The Big Issue : Edition 435
thebigissue21Jun–4Jul2013 23 You bring your own bags and pack them yourself, trying to create some semblance of order from the haphazard mound of scanned stuff before the next customer’s kohlrabi comes careening into your cabbage. And if you dare shop on a Sunday, you will not be allowed to buy pet food, baking paper, plastic bags or anything that might help you clean your clothes, dishes or floors. The shelves bearing these items are caged off...because those are the rules. One of the strangest of Austrian idiosyncrasies exists in the very private sphere of couples’ bedrooms. Never have I visited a country whose people are so finicky about their sleep that they insist each person gets their own mattress and quilt (no top sheet). This arrangement enables optimal temperature regulation, reduces partner disturbance and eliminates the scourge of doona hogging. But all this precision comes at a cost: a crack down the middle that is rather unconducive AUSTRALIAN ETHICAL SUPER IS THE ONLY FUND THAT DOESN’T INVEST IN COAL AND COAL SEAM GAS EXTRACTION Australian Ethical seeks out positive investments that support people, quality and sustainability. It avoids investments that cause unnecessary harm to people, animals, society or the environment. Go to australianethical.com.au to join or call 1800 021 227 for more information. super, pensions & investments Australian Ethical Investment Ltd (‘AEI’) ABN 47 003 188 930, AFSL 229949. Australian Ethical Superannuation Pty Ltd ABN 43 079 259 733 RSEL L0001441. A PDS is available from our website or by calling us and should be considered before making an investment decision. Australian Ethical® is a registered trademark of AEI. to cuddling. Somebody should do a sociology paper on it. But there is much to admire in the Austrian capital. Vienna’s public transport system makes those in Australia look pathetic, what with its trains every three minutes and annual tickets that work out to €1 a day. There’s a wealth of stunning architecture and museums and art and music, and you can go to a show at the venerable State Opera for the price of a cup of coffee, so long as you don’t mind standing. Austrian food isn’t the most dazzling cuisine, but it might just have the best cakes in the world. And people are such connoisseurs of carbonated drinks that one popular brand offers soda water in two levels of fizziness. Come spring, charming window boxes spill over with cheery blooms, and bike lanes on just about every street make it easy to get around on two wheels. And even though waiters act like they’re doing you a favour by taking your order, they never grumble about split bills and patiently divvy up receipts for even the most sprawling of tables. Viennese sun worship is impressive. Come the first vaguely warm day of the year (which locals seem to define as approximately 10°C), students and office workers head out to city parks and strip down to T-shirts so they can soak in the rays. Fake beaches, complete with sand and banana lounges, materialise by the concrete canal, and locals lie there in swimmers and sunnies as if it’s Bondi. When we arrived, I pitied them and their sorry excuse for a seashore. But after my first winter, I seriously contemplated joining in. That’s when I knew something had changed in me. I’d become a little bit Austrian. Another year and I’ll be wearing a dirndl. » Jenna Hand is a Vienna-based freelance journalist and coffee-house aficionado.