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News Update Austria

 


The Opera Ball

The annual Wiener Opernball takes place in the grand auditorium of the Vienna State Opera House on the Thursday preceding Ash Wednesday. This means this evening!

This glamorous occasion, first inaugurated in 1854, has its roots in the dance evenings held in Vienna’s aristocratic palaces during the late 18th century.
!

With its dazzling mix of ballet, polonaise and waltz, the Opera Ball is redolent of the grandeur of the Hapsburg Empire.

It has become one of the biggest, most romantic middle-European society events of the year, attended by an eclectic array of the rich and famous, aristocrats, bourgeoisie  and bohemians!

If you are tempted to attend one year..you need to book well in advance as the event is generally sold out at least the year before!  But be aware of the cost.  390 euros entrance and then another 240 euros to get a seat…should you wish to sit down of course.  This is where the organisors have it sorted…after quite a few dances, you will be glad to part with the money just to be able to rest your weary feet!

Is Austria under estimating the threat of Radicalisation??

Extremism and integration experts are calling for special programmes in Austrian prisons to help prevent convicts becoming radicalized when serving time.

round 20 young people in Austria have already been sentenced for supporting Islamic State (Isis) militants and several are now being supported by specially trained youth workers as part of the Neustart rehabilitation programme.

Neustart spokesman Andreas Zembaty said that the process is not too different from deradicalizing people who have become influenced by neo-Nazis, and that many young people are driven to extremist ideas by feelings of insecurity and think that: “If no one likes me then at least I can get people to admire or fear me”.

He said that “anyone with an education, a job, an apartment, a future, a girlfriend, or caregivers, is unlikely to become radicalized”.

‘Recruiting sites for extremists’

One 15-year-old who was already sentenced for plotting to blow up a train station in Vienna is back in police custody after allegedly photoshopping images of his friends onto images of Isis fighters in Syria, to show them how “heroic” they could be. Since being released from prison last year he has had home visits from his parole officer four times a month, but has reportedly been struggling to keep up at school.

Justice Ministry spokeswoman Britta Tichy-Martin told the Kurier newspaper that a special package of measures is being drawn up to help prison officers detect when prisoners have been radicalized and how they can combat this.

But experts say the need for this is urgent, and recommend special programmes for radicalized youth and young adults, adding that no expense should be spared in implementing them. “Deconstructing such an ideology is a long process, that must take into account many factors,”  Verena Fabris, director of the extremism counselling centre said.

“Prisons are often recruiting sites for extremists,” integration and extremism expert Kenan Güngör said. “Many inmates start to question the meaning of life and some find comfort in radical religious views.”

Some experts believe that Austria has under estimated the risk of radicalisation. Last year, a new extremism hotline received around 1,000 calls from mothers, fathers, sisters, grandmothers and girlfriends who were worried about their loved ones being radicalised.

Figures from Austria’s police intelligence agency show that as many as 250 people are suspected of having links to radical jihadists – and that 40 of these are under 18 years old.


 

Austrians find Danish tourist’s lost €16,000 on ski piste.

Two Austrian cousins who found an envelope stuffed with cash worth €16,000 on a ski piste in Salzburg and handed it to police are being hailed as heroes by the Danish tourist who lost the money whilst skiing.

he tourist – who has not been named – had been planning to buy a car in Germany on his way back to Denmark, and was carrying the envelope filled with Danish kroner in his pocket.

Austrian Bernhard Engelmann (33) and his cousin Daniel Schlechter (26) were in Wagrain for snowboarding and found the envelope in the snow near a mountain peak. They were astonished to find it was full of cash.

They said they immediately called the police from a mobile phone and reported the find. The Danish tourist had already been to the police to say he had lost the cash – and he was reunited with his money that evening.

He offered the cousins a finders fee of €400 – but they took only half, saying it “was not that heroic an act”. They even said they will donate some of the money to a good cause.


 

What really needs to happen in Austria in 2016!


Austria is a great country to live in and foreigners who have made it their home should be grateful for everything it has to offer – but if we’re being honest there are a number of ways in which it could still be improved.

Austria will no doubt bring in plenty of new laws and amendments in 2016 as it does every year, but how many will really improve our lives?

Here are the things the government could do that would please us at The Local (some of them, of course, are wishful thinking, others are more serious).

Make friendliness an obligatory requirement in the service industry

Although the service sector is a key part of Austria’s economy, many expats and tourists complain that hospitality and friendliness in some hotels and shops, restaurants and bars isn’t a given – particularly in Vienna and other larger cities. Isn’t it time that those working in the service industry learn something from customer service in the US and UK? A smile and friendly word doesn’t hurt and might mean your customers return. We know that grumpy waiters are seen as an integral part of Austrian Kaffeehaus culture, but should the customer really have to win over the waiter? Last year Austria failed to make the top 10 expat destinations – because almost a third of newcomers say Austrians are unfriendly to foreigners.

Make landlords responsible for installing smoke and carbon monoxide alarms

In the UK, most private landlords are required by law to install smoke alarms and, where appropriate, carbon monoxide alarms in rental properties. In Austria that’s not the case and tenants even have to pay for their own yearly gas boiler check. New buildings in Austria now have to have smoke detectors installed – but we think it could help save lives if the government made landlords in older buildings responsible for installing smoke and carbon monoxide alarms. Just recently a teenage almost dies after being exposed to Carbon monoxide  from a faulty gas boiler.

Sell over the counter painkillers in supermarkets

Austrian authorities should have more sympathy for those with hangovers or head colds who can’t find a chemist open on a Sunday. Supermarkets in Austria are not allowed to sell the likes of ibuprofen or paracetamol. Plus, pharmacies tend to charge more for over the counter drugs than shops in the UK and US do, and you can’t buy generic painkillers for a fraction of the price of the bigger brands, which are available in UK supermarkets.

Scrap gender from the German language

It’s 2016, so why do we still have gender in language? The words der and die mean “the” in a masculine and feminine form. Then there is “das”, which is neutral gender. The seemingly arbitrary allocation of masculine, feminine and neutral gender articles in German can drive non-native speakers to despair. Wouldn’t it be simpler if everything was neutral gender? It also gets confusing and becomes fraught with political correctness when referring to or addressing a group of people of both gender – for example teachers. Do we go with the politically correct “LehrerInnen”, or the grammatically correct “Lehrerinnen und Lehrer” (female teachers and male teachers)? We can’t wait until the German language simplifies its gender articles, just as English has managed to do since the Middle Ages. But we fear it may take centuries.

Owners should face victims of dog poo crimes

One way to tackle crime is to force criminals to meet up with their victims to learn of the trauma they have caused in the hope that they will feel remorse and mend their errant ways. Steep fines to end the problem of dog mess fouling Austria’s pavements and parks have still not had the desired effect, so maybe it’s time for a rethink.

There’s no reason why rogue dog owners shouldn’t be forced to visit the homes of their victims to hear of the suffering incurred by having to clean dog poo out of the carpet or scrape it out from the soles of their shoes.

Stub out smoking in public places

A long awaited general smoking ban for cafes and restaurants will not come into force until May 2018, meaning Austria is lagging behind the rest of Europe. Unsurprisingly, Austria has some of the worst smoking statistics in Europe and has been criticised by international organisations for its lack of anti-smoking policies. We think two years is too long to wait, and urge cafe and restaurant owners to take advantage of tax incentives and stub out smoking before the 2018 deadline – you’ll be sure of our custom.

Embrace the cashless society

Please can Austria learn to love credit and debit cards? It is 2016. Many smaller shops and independent businesses don’t take cards, and the few that do often have a minimum payment of around €10. The Western world seems to be heading towards a world without a physical currency, and it would make things much easier if Austria would get on board. How many times have you had to walk 15 or 20 minutes in the cold to withdraw cash to pay for a restaurant meal or a cup of coffee and slice of cake?

Extend shop opening hours

Very few shops are open in Austria on Sundays – except for a few supermarkets at major transport hubs. And even in the capital, Vienna, almost all supermarkets close by 6pm on Saturdays. This can make life difficult for the newly arrived expat who hasn’t twigged on to the fact that you really need to do all your weekend grocery shopping on Saturday morning – and stock up if Monday happens to be a public holiday. Watch for the looks of disbelief on visiting friends’ faces when you tell them that even main shops in tourist areas are closed on Sundays. We do like the idea that Sunday is a day to spend with friends and family and avoid consumerism, but please, could the supermarkets at least stay open later?

Information courtesy of the Local.at


 

The Flow does not stop!…………………………

Austrian police have said they expect up to 6,000 refugees and migrants to cross the border from Slovenia a day, once work on a border fence has been completed by the end of January.
The crossing at Spielfeld in Styria has been quiet in the past few weeks whilst the fence is being constructed. Police say that up to 3,500 refugees a day are currently crossing from Slovenia into Austria via the Carinthian border.The head of the Styrian police, Major General Manfred Komericky, said that as soon as the fence is finished refugees will be directed to the crossing in Styria, which he said is capable of processing up to 11,000 refugees and migrants per day.Austria’s Interior Ministry has said that as many as 12,000 migrants may try to enter Austria per day.Latest figures from the ministry show that last year 90,000 people applied for asylum in Austria, an increase of 200 percent compared to 2014, when only 28,000 applications were received. The majority of asylum applications were from Afghans (25,202) and then Syrians (25,064).This isn’t a record for Austria though. In 1956, Austria received more than 170,000 asylum applications from Hungarians fleeing the chaos and violence sparked by an uprising against the Hungarian People’s Party, which was crushed by the Soviet Union.Meanwhile, Germany has been sending an increasing number of migrants back to Austria, since the beginning of January, Austrian police say. The reasons given are that many had no valid documents, whilst others did not want to apply for asylum in Germany but in Scandinavia.Most of those sent back to Austria are from Afghanistan, Morocco and Algeria, Austrian police said.

Mortgages for property in Austria
New European rules and regulations are making obtaining a mortgage difficult at this time in all EU countries.
The Basel 111 agreement is one of the main causes.
“Basel III” is a comprehensive set of reform measures in banking prudential regulation developed by the Banking Supervision to strengthen the regulation, supervision and risk management of the banking sector. These measures aim to:

  • improve the banking sector’s ability to absorb shocks arising from financial and economic stress, whatever the source
  • improve risk management and governance
  • strengthen banks’ transparency and disclosures.

So, we guess banks are holding onto more of their cash, to allow for rainy days!!

For mortgages, in Austria, this has translated as:

If the income for repayments to a mortgage is not available in Austria, and is from overseas, it causes a risk problem, and most banks will refuse a mortgage or offer a much smaller loan percentage, such as 30%.

This requirement for an income in Austria, leaves the buyer with the option of buying a property to rent for income.  This income can then be used for commercial mortgage loan purposes. The downside is that commercial mortgages are more expensive and more hoops to jump through!

What can one do?: the best option is to borrow against an existing UK property to make a purchase…particularly for the cheaper properties in Austria.

If the property is an old one for renovation, then if bought outright, an Austrian bank would be happier to lend the funds for any renovation.

The other choice that buyers are making is to share a property purchase, with family members and friends.  There can be up to 4 owners registered to a property in Austria, so this means each would have 25% investment in the property.  If the property is rented for holidays, particularly a chalet house, then the income can be over 20,000 euros a year…so a good return on a family and friends investment and they get free holidays!


 

Austria cracks down on cyber abuse

Since the beginning of January online bullying is now a criminal offence. Previously police used other legislation – such as anti-stalking and defamation laws – to prosecute serious cases of cyber abuse.

Thorsten Behrens from the Austrian Institute for Applied Telecommunications (ÖIAT) told the Kurier newspaper that police will now have to change their approach to such cases. “Police may find it difficult to assess individual cases, not every dispute will be a case of bullying.”

Another issue will be identifying the ringleader in cases where a large group of people are all bullying the same victim online. “Probably we will see cases where more than one person is charged, and only a longer investigation will determine who started the bullying,” Behrens said.

Police spokesman Roman Hahslinger said that as soon as a death threat is posted online, the case will be passed onto IT experts at the State Office of Criminal Investigations.

Cyberbullying can affect any age groups but is a particular problem among teenagers and children. “Where insults and abuse used to stop at the school gates, victims are now being tormented at home on social networks. Even when a young victim changes schools the bullying can continue as all the information about them is easily available online,” Behrens said.

The recent report from the OECD showed that a staggering 30 percent of teenage girls in Austria claim to have been bullied via the Internet or their mobile phone. Under Austrian law teenagers under the age of 14 cannot be prosecuted – meaning that many cases of cyberbullying may go unpunished. Police spokesman Hahslinger said that cases where underage children are involved will be handed over to the Youth Welfare Office.

Punishments handed out under the new law will depend on the intensity of the bullying. If death threats are posted, or the victim is driven to attempt suicide or does take their own life this could result in a jail sentence of up to three years for anyone over the age of 14.

Source: The Local


 

Austria not immune from unemployment

At the end of November 2014, there were 16,447 people who have been out of work for more than 12 months.  Since then, the number has soared by 31,398 up to 47,845, an increase of 191 percent.

Overall employment statistics are also grim, with an increase since last month of 5.6 percent, meaning a total of 430,107 people out of work, according to a report in the Kronen Zeitung newspaper.

If you add in the number of people in training — some 70,814 — the number increases to 6.1 percent.

In total, the unemployment rate generally as a proportion of the working population stands at 9.2 percent.  These figures do not yet reflect the recent massive job losses expected with the insolvency of the Zeilpunkt supermarket chain, which is likely to lead to the loss of another 3,000 jobs.

The chief of the Austrian unemployment service (AMS) Johannes Kopf explained that “a poor economic situation since 2012 has led to a consolidation of unemployment.”

Older Austrians are particularly affected, with a significant increase of 13.5 percent among those over 50 years of age, bringing the total to 97,318 ageing workers.

All major industries have been affected by the trend, including the tourism sector, which has seen a 4.6 percent increase in jobless.

The construction business was also affected, with a 3.8 percent increase.

There was little difference between the rates for men and women. Youth unemployment however decreased slightly, as employers are switching to less experienced people to save costs.


Salzburg arrests ‘linked to Paris attacks’

Two people believed to be linked to the terror cell which carried out the Paris attacks have been arrested at a refugee centre in the Austrian city of Salzburg.

The Kronen Zeitung newspaper reported that the pair are French citizens posing as refugees, who travelled with some of the Paris attackers through Greece and the Balkans in early October, using fake Syrian passports.

They were arrested over the weekend after police received a tip-off from a foreign intelligence service. There is some speculation that they were waiting in Salzburg for orders to carry out further terrorist attacks.

A spokesman for the state prosecutor, Robert Holzleitner, said he cannot confirm if they planned to carry out terror attacks and declined to comment on their nationalities, saying that they had “come from the Middle East”. 

He did confirm that “indications of a possible link to the Paris attacks are currently being investigated”.

In a related story, two asylum seekers suspected of being members of the Isis terror group were taken into custody in Salzburg just a few weeks ago.

The pair, aged 20 and 21, are reported to have boasted to other refugees and volunteers that they had fought with Isis in Syria.

Prosecutors have said that so far there is no evidence that they planned to carry out attacks in Europe or that they had any links to previous attacks. 

Salah Abdeslam, a 26-year-old French citizen who is thought to have played a key logistical role in the Paris attacks, is still on the run and subject to an international arrest warrant.

Abdeslam was also registered as having been in Austria on September 9th after being stopped in a routine traffic check in a car with Belgian number plates with two other men, Austrian authorities said on November 17th. Abdeslam told police he was “on holiday” in Austria.

He also travelled to Hungary before the attacks where he “recruited a team” from unregistered migrants passing through, Hungarian officials said on December 3rd.


 

 Property Tax change 1.1.16

From 01.01.2016 the underlying tax rate for real estate sale profit ie: Capital gains increases from 25% to 30% rise (applies to secondary and third residences) – also the abolition of inflation deduction allowed of 2% from the 11th year.
For real estates, which were acquired prior to 1.4.2002, a flat-rate increase in value of 14% is assumed and used to calculate.

In this 14%, supposed increase in value, the tax rate of 25% is applied, which then results in exactly 3.5% of the sales proceeds. Do not confuse these with the 3.5% land transfer tax, which is likewise 3.5%

Investments in properties (additions, alterations, renovations, etc.) can be taken into account as a deduction, reducing the profit level – ask if in doubt, the notary or accountant.


Tax on reclassification

For real estate or property which between 1.1.1998 and 1.4.2002, an increase in value of 60 percent is assumed fixed price. So when this property is sold, a tax rate of 15% of the selling price comes into force (= 25 percent of 60 percent of the assumed increase in value) applied.

Can you prove (eg via surveys) that the increase in value was lower, then the lower amount applies.

This information is for basic guidance and anyone selling a property should consult the Notar or an Accountant for the latest up to date changes in the tax laws.


Austrian population to grow by up to 60,000 a year

Austria’s population is set to grow by 60,000 people a year mainly due to immigration, according to a new report by Statistik Austria.

Statistik Austria boss Konrad Pesendorfer said that by 2030 Austria is expected to have 9.31 million inhabitants. Currently, the population stands at around 8.54 million.

Statisticians had to revise figures from last year due to the large number of refugees arriving in Austria this year, who are claiming asylum.

In 2014, 1.45 million people born in a foreign country lived in Austria, around 17 percent of the total population. The number of foreign residents is expected to rise to 2.07 million by 2030, and to 2.51 million by 2060.

Vienna is experiencing the strongest population growth of all the nine states as a result of immigration. Currently foreign-born residents make up 33 percent of the population, and this is expected to increase to more than 40 percent by 2035.

Pesendorfer called for “an active integration policy,” to ensure people with a migration background are not disadvantaged.

Experts from Statistik Austria say the population boost is a necessary one as the “baby-boomer generation” (born between 1955 and 1970) will reach retirement age after 2020, with the number of pensioners increasing in all nine states – putting a strain on Austria’s already stretched pension system.

In Austria as a whole, the elderly population (aged 65 and over) will grow from 18 percent in 2014 to 29 percent by 2060.

Vienna, Lower Austria, Tyrol and Vorarlberg are predicted to have the strongest population growth. Cash-strapped Carinthia is the only state which is expected to see a decrease in population by 2060 (minus six percent).

The number of children and adolescents aged under 19 years is expected to increase by eight percent, from 1.69 million to 1.81 million over the next 20 years.

Life expectancy is predicted to rise to an average of 87.3 years old for men by 2060 (up from 78.9 years), and 90.6 years for women (up from 83.7 years).


 

Unfair to men?

Austria’s Ombudsman for Equal Treatment has ruled that Ladies’ Nights – where nightclubs and bars offer women free admission and cheap drinks on certain evenings – discriminate against men.

The Gleichbehandlungskommission said it was constantly having to deal with complaints that prices and promotions were dependent on gender – with men saying they were never the ones to benefit from such offers financially.

The Ombud has now issued a report condemning Ladies’ Nights promotions and saying that they violate the Equal Treatment Act – which paves the way for men to sue a nightclub for damages if they believe they have been discriminated against.

“All goods and services offered in the context of commercial activities should be priced regardless of gender,” the report said. It added that events could be marketed as gender-specific but that any goods on offer must be priced the same for men and women.

Bars and clubs have argued that Ladies’ Nights are meant to compensate women for the fact that they generally earn less than men, but the Ombud said this was not relevant.

Equal rights lawyer Ines Grabner-Drews said that “it is unlikely that companies in the entertainment and leisure sector are really concerned about equal pay” and that the real motivation behind Ladies’ Nights is to attract more women to nightclubs, which helps draw in more men.

Cineplexx cinemas in Austria regularly hold Ladies’ Nights – offering a special €8.30 ticket for a romantic movie which includes a small bottle of Martini Asti and sweets, but the small print makes it clear that men can also benefit from the offer.

Vienna’s popular U4 nightclub had a ‘Girls Special’ night until recently, when women got into the club for free, but U4 spokeswoman Lisa Schwarzinger said this was likely to be discontinued. “Of course we can’t be seen to be favouring women with free entry,” she said.

 

Some restaurants have also had Ladies’ Nights promotions, where female diners are offered a free drink and dessert with their meal.


Twitter buys company from 21-year-old Austrian

A start-up company founded by a 21-year-old Austrian has been bought by Twitter, which has also hired the young technology entrepreneur to work for them in San Francisco.

Computer scientist Felix Krause developed his first app for bicycle routes when he was 16-years-old. After completing HTL training at a higher education institute in Wiener Neustadt he went on to study software engineering at the University of Central Lancashire in the UK, which was where he started his company Fastlane.

After recognising problems with releasing and updating iPhone apps, Krause developed software that made testing and releasing app updates as simple as a click of a button.

Following the release of the first version of the software a year ago, he made it open source and then went on to earn money by developing special modifications tailored for different companies.

His programme ended up with around 15,000 daily users, which led to interest from Twitter who offered to collaborate with Krause. Since October, Fastlane has been part of Twitter’s mobile development platform Fabric and Krause has relocated to San Francisco to work on his project full time.


Refugee crisis fears ‘helped Freedom Party’

The state elections in Upper Austria resulted in huge gains for the right-wing Freedom Party (FPÖ) and major losses for the conservative People’s Party (ÖVP). Regional governor Josef Pühringer has said he will be holding talks with all parties to discuss the options before forming a new coalition.

The ÖVP and the Greens have lost their majority, and an ÖVP/FPÖ or ÖVP/SPÖ coalition look most likely.

The Freedom Party is now the second largest party in Upper Austria and Pühringer (ÖVP) told Ö1 radio that he believed its success was solely down to the refugee crisis, and nothing to do with regional politics. “We can only take care of accommodation and on the spot care for refugees – but everything else is in the hands of international politics,” he said.

The FPÖ campaigned aggressively on the issue of immigration, and their success in Upper Austria may bode well for them in the Vienna elections which take place on October 11th.

The SPÖ gained only 18.4 percent of the vote in the weekend’s elections, a result which analysts are saying is “catastrophic” for the party.

Source: thelocal.at  Sept 2015


 

Seven bizarre health tips Austrians swear by

Anyone who has lived in Austria will know that Austrians have some weird and wonderful ‘natural’ remedies for common health complaints, but do they help, or are they just a bunch of old wives’ tales?

Health and wellness are big in Austria. Not only is spa culture popular here but many Austrians also tend to opt for herbal or traditional remedies when they come down with a cold, cough or stomach ache.

There’s a common perception that these are healthier and safer than over-the-counter medicines. Many remedies have been passed down through generations and you’ll find that some of the “cures” in this list are usually found in the kitchen and not in the medicine cabinet. This reflects the Austrian idea that good health begins with the food you eat. And maybe there’s some truth to this – the average life expectancy in Austria is 81, compared with an EU average of 79.

A century ago many of Austria’s Alpine communities lived isolated from the rest of the world, and found novel ways to survive, existing on what they could find on their doorstep, including traditional natural medicine. Some of these remedies have been tried and tested and others are a bit more dubious – but they might be worth a try next time you need a quick fix. Gargle with Schnaps for a sore throat Schnaps is a strong alcoholic drink which in Austria is often flavoured with fruit. It’s very warming and good as a winter tipple. As alcohol tends to have numbing and antiseptic qualities there may be some truth to the belief that it can help alleviate the symptoms of a sore throat. A friend’s sprightly octogenarian Oma (grandma) swears by a morning shot of Schnaps every day as a general way to maintain good health. Younger Austrians tend to prefer fruit and vegetables and vitamin C and Zinc lozenges. Fermented cabbage juice for a healthy tum Sauerkraut juice is widely available in health food stores and supermarkets in Austria. It’s an acquired taste but cabbages have been shown to create compounds in the digestive tract that are anti-carcinogenic and anti-inflammatory. Raw cabbage juice is believed to help stomach ulcers and acid reflux, and also help strengthen the immune system. Fermented cabbage juice contains beneficial bacteria, enzymes and vitamins and minerals. It’s recommended that you drink it in small quantities i.e. one small glass a day – and consult a doctor about drinking it if you have a thyroid condition. Hug a tree if you have a headache

We’re not sure if the weight of science is behind this one – and it sounds like something an old hippy would recommend, but there is some evidence that just being around trees can boost one’s sense of well-being. A recent book called Blinded by Science by UK author Matthew Silverstone claimed that trees have beneficial effects on mental illnesses, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), concentration levels, depression, and can also help alleviate headaches.

Take a hay bath for achy joints

Popular in Alpine regions, the Heubad treatment involves being tightly wrapped in herb-enriched hay that has been soaked in water heated to at least 40C. You’re meant to take the ‘bath’ for about 20 minutes, at which point sweat will start to stream from your pores. It’s said to ease rheumatism and general aches and pains, boost the immune system, improve circulation, and help with weight loss. Warning: The soggy hay can be a bit itchy. Topfen: A cure for everything Topfen – a fresh dairy product known as Quark in Germany – is a popular ingredient in Austrian cakes and puddings. But it’s also a popular remedy for all kinds of elements. Our sources tell us that doctors recommend smearing it on your head if you suffer from a dry, itchy scalp (!). If you have a fever a traditional remedy is to put Topfen on your feet and wrap them in towels (the so-called Topfenpatscherl treatment). It’s also been recommended as a topical cream for sore breasts. Worth keeping some in the fridge perhaps? Yogurt to soothe a sore sunburn Another common remedy involving a dairy product. Apparently smearing yogurt on a sunburn not only helps to cool and moisturize the skin – it also helps reestablish the pH balance and promotes faster healing. Use plain, unsweetened, full-fat yogurt if you can, let it sit on your skin until it warms up and then rinse off with tepid water. Some people recommend mixing a paste made of equal proportions of barley, turmeric and yogurt. It all sounds a bit messy – we prefer good old Aloe Vera. Wormwood tea for stomach ache Medicinal, herbal teas are very popular in Austria. If you have a cold you’re sure to be prescribed thyme tea but a more old fashioned tea is made from the bitter-tasting wormwood herb (which is also used to make Absinthe) and is meant to be good for treating digestive problems, including flatulence, bloating, heartburn and indigestion. It was also used for medicinal purposes in Ancient Egypt and Rome. However, it’s not recommended that you drink it every day, and you should avoid it if pregnant. Too much of it can prevent you from sleeping – or might make you have strange dreams

 

Austrian lakes reach ‘bathtub’ temperatures

Anyone planning to take a refreshing dip in one of Austria’s lakes after the scorching heat of the past few days is going to be disappointed – with the water in most lakes now as warm as a bathtub.

The hot, tropical nights of the past week have meant water temperatures have continued to rise. The warmest water is currently in Carinthia’s lakes, where Klopeiner See and Turnersee are around 29C. Experts say smaller lakes in Carinthia could soon hit 30C if the heat continues.

In Vienna, a plunge in the Alte Donau river won’t leave you gasping for breath or complaining of goose bumps, with the water temperature now 28C. The Neusiedler See in Burgenland is also on the warm side, with 27C.

The Lunzersee lake in Upper Austria promises to be more refreshing with 25C. And for those desperately seeking a place to cool down Hallstätter See in Upper Austria could be the right place, with just 23C.

Salzburg’s lakes are similarly warm – with temperatures between 23 and 26C. The only exception is the Flachauwinkel bathing lake, which is a chilly 18C. But experts have warned people not to jump into cold water without cooling down from the heat first, as the shock to the circulatory system could have adverse health effects.

In Styria, the coolest lake is the Erlaufsee with 23C. Other lakes in the province are between 24 and 28C. Even Bodensee (Lake Constance) in Vorarlberg is currently 25C. Tyrol’s lakes are generally a little cooler, between 21 and 26C, with the exception of Schwarzsee which is now 27C.

The fish aren’t suffering from the warmer water temperatures as they swim deeper, to the cooler regions of the lake. So far, an increased growth of algae in the water is not noticeable.

Conditions on Friday and Saturday will continue to be hot and humid, with temperatures reaching 33C and up to 35C in the east, with some rain and thunderstorms forecast. Sunday should see cooler temperatures, of around 26C.

Source: thelocal.at   27 July 2015

 


Austria scores highly in new well-being index

Austrians are generally pretty happy with life, especially when it comes to where they live and their friends and family. The Alpine country placed fourth in a new index which looks at quality of life and well-being in European Union countries. The EU life satisfaction average is 7.1, according to figures from Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. Eurostat looked at different aspects of well-being and used country-specific data to evaluate them on a scale of 0 to 10 (10 being completely satisfied).

Overall, Austria scored 7.8, behind Denmark, Finland and Sweden, who all scored 8. The least happy Europeans are Bulgarians, with a score of just 4.8. Austrians gain the most satisfaction from their “personal relationships” – with a high score of 8.5 which is only bettered by Ireland (8.6). They also gain a sense of well-being from their “living environment”, with the highest EU-wide score of 8.4. “Green and recreational areas” scored a well-being value of 8.3, as did “accommodation”. Austria’s lowest scores were for “time use” (7.3) and “financial situation” (7) – a trend echoed across the EU with Bulgaria again coming bottom for financial happiness. The annual median net income for Austrians was calculated as €23,221. The figures were revealed on Monday as part of a closer look at data recorded in 2013 and initially released in March to mark 2015’s World Happiness Day. Source: news.austria@thelocal.com   – June 2015

 


 

Smokers to be banned from Austria’s cafes

After years of heated public debate, Austria’s government decided on Friday that it will ban smoking in cafes and restaurants in 2018, having passed a law six years ago that forced eateries to seal off non-smoking areas.

The Chamber of Commerce said it was looking at taking legal steps against the ban in a country famed for its cafe culture and where smoking is above European averages. France, Britain, Italy and some German provinces have introduced similar bans. Cafe owners who go completely smoke-free by July 2016 will get a special one-off bonus to offset costs at least partially. “We are strengthening the protection of non-smokers in Austria, but also take into account the interests of businesses which have already invested in the spatial separation of smokers and non-smokers,” APA news agency quoted Conservative Economy Minister Reinhold Mitterlehner as saying. But not everyone was convinced. “Incredible. What are we going to do? You know that Austrians like to smoke when they drink coffee,” said Elzin Nicevic, manager of a cafe on Vienna’s Ring boulevard. The head of Austria’s right-wing Freedom Party, Heinz-Christian Strache, whose party is neck and neck in opinion polls with the two centrist coalition parties, said he would scrap the law should his party win parliamentary elections in 2018. “We don’t need enforced joys such as this failure of a law,” the heavy smoker said of the bill, which parliament is expected to pass within months. Reuters – 10 April 2015


Global Peace Index: Austria is Third Most Peaceful Country

March 2015 (FriedlNews)

The latest Global Peace Index analyses the state of peace around the world. It identifies the most and least peaceful countries, trends in violence and conflict, and calculates the economic impact of violence. The top three most peaceful countries are Iceland, Denmark and Austria. Small and stable democracies make up the top ten most peaceful countries. New Zealand, Canada and Japan are the only non-European countries in the top ten.

The 2014 Global Peace Index shows a continuation of the seven year trend for declining levels of peace globally.

  • Since 2008 51 countries have improved while 111 countries have deteriorated in peace
  • The world has become 4% less peaceful since 2008
  • Europe remains the most peaceful region, with 14 of the top 20 most peaceful countries
  • Syria has replaced Afghanistan at the bottom of the index, with its Global Peace Index score falling 84% since 2008
  • Georgia showed the largest improvement in peace levels
  • The total economic impact of containing violence is estimated to be US$9.46 trillion in 2012

The three least peaceful countries are South Sudan, Afghanistan and Syria. Levels of peace in South Sudan deteriorated the most since 2013, falling 16 places from last year. Trends According to the Global Peace Index, the world global average peace score deteriorated slightly since last year, mainly due to global increases in terrorist activity, the number of conflicts fought and the number of refugees and displaced people. Economic Impact The economic impact of containing and dealing with the consequences of global violence last year was estimated to be US$9.8 trillion. This is equivalent to 11.3% of global GDP – twice the combined GDP of African countries. Risk This years’ Global Peace Index includes a new statistical modelling risk tool which identifies countries at risk of descending into violence and unrest in the next two years. The new methodology analyses a data set stretching back to 1996, and compares countries with the performance of states with similar institutional characteristics. The ten countries most likely to deteriorate in peace in the next two years are Zambia, Haiti, Argentina, Chad, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Nepal, Burundi, Georgia, Liberia and Qatar. Source: www.friedlnews.com

 


An Austrian Park turns into a Lake Every Year !

Spectacular images that show how a park becomes a lake each spring complete with underwater trees have been captured by two divers. The snaps were taken at the Gruener See, or Green Lake as it is called in English, located in the southern Austrian province of Styria. During the winter months the lake, located near the town of Tragoss at the foot of the snow-capped Hochschwab mountains, is only around a metre deep and the surrounding area is part of the country park. It is a favourite location for hikers and campers, but all of it vanishes underwater in the spring when the winter snow starts to melt, sending waters flooding down from the nearby mountain range. During the summer, the lake reaches its maximum depth of around 12 metres and trees have adapted to being completely underwater for upwards of a month every year at a time. And as these spectacular images show it creates an eerie landscape, in which the crystal clear waters flooding down from the melting ice and snow still allow the light to filter onto the grass and shrubs below. The photographs are part of the project to highlight Austria’s investment in making sure it’s rivers, streams and lakes remain crystal clear and unpolluted. They are being shown at a new Under Water World exhibition at the Biology Centre in the southern city of Linz to highlight the country’s aquatic beauty spots. Two of Austria’s leading underwater photographers, Gerald Kapfer and Harald Hois, also captured some of the plants and animals beneath the underwater lake which can now be seen at the photography exhibition. Exhibition curator Stephan Weigl said: “Many people are surprised that images like these have been captured in Austria rather than in somewhere more exotic like the Maldives but we really do have a beautiful aquatic landscape that is perhaps sometimes overlooked against the backdrop of the country’s other natural wonders.”

 


 Flights launched between Vienna and Manchester.

Thousands of holidaymakers from northern England can now waltz away from Manchester on a direct flight to Vienna – the first flight from the country that takes off outside London. The first flight between the northern city and the Austrian capital took off last week on 2 May, just in time for the British May bank holiday. Already 8,000 Brits have bought tickets with airline company operating the route Jet2.com. “Vienna is one of the largest un-served European resorts and it appeals to lots of customers, businesses and travel. It’s a great city and I know what is has to offer,” said David Neill, the head of Jet2.com planning. People are used to regular city breaks such as Rome or Paris, and we wanted to offer somewhere different. Jet2 are hoping that Vienna’s cultural, musical, and cuisine offerings will attract visitors from Manchester and the surrounding regions who want to discover an alternative European city break. Prices begin at 43 GBP (52 EUR) per person, including taxes, and there will be three flights a week on Mondays, Wednesday, and Friday.

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