s how the Austrian obsession with honesty (which it is easy to mistake for rudeness) manifests itself.

  • “If you ask, ’Does this dress make me look fat?’ you will actually get a ‘Yes,’ if it does!’ Austrians come across as super harsh to lots of other cultures, but if what they are saying is true — then the Austrian is not being harsh (in their opinion). They are just telling it like it is.” © Mariana Bernasconi / Quora

  • It’s inappropriate to look aside during toasts. When Austrians are raising glasses, they stare deeply into the eyes of the people they are toasting with. It is believed that if they don’t follow this rule, it can cause bad luck. What’s more, locals perceive any diversion from this drinking tradition as a manifestation of disrespect.

  • It is unlikely that you will find an Austrian who can’t ski. They are taught this activity from their very childhood, visiting ski resorts with their parents. Moreover, when they are schoolkids, they take mandatory ski classes. It is no coincidence that it is the Austrian skiers who usually receive the largest number of medals at the World and European Championships. "Skiing is quite an expensive activity and that’s why many only do it once or twice a year. Still, we watch the Alpine Ski World Cup together and it’s just as important as soccer, maybe even more so, because we’re good at it. © Jakob-Manuel Krobath / Quora

  • They have a special way of greeting each other. We are used to hugging people when greeting them. The residents of Austria are more liberated in this sense: they kiss each other on both cheeks. The degree of closeness doesn’t matter in this sense — both close friends and recent acquaintances do this.

  • If Austrians need to share one bed, they will make sure that each person gets a separate blanket. It gives the illusion of personal space and guarantees that no one will freeze at night.

  • Tourists might get scared by the buttons in Austrian elevators. For those who are used to seeing only numbers in elevators, finding letters on the panel might look pretty weird. These buttons carry passengers to the rooftop, ground floor, and basement.

  • Tickets to the famous Vienna Opera House are not affordable for everyone, but there is a way around this. On the day of the performance, a couple of hours prior to its start, people can buy standing room tickets. They are about as expensive as a cup of coffee. Besides the concert itself, visitors can entertain themselves with a free excursion around the theater. “There was a huge queue for the standing room tickets, as expected. But we were lucky because the counter closed just after we got our tickets. We were awe-struck as soon as we entered the State Opera house. It was beautiful. I mean, really beautiful.” © Rohan Jain / Quora

There is a shelf in Austrian toilet bowls. Before going to the sewage, the former contents of the guts stays on the surface of a shelf located inside the bowl. That’s how people can do a self-check for their health or take a sample of their stool to later bring in for testing.

  • The residents of this country don’t act slowly and don’t hesitate when checking out in supermarkets. They try to put all of the stuff they bought into bags as fast as possible. The unspoken rule helps speed up the service process and helps to not waste the time of the person who is next in line.

  • There is a dog tax in Austria. The tax is fixed for all owners of 4-legged friends and it doesn’t depend on their breed. Each city sets the tax rate independently, but on average, the owners pay €72 per year for the first dog and €105 for each subsequent one. Those who don’t comply with the rule can be fined for a large amount of money.

  • Community gardens are highly developed in Vienna. When walking along the streets, it’s easy to come across wooden tubs with soil. That’s where local residents grow flowers, vegetables, or greenery for their own personal use. This territory is common and the responsibility for the plants is common too. Gardeners arrange common meetings where they decide who is going to watch the cleanliness, what other meetings they need to hold, and what plants to grow next.

  • Austrians can study at university for their whole life. Due to the fact that studying at universities is free, everyone goes and they go at any age. Your classmate may easily be someone’s grandfather, who decided to refresh his knowledge or learn something new.

  • Staring at unknown people can be considered the manifestation of a bad upbringing in some countries, but it’s the other way around in Austria. Locals watch unknown people on public transport or in the streets with undisguised interest. This doesn’t mean that the object of attention looks strange, on the contrary, this is how Austrians express their approval. “You haven’t really lived in Vienna long enough if you don’t just stare at people on the subway without feeling any guilt about it.” © toffmon / Reddit

What other curious facts about Austria are you aware of?

Preview photo credit sharkscanwalk/Reddit, nakhli/Reddit


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