11.22.2006

The kindness of Austrian- or is it just Grazers?

Having had various negative experiences in OTHER European countries where I don't speak the language - cold shoulders and total refusal to even attempt communication - I have been very impressed with the hospitality we have received.

Our first hours in this country - fresh off an 18 hour flight - we were driving around the center in our rental car, completely lost, driving where we shouldn't, and everyone we stopped on the street was willing to help us find our hotel. Dark car, late night, people with funny Italian and American accents got a fair shake.

Yesterday this point was brought home for me on the tram...

Up comes an elderly gentleman he could barely stand on his own and I quickly helped him get his ticket punched (Tortellino was sitting in his stroller directly below the machine - not exactly blocking it but requiring some fancy footwork to surpass). Here comes our stop, and the gentleman says something to me in German..

I told him I couldn't speak German, "Neign Sprecken Deutch" (can't spell it either, apparently). He proceeded to grab my stroller and help us get off the tram. Now, for a guy who can hardly walk. That's impressive!

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Another mommy, who is in our English-speaking playgroup, entered Austria via Vienna, instead, and had just horrible experiences where people just treated her badly for not speaking German. Then again, the English-speaking playgroup is yet another example of Grazer hospitality. There, you will find mommies from America, England, Australia and Graz. We've been there about three times and guess who invited Tortellino to a playdate? Not the English mommy, not the American mommy... the Austrian mommy!

So there you go.

1 comment:

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