Category Archives: City Life

Vienna Smartphone Apps

A big THANK YOU to Milcho and Judy who contributed this fantastic post on smartphone apps with relevance to Vienna!

A note to start: some of the reviewed apps come from the Austrian Apple store and others from the U.S. Apple store. To get access to the Austrian store, go to settings, iTunes in Apple store, Apple ID, then View Apple ID, then go to country/region and click change country/region, and find it under “Österreich.” Then you need to check off the credit card and change the zip code to an Austrian zip code (1090, where the Embassy is, for example).  Now you are assigned to the Austrian Apple store.

Unfortunately, it is not possible to have ongoing subscriptions through iTunes, for example, iTunes match, newspapers, etc.  If you have these, you cannot change the store until the subscription expires.

When you want to change back to the U.S. Store, repeat the same procedure and select U.S. instead of “Österreich,” and make sure that you put in back your credit card data and your address.

There is an opportunity if you put in your Austrian debit/credit card for you to purchase paid apps.  But, in general, those on the U.S. store are cheaper since they are in US$ not Euro.

Apple vs. Android: Please note that most of the apps listed here are from the Apple store and thus limited to Apple products/phones. However, Android’s play store has a number of similar app equivalents (sometimes even by the same name so search the playstore; also see the Androis Apps section further down this post).

Austrian apple Store

  • Bank Austria – the English version is not available in stores outside of Austria
  • Handy Parken – enables you to pay street parking fees from your smartphone. See our previous post for more details.
  • 48ers – for the location of the nearest recycling drop-off place, special waste disposal, etc. 

U.S. Apple Store

Transportation

  • Quando – this is a service of Wiener Linien and an even more helpful trip planner. It shows when the next tram is coming and whether it is a handicap accessible one or not  It links with Citybikes and car sharing (Car2Go); add an offline map of the city.
  • Wiener Linien – you still need this one for something else – which is – if you want to buy a ticket and you don’t want to go to the station or a Tabak, or, if let’s say, you are already in the U-Bahn and realize you need to buy a ticket, or you don’t have euros.  You can pay with paypal.
  • ÖBB – this is like Quando but for the Austrian National railway.
  • Bikar – lets you find CityBike rental stations in Vienna and displays live-data of current free bikes and boxes of the stations.
  • Park Zones – to find out if you need to pay for parking or not;  you can pay for parking with this app too but it is not as good as HandyParken. You can look at the small sign on the street, as well, but this more clearly defines parking hours, etc.
  • Westbahn – Westbahnhof trip planner, purchase tickets.
  • My taxi – this app is also popular in the U.S. Licensed private drivers book through smart phones rather than a company dispatcher. Shows real time locations of the nearest taxi, calculates  fare,  favorite driver option, schedule a taxi, and pay with paypal.  You can monitor the car approaching you. Your friend/partner can also monitor your location to estimate your arrival home. Earn miles on Lufthansa. You can request a taxi at a specific time at a specific location.  You can also enter the destination.  The app will show the car is on the way and provide photo and name of driver.
  • Vienna Airport– lets you know where  the shops and restaurants are; allows you to track flights, etc.
  • ÖAMTC – this is the Austrian motor club, like the AAA in the U.S.  Even with a vignette, certain bridges and tunnels require payment. It’s great for monitoring live webcams for travels during bad weather to check on delays, road construction, etc.
  • ASFINAG – same as ÖAMTC, but can also pre-pay for video tolling, locations of nearest rest and fuel stops
  • OMV – filling station finder. There is also a pay app for OMV all around Europe.

Dining

  • Vienna Eats – Vienna’s most comprehensive restaurant guide gives you an excellent overview and detailed information on restaurants, bars, pubs and even the world-famous “Würstelstände” (sausage stands) in Vienna and selected restaurants all over Austria. This is a free food/restaurant app like “Yelp”.  If you upgrade for $6 per year, you also get menus, directions and reviews.
  • Wurstlas -all the Wurstel stands around Vienna! They are mapped, rated, hours, photos.
  • Mjam – order restaurant delivery service and pay via paypal.

Other

  • iTranslate – speak English into the phone, press a button and the phone speaks German back. Written translation displays on the screen.
  • World Lens – point your smartphone camera at a sign or other text and it will translate, in real-time, to your target language on your screen.
  • Gretl goes: Vienna – partly free audio tours in English for major tourist sights in Vienna.  You can even plug your phone into the car and drive your visitors around on your personal tour.
  • Open times Austria – it’s 10PM and you are looking for the duty pharmacy, or you don’t know when the store or bank or bakery near you closes, check this app.
  • Weather.at – needs no explanation, check the weather!
  • Prater – shows where you are in the huge and magnificent Prater Park.
  • Cars2Go – smart car rental service within Vienna.  Register an account and then borrow a car using your smartphone to find an available car and unlock it once you get to where it is parked.
  • Routex – helps map and navigate. Note this is not an app, but you can save it to your desktop and it will be kind of like an app.
  • Vintage Vienna – if you want to know a little bit more about Vienna, this online book, part is for free, the whole book is $10 is a great deal.  It contains fascinating, historical, then and now photos of Vienna and descriptions.

Paid Apps

Android Apps

A final note: The Open source data of the City of Vienna offers tons of data, so new apps are only a matter of time away! Email us if you know of new apps or ones we may have missed!

Advertisements

Dealing with Winter Blues

Contributed by Kelly Bembry Midura. This article was originally published in the November, 2012 issue of AAFSW’s Global Link newsletter. Read more about the Associates of the American Foreign Service Worldwide here.

Winter is coming...

Winter is coming…

It’s that time of year again. In northern latitudes, the days are now getting shorter and colder. Some people love the onset of winter, but others dread the coming months. For those of us with Seasonal Affective Disorder, AKA “winter blues,” the changing seasons mean months of fighting off lethargy, aches and pains, and crankiness. In short: all the symptoms of mild depression. No fun!

Women are especially susceptible, for some reason, being much more likely to experience SAD than men, according to the Mayo Clinic. However, men who have SAD tend to be more seriously affected by the disorder.

I’m a southern gal who didn’t miss winter one little bit while posted to Central America. However, our first European tour, in Prague, was much more difficult than it had to be because I did not fully recognize and deal with the symptoms of SAD. Now posted to Vienna, I’ve done a bit of research and found solutions that are highly effective in fighting off my winter blues.

You have to have the gear. Never mind the cost. Never mind what other people are wearing. Never mind looking like an overdressed dork if you have to. Once that cold gets in your bones, joint stiffness and aches will soon follow. Be prepared! Think layers, especially around your core areas, hands, feet, and head. I love the silk underwear sold by LL Bean, REI, and other “outdoorsy” retailers. In winter, I wear a silk tank almost every single day, under a turtleneck and cardigan or overshirt. (And that’s just for indoors!) Lightweight cotton tanks and tees can also be helpful layers for retaining warmth. Invest in good, warm socks and shoes. And for heaven’s sake, don’t go out without a hat. You’ll catch your death.

Get moving. Every single day. One major issue I had in Prague was that my only regular exercise was walking. This was either miserable or impossible on many winter days due to nasty weather and ice on the streets. Though this wasn’t such a problem at our next post, Washington, I did learn how valuable a nice warm gym can be on a frigid day. Here in Vienna, I am religious about working out during the long, cold, gray winter, usually three times per week. On other days, I bundle up and go for an hour’s brisk walk, or hike in the hills around Vienna with my husband on the weekends.

Exercise will not only increase your metabolism and warm you up, but will have a positive effect on your mood for the rest of the day. But, again, you need the gear for both outside and inside. Water-resistant hiking boots and a rainproof coat are a must, especially in Europe. Don’t go to the gym in a ratty old t-shirt and shorts. It will just make you feel worse. Invest in a real workout outfit in a breathable fabric. Don’t forget good-quality athletic shoes to prevent damage to your feet and knees. Put your favorite high-energy music or an interesting podcast on your mp3 player and go for it!

Try a light therapy lamp. These can be helpful, though I don’t personally think they resolve the problem altogether. I have a small portable model that was issued by our medical unit at post. During the winter, I use it on the kitchen table while I have my coffee and check emails in the morning. Interestingly, I have noticed that if I don’t set a timer and leave the lamp on for too long, I actually feel “hyper.” Friends have reported the same effect. Start with just ten or fifteen minutes, then experiment with the lamp to see what length of exposure works best for you.

Consider a low dose of medication if other methods do not resolve the problem. In my case, I am so affected by winter blues that I need a small dose of anti-depressant to ‘top off” the other measures. You may or may not need this, but particularly if you are posted to one of the dark, cold countries for the first time, I would encourage you to be open to the possibility. SAD is a real medical issue and quite common in some countries even among people who otherwise have no issues with depression. It may require a medical solution.

Finally, get the heck out of Dodge! There’s a reason so many Europeans fly south in the winter. You may not even have to go far to find relief. Last January, we traveled just a few hours south of Vienna, to northern Italy for a week. My husband actually likes winter for some inexplicable reason, but even he was amazed at how good it felt to lose a layer of clothing and get away from the persistent gray skies on the other side of the Alps. I’m pushing for Rome this winter. It turns out that I don’t need the tropics to feel better; I just need to not be actually freezing and see some sun for a little while.

Seasonal Affective Disorder can be difficult to identify, but it’s not that difficult to cope with once you understand the nature of the problem. Get the right gear, take action, and enjoy that cold-weather post!

 

Tick Borne Encephalitis in Austria

If you hike or spend  time exploring the Vienna woods and parks, you might have seen signs warning against ticks (Zecken in German). Around Central Europe, there are increasing amounts of ticks that can cause tick-born encephalitis (TBE), a viral disease transmitted by the bite of an infected tick (i.e. not every tick transmits the disease).

536.054

 

TBE is a serious infection that attacks the central nervous system and can cause long-term neurological symptoms. There are more than 10,000 TBE cases reported in Europe each year.

Ticks are most active from March through November, with greatest activity in spring and summer. They live in soil and climb as high as 70cm (28″) on grass and bushes to look for their hosts (animal and human). They usually attach themselves to hair-covered portions of the head, behind ears, elbow, backs of knees, and to hands and feet.

Prevention

There is no known treatment for TBE and the only way TBE infection can be successfully prevented is through vaccination. One effective vaccination recommended for Austria is manufactured by the Canadian corporation Baxter (the vaccination is called FSME-IMMUN).

Other measures for general tick bite prevention:

  • avoid tick-infested areas when possible (read the warning signs!)
  • wear light-colored long-sleeved clothing, tight at wrists and ankles, and shoes that cover the entire foot
  • apply DEET to skin and permethrin to clothing
  • check skin and clothes regularly for ticks

For more information

Thanks to the Medical unit at the U.S. Embassy for help with this post.

Over the Counter medications

Getting sick abroad in a different culture is always a bit scary so we at TriVienna greatly appreciate the U.S. Embassy’s medical unit’s help in putting together this great  list outlining how and where to find common over the counter (OTC) medications in Vienna.

If you spent some time browsing the drug stores here (e.g., Bipa, DM), you have probably noticed that they don’t stock that many pharmaceuticals (on the other hand, if you are looking for toiletries, cleaning supplies, perfume, make-up etc, this is the place to shop!). In Austria, you have to shop for your medications at the Apotheke – check out our previous post on where to find them.

Inside an Apotheke, you will notice that medications are typically not openly displayed for you to browse. Instead, you  need to consult with a pharmacist (Apotheker) who is trained in advising customers and can provide prescription-free medications to common ailments [s/he can also fill your prescriptions]. In my experience, many Apothekers speak English very well too (and if not, I am sure sign language can go a long way!).

Please note that a number of common U.S. OTC medications are not available without a prescription here in Austria; these include:

  • the decongestant Sudafed (pseudo-ephedrine)
  • 1% hydrocortisone cream
  • motion sickness medication Dramamine (dimenhydrinate known as Vertirosan in Austria); and
  • some anti-histamines require a prescription (Clarityn/loatidine does not)

What follows is a list of typical U.S. brand OTC medications and their Austrian equivalents or Austrian brand suggestions on medications to take for common health problems. Obviously, if you have a serious medical issue or symptoms are dragging on, please consult a physician right away. If you are looking for English-speaking specialists, check our page with some suggestions and feel free to email us if you have others to recommend.

Cold & Cough

  • Robitussin; Mucinex – helps loosen cough –> Wick (Vicks) Formel 44 Hustenlöser
  • Robitussin DM (dextro-methorphan) cough suppressant –> Wick Formel 44 Hustenstiller
  • Nyquil –> Wick Erkältungssirup für die Nacht
  • Neo-synephrine topical decongestant spray (limit to 3 days max.) –> Vibrocil Nasen Spray/Gel
  • Afrin topical decongestant spray, varying strengths –> Nasivin Spray

Pain & Fever

  • Tylenol (infant/child/adult; check dosage carefully) –> Mexalen or Ben-u-ron
  • Motrin –> Ibumetin (adult only)

Seasonal allergies & hives

  • Claritin –> Clarityn or Loratadin
  • Benedryl –> Calmaben Dragees 50 mg (twice as much medication as U.S. 25mg OTC Benedryl!)

Athlete’s foot & skin fungus (ringworm)

  • Mycelex –> Canesten Clotrimazol
  • Desenex; Mictin; Lotrimin –> Daktarin 2% creme

Monilial Vaginitis (Vaginal Yeast Infection)

  • Gyne-Lotrimin –> Canesten Vaginaltabletten or creme

Head Lice

  • Austrian suggestion: A-par Shampoo

Scabies

  • Austrian suggestion: Infectoscab Creme (similar to Kwell in the U.S.)

Diarrhea

  • Imodium pills –> Immodium Tabletten 

Constipation

  • Austrian suggestion: Dulcolax Tabletten (stimulant laxative – use cautiously)
  • Metamucil –> Pascomucil Pulver

Antacids

  • Maalox –> Alucol Tabletten
  • Gaviscon –> Rennie (floats on stomach contents; best for reflux-like symptoms/heartburn)
  • Austrian suggestions: Riopan

Insect Repellant

  • Austrian suggestions: Autan; No Bite

Hütteldorfer Hallenbad

Hütteldorfer Hallenbad is an indoor/outdoor swimming pool located on Linzerstrasse 376 in the 14th district. It’s accessible via the 49 tram and the 43B, 47A, 52A, and 52B bus lines. It’s an easy drive for those located in the 19th district (about 15 minutes from AIS), and there is a sizeable parking garage less than half a block away (Euro 1, 30 per hour; credit card or bankomat payment only).

The walk from the parking garage to the pool involves a somewhat steep stair case and path up a hill. There is a lift that allows those with strollers and wheelchairs to bypass the stairs and the walk is less than five minutes in total. If you have a lot of pool gear, it would be a good idea to pack it in one of those wheeled shopping carts.

The garderobe was large and clean, with lots of lockers, changing cabins, at least two handicap-accessible changing rooms, and several baby change stations. There are two sets of showers: one on the way to the pool, and one poolside. There are bathrooms when you first enter the facility, on the way to the pool, and in the pool area. All the bathrooms were very clean (I have two small kids and thus had the joy of visiting every bathroom).

When I first walked into the building I thought it seemed a little sketchy. The first thing I smelled was smoke, and the way leading to the pool seemed worn compared to some other pools we’ve been to. The pool itself, however, was one of the nicest indoor pools that we’ve been to and we had a great time. The pool is going to be closed for renovations 16 September – 6 October, and this will likely resolve the “worn” issue.

The indoor pool hall has floor to ceiling windows, and the domed ceiling is also all glass. This allows for some great views of the surrounding green space and woods, and I bet it’d be beautiful in the winter when there’s snow outside. There were lots of lounge chairs surrounding the pool, and ample space to lay down your things while you’re in the pool. There were six life guards on duty while we were there and they were quite attentive.

The main pool was all one depth (about chest deep) and filled with mostly school children and their parents. There is a sizeable water slide and a couple fountains that are turned on alternately. There is a smaller outdoor pool that was accessible from the main pool via what my kids called a “doggie door”: it had a rolladen above it, which is presumably closed during the winter months as this pool is open year round.

There is also a smaller pool for little kids. It is a tiered pool: the top level was about knee deep and there is a small slide down to the bottom level, which is only ankle deep. The water was warmer than that in the main pool (though that water was fairly warm as well), and this pool was primarily occupied by the two and under set. The poolside bathrooms are located very close to this pool.

The swimming hall also had a restaurant and massage services. We did not utilize either amenity so I cannot report on those.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: