Dear Austria,

As you know, I have an issue with the Sunday grocery shopping scene here. Or, more so, the lack thereof. I loathe that 99% of your grocery markets are closed on Sundays (and on Saturdays after 18:00, and holidays, too.) The issue is more than one of my need for grocery freedom; it’s also one of the inconsistency with the whole matter. Does that not drive you batty, as well?

Let me run through a couple of “reasons” I’ve heard for the Sunday Shutdown. First, that Austria is a Catholic country, and Sunday should be reserved for church and family. Fair enough, I suppose. Ireland and Poland are predominantly Catholic, too, but their grocery stores are open on Sunday. Are they heathens for doing so? And what do you do on a Sunday afternoon when the family wants Lemongrass Chicken instead of Oma’s Tafelspitz, and there’s not a stalk of the citrus-y goodness to be found? The local Akakiko only has so many tables available.

Your neighbors to the north in the Czech Republic, also with a fair amount of Catholics open their TESCOs on Sunday (as do the Hungarians and Slovaks), and we see plenty of Austrian license tags in those parking lots on Sundays we are returning from an international outing, with groceries, natürlich. Does that make your fellow Austrians hypocrites, or but the minority voice on the Sunday Shutdown rules?

Second, I know that there are a handful of grocery stores open in Vienna on Sunday, mainly those at select train stations and at the airport, plus a small Spar in the touristy Inner Stadt. These are designed to provide for “The Traveler.” Well, Austria, we had to make a brief stop at one of “The Traveler” grocery stores on a recent Sunday for two dinner ingredients, one of which the average traveler, or even the gourmet traveler would likely not need on a Sunday. Of course the item was available. But that is a detail.

This was the scene. What defines “The Traveler” is left to the imagination. Plenty of non-traveler looking people were going about regular shopping, and most customers offered up their “savings cards” at the register, as well.

Even sillier? “The Traveler” is prohibited from purchasing canine kibble (who in Europe doesn’t travel with their pet?) and laundry powder, among other prohibited items. Obviously “travelers” would not need to wash any soiled clothing, either.

Fresh fish? Charcoal? Totally available for “The Traveler.” Along with large glass bottles of cooking oil. Probably for “The Traveler” to cook their fresh fish with, is my guess, in case their mini grill gets lost with checked baggage.

Austria, I love you. But, if my beloved Paris has found it “socially and culturally” relevant to open grocery markets until 12:00 on Sundays, certainly this is something you could consider? And if you do, I promise not to whine about the shopping malls not being open on Sundays, either.