"Yeeeeeeesss, but you are in the wrong place"

So during our trip to Vienna, Tom and I not only saw a lot of amazing buildings, monuments and art but we also had many funny encounters and were witness to what I have to believe is the standard in Austrian service.

First, we arrive in Vienna and manage to get oriented enough to find a tram to take us to the area of our hotel, however, I jumped the gun a little bit and had us get off about five stops early. So we walked quite a ways with our luggage, oh, and it was raining. Part way through the walk, I was confused as to where we were, so we stopped in to Wiener World (yes that really was the name, I would NOT make something like that up) and got food and dried off a little bit. Our waiter barked at us, laughed at us while we ordered, interrupted us or just walked away when we asked for something, but still, actually took rather good care of our dining needs (food arrived quickly and he did bring everything we wanted or needed).

We continued on our little walk and finally found the hotel, since we had 24-hour passes for the trams and metro, I asked which tram we should take to get to the Hofburg (since it was just raining and we had already walked quite a bit). Without looking up the man at the desk replied in a bored voice "you can walk." At that point I was thinking that wasn't really my question, but OK, so I tried a different route; "But we just walked all the way here." The helpful response he had for this statement as we continued to drip onto the carpet; "Oh good, then you know the way." At this point I really had to just laugh to myself and sure enough, we did walk to the Hofburg, and we did know the way, and we did get to see pretty sights like Rathaus and Parliament, but we did also get even wetter.

At the Hofburg, we were awed by the size of the palace complex. From reading one of the travel guides we had decided that we wanted to see the palace apartments and the treasury, so we entered a likely looking door and went to the information/ticket booth. The man behind the desk greeted me in both German and English (as most people did during our stay, everyone we met spoke at least three languages perfectly!). I respond with a "hello" and then told him that we wished to see the royal apartments. His face developed that expression that we came to see a lot of during the trip, bored arrogance and disdain for our ignorance, and he drawled "yeesssss, but you are in the wrong plaaaaaace." So he showed us where we were supposed to go, and when we got there we did indeed have a lovely tour of the museum and the treasury (and I feel I should mention that we met a number of other very helpful tour guides who did not take pleasure in our ignorance, nor remind us of our ineptitude).

Our next encounter with "Austrian service" was at tea the next day. Again it was cold and very windy with intermittent rain, so we stopped into a cafe to have some refreshments and write out our postcards. The waiter came and Tom asked if he can have a beer. The waiter looked at him with a sad yet also disdainful look on his face and goes "no, no no no" while slightly shaking his head. Since we were in a little cafe we assumed they just didn't have beer but instead stock up on pastries, tea and coffee, so Tom ordered a glass of Sherry that he saw on the menu. I ordered tea and asked if they have any sachertorte cake (it's an Austrian specialty we were told) and again I got a sad little look. "No torte, it's finished, come back tomorrow." Now the really amusing part of this whole story is that after five minutes of sitting there, a couple came in and sat at a table near ours. They ordered, in German, and after several minutes, the waiter brought their order: a cappuccino and a BEER! During the course of our little meal, there were in fact several other tables where the waiter had decided that those good people were deserving of beer, whereas Tom apparently was not. This whole story kept us amused for the rest of the afternoon and we still enjoy recreating the little look and shaking our heads while going "No. No, no no no."

1 comment:

Maurice Kraft said...

yeah, austrians are that way, a little rude, a little xenophobic.
they ain't germans, that's for damn sure.

i'm enjoying your blog. especially since i'm going to be in some of these places in just a few months. yay!

- marc