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This week marks 5 years since I first moved to Austria. Five whole years since I turned up in Stefan’s apartment with a single backpack, not a word of German, no visa, no friends, just…a vague feeling it would all work out. Turns out my instincts were good, but it took a lot of getting used to, this life in Austria business.
In my first year here, this blog post about the 28 Ways to be Austrian was an honest account of the quirky fun things I noticed about Austrian living. Now, 5 years into it, I’m older,
wiser, better adapted…actually I’m none of those things, but I have noticed that certain elements of Austrian life have become completely normal to me.
Top 10 signs you’re becoming more Austrian
10. Waiting longer than 6 minutes for public transport is an outrage.
I’ve literally seen people RUN at full speed to catch a train, hurling their bodies through the closing doors as if their life depended on it. When the very next train was in…3 whole minutes.
Efficiency doesn’t begin to describe it! If you have lived a while in Austria, waiting longer than 6 minutes for a bus or tram is a hassle and you will find an alternative mode of transport – Car2Go, Drive Now, Uber, the next S-bahn. Anything that doesn’t involve a wait.
9. Stores closed on Sundays is normal and…nice!
After an initial adjustment period, having stores closed on a Sunday becomes completely normal to you. You relish the extra day to relax and unwind, being forced to spend times with loved ones. The thought of spending your Sundays working, schlepping around a mall or *shudder* driving across town to Ikea in a frenzy, is now unknown to you. Sunday’s are a haven of relaxed chill time, in winter and summer, to reset for the week ahead.
Excellent excuse for Cafe hopping!
Better still, if you’ve *forgotten* to go food shopping you have an excellent excuse for a date night, brunch, or to try that new cafe that just opened up. Oops, no food in the house, guess we’re eating out today 😉
8. You expect a glass of water served with your coffee. Every. Time.
Living in Vienna so long, you’ve come to adopt the local customs, and anytime your latte, melange or cappuccino is served without a refreshing glass of water on the side (complimentary of course) you question your existence and what lowly excuse for a cafe you’ve stumbled into.
This habit and expectation can be particularly annoying when visiting other countries or less ‘civilised’ places where coffee isn’t served on a literal silver platter like in Vienna. The nerve!
7. Cycling to work isn’t a luxury or a deathtrap.
You have at least one bike in your household, potentially two and all the important jacket, footwear and accessories that go along with it. Meaning cycling to work is your normal.
Unlike bigger busier cities, Austria’s bike paths are well maintained, easy to navigate and kind to beginner cyclists. You regularly see parents cycling to work with kids in the front wagon, professionals whizz by between meetings in the day time, and bike parks are in high competition in all major city hangout spots.
Cycling around the city is no longer a novelty, it’s a way of life….
6. The dominance of pork & potatoes on every menu is normal
You could try being vegetarian in Austria, and there’s more and more lovely restaurants to get quality vegetarian food these days. But let’s be honest, you’re no longer surprised by entire legs of crispy pork being hefted onto your table, and a literal mountain of potato salad is just another side snack. Pass the kurbiskernol, would you?
5. The quiet pace of Vienna is delightful, not creepy.
When you first moved to this laidback, sprawling, pretty city, you thought it was eerily quiet and empty. Now you know that all the best parts of town are hidden on rooftops, in small bars down alleyways or along the Donaukanal and beyond, in the hilltop heurigers.
The fact that I can get this photo with noone else around is proof enough!
Every time you get back from a different city that’s bigger, louder and more crazy than Vienna, you breathe a sigh of relief for the lovely civilised charm of Viennese quiet.
4. Rude waiters & smoky bars are a part of life
There are very few downsides to living in the World’s Most Livable City. So you accept with grace that yes, that waiter won’t plaster a fake smile and pretend to like you, nor is the next bar likely to be smoke free.
Even in the rolling countryside of Tirol where the grass is greener, the outside air is cleaner.. the bars are still sticky and layered in heavy smoke. But you know this is just the way it goes in Austria and have given up trying to find a smoke free bar – no one will be in there anyway!
3. You get used to hiking as a leisure sport
This one took me the longest to adapt to if I’m honest. I wrote about it in the very early days here, and have been trying to convince myself that hiking is ‘fun’ ever since. Turns out, all that reluctance is in my head, because – and brace yourself here guys – hiking is just walking.
Wander time in the mountains of Ellmau 💕 It’s taken me nearly 5 years to ‘get’ the Austrian love of hiking, and it’s still a challenge for me. Physically as much as mentally- my head always says I ‘can’t do that’ or ‘it’s too hard’ or ‘I’m just not the hiking type’. Of course once I’m up the hill all of that is utter bullshit because it’s just…walking. It’s crazy what your brain and pre conceived ideas of yourself will hold you back from. Don’t let ’em!! ✊🏻💪🏼TELL ME: what have you challenged yourself to try lately?
If you don’t go too crazy attempting to climb mountains and hills then you can find yourself on one of those quiet Sunday afternoons choosing to go for a walk through Lainzer Tiergarten..for fun. You just levelled up your Austrian game.
2. Naked saunas don’t phase you – in fact, you might enjoy the health benefits.
All those early-days hangups about body types, confronting old man balls and saggy lady boobs are but a mere memory to you. Now you can saunter into a mixed nude sauna area with as much disregard as a true Austrian. You no longer clutch your towel to your vulnerable booty in the change rooms, you proudly stride around, unphased by the chatty communal atmosphere.
Bodyshame died the day you moved to Austria and embraced that Sauna lifestyle.
Sauna’s have become relaxing retreats for you now – no longer the stressful nude right of passage you force yourself into. You finally get it and love dissolving into the steamy relaxation of a sauna, followed by a refreshing spa bath and maybe a nap on the loungers. What’s not to love?
1 You can’t imagine living anywhere else right now
Somehow you’ve slipped into Austrian life so easily, you can’t imagine living anywhere else in the world right now. When the sun is shining, the Donaukanal is full of bars and restaurants and Vienna’s delicious local wines are calling, this city really feels like the perfect place for anyone in their late twenties to thirties.
Sure, you might live elsewhere later on in life, but for right now, Vienna is the perfect city to call home. Here’s a toast to five years of Viennese living!
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