Personal Impressions

The "Personal Impressions" section is a collection of thoughts and personal experiences.

Privat Zimmer

Rooms at private houses are available all across Austria. "Zimmer Frei" signs , meaning "free room", advertise them. Locate these houses by walking trough town or by requesting a list of "Privat Zimmer" at a Tourist Information Office.

Most Privat Zimmer include breakfast in the lodging fee, making them similar to a Bed & Breakfast. Normally, however, the space allocated to the guest and host aren't clearly segmented at a Privat Zimmer. A guest at a Privat Zimmer many times has full access to the kitchen, living room, and other common rooms with the host family. It's an excellent way to experience domestic life.

Lodging at a Privat Zimmer also has financial rewards. Rooms are priced low, often about 75% of the cost of the cheapest pension or guesthouse in town. Many times a Privat Zimmer room is cheaper than a dorm bed at a youth hostel.

We found a Privat Zimmer room in Innsbruck and Salzburg, and an apartment in Vienna. We were very satisfied with each. Please see the Austria Lodging Guide on our main Journal page for details.

German Softened

Much of Switzerland is German speaking - a particular dialect called Swiss German. All of Austria is German speaking - although accents from region to region are different enough to cause comprehension problems between Austrians. Yet, as non-German speakers, we hear a distinct difference between the German spoken in Switzerland and Austria. In Switzerland, the language is hard, guttural, and rigid. Clearing his throat as he hiked trough the Swiss Alps, Wes joked that he was practicing his German. Yet, in Austria, the language is softer and more pleasing to the ear. We look forward to listening to German in several German cities.

Public Trust

Having been raised in the US where people are taught to look for loopholes, find the short cut, and test how far rules can be bent, the level of public trust in Austria is unbelievable. Invariably, city public transport can be used without showing proof of payment. Buses and trams can be boarded and alighted from the rear door, and subway station entrances have no ticket barriers. People are expected to police themselves. This high level of public trust is consistent across Austria from Innsbruck to Salzburg to Vienna. Do Austrians have higher moral standards? To what degree am I moral? Food for thought.

European Overload

Austria is a spectacular country with mountains and lakes in the west and a tremendous amount of culture and history in the center and east. It should be breathtaking at every turn. Had we started our travels in Austria, we would have been overwhelmed with wonder and enthusiasm daily.

Unfortunately, there are only so many castles, fortresses, and palaces one can see with sustained interest. It seems that every European city, township, and village have an historical structure "worth visiting". After 3½ months in Europe, we may have had our fill. We miss Thailand - our favorite travel destination in the world to date.

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