What Not to Do in Wien

Trip Start Jan 08, 2008
Trip End May 17, 2008

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Flag of Austria  ,
Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Things I have learned during the first week in Vienna:

--Don't jaywalk in Vienna. The Viennese never break traffic rules and disapprove of American girls who do. I promise I'll never do it again; it only takes one old Viennese man yelling through his car window to make me obey all rules.

--Always have correct change in the grocery stores. The grocery clerk does not appreciate waiting for me to dig out change from my coin purse. The clerk huffs and puffs while I count my Euros. If you hand them a 10 Euro bill when your check is 3 Euros, they are reluctant to accept it.

--Don't call attention to your group by laughing on the streets like an American. Apparently, the Viennese frown upon public displays on happiness. (They don't, however, frown upon public displays of affection. There is not a day goes by that I don't see a Viennese couple necking...and I do mean necking. On the U-bahn, in the middle of the street, at a stop light, inside a revolving door...)

--Don't plan on being in a rush in Vienna. Café Waiters don't care if you are in a rush. In fact, they will intentionally take longer with your bill if you seem pushy.

--Don't try to practice your German at a Wiener Schnitzel Stand. They get irritated and immediately revert to English. (Then they laugh behind your back!)

My hausmeister (landlord) told us that the district we live in is like the "Beverly Hills" of Vienna. My roommates and I went on a walk on the other side of the district and I discovered that our hausmeister couldn't have been more correct. Our apartment is in the least desirable area of the most desirable district. We live right down the street from the biggest houses in Vienna. Our district also contains one of the largest parks in Vienna. With several walking trails, large ponds, and trees built for reading in, I plan on visiting it a lot! It's nice to live like Viennese royalty.

The public transportation in Vienna is phenomenal and I think I'm starting to master it. You can climb down the stairs to any underground U-Bahn station and get anywhere in Vienna. To access this transportation, you must buy a round-trip or monthly ticket. I bought a weekly ticket as soon as I got to the city. The ticket works for any public mean of transportation and it is run by the Wiener Linien company. They don't routinely check tickets, but they will run surprise checks in between stops; we were the told the fine for not having a ticket was very steep.

One day last week, I was riding to school and I happened to sit down right next to a Wiener Linien employee. I tend to be intimidated by a authority figures like the police or the Wiener Linien employees whether or not I'm doing something wrong. After a few minutes, he immediately started rambling to me in German and point into my bag. I got scared and immediately started looking for my ticket, thinking that he had asked for it. He kept repeating his statement over and over again and finally my more German proficient roommate said,
"He's not asking for your ticket."

The employee realized I didn't understand him and explained, "Your bag...it's an invitation for thieves."

My bag wasn't closed entirely and showed my computer and wallet in plain view. I immediately closed my bag and said, "Danke! Danke!" I was so thankful that someone was looking out for me in Vienna.

Enjoy the pictures of my apartment and my bus tour. More will follow...
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