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Austrian owner swaps his three-bedroom Detroit home for an iPhone 6.

The Austrian owner who offered to swap his three-bedroom Detroit home for an iPhone 6 has received a cash deal and the offer of a new iPhone after canny marketing by Estate agent, Larry Else

A desperate overseas real estate owner who offered to swap his dilapidated Detroit home for an iPhone 6 has sold the property – and a new iPhone 6 into the bargain.

Andreas Gindelhuber bought the three-bedroom Detroit foreclosure property for US$41,000 in 2010, hoping to make some money on it as a rental property, but never saw it, as he lives in Austria.

But as the Detroit market dropped, neighbourhoods suffered from vacant properties and it became more difficult to rent.

When Mr Gindelhuber’s tenants left seven months ago, he owed US$6,000 in county property taxes and hired agent Larry Else, of  to sell the property.

The home was originally listed for US$5,000, but was then reduced to US$3,000. With no sale after four months, the agent remembered Mr Gindelhuber had told him that he would be willing to trade the home for an iPhone 6 or a 32GB iPad and thought it could help generate interest in the property.

Sure enough, the iPhone 6 swap for the three-bedroom, 1.5-bath colonial property on Laing Street, which is smoke-damaged and is missing all its doors and windows, was picked up by the media and achieved international coverage.

The 2,400-square foot home, which was built in 1929, had a 600square foot finished basement and 4,356 square foot garden and was advertised on real estate site Zillow as being an “investor special”.In the end, it has been bought by near neighbour Sean Washington, who offered US$900 cash. The contract is under review and in two weeks it could be a done deal.

In addition, a German benefactor who heard of Mr Gindelhuber’s predicament sent him an email offering to send him his new iPhone 6. The Austrian had previously turned down an offer of an iPhone 5, say media reports.

The iPhone 6 was released by Apple last month in the United States and costs around US$650 for a non-contract phone.

Reported by OPP media

British newspaper catches Austrian in Fraud Probe

A corrupt MEP caught by a British newspaper offering to propose amendments to EU laws in exchange for 100,000 euros a year has been given a three-year-jail term.

Austrian Ernst Strasser, 58, also a former interior minister of Austria, was originally given a four-year term in 2013 after he was filmed by reporters from the Sunday Times newspaper offering to pursue amendments to a planned law on hedge funds for cash.

After a retrial, he was sentenced to 3-1/2 years in jail for bribery by a Vienna court in March, which has now been reduced again by the country's highest court to 3 years taking into account the massive fall from grace that he had experienced by his actions.

Strassser's lawyer Thomas Kralik had appealed the sentence, and the case was referred to the Supreme Court of the Alpine republic as a result.

Kralik said: "To a certain extent this was entrapment. Had they not put the carrot before his nose, there would have been no case to answer."

And he added. "He is now politically and socially a dead man."

Strasser, a member of the conservative Peoples' Party (OeVP) who had served as interior minister from 2000-04, will most probably have to spend at least six months in prison after which he will be eligible to wear an electronic bracelet and serve his sentence at home. He is expected to start serving his sentence this year.

Supreme Court President Eckart Ratz said it was "vital for democracy to fight against people who use politics to line their own pockets". He then addressed Strasser directly as he told him: "An EU parliamentarian who is corrupt is an evil that destabilises and calls into question the functioning of the European Union."

However, Ratz said the court decided to reduce the sentence because Strasser had been made into somewhat of a "scapegoat" by the circumstances of the offence and deserved some pity for his public fall.

Strasser said he had made "grave mistakes" but denied the charges against him. He made no comment as he left the court building.

Place in the Sun property exhibition opens at NEC

The Place in the Sun property exhibition opened to queues of visitors. The Amazing Austria stand was as popular as usual with people interested in the new developments we are promoting. Also of great interest to visitors were changes that are happening to the property market in Austria, particularly the latest ruling about renting out of holiday apartments. Other concerns were the political climate and how this would affect future property laws or purchases.

It seems that Spain and USA are popular once again with the British buyer, as is France which has never really gone out of fashion. This is continued interest even with all the tax rules in France, is probably to do with the proximty of England being only 28 miles from France.  So, easy for people to reach in a few hours by car ferry.

Bavaria calls for return of border controls with Austria!

To stem the tide of immigrants, Governor of Bavaria says immigration controls needed to address growing problem of refugees travelling to Germany to claim asylum

Angela Merkel's Bavarian coalition partners have called for the return of border controls between Germany and Austria.

Horst Seehofer, the governor of Bavaria and leader of the CSU party, said immigration controls were needed to stem the tide of refugees travelling to Germany to claim asylum.

His party is reportedly preparing a seven-point emergency programme to address the problem of Germany's growing numbers of asylum-seekers, which includes temporarily suspending the Schengen agreement on border-free travel and imposing controls along the border with Austria.

Under EU rules, border checks can be temporarily re-introduced if there is a threat to national security or public safety.

Germany has faced rising numbers of asylum-seekers in recent years, and local authorities in many parts of the country say they are overwhelmed.

The CSU programme also calls for the release of €100m (£80m) in federal funds to help local authorities tackle the problem, according to Spiegel magazine.

Mrs Merkel has yet to respond to the proposals, and it is not clear whether they will be adopted as government policy.

The CSU is the Bavarian sister party of her CDU but it often takes a more conservative stance.

Although its proposals target the border with Austria, it is Italy that is the real focus of the CSU's anger. Large numbers of asylum-seekers enter the EU via Italy, after crossing the Mediterranean from Africa.

Under international law, they are supposed to claim asylum in the first country they reach, but the Schengen Area's open borders mean it is easy for them to travel on to Germany, and Mr Seehofer claims the Italian authorities are not doing enough to stop them.

"Italy is in clear violation of the Schengen accords. If this doesn't stop, Germany has to seriously consider stopping this violation via border controls," Mr Seehofer told Bild newspaper "We must set quotas for refugees in Europe. And we have to deal with the fact that refugees need to be shared out among EU members fairly."

France temporarily reimposed immigration controls on its border with Italy in 2011 for the same reason. At the time the European Commission ruled the temporary border checks were legal, but said they did not respect "the spirit of the Schengen rules".

Reported from the Telegraph Austria news.

Booby trap Manure Explodes!

A traffic cop in Austria got more than he bargained for after a booby trap covered him head-to-toe in manure as he was trying to catch people speeding.

Police said an explosive put in a plastic bucket filled with liquid manure was set to detonate when somebody triggered a fishing line placed nearby.

PC Gunther Maier, 58, was not hurt in the blast and detectives said the device was most likely designed by an irate motorist to humiliate officers rather than cause injury. But they warned that if they caught those responsible they would face serious consequences and most likely jail as the illegal explosive could have easily caused serious harm.

Police spokesman Rainer Dionisio said: "What could have happened if the officer had been nearer the explosives, or if a child had set it off? It doesn't bear thinking about."

Police said the trap had gone off when the traffic police officer was about 3 metres away from the device hidden on the side of the road on the Moelltal state highway in Austria. The site is commonly used by police for laser-based speed monitoring.

A garden spade and garden gloves were leaning against the bucket containing the bovine excrement. The force of the explosion destroyed the garden tool's wooden handle and also blew up the bucket.

Hosting Eurovision 2015 in Austria already complicated

The search for a suitable location for next year's Eurovision Song Contest taking place in Austria is already hitting complications with still 11 months to go until the event.

The venue requirements for Eurovision were released by ORF recently, outlining the need for the chosen premises to close its doors for at least six weeks in preparation for hosting the singing competition.

As a result, Vienna's Stadt Halle, a lead runner in the contest to be the venue to host the show, would have to completely shut its doors to other events between April and May next year. This would mean up to 18 events would be affected, including Apassionata and a concert from James Last.

Meanwhile, another venue option - Vienna's Messe Centre near the Prater - is already hosting a congress that time next year for liver doctors with over 10,000 expected to attend the booked event.

The option to hold the competition in Salzburg was ruled out when Governor Wilfried Haslauer said that the event "does not fit" with Salzburg's association with "high-quality art forms". However with a capacity of 10,000 Graz's Stadthalle Graz could also compete with Vienna venues for the show.

With 11 months to go, Eurovision 2015 is still a fair while away but in Norway the process of choosing next year's competitor has already begun - the country organisers have now officially begun accepting submissions for 2015.

British Soldier Rescued After Climbing Mountain In T Shirt

A British soldier who tackled the frozen Austrian Alps wearing just shorts and a T-shirt has been rapped by officials after he had to be rescued from the snowy peak.

Rescuers in Hohe Tauern, a mountain range near the western city of Salzburg, say the 37-year-old man had ignored warnings that he could freeze to death wearing kit more suitable for a day the beach than a mountain top.

Conditions were so bad that a helicopter rescue was abandoned when the chopper could not fly high enough to reach the climber at 3,100 metres up the mountain.

Officials say he was warned when he reached an Alpine hut at 2,176 metres that he could die if he went any higher in his T-shirt, shorts, and trainers.

But he ignored the warning and climbed a further thousand metres before he called for help.

After the helicopter rescue was abandoned, local climbers braved snow and ice falls to rescue the stricken soldier, who was taken back down to the nearest rescue hut.

But his actions have infuriated local mountain rescue officials, who are expected to demand he pay the full cost of the operation to pluck him from the peak of the Kempsenkopf mountain.

Paul Hasenauer from Fusch Mountain Rescue said he only survived the ordeal without injuries because of his fitness as a soldier.

He said: "This man ignored every Alpine rule. He ignored all warnings."

"He was not equipped at all in any way for the expedition. He did not even have proper footwear on. He slid all the way back to the Gleiwitzer Hut as his shoes had no grip.

"As a soldier he was very fit. This was the only reason he survived. If he had not been so fit he would have not survived the climb," he added.

Austria's drive to preserve its own version of German language!

Austria is preparing to fight off an invasion – by the German language. The country’s education minister this week announced a major new drive to preserve the unique Austrian form of German, in the face of encroaching words and expressions from across the border in Germany.

“What is heard in movies, on TV or the internet, is often produced or dubbed in our neighbouring country Germany,” the education minister, Gabriele Heinisch-Hosek, wrote in a 64-page booklet distributed to schools.

“One consequence is that specifically Austrian peculiarities and expressions of our language slowly but surely fall into the background.” It is reminiscent of efforts by the Académie Francaise to prevent the use of phrases imported from English – except in this case the offending words do not come from a foreign language.

It has been said of Austria and Germany, as of Britain and the USA, that they are divided by a common language.

While Austrians and Germans can understand each other, there are many words and phrases that mark Austrian German out as different. When Austria joined the EU in 1995, it insisted its version of the language be given protected status.

But it seems that has not been enough to prevent expressions creeping in from across the border. The new government booklet encourages children to use the Austrian version of the language, and urges teachers to favour the Austrian word Schlagobers for cream, over the German Sahne; Marille for apricot, instead of Aprikose; and the traditional Austrian greeting Servus for goodbye, instead of the German Tschüs.

The move comes after a recent study for the University of Vienna found that more than half the Austrian teachers surveyed believed German forms of vocabulary and grammar to be more correct than the Austrian.

Austrian linguists complain that even within Austria, their version of the language is often seen as a mere local dialect, rather than a separate form of German.

Report from The Telgraph.

Why is Austria doing so well?

Austria has most of the attributes we associate with economic sclerosis. It is a classic 'cartel democracy', in which the two big parties – the Reds and the Blacks – scrabble to find public sector positions for their supporters. The economy is run on corporatist lines, with ministers mediating deals between the employers' federation and the trade unions. Taxes are high – 44 per cent of GDP – and the state payroll is swollen, even by EU standards. Employment and social regulations are burdensome: Austria is the third most expensive place in the OECD to hire someone.

And yet – there's no getting around it – the Alpine republic is flourishing. Growth is respectable, unemployment is below five per cent, the quality of life excellent, and income per head the second-highest in the Euro-zone after Luxembourg. What, I ask myself, am I missing?

I spent the weekend putting that question to various natives: journalists, think-tankers, politicians and  Austrian economists. They were conveniently gathered in Vienna for the Tenth European Resource Bank – the annual get-together for free-market and sound-money campaigners from all over the old continent. (Many thanks, by the way, to the this year's host organisation, and to its heroic director Barbara Kolm. As it says: 'How far that little candle throws his beams.')

'What's your secret?' I kept asking. Local libertarians were at a loss to answer, and fell back – as libertarians often do, I find – on prophesying a terrible meltdown.

Here, for what it's worth, are the various explanations that were eventually proffered. All of them strike me as true enough, but none as sufficient to explain the economic disparity between Austria and its EU neighbours. A report from the Telegraph.. read more: 

Austrian Wine Grower Sets New Record For Maturing Grapes

An award-winning Austrian winegrower is believed to have set a new record after leaving harvested grapes for an incredible nine months before fermenting them to create an ultra-sweet white and red wine.

Christian and Nora Trierenberg, who run the 20 hectare Georgiberg vineyard, which was established in 1777 in the southern Austrian province of Styria, harvested 2,500 kilos of red wine Zweigelt grapes and white Gewuerztraminer grapes.

But instead of extracting the juice straight away, the grapes picked in September were stored in a specially converted barn, carefully laid out on a reed bed, and constantly checked so that any mouldy or damaged grapes were removed. The juice that was finally extracted contained so much sugar, that it tastes more like honey than wine.

Nora said: "We have always attached great importance to a long maturing time, as that controls flavour and the development of the flavour is a top priority for us. Our vineyards are worked by hand, and the grapes are picked solely by hand. No pesticides or herbicides are used, and so we wanted to see what we could learn from waiting longer before we extracted the juice from the grapes."

To make a traditional sweet wine, vintners will leave the grapes on the stalks longer, so that the moisture in the grape slowly disappears leaving a higher sugar concentration. This process is taken to the extreme in the making of ice wine – where the grapes are left until the first frost and only then harvested when everything is frozen.

But the new technique being perfected in southern Austria involves the grapes being harvested and left untouched even longer than winter, right the way through to the following year.

Nora said: "We had the grapes tested constantly to make sure we only extracted the juice when the sugar content was absolutely perfect.

"The extract that we got was more like syrup than wine, and had more of the consistency of honey than the traditional wine juice."

She estimates that from the 2,500 kilos of grapes they will end up with not more than about 25 litres of wine.

She said: "If we had extracted the juice right after harvesting in September, we would have had a 75 percent yield. But by leaving it so long we ended up with just 7 percent.

"But the advantage of using this method is that leaving the grapes hanging on the vine means that we would have to contend with birds and the weather. Some years the birds can eat almost the entire crop. But even without them we have a lot of rain in this area and that is a big disadvantage of just leaving the grapes on the vine."

Austrian wine expert Willi Opitz whose clients include Bill Clinton and whose wine is sold around the world at top stores, including Harrods in London, said: "This method is not normally done because it is a lot of work for very little result. The grapes need to be checked all the time and those that have gone bad thrown away - about 30 percent is lost that way. Normally, there is also the problem of contamination as the grapes take flavour from whatever they are in contact with - however, this is overcome in this case by using reeds that are neutral."

Austria has a reputation for good quality sweet dessert wines which come mainly from Burgenland where the weather is not as wet as it is in the more mountainous southern Austrian province of Styria where the Georgiberg vineyard is located.

The Georgiberg vineyard's first red grapevines came from the Italian car manufacture Ferruccio Lamborghini’s wine nursery and in 2008 it was taken over by the Trierenberg family.

The typical Styrian white wine grapes are Welschriesling, Moscato Giallo, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Traminer, Morillon and Sauvignon Blanc as well as the monovarietal Scheurebe. The red wines which are untypical for Styria and are of outstanding quality are Zweigelt, Pinot Noir, Merlot and Cabernet.

Last update:  13/08/14

Sausage Surprise As Giant Wurst Is Pinched

Austrian police are hunting crooks who broke open a market stall and stole a 1.5 metre sausage worth over 2,000 EUR in the picture postcard village of St Michael in the region of Lungau.

The mortadella sausage, considered to be a local delicacy, weighs the same as a fully grown man at 80 kilos (176 pounds), and it had a diameter of 40 centimetres (16 inches). Police spokesman Martin Hauser said: "It is a mystery that nobody saw the crooks making off with the giant sausage but we are appealing for anybody who saw anything to get in touch."


Austrian company to build Irish motorway

An Austrian company is part of a group that has taken on the task of constructing and running part of an Irish motorway.

Strabag SE, a technology company that provides construction services, is part of the DirectRoute consortium who won the contract for the construction job, they announced on Monday.

The Vienna-based company has a 25% in the consortium who are carrying out the public-private partnership project, which they say involves a total private sector investment value of about 330 million EUR.

Construction will begin on the motorway between Gort and Tuam near the city of Galway this month, with the road planned to be open for business by November 2017.

The opening of the motorway to traffic will mark the start of a 25-year operating period for this section and on completion of the scheme, the consortium will receive monthly payments from the National Roads Authority of Ireland who contracted out the work.


Castle Owner Shocked By plane Wheel In Duck Pond!

An Austrian castle owner got a shock after discovering this massive aircraft wheel had landed in his duck pond.

Niklas Salm-Reifferscheidt said he knew that his castle Schloss Steyregg on the outskirts of Linz occasionally had planes flying overhead, but he had never considered that something like an aircraft wheel might drop off and land in his grounds. The nearby Linz-Hoersching airport is around 20 miles from where the wheel was located and it is believed it will be possible to locate the original flight from serial numbers on the wheel.

There has been people living on the site since before the Romans arrived in Austria, with a fortified building known to have been built on the site since as long ago as 777AD that had been funded by the nearby Kremsmünster monastery.

Badly damaged by the war, it was rebuilt and is currently in the hands of Niklas Salm-Reifferscheidt, who inherited it from his father.

He said: "I couldn't believe the size of it. From the dimensions it must've had a big bird, probably a Boeing 747."

The Lord of the Manor said he had contacted the authorities responsible for air traffic control over the country and informed them of the find. A spokesman said that so far the matter was being investigated by the accident commission of the transport ministry but that no missing wheel had been reported by any plane until now.

However statistics show that worldwide about two planes a year lose tyres usually shortly after take-off.

He said he believed that the huge wheel will have been lost somewhere in the air and fallen to the ground and added: "I guess it was incredibly lucky that no one was hurt, because it would have easily gone through the roof of any house."


Multi Coloured UFOs In Formation Over Austria

Austrian officials say they are baffled to explain a UFO sighting in which dozens of people reported seeing between 50 and 100 objects flying in formation.

The incident happened over the Aichfeld basin near the city of Knittelfeld in the southern Austrian state of Styria where eyewitness Juergen Trieb, 41, and his girlfriend Waltraud Kaliba, 40, managed to take this snap before the high speed objects vanished.

Waltraud said: "At first we thought it might be some kind of natural phenomenon, but when we realise they were flying in formation and travelling around 400 mph it was clear that it could not be dismissed as something natural. The strange thing was that despite the bright lights there was no noise at all from the objects."

Local media reported that the images as taken in this snap were seen by several people, and that there were between 50 and 100 of them all flying silently and in formation.

Austrian air traffic controllers said that they had been made aware of the incident and were looking into it, but declined to comment at this stage. But they confirmed there was no indication that the photo or the reported sightings were a fake.

The area over the Aichfeld basin however has been a hot spot for UFO sightings and mysterious atmospheric phenomena, although neither scientists nor UFO watchers have offered an explanation as to why.


Brit Arrested For Murder In Fritzl Hometown

A British man has been arrested on a suspected murder charge over the stabbing death of a love rival in the Austrian town that was the home of incest monster Josef Fritzl.

Roman Topf, 39, was found with two stab wounds in a courtyard of the house in the Lower Austrian town of Amstetten, the same town where Josef Fritzl locked up his daughter for 24 years and repeatedly raped her - producing seven children in the process.

Austrian police said they had arrested 36-year-old British man Raphael Andrew Diemoz (from Bradford, born 25/6/77) over the murder of the 39-year-old, who died from two stab wounds.

Police also recovered two blood stained knives when they arrested the British man, who was taken into custody in the nearby prison in St Poelten.

Austrian media reports the British man told police he had been threatened by the older man with the knives, and had managed to disarm him and then use the knives to stab Topf twice in the neck.

According to police the killing followed a heavy drinking session in the courtyard where the two, together with a waitress that both had a crush on, were celebrating the birthday of a third man, and at 2am the group had relocated to the apartment owned by the 30-year-old waitress.

But the Brit and the 39-year-old had both vied for the attention of the waitress, who had become fed up with the pair of them, and ordered all three to leave.

A short while later the older man was dead.

Another person living in the building discovered the victim's body lying on a blood stained bench in the morning, and called the police.


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

"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 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.


Austrian economy falls in line with the European trend

By Matej Klenovský. Translation by TomᚠBuš

Austria is in line with the current economic trend in Europe, according to several economic indicators made public in Austria on Friday.

Analysis of the results of the indicators show that at the moment, there is a moderate decrease, almost stagnation, in the price levels. Meanwhile, industrial production is slowing down at a significant rate, as it is in many other European countries.

The results of the Austrian Industrial Production indicator show that production has decreased in March by 1.8% in comparison with February, the second month in a row where it has dropped.

The greatest decrease was recorded in capital goods (-4.5%) and durable goods (-4.7%) whilst the situation in the construction sector has also worsened for the second month in a row. The construction sector, being probably the most cyclical out of all sectors, represents an important part of an economy and its development is exceptionally dependant on the current economic state of a country. As a result, it is often a useful predicting indicator for forecasting a country's economic development.

Meanwhile, the Austrian Central Statistical Office also discussed a change in the Production Price Index this Friday, which measures the average change over time in the selling prices of the output from domestic producers. The indicator decreased by 1.2% in comparison with April 2013, although there was no change in comparison with March 2014.

A decrease in the energy prices (-3.8%) and intermediate goods (-1.3%) is responsible for these lower prices. On the other hand, the prices of investment goods rose year-on-year by 0.6%; the increase in the price of machinery (+1.5%) and motor vehicles (+1.1%) is responsible for this rise.

The greatest decrease within a month was recorded in the price of fats and oils from plants and animals, which sank by 16.2% in April. This significant drop contributed to the fact that the price of consumer goods increased only by 0.2%.

Finally, one of the most popular indicators is Bank Austria Manufacturing PMI, which is based on the survey of over 300 industrial companies. The index has for the ninth month in a row now shown expansion (over 50 points). However, the tempo of the growth is consistently decreasing as of the beginning of 2014, when the level of the index was recorded to be over 54 points.

The last records show a decrease in the indicator from 51.4 points in April to 50.9 points in May, which has also been the monthly minimum for the past nine months. According to most of the surveyed subjects, the reason behind the lower total results lies in the slowing down of the sub-index New Orders, which is responsible for the lower demand among customers as well as greater competition.

A lower interest from the domestic market also plays a significant role in the decrease of the total demand. Meanwhile, the growing demand from abroad has led to a mild rise in exports.


Good manners guide for Arabs dropped by Salzburg tourism.

Tourism chiefs in Salzburg have been forced to withdraw a controversial etiquette guide for Arabs that aimed to stop them trying to haggle over prices, cooking in their rooms, and dumping their litter around the region.

The pamphlets were being handed out to Arabic guests in the lakeside resort of Zell am See, regarded as one of the most picturesque and expensive of Austria's tourist destinations.

Tourism marketing director Marco Pointner confirmed that the guide had been withdrawn as "unfortunately, certain passages led to misunderstandings".

"We will revise the brochure with input from guests and locals," he said.

He added that there had not been any noticeable decline in bookings by Arab guests but that it was important to maintain the number of tourists visiting from the Middle East and he hoped that this year there would be an increase.

Located in the Kitzbuhel Alps, the town is the number one of the country's lakeside destinations on the edge of the 68-metre (223 ft) deep Lake Zell.

But while many locals have been complaining about the way the Arab guests behave, the region does not want to give up the tourism revenue, which in the last 10 years has increased in the Zell am See-Kaprun region by several hundred percent, according to Leo Bauernberger, managing director of Salzburg region tourism board. He added: "Arabs love to make visits to the region, they love the clear fresh water, the mountain lakes and the climate."

According to the latest tourism statistics, last year there were 275,000 overnight stays by Arab guests in the region, and although the area is also a winter tourism destination almost all of the visits were in summer. To put that in perspective, between May and October 25.8 percent of all of the guests were Arabic, putting them ahead even of visitors from Germany who are normally the most common of the groups from abroad to be seen in Austrian resorts. In August that rose to 36 percent, with most coming from the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia according to tourism spokeswoman Renate Ecker.

She said: "They often stay for several weeks, also at times when it's not so busy and in contrast to guests from other regions they are always delighted when it rains. They spend 240 EUR (195 GBP) per person per day which also puts them at double the level of other visitors. Some hotels depend so much on the Arab guests that they have almost no other visitors and even have cooks specially employed to cater to Arab taste."

But Ecker admitted that there were also tourism destinations in the region that did not so readily accept Arab guests, in particular those where there was a ban on people wearing a Burka, with the traditional costume being the biggest cause for concern in the area.

Local mayor Peter Padourek confirmed that the complete body covering Burka was the biggest reason for friction in the area.

He said: "When you have a situation where visitors from a particular country or region are over present, then it can be a problem. Austrians have the same problem in Lignano. Here the Arabs have the problem that their strong presence in the region is very clearly visible because of the Burka. That causes irritation among locals and among visitors from other countries. The guests are coming from other countries carry away with them a different image of our region." He also said that he was noticing increasingly that signs were being put up in Arabic and that didn't make him happy. He said: "I don't like it when we sell ourselves in this way. We don't need to cosy up to anyone with gestures like this. We should limit ourselves to German and English."

He also added that many locals did not like the mentality of our guests adding: "They seem to think that if they pay, they can get whatever they want."

Erich Egger who is the boss of the local cable car company that takes guests into the mountains in summer and winter said that it was a fact that many guests to Zell am See from other regions were being scared off from the visible presence of so many Arab guests. He said: "The feedback I'm getting from hoteliers is the other guests are saying to them they are not going to come again."

He said anybody that did not believe him only needed to look at the online comments that are posted by guests when reviewing hotels in the region.

But it is not just the Burka that is causing problems. Zell am See prides itself on the natural beauty of the region and they claim that the Arabs are leaving rubbish all over the place as well. They are also accused of ignoring the traffic laws everybody else has to observe, in particular parking, and the pamphlet partly came about as a result of discussions between local police and tourism officials over driving issues.

The most common complaints were not just the parking but also the speed that the Arab guests drove at and the fact that children were usually not made to wear a seatbelt. Last year there was even one case where a child from an Arab family died in a car accident in Austria in which they were not wearing a seatbelt.

Renate Ecker said that the sceptical attitude of locals was a real cause for concern, adding: "If locals find a stumbling point to accept Arab guests, then that means trouble for tourism." She added that the region was massively dependent on tourism and therefore if that was impacted it could become a real problem.

But there is also the worry that if there turned out to be problems in the Middle East it could mean overnight that many rooms were suddenly not filled - and if other guests had been driven away that could also become a real problem.

One of those who doesn't agree with the decision to hand out the pamphlets is hotel owner Wilfried Holleis. He said he had absolutely no problem with Arab guests and that the whole discussion was a sign of the intolerance in the area. He said: "I see it as a kind of tourism apartheid. I think there are much more serious problems here, for example the number of people who don't spend any time here but buy property which is effectively just a holiday house and therefore make little or no contribution to the local economy."

The 8-page etiquette guide called "Where Cultures Meet" came out in May and was only being handed out to guests from Arab regions.

Erich Egger said: "I welcome guests from everywhere but it must be possible to lay down some rules. If those rules are followed, then the acceptance will also follow."

The most controversial part of the booklet was a debate about whether or not to mention clothing and the Burka at all. The worry was that it could be seen as an attack on Islam. In the end it was included together with the message that Austrian women can choose to dress themselves how they want and that black is a sign of mourning. It adds that the people from the region are used to looking into the laughing face of others in order to gain a first impression and in order to build trust. With this in mind, locals would be glad when visitors adopted the Austrian mentality.

It then also points out that children need to wear seat belts in the car, rubbish needs to be put in the bins, food should not be eaten on the floor of the hotel and cooking in the rooms is not tolerated, and prices are not to be negotiated.

It is not the first time friction has been seen between Austria and guests from Arabic regions. In 2012 the Austrian Times reported that the region's tourism officials had cancelled all advertising for the Middle East.

Local tourism boss Renate Ecker told the newspaper at the time: "It is perfectly normal if the market is very well developed that one doesn't invest valuable resources when you are already where you want to be. We would like to use our marketing resources to develop other areas, and for this reason only we have drastically reduced our investment in advertising in the Middle East."


Massive Increase In Vienna Property Prices

Austria's national bank says property in Vienna in the first quarter of this year is probably about 22 percent overvalued. And the bank also noted that despite the fact that the property was overvalued, prices had increased in the first quarter by 8.1 percent.

It is part of an almost unbroken trend that has seen the price of property in the Austrian capital double since 2005, and when looking at the whole country has seen property prices rise by a third.

The statistics were compiled from figures held by the Austrian national bank and the Vienna University of Technology. The one-off study project that looked at the basic price indicators across the country estimated that while in Vienna there was an overvaluation of around 22 percent of what the property was really worth, in the rest of the country property was generally undervalued by about eight percent.

The National bank said that while excessive prices were being charged in Vienna, that was generally in line with what was going on in other main European cities according to the National bank's chief economist Doris Ritzberger-Grünwald.

The increase in value this year of property in Vienna of 8.1 percent compares with an increase last year in the first quarter of the year of 11.4 percent. Outside of Vienna the price increase was around 2.2 percent compared with 1.9 percent in the first quarter of 2013.

The Austrian national bank warned that the price rise was not an indication that the was going to be a property bubble that soon burst. They said other factors were at play including demographic factors influencing demand, the general wealth of the population and the availability of land and property.

The national bank looked at the situation in other countries for example the Netherlands where in the capital there was a 26 percent overvaluation that later corrected itself with an 18 percent drop in prices. Ireland had been the most significant overvaluation of property values around 45 percent over what they were really worth and in Spain it had been 30 percent. The price correction in Ireland had seen the falling value of 46 percent, and in Spain a fall of 37 percent.

But in Vienna prices are being driven up by Russian, German and Arabic investors who are particularly interested in snapping up luxury property.

According to a study by the British real estate agents Frank Knight the lure of purchasing a villa or similar luxury property in the capital would probably mean around 483 super rich people would be living in the city by 2023. That would be an increase of 26 percent on the current level of superrich. According to the estate agents a superrich person is somebody who has more than 22 million EUR.

Only London and Dublin saw higher price increases than the Austrian capital in the last year as a result of luxury property purchases fuelling the price rise.


Austrias favourite ice-cream: cookies and vanilla

Cookie and vanilla are the favourite ice-cream flavours of Austrians, according to a survey by the Chamber of Commerce.

The simple vanilla flavour is the top choice in the classical flavours category, followed by chocolate, strawberry, hazelnut, lemon and Stracciatella.

Cookies came up top in the "modern" ice-cream flavour category, followed by cinnamon and more unusual flavours of mojito, and semolina.

The unusual but up and coming flavours such as Gorgonzola and curry didn't manage to make it to the top of the list - nor did the Conchita Wurst sausage flavoured ice-cream created by German ice-cream manufacturers, topped off with a Viennese sausage.

A spokesman for the Germany company, Benjamin Koertig, said: "In Munich we have the Weiss Wurst - white sausage - and we also have a white sausage ice cream, so it's not really surprising that we now have the Conchita sausage."


Picasso and Monet paintings found in Salzburg

Around sixty paintings by artists including Claude Monet and Pablo Picasso have been found at the Salzburg home of German art collector Cornelius Gurlitt, who was discovered in 2012 to be hoarding hundreds of paintings in his Munich flat thought to be looted by the Nazis.

An initial screening suggests that none of the paintings kept in his home in Salzburg are stolen or looted. The lawyer in charge of supervising Gurtlitt and the paintings, Christoph Edel, has had the artworks moved safely to an undisclosed location.

Mr Gurlitt, who is in his eighties, inherited his collections from his art dealer father Hildebrand, who had worked in the Nazi-era collecting what they perceived to be 'degenerate art'. He kept many of the pieces himself until he died in 1956 when his son ended up with the collection, which was then kept secret until just two years ago.

Over 1,400 pieces of art were found in Cornelius Gurtlitt's flat in Munich by Bavarian tax authorities by chance in March 2012. They were found to have an estimated value of 1 billion Euros.

Around 600 of these artworks are thought to have originally come from Jewish owners and Gurlitt is now in contact with some families to negotiate restitution, according to his representatives.


Conchita duck enrages disney fans

Angry cartoon fans say Walt Disney himself would be turning in his grave if he learned that his descendants had allowed a bearded version of Daisy Duck to take up residence in the Duck universe.

Life in the Duck universe centres on the city of Duckburg in the fictional U.S. state of Calisota - analogous to Northern California - and sometimes characters from the duck universe visit real-world locations and meet historical figures.

But now the tables have turned, and a duck version of Austrian Eurovision Song Contest winner Conchita Wurst has moved from the real world to take up residence in Duckburg.

However the appearance of Conchita Duck, featuring a beard and a tight black dress, has caused a huge row, forcing the character's creators at the German Ehapa-Verlag publishing house to promise that she will remain a marketing gag, and will not be appearing in any of the official Disney comics that they produce.

Earlier Austrian state television, which helped to choose Conchita as the country's Eurovision entry, had reported that Conchita Duck was set to make her first appearance in a comic in around six months, with the artwork already being drawn up.

The publishing house is licensed by Disney to produce German language versions of comics featuring favourite Disney characters including the best selling "Fun Comic Book".

But when the new bearded character was revealed, the reaction online was somewhat critical  and included one fan who said "Disney will be turning in his grave" and another who added "Yet another childhood memory ruined forever".

23rd May 2014

Netflix comes to Austria

Austrian fans of American TV and films are celebrating after it was announced that the online TV and film service Netflix is set to come to the country.

The arrival in Austria is part of the US company's broader expansion into European markets, which sees it also going to Germany, Belgium, Switzerland and Luxembourg. It is expected to be launched in these new markets by the end of 2014.

The online subscription service is already available in countries such as the US, Britain, Scandinavia and the Netherlands where its cheap offering, which competes with the more expensive TV channel subscriptions, has proved popular with consumers.

The company currently has 48 million subscriptions in over 40 countries. Since launching in Netherlands last September, they have already managed to secure half a million subscribers. Meanwhile Dutch cable operator Ziggo has reported losing 16,000 digital pay-TV subscribors in the first quarter of 2014.

The company predict they will make an initial loss when it launches in the new markets but expect that their international side of the business will eventually overtake its US operations. The US unit reported a 201 million US dollar (150 million EUR) profit for the quarter to the end of March this year.

The business also hit the headlines in recent years when it made US TV series House of Cards the first ever show available only on Netflix, bypassing the usual cable and TV markets.


BMW X6 gets flat packed by Romanian thieves

Romanian car thieves who were moving their loot through Austria and into Hungary are under arrest after being stopped on their way back to their homeland with a dismantled top-of-the-range BMW X6 car in the back of their truck.

Police said the crooks had just crossed into Hungary from Austria when they were pulled over for a spot check.

The thieves were found to have taken apart the costly car and loaded it aboard their VW transporter van to take back to Romania.

Police suspect the duo stole the car to order in Italy and would ha



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