Saturday, January 15, 2011

Final Observations from Vienna

Apparently, when people from countries specializing in spicy food think of Germans, they laugh to themselves just a little.  The people are known for liking things more bland.  Not being one of those people myself, I was lucky to have read (and reminded by Mr. Williams in a comment on this blog) that while here, if I go to a Thai or Indian place, say, I should tell the waiter that I want my dish prepared how they would do it at home, and, "ich bin kein Deutscher" (I'm not a German).

I tried this out today at an Indian place while heading to the train station, and sure enough, it seems to have worked.  I got myself a very tasty and hot Madras chicken curry.  However, more - much more - data must be collected to prove the theory.

A few other final thoughts on Vienna and Germans in general:
  • Other times I've been in Europe, I would rarely see an American car.  It's understandable that the cities I'll be visiting will be full of German cars - like Michigan being full of U.S. brands - and they are.  But this time, I've seen quite a few Fords.  No GM's or Chryslers so far, though.
  • This one is about Germans in general: It is very hard to strike up a casual conversation with one.  My friend Meredith may want to comment here, but I have yet to have one with anyone here who wasn't a backpacker from another country, except for one person at the Kunsthistorisches Museum, and he was working at the information desk, so he's kind of paid to do that.  Germans do have this reputation, and they do seem to be very private.
  • Austria is like a time warp for what smoking was like 30 years ago in the U.S.  I saw one repot that 50-60 percent of Austrians smoke, and 30 percent of 15-year-olds do; anyway, it's a lot.  They're one of the few countries in Europe who haven't implemented significantly tougher anti-smoking laws.
  • When meeting travelers from other countries, they tend to be really impressed if you know something about the history of their country, or even the capital if they're a small country.  I don't know if they expect very little from Americans specifically, or if it's a general thing.

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