Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Around and About Vienna

We did eventually make it outside to see Vienna, even though the granddaughters had passed their colds to their grandmother. We started with a stroll around the neighborhood, which is right downtown.

Vienna is a very interesting city. The first thing you notice is how clean it is - and it's virtually crime free. The only crime that is prevalent is pickpocketing, so if you protect yourself against that, you'll have no problems. The streets tend to be narrow, so the cars are small. Another reason for small cars is the price of gas, which is highly taxed to discourage use. And parking is expensive and very hard to come by. However, you really don't need a car in Vienna - you can get anywhere on very affordable and convenient public transportation.

Viennese are Germanic in language and culture - and they always obey the rules. For example, on escalators a sign says to stay to the right. If you forget, someone is sure to remind you. And you never cross the street until the traffic light says to walk. Viennese are not friendly - in fact, I think they are rude. This is quite shocking to someone from the overly friendly town of Natchez.
As we wandered around downtown, we saw lots of small stores. Chain stores and large stores are virtually nonexistent. (I did see a McDonalds and a Starbucks.) Bakeries are everywhere - and they are awesome. Not only do they have breads and incredible pastries, but they have sandwiches and beverages. They sort of serve as the fast food of Vienna.

We also saw many outdoor food vendors - mostly bratwurst. And they were many open air markets with fresh fruits and vegetables, along with other goodies. However, you get very confused in looking at prices, because their commas and periods are backwards. For example (using $ instead of euros since that sign is not on my computer), if something costs $1,598.75, they would show it as $1.598,75.

There are no bargains here. Almost everything is more expensive than in the States. One reason is that the taxes are built into the prices, and their taxes are higher. But the Austrians get a lot for their taxes - like an excellent health care system which covers everyone.

All in all, I could easily live here, but my daughter just moved into an apartment without an extra bedroom, so I guess I'll have to come home.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I noticed immediately from the pictures, that the streets are spotless. I think most Germanic countries are like that. They must be horrified when they travel to the State--NYC or New Orleans.

Interesting about the health care. Makes sense to me.

I am happy to hear Vienna is retaining it's culture and identity and not becoming too Americanized. I would imagine there are suburbs with big chain type stores? perhaps?

Happy traveling!