I acknowledge that, broadly speaking, the cultural differences between Australia and Austria can be tagged with the keywords ‘minor’ and ‘endearing’. However, here is the first in a series of things that I think are weird about Austria:
The Shelf (please read with a good hour either side of breakfast)
Take a moment, dear readers, to picture in your mind-hole the closest toilet. You will notice, in your mental picture, that there is water in the toilet, and that the general goal of going to the toilet is to aim into that water. Now, imagine that someone built a shelf inside the toilet, above the water but below the rim. This is what Austrian toilets look like.
The shelf, as far as I can tell, performs the function of a display cabinet, allowing you to cast your eyes on your completed product. Alas, it also allows for maximum circulation of air around said product, which results in a challenge for even Glen-20.
Why does the shelf exist, you ask? Buggered if I know. To enable a review and pride in a task well-executed? For health administration reasons? Unsure. Far be it from me to cast aspersions on an idea I don’t quite understand. But I am here to tell you that there is nothing that comes out of my body that I enjoy inspecting, particularly not a) first thing in the morning b) with a hangover or c) when a. and b. combine. The moral of this story: Don’t ever complain about a little splash. It is by far a lesser evil.
There are at least 5 supermarket chains with catchy yet meaningless one-word names like ‘Billa’, ‘Hofer’, ‘Lidl’ and ‘Bipa’. However, there is nowhere where I can get obtain all of the following products: Tea, fresh fruit, hair wax, sunflower seeds, vacuum cleaner bag, loofah. Some stores are cosmetics-only, some have only a limited range of fruit and vegetables, some don’t stock household products. And none of them are open on Sundays. I never thought I would miss Woolworths and shopping malls in general.
I once thought the idea of walking down to the town centre to go to the butcher, then the baker, then the cosmetic store, then the grocer was quasi-idyllic. I now know that it’s just inconvenient. Westfield would make a killing here. You heard it here first.
Because newsagents aren’t open on Sunday either, every newspaper hangs up a little bag on lampposts around town. The bag contains the Saturday paper and a little slot marked €2 or €1,50. The idea is, the responsible citizens of the Republic of Austria put in their Euro coins and hurry home with their weekend newspaper in their honest little hands.
Having grown up in the crime capital of Western Sydney, a few things immediately occurred to me. 1. Why don’t people just take the paper? 2. Why don’t people take the paper AND break into the money box? 3. Can you IMAGINE that system in Sydney?
I subsequently found out that no one, in practice, actually puts €2 into the slot. Most people put in 1c or 2c coins, just so they don’t look suspicious. Which I think takes the whole thing to a new and more hilarious level. Why don’t the printers just acknowledge that no one pays and just put them out for free? I shake my head in confusion *shakes head in confusion*