I`m back in Austria after a quick one-day visit to Munich. Now in Salzburg, I am asking young Austrians to tell me about the way they like to spend their spare time. Key ingredients: beer, enjoying and challenging nature, preferably through individual sports. And football..
While most Austrians are quite active when it comes to spending their free time, some of them simply prefer to take it easy. Eva (20) will go buy shoes when she feels unhappy, but otherwise prefers to read books in her hammock. `I also like to spend my time talking on the phone with friends, cycling in summer or snowboarding in winter.` Gerhard (21) and Toni (21) like going to the gym, smoking weed and hanging out with friends.
..laughs at Viennese people who try to speak high-German and fail
Sebastian (21) likes drinking beer, sitting in the sun while listening to music, skateboarding and snowboarding. Tom (24) likes to go to the lake to see pretty women and go for coffee with them. He also enjoys spending time one of the many Biergartens in Austria, which he finds perfect places to socialise with friends. `The music is not too loud and the beer is tasty. You sit around long tables and can easily hop from one to the other. Only the local Salzburgers are a bit difficult to get in touch with. All others are fine.`
Michael (26, photo) is one of Austria`s many football players and watchers. `I`m from Ried, which is a small city of 10,000 inhabitants. Our local football club ended second in the Austrian premier league last year and it needs no say that the locals are very proud of that. I used to follow SV Ried around the country, but it`s no more fun with so much security and this whole organisation around it. Instead of going to see all of their matches, I now do groundhopping, sitting in on matches as an impartial spectator. I was at Palermo ? Catania when that police officer got killed. I also once saw Fenerbahce against Galatasaray in Istanbul and Red Star against Partisan in Belgrade.`
Michael also enjoys the time he spends on stage doing cabaret. His favourite jokes are about Germans or about Austrian politicians. `Or about people from different regions of Austria. Posh people from Vienna make good models, especially the many who try to speak high-German but pathetically fail. Politicians say so many things that are plainly ridiculous that it just needs a little tweaking to turn yourself into a comedian while saying exactly what they are saying. There are plenty of real life experiences that are suitable for joking about. I have so far written and performed two 30 to 40 minutes shows now and I like performing them on stage. What I also like about cabaret is that it is not as high-profile as most of the other popular types of entertainment. Opera, theatre and all that. People will put on their best clothes when they go see that. But what for? Can`t you have fun while being dressed a bit more relaxed than that? Apart from standing on stage, I am dreaming of making a Blackadder type of mocking documentary about the compulsory military service that we still have in Austria. I want to show how useless it is and hope to make people who see it think: Yes, that`s exactly how it went.`
As almost every Austrian does, Michael also likes downhill skiing. Every sport that has to do anything with snow is hugely popular in Austria. Franz (22) introduces me to ski-hiking, a type of skiing that uses skis suitable to climb up a mountain instead of sliding down: `The surface of the skis are covered by fur, while the shoes only have one attachment point to the skis ? at the toes. It`s a very intense sport and a highly risky one when it comes to avalanches. At the same time, it provides the perfect escape from crowded skiing areas, because you get to places that others can`t reach.`
Beside ski-hiking, Franz also likes to play jazz and traditional local music. `I also like to singing but can`t do both at the same time, because I play the trumpet. I also enjoy my job as a waiter. Once I obtain my hotel management degree, I hope to open an authentic Austrian-type guesthouse, combining local music and local food.`
Christophe (25) also feels attached to the traditions of his country. `I am a member of an a local folklore association. At special occasions like Christmas or Easter, we will put on our hats and dress up in traditional costumes. It goes without saying that we will also wear Lederhosen during any parades may mark local events. Many people already put on traditional clothes out of their own initiative when they go to church for special celebrations.`
One with nature
During his remaining free hours, Christophe likes to play football with friends, `about once a month`, or to go sailing on his small one-person sailing boat. `I like the sense of freedom it gives. It`s fighting against nature, but also fighting along with nature. The combination of water, silence in wind is perfect for relaxation.`
Nina (18) likes to do river surfing for approximately the same purpose. `I am from Graz where you can do this right in the middle of the city. There`s an immobile wave in the river and by maneuvering back and forth, you can keep surfing on it for a long time.` Nina further enjoys cycling. `The Geisberg area is very suitable for that. It`s not too flat, and not too steep. Only the last 20 minutes of the ascent are quite demanding. I like to cycle with friends, but usually end up going alone because they decide that they have more important stuff to do.`
Nina is in her first year of film studies. `I like everything that relates to films. In the first year of studies, we do just about everything: acting, camera, storyfinding, editing.. I prefer film over TV because you can make it much more personal and detailed. TV recordings need to be efficient and get a simple message across. Film allows for much more than that. I enjoy watching good movies and, so far, producing bad ones. The last project I did was a voluntary one for school: Instant36. We were given a subject and needed to produce a 7-minutes film in only 36 hours. It was hectic and we got no sleep during the 2 days, but I found it very exciting. I would be happy if I could eventually get into the film academy and make my profession out of producing films.`
Christian (22) is dedicating most of his spare time to the preparation of his escape to Australia. `I intend to go there for at least 1.5 years, working and traveling. My ultimate goal would be to travel around the world. I don`t think I will miss Austria much for the next 10 years. Beside the traveling, my hobbies are not the most exciting ones. Drinking beer, watch the football matches of Sturm Graz, playing on the computer and reading.`
Verena (27) likes reading, sleeping and cycling on flat terrain. `I spend a lot of time on my job`, she says. `I work with handicapped people which can be quite intensive. If I have more time and money, I would like to travel more: visit cities, see museums or do a bit of hiking. So far, I have seen Barcelona, Paris, London and a couple of Greek islands. It would be nice to add some other locations to that list whenever I find an opportunity to do so.
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