Unique about Austria:
Things that Only Foreigners Notice
The over-all idea behind TourMyCountry.com is to present personal behind-the-scenes information from a local′s point of view to potential visitors of Austria. However, I am often amused by the little things that foreigners notice as typically Austrian.
Having grown up in the country myself, I often take things as natural or granted that are somewhat odd to an outsider′s eye. From talking to people that have been to my country before, I have learned about the Austria-specificity of a range of features. Here are some of my favourite ones.
1.) Standing out like Dog-Balls
An Australian that I met was intrigued by the fact that many dogs in Austria are not neutered. Here she suddenly learned what the English expression that something "stands out like dog-balls" was referring to. At first I doubted that there are really that many dogs with balls around; for a few days I checked the family jewels of every dog I passed in Vienna. Verdict: True, many dogs in Austria are not neutered. And: Some dog-owners get irritated if some stranger suddenly stares at their little darling′s most private area.
2.) Toilets with a Stage
An English acquaintance returned from a trip to Austria highly amused by the design of Austrian toilets: "They come with a little stage that allows you to inspect what you have just created". I was of course aware of the Austrian toilet style, but hadn′t realised that you don′t get that kind of toilet in England. It is true that most toilets here have something like a "stage" in them, but it is not for inspections - rather to avoid the "splash". I did not follow up the topic any further, but I am pretty sure that some Freudian once did a PhD on the issue.
3.) Lingerie stores on Every Corner
An observation that an Australian friend and Dutch acquaintances made independently of each other: Lingerie is sold and advertised more openly than in Australia and more excessively than in the Netherlands. Upon thinking about this, I realised the deep truth that lies in these observations.
In fact, there are several chains in Austria that have specialised in lingerie and there are indeed many shops selling it. On contrast to many other countries, they are more like fashion boutiques and don′t sell sex-toys or alike (unless we are talking about adult shops, which will be the subject of a later observation below).
4.) Tribal behaviours among Austrians
Long conversations with a co-worker from Germany revealed a lot of Austrian culture to me that I had previously been unaware of. This included one of his observations on the way people in Austria attribute certain habits and features to the origin on a person: If somebody is Tyrolean, he is expected like hiking, be conservative and hate Italians.
Carinthian accents are immediately associated with ski- and surf-instructors, alongside with their stereotypical courtship behaviours. If somebody acts provincially in Vienna and it turns out that he is Upper Austrian, everybody goes "Ah, that′s why…". According to my co-worker, the "tribal affiliation" of the Austrians is much more pronounced than in Germany. He might well be right.
5.) Many adult shops…hahahah!
When I was hiking in Thailand several years ago, I met a group of Koreans. Their English sucked even more than mine, however, we managed to have a basic conversation about our respective home countries and it turned out that one of them had been to Salzburg before.
So I asked him how he had liked it - expecting a collage of the usual suspects: Sound of Music, Mozart kitsch and romantic views on the Baroque old town in front of an alpine scenery. However, he described the most significant impression of Salzburg as such: "Many adult shops…hahahah!" It turned out that he had spent most of his time near the station, which is an area of rather dubious fame.
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