My mouth opened and closed like a goldfish, with no sound coming out (it’s not often I’m lost for words)! When Pauline told him, the Manager of the Vienna Volksoper was aghast that someone should do such a thing in Vienna! What had happened to cause such outrage? We’d just found, on arrival at the theatre through the crowded Metro, that our tickets had been taken from what I thought was safekeeping in my shoulder bag.
I’d read warnings in VT about the light-fingered people found in most European cities but had thought I was safe. My shoulder bag hangs in front of me and is zippered across the top. The opera tickets were in an envelope in the ‘first opening’ part of the bag. Fortunately my wallet was in a separate internal zippered pocket.
How had it happened? The Metro was crowded and I found myself standing, separated from Pauline and at times unable even to move; not thinking about it, I held an overhead rail, leaving the bag exposed; as we left the train, a woman jostled me, then turned to abuse someone in the carriage before disappearing in the crowd. Going down the stairs from the Metro I noticed the bag’s zipper mostly open and closed it, thinking no more at the time. Reality dawned at the door of the theatre! The moral of the story is that it just is not possible to be too cautious, especially in crowds.
There is a happy end to this story. The good people at the Volksoper checked our VISA card to confirm our previous reservation – then gave us new tickets to some of the best seats in the house, adding that they wished to help restore Vienna’s good name. I can only say that they certainly did that – we shall forever remember their kindness: it does restore one’s faith in humanity.
PICKPOCKETS everywhere !
In the past 2 years petty crime and pickpocketing has enormously increased in trams, buses, the most frequented pedestrian areas (like Kaerntnerstrasse, Graben and Mariahilferstrasse) and, above all, the Vienna U-Bahn !
So be aware of those dangers, don`t leave your purse or briefcase unattended.
Frequently those pickpockets work in gangs, using children as the "approaching pickpocket", who passes his booties quickly to a grown-up. If you have problems or your purse has vanished, get out and inform the station-manager at the next stop immediately. As there are some police-officers in charge at various stations, your information may be important also for other passengers in danger of beeing robbed.
Dont forget to get a protocoll at the next police-station for your insurance !
The service-number below is valid from whole of Austria; there are english-speaking officers who will tell you the address of the next police-station.
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WATCH YOUR WAISTLINE!
There are few places I'd rather not be if I was on a diet. Temptation looms around every corner, and within every mouthwatering window display. There are dedicated chocolate shops vying for your attention all around Stephansplatz and beyond - no wonder the cathedral is so busy...it's full of confessing chocoholics! There's no point trying to resist, just dive in but make sure you've packed an elasticated belt or your whalebone corset...
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We all know we need to be on the alert for bag snatchers and pickpockets in crowded places in cities everywhere. What is perhaps not quite so easy to assess is that you can be set up as a victim without really realising it, as we were on a vitually empty U-bahn station. It was only my middle-aged impatience with a seemingly ill-mannered and dithering young girl that saved the day.
It was a very neat little operation. Two of us on the platform, no one else close by. The train pulled in, I stepped forward, my friend a step behind. A young girl slipped in front of me and stepped into the train first, then stopped just a few steps in from the door, apparently looking at the map over the door, blocking us from moving forward. Annoyed at her lack of manners as much as anything else and impatient with her, I pushed past her after a few seconds, sat down and was joined by my friend, who then told me how three other girls had crowded her, making it difficult for her to move forward. My moving forward had cleared the way for her to move, but not before she felt something on her bag. The girls moved to seats down the train and were joined by the girl who had stepped on first. They all got off together at the next stop, no doubt hoping to set up someone else in the same way. There's no doubt in my mind that, had I not moved as I did, my friend's bag would have been snatched and the girls would have been off the train just as the doors closed, ready to play the same trick again as soon as their friend joined them.
Karlsplatz station - A sociological study
Karlsplatz is probably one of Vienna's busiest underground stations, with three underground lines converging here. It is also a haven for drop-outs, drugdealers and alcoholic vagrants. Whilst some keep themselves to themself, others can be confrontational. The police is aware of the problem but does not seem to be able to keep it in check - they scoop up many but it is like cutting the heads of the hydra. The establishment of a protection zone surrounding the nearby school has really only caused the problem to move back inside the station. There are security cameras throughout the station, but vigilance is recommended when walking through the station, especially towards the Resselpark end at night. Keep your belongings well concealed, and walk briskly and confidently through the station. Do not stop if someone asks you for change, food etc.
Beware of Pickpockets!
Be careful with your belongings when you are in the public transports, in crowded public areas, in cafes and restaurants, etc., because there are pickpockets waiting to steal your valuables when you are distracted or unawares. Even though Vienna is relatively safer compared with other major European cities, it is still plagues with petty crimes, especially pickpockets.
Be vigilant and aware of your surroundings. Be alert always. Don't be easily distracted. Don't expose your wallets/purse, don't count your money in the open (you would think some tourists are smart enough not to do this!),
Pickpockets operate in groups and one or two will try to distract you and another will take your money/bag when you are not looking. Also do not leave your bags unattended while sitting in cafes or restaurants. Petty thieves will take the opportunity to grab your bags when you're not looking.
Security: no need to worry, just use common sense
Having lived in Vienna for quite a while now, I can conclude this is one of the safest cities I've ever been to. There are no really "dangerous" areas at all, public transport is very safe.
The only real dangers, I guess, are pickpocketing and bicycle theft. Use caution and common sense.
Some areas (Karlsplatz, Praterstern, Schwedenplatz) have crowds of drug addicts hanging around. These people may look scary to some, but are generally harmless (I walk through Karlsplatz on a daily basis and have never seen any actual trouble). There's also a lot of police surveillance there. You may also see drunk and aggressive individuals sometimes, in that case simply stay away.
Just as in *any* major city of the world, it is always advisable to "blend in", stay calm, try not to look too much like a helpless and clueless tourist. Although I haven't seen any place in Vienna I wouldn't walk alone at night, it's probably sensible for women to stay in company if possible.
Buy transport ticket or be fined!
Vienna's public transport system operates based on trust. That's why you don't see any barriers or ticket controllers selling tickets on the buses, trams and underground trains. After you buy the ticket from the vending machines, you must validate the ticket (on blue stamping machines) before boarding the underground trains or validate in the buses or trams.
The ticket for one journey is Euro 1.80 which can be used on all the public transport within the Zone 1. One journey is defined as an uninterrupted journey using trains, buses or trams, or the duration of 60 minutes, whichever is shorter.
However tempting it is to just cheat the system and ride for free, be warned that if you get caught by the ticket controllers, you will be fined on the spot, no matter what excuses you give. They don't care if you are a tourist or a local resident. Even if you claim that you do not have the cash to pay for the fine, they'll ask for your credit card!
Update: In the past, the ticket controllers would come into the transport and those with no tickets would quickly leave as soon as the vehicle stops. However nowadays, they would be waiting by the exits of the train stations; i.e. as soon as you get out of the train and step on the platform, they will be waiting there to ask for your validated tickets. So, if you don't want to pay Euro 100 fine, just take a few minutes to buy a ticket.
things you should be prepared for
Vienna, they say, is quite a safe city. Still tourists should be aware of:
- middle-aged people's ignorance of any language other than German
- cigarette-butts and dog boops spread on the sidewalks like flowers in meadows
- alcoholics, penhandlers and pickpockets in subways
- drug abuse in areas like Stadtpark, Karlsplatz and U6-stop Burggasse
- partly racist attitude to black people
- intrusive glances by locals if you wear something bright and colorful or speak
a foreign language
I've been to Vienna for 3 years, I should know. As long as you're a tourist though, all will be
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Dangers of Vienna ...
Basically there are none. Well ok not more than in any other Big City.
But with about 20 murders / year Vienna is actually one of the most safe cities in the world so dont be afraid.
The only major problem are pickpockets. Be careful about your stuff. And plz ... DONT LOOK LIKE A VICTIM : This does include : Dont wear your backbag in front (They will just think you got valubales in there and grab from ya anyways). Dont walk around looking at a street map.
Look at it. get a direction, ask people if you need more info.
Walk as if you know the area (even if you dont) ... They wont steal from ppl which look as if they live here or know the area even if they dont live here. (Think this goes for all places all over the world)
There are some areas which you should not go to but as a tourist you wont end up there anyways. But even then its not really dangerouse .. just well ... creppy.
Best thing too do if you are in an area in which you dont feel safe is call a cab. (All Cab company have cabs that take credit cards ... but be sure too mention it when you are calling.)
Just go too the next street corner look at the street signs call (Best company is 31300 cause they give their drivers schooling on how too deal with foreigners). Cab should be there within 3 - 4 minutes.
Don't forget your Lane Discipline
This is a serious and genuine warning so don't be put off by the cheerful picture of the Christmas tram. Basically, you need to be really careful on the streets in Vienna, especially on the Ringstrasse.
Here the off street area is very wide and you tend to think you can meander all over the place without paying attention. I discovered that this is not true when I narrowly missed being knocked down by a cyclist zooming by at considerable speed. It was entirely my own fault, as gazing at some point of interest, I crossed over from the pedestrian lane into the cyclists lane without thinking.This is very easily done so you really do need to be careful. I did learn a new word from the experience though. It was shouted at me very loudly. Scheisse ? Now I wonder what that means.
You also need to be careful of the tramlines when crossing the street.
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Magazine vendors on the street
Along the main shopping streets you will find people selling magazines - a wide range of current affairs, fashion and lifestyle magazines and also a large number of ehem... adult magazines. They carry a lot of foreign titles, e.g. Vogue or Cosmopolitan. If you do think about buying a magazine, you are better off going to a news stand. The magazines sold by street vendors do not have their price regulated - often a copy of British Cosmopolitan will cost in excess of EUR10, and also there is no guarantee that the issue will be the current one. You are better off heading to somewhere like Morawa.
My daughter is in Vienna and used her cash card in an ATM. It gave her a message that it could not access her bank and returned her card. She went to another machine and withdrew money. The next day I checked her account and both banks had withdrawn the money from her account. I checked and found there was a U.S. State Dept warning saying this was happening frequently and to notify your bank to file a protest. After I filed a protest with her bank the money was returned. Remember to check your bank balance if this happens to you and notify your bank ASAP.
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Look where you are walking! Beware of dog poo !
Be careful where you put your feet down next time. Vienna has a shocking dirty "secret" - dirty as in doggy poo or dog droppings. Dog poops/droppings are litterred on the streets, alleys, pavements and walkways.
Vienna has a lot of dog lovers, and the viennese dogs seemed to be pampered creatures. You can see young and old ladies carry their cute doggies in their arms, in doggy bags, etc., in the metro U-Bahn, restaurants, cafes, parks, etc. You can also see men walking their big dogs in the streets, parks, restaurants, etc.
I was at first shocked, later disgusted to see the dog-owners allowing their dogs to pee and poo everywhere they like, especially againsts building walls, on sidewalks, and near parked cars. I am just glad that the dogs don't drop their smelly droppings in the metro or restaurants.
Vienna has started a campaign against dog poo and dog owners are now required to clean after their dogs. Hopefully, this action will help to make Vienna a cleaner and better smelling city. :-))
Vienna Restaurant Warning!
You should know, that bread and sauce (mustard, ketchup) aren't included in the price and you'll pay for it. For example, we (2 persons) paid additional 3 Euro for 3 slices of bread. At the same time we paid 6 E for main dish (so it was 25% of total price) . In another restaurant we spend additional 2 euro for ketchup.
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