Austrian Reflections

We have returned from our Austrian vacation and I hope to post a few commentaries on the vacation and the country in the coming days. But for now a brief summary.

The first thing you notice about the towns and cities is that they are very compact and densely populated without sprawling suburbs. Every town and city has a fair sized walking zone in the centre where no cars are allowed, although bicycles are usually allowed and sometimes streetcars may run through them. Vienna, in particular, is very pedestrian, cyclist and dog friendly.

The country is very big on trains, in particular electric ones - even the freightyard in Vienna was mostly electric trains. They are also big on narrow winding steep mountain roads. Now I know what a Hairpin turn really is.

The biggest negative we quickly noticed was the smoking factor. There appear to be no anti-smoking laws and we had to get used to people smoking in restaurants.

We also had to get used to seeing dogs in the shops and restaurants. The food was great and always with wine, or Almdudler.

The Austrians do not seem very safety conscious - bike helmets being a rarity was not a big surprise but seeing workers on construction sites without hardhats was. On the other hand they are very avid cyclists and hikers.

As befitting the European stereotype, they are not as modest as North Americans when it comes to nudity. Most beaches have a FKK (free body culture) Zone and topless sunbathers are common along the waterfront on the Danube Island. So I was not overly surprised to discover a proliferation of huge three story sex shops. Then I discovered that XXXLutz was a furniture store. But what’s a North American to think when he sees “XXX”.

I will end this introduction with a couple of my favourite signs from Austria.

Bicycles and Wheat Allowed

No Trumpets Allowed

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