A random collection of observations on life in Austria…
I can air my pillows out on the ledge because our windows have no screens. (Funny enough, we’ve had more insects in our American home than we have had here.) It is common to see bed covers hanging out of windows, and pillows sunning themselves on window ledges on nice days.
I took a pair of Tony’s shoes on a Monday to be resoled at the shoemaker down the street. He said it would likely cost €25, maybe €30, and apologized because he did not think he could have them ready before Friday. Resoling Tony’s shoes in the US costs a minimum of $65, but that was without an apology.
I like the combination of a cold Almdudler (Austrian herb soda) and the crispy crunch of buttery and garlicky Langos (Hungarian fried dough) on hot and sunny days at the pool.
I do not, though, like any of these “whole grain,” “fitness,” “sunflower” health breads. No matter how much creamed roe I spread on them.
Our microwave can cook something for up to 90 minutes. What on earth would you want to eat that had been in a microwave for 90 minutes?
I love, love the fascination with hedgehogs. I have not seen a real one yet, but I am ever hopeful.
Most pedestrians here will not walk across the street against the light even when there is no traffic. I have even observed people who will miss their approaching tram or bus rather than walk against the light. They will watch the tram or bus drive by. HOWEVER, these same people, should you reach across the checkout lane in the grocery store to grab a package of Giotto (an amazing Italian candy), will swoop in and plunk their groceries on the conveyor belt in front of you.
The yogurt section of even the smallest grocery store reads like a fine wine cellar. Strawberry-Tomato yogurt, anyone? (For the record, the tomato taste was sweet but barely noticeable.) Right now the seasonal yogurt flavors of roasted chestnut and lebkuchen are on the shelves. They’re both very good.
Eggs come in a carton of 10, not 12. Sometimes, 15. And on many occasions I’ll pick up a “bunch” of flowers for the house. That would be 7 flowers, not 6, or 12, in an Austrian bunch.
Milk comes in 1L units. I have a Teenage Son. Thus, I like that I can store a case of ultra-pasteurized milk in our pantry in case we run out on a Sunday, when all the grocery stores, save for the three at the major train stations, are CLOSED.
The snap lid on the milk cartons does not always snap, but this cute milk bottle for the refrigerator works just fine.
An open grocery store on a Sunday or holiday is like being at Whole Foods the night before Thanksgiving, no matter the time of day you’re there. Oddly, though, some items are not available for purchase; metal grates cover most cleaning supplies and paper products, but you can buy bath tissue. Non-grocery stores are also closed, of course, but car wash stations and flower shops are open. And so are McDonald’s and the McCafe’s, where macarons are but a mere €0,80 each. (Clockwise from the top: Chocolate, Lemon, Pistachio, Raspberry, and Caramel.)
For the most part, our first six months here has been indeed the adventure we had hoped for. The rain on the parade, surprisingly, has been trying to park our car in the garage. We have two parking spaces in the underground garage adjacent to our house. One space is very small, more suitable for our bicycles and camping gear, etc. The second space is of average European size, and our car fits into the space without problem.
So, what is the difficulty? Our garage neighbors have a sport utility vehicle, which takes all of the available space, and often encroaches on ours. Because there are also pillars on either side of our spaces, when they don’t park their car properly (which is most of the time), we can not physically park our car in the garage and end up struggling to find a space on the street. Did I mention that there are three restaurants on our street, so basically there is no street parking after 18:00 or on weekends?
We’ve spent the last six weeks trying to resolve the problem. We asked the owner of our house if we could be assigned a different parking space (only a fraction of the spaces in the garage are being used). She said, “no.” She did tell us the owners of the SUV were French, so we left a very nice note in both English and Google-translated French on their door, asking them to please park their car efficiently. In return we received a lovely note of apology with an amusing postscript: “Unfortunately we do not speak French. We are Hungarian. We are comfortable with English, however.” That certainly explains the Hungarian car tags and the Hungarian-speaking au pair.
But the problem hasn’t been resolved; it has just turned into an exasperating little routine. They encroach on our space. We park on the street and send them an email to ask if they would please park properly. We wait for them to repark their car. The cycle repeats. I recently complained about this matter to our house owner, and asked once more if we (or they) could be assigned a different space. “No,” was the answer, of course.
Our house owner did attempt to sympathize with us, though. She said, “We have only one parking space in our courtyard, and we have to park our second car on the street.”
One of my European friends shrugged her shoulders and said, “There’s really nothing you can do.” By chance later that week I spied her SUV parked at the grocery store. I guess there really is nothing I can do.