I do not think there is a typical Austrian, but my husband and I began to notice this very matter-of-fact way Austrians respond to questions. Almost an indignation that we would be asking them a question, because everyone else knows the answer- obviously. We had to return the rental car in Salzburg, and our experience with Google maps in Europe has been amazing, and then, at other times, very misleading. As we approached the rental car return general area, Google wanted us to drive through a no-auto zone and construction nightmare. After much frustration and some arguing, we parked the car in the lower level of the Hauptbahnhof (main train station) and went up to street level to find the Budget storefront.
The woman behind the counter, who looked very military in her appearance, was very efficient.
- Budget: Where is the car?
- John: In the train station parking lot.
- Budget: Any problems?
- John: No, except for a parking ticket.
- Budget: We have nothing to do with that. Just give me the keys. I will retrieve the car. You may go.
- John: Do you need the location of the car?
- Budget: No- I will find it.
- John: Is that it?
- Budget: What else?
- John: Can we give you the money for the parking violation?
- Budget: No- go online and pay with your bank.
- Me: Is there an online address?
- Budget: Haven’t you paid anything online? Just do it normal.
And we left- I think we interrupted lunch. We had similar experiences when we rented bikes, or asked for directions. Efficient and no messing around.
On the other hand, as if to break any stereotypes that might have been forming, we returned to our hotel to finally check in after exploring Salzburg. We had left our bags earlier and took off to see the Mirabella Gardens and the Fortress. The 2nd shift reception clerk was not around, but when we rang the bell, he “waltzed” through the door.
- Hotel: Hello, Hello , Hello! Are ze checking in?
- Us: Yes, please- those are our bags.
- Hotel: I don’t busy myself with those details- welcome, welcome welcome!
He went on to explain the check-in process, all the time waving his arms in a dramatic fashion. And occasionally laughing at his own funny comments. If you saw the updated version of “Father of the Bride”, where Martin Short plays the wedding planner, well… his twin works in Salzburg. It was the most entertaining check-in I have ever had. We asked about a possible Jazz club- and he laughed hysterically, “Ze Jazz Club? No, no, no- not in Salzburg. Zo sorry!” We gave up trying to explain what a vegetarian restaurant was- but everyone laughed and was happy. And, he was so pleasant the whole time he was saying no!
We are sorry to say goodbye to Austria!