You know that book written by Neil Pasricha, “The Book of AWESOME”? Well I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and it reminded me to appreciate the simple things in life that are… well … awesome.
I created my own list of AWESOME – the Austrian version:
1. Lets start with the most important. Paid Holidays. Austria ranks one of the highest in Europe when it comes to vacation time. Employees are entitled to take 25 annual paid days off plus 13 statutory holidays. Mothers can choose to take up to two years maternity leave. AWESOME!
2. The suction on vacuum cleaners. Ever look at your carpets after spending a hour vacuuming and wonder “was it worth it?” Well moving to Europe meant replacing all of our 110v appliances with 220v. Shopping for EVERYTHING (coffee machine, toaster, curling iron, hairdryer, vacuum, etc) in one go was an overwhelming task. That is until we looked at the selection, starting with vacuums. The power of suction… “hold on to your toupee and hair extensions folks”. AWESOME!
3. Mountains. I know that there are beautiful mountains worldwide. But…com’on….
4. Ice cream… ice cream.. who doesn’t like ice cream? The European version does differ in my opinion to that artificial tasting ice cream back at home (sorry DQ). Europeans live for pleasure and ice cream is way up there on their priority list. My personal favourite “Eissalon” (everyone has their favourites in Vienna) is “Eissalon am Schwadenplatz“ (Franz Josefs-Kai 17, A-1010 Wien). It’s a family run business since 1886 so you can imagine with that many years of experience making ice cream it’s gotta taste damn good. Sadly, there are only open from March until late September. Not only is ice cream made fresh daily, seasonal fruit they get each morning determines the flavour of the day”. Always creamy, smooth and refreshing. AWESOME!
5. Advertising. The approach in European advertising is way more relaxed than North America. As everyone knows “sex sales” and it is certainly demonstrated everywhere here in Vienna. Whether they are selling clothing, bathroom fixtures or tea cups the theme seems to be sexual orientated… or? You be the judge. AWESOME!
6. Public Transportation. You ask every resident in Vienna about driving a car and all will agree, “There is no need”. You’re likely to walk no more than 100 meters without running into a Bus, Train, Strassenbahn or Ubahn station. So sit back and enjoy the beautiful sights while you ride with the people of Vienna. AWESOME!
7. Dairy. Now healthy eating is important to my family so we try to stick to a balanced eating plan (diet isn’t in my vocabulary). If you have ever shopped in the dairy section in a European grocery store you may be overwhelmed with the amazing selection. Everything is fresh and has a shelf life that lasts no longer than from a few days to a week maybe 2 thanks to no added additives and preservatives. You can choose your fat content in all the dairy here too, just like in Canada. Yogurts for example; fat percentage range can start low at 1% and go up to the luxurious silky oh so tasty 11% fat. I don’t think I’ve seen “fat-free” anything here. Can that exist without the chemicals?
One product that sells in some European countries is called Topfen. It’s sort of like a full flavoured soft cream cheese without the fat! It can be used in sweet & savoury dishes, baked or eaten as a dip. Very versatile. AWESOME!
8. PEZ was invented in Vienna in 1927 by Austrian inventor and anti-smoke advocate Eduard Haas II. He built a tin container shaped like a cigarette lighter to house rectangle mints that were marketed as an alternative to smoking. It wasn’t until PEZ reached USA that the mints were replaced with candy and a character was added on top to make the packaging more attractive to the younger generation. Sales have been strong ever since. AWESOME!
9. Environmentally Friendly. 60% of Austria electricity currently comes from renewable sources and hopes to increase the rate to 71% by 2020 according to the EWEA (European Wind Energy Association). Austria also ranks among the top 10 Eco Friendly Countries in the world according to the Environment Protection Index. Finally, according to Aneki.com Austria scores the #2 position as the country who recycles the most. I truly believe that after sorting and separating garbage for the last year. There is a bin in every household for the following:
- Clear glass
- Dark glass
- Light Bulbs
10. Yodeling. When people think of Austria they generally think of people standing on a mountaintop dressed in traditional costume yodeling. Well yes, you will find that occasionally and Austrians take pride in their ability to yodel. It isn’t as easy as it looks.
According to Wikipedia
Yodeling (or yodelling, jodeling) is a form of singing that involves singing an extended note which rapidly and repeatedly changes in pitch from the vocal or chest register (or “chest voice”) to the falsetto/head register; making a high-low-high-low sound.
What I love about traveling through Austria is watching generations hold on to their culture and traditions. I have even adapted some of these traditions with my family… the dress part that is. Yodeling… well that may come in time, with a lot of practice & perhaps drinking large quantities of homemade schnapps.