Monday, October 24, 2016

Will Hitchhike for Yoga

 A yoga teacher (Yoga with Adriene) I have been following online for almost 2 years was teaching a class in Amsterdam. Having thoroughly enjoyed her online classes for so long, I was very excited about participating in one of her live classes. A friend of mine, N, came along for the journey. She had the idea that we should hitch hike there and back, as a means of cutting costs, along with the current plan of couchsurfing the night. For both of us it was our first proper hitch hiking adventure – I had done it once with T to get to the top of the ski slopes in New Zealand, but that was it. This is the story of our adventure.



The evening before I lay awake, conjuring up images of everything terrible that could happen to us. I awoke, after 3 hours of sleep, with large knots in my stomach. I was terrified. I lay in bed breathing deeply, trying to work my way through the fear. I took the bus into Aachen to meet up with N, unlike me she was happy and excited, looking forward to the adventure. 
Amsterdam was beautiful
in Autumn colours.  

After some debate about where to find our first ride, we decided to follow the advice of the local Hitchwiki page and took the bus out to the ‘Aachener Land’ shell station in Eschweiler, it was in the opposite direction to where we were going, but right on the Autobahn. Our first challenge was to walk 1.1km each way through the grass on the side of the road, to make a safe bridge crossing over the autobahn, to the shell on the other side – so that we were facing in the right direction.

With wet feet, but finally at a good starting spot we tried to get started. My stomach pains had upgraded to feeling like I was being punched with every bad thought. N, was feeling bubbly and enthusiastic. Neither of us knew where to start. Finally we puckered up some courage and asked a girl travelling alone, filling up her car. She couldn’t help us but the friendly encounter filled us with hope. One couple we asked soon after felt bad that they couldn’t offer us a lift, so they invited us to drink a coffee with them. The kindness of them washed away my fears and I was ready to hitch our first lift. Soon after the coffee break we found a lift to the next petrol station over the border into the Netherlands, with a friendly young couple, having their first holiday without their kids in 3 years.

This petrol station, Essolangveld, was quiet. Very quiet. We found some shop rebate vouchers from the toilets (50 cents each) and used them to buy snack foods for 20cents. While hanging out at the station we met fellow Australians from the band Dub FX, who are currently touring around Europe, really nice guys. At this station we were also joined by 2 experienced hitch hikers who were on the way to Utrecht. We were happy to meet other hitch hikers and ask about their experiences. With time and the kindness (and finding many people on the way to Belgium) of a retired Belgian man, the 4 of us found a lift to the Esso ‘De Groote Bleek’, he had gone out of his way to take us there and we were very thankful to him.

Our next lift came almost instantly with a young Dutch man, driving an Audi, who works in football player management. He was funny and introduced us to a great Dutch band. He dropped us in the Total Tankstation just under Utrecht. Here a lady who couldn’t give us a lift, flagged down a leaving customer to see if he could help, which he did! Our last ride was with a lovely old Dutch man, who told us he used to hitch hike with his wife when they were younger. He took us to his hometown in Amstelveen, where we took a local tram into Amsterdam centre.

Time taken: 5hrs
Money spent: 8,05 euros (buses around Aachen, tram into Amsterdam) 

We spent the evening at the home of a kind couchsurfing host. We cooked dinner for him and ate together, talking like old friends. He offered us a comfortable bed in a private room and we slept well, excited and exhausted from the days adventures.

My sign.
The next morning we breakfasted together and bid farewell to our kind host. We set off in the direction of the Sporthalle Zuid, so I could participate in the Yoga with Adriene masterclass. The room was filled, mat to mat, with 500 people, all eager to do yoga with Adriene in person. Everyone was friendly and chatty, a nervous excitement fluttered in the room. When she appeared everyone clapped and cheered, this woman has touched so many lives without even knowing the people. The yoga class was moving, honest and sometimes very funny. Trying to secure a lift home, I tied a note to my bag saying “Driving to Aachen/Maastricht/Heerlen area with 2 spare seats? We have cookies!” I saw many people looking, but no one had so far said anything. After the class and Q & A, I asked permission to ask the class. I stood with the microphone, hands shaking, asking if anyone was driving in our direction. Before I’d even finished, and without hesitation, a wonderful Belgian woman offered us a lift to Maastricht. We gathered our belongings, glowing from the class and shared a wonderful, heartfelt conversation.

At Maastricht we hugged our new friend goodbye, and set out to take the bus the last leg home. The bus, naturally, burst a tire 5 minutes into the journey, however this was soon sorted and we made our way home.

This weekend was a welcome reminder for me about the goodness of people. Thank you to each of the drivers for giving us a lift, sharing your conversation on the journey. Thank you to N for helping me challenge myself. Thank you to each kind person we spoke to. Thank you to P, our couch surfing host. And thank you to Adriene, for bringing such a wonderful group of people together - you touch so many peoples lives and I was amazed by how much energy and enthusiasm you brought to your last class. Also thank you for allowing me to make an announcement to find a lift home.

I am so very happy to have faced this fear, and come out on the other side feeling richer and happier for the experience.

For pictures taken at the event see here. See if you can spot a fairy looking for a lift!

A banner created by one of the attendants =)

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Stormy Slovakia

In July 2015 we were fortunate enough to be invited along to an annual trip to a cabin in Podbanské, Slovakia by some old flatmates. The cabin is in a thick pine forest and the area is what dreams are made of; crystal clear springs bubbling up from the ground; berries of the rasp-, straw- and blue- varieties covering the undergrowth, ready to pick; and a wild freedom, away from electricity, hot water and noise.

One of the days we attempted to climb a mountain. This is the story of that day.

_____

Witches country.
It started as a hot, sticky day. We had awoken with thick heads. The previous night we had all seemingly forgotten about our planned adventure and we had not gone to bed until the early hours of the morning. Choosing to instead sit around an open fire, drinking, telling stories, cooking meats and cheeses on sticks and when it was sufficiently dark, bathing naked as a group in a chilling spring a hundred meters away.

Dense from our hangovers we managed to pull ourselves together enough to go for our planned 10ish hour hike. We didn't really know the correct path to where we were going, but with a direction in mind, the 9 of us set off through the Slovakian forest. Tall pine trees surrounded us, shading us from the hot sun, wild blueberries blanketed the ground. We walked in the direction of the mountain we wished to summit, looking for symbols on trees to guide us to the correct path. 



Picking wild berries

We came across a clearing, where the trees had fallen from the heavy winds. Wild flowers colourfully covered the tree remains, with death springing new life. From here we could clearly see the gorgeous mountains around us and I saw the first glimpse of where we were headed – a clear mountaintop far in the distance. The sun hit us and we were instantly reminded of our sins from the previous night, as the sweat poured out of us, traced with alcohol.

After an hour of walking we found the correct path, regrouped and stopped in the shade for some sweet relief. From here, according to the map, we would have a 3 and a half hour walk uphill through a rainforest to the summit. The sounds of a stream only 50m away, but unreachable through the terrain teased us with the images of being cool. Above us, clouds had started to form in the sky and we heard the distant rumble of thunder.

Wild flowers and ancient mountains
Around 45minutes into our ascent light rain sprinkled down on us, the relief was bitter sweet, as the temperature plummeted. The thunder was drawing closer, the rain heavier. A few of us deciding that a 4 hour hike on a hangover is still a decent hike, turned around, we didn't want to be caught on a mountain top in a storm. The muddy path we had walked up 20 minutes before had turned unto a stream with frogs, who were happily splashing about in search of food. Seeing this confirmed in my mind that turning back was the right decision even though the rain had ceased.

As we returned to the bare foot hills, the sun came out and soon we were once again too hot to function, our clothes began to dry. The clear sky did not hang around however. Soon we were surrounded by ominous dark clouds and rumbling thunder. As we entered the ground level forest, the heavens opened, and they opened wide. Pouring buckets of freezing rain on top of us. Soaked to the bone, I sang the song in my head that always comes to mind in such situations 'just keep swimming, just keep swimming, you can do it, just keep swimming'.

Map checking
Our journey outbound had not been a straight one, so coming home, in a forest of winding paths and similar style cabins was not going to be an easy one. We followed a straightish path which ended at the main road, we hid in a small wooden hut to regroup. Where to from here?

We resolved to follow the main road back to the cabin. The rain was still heavy, there was no footpath, the visibility was low, the lightening, thick and fast, and the wind, oh the wind. We soldiered on. By this stage I was soaked, freezing and anxious. With each crack of lightening and car racing past, my panic levels rose. With each gust the pine trees bent to impossible angles, groaning and creaking in the wind. In the distance we could hear trees falling. Just keep moving Fairypants, just keep moving, I repeated in my head, you will get through this. The wind blew hard. After fighting for too long, a tree just on the other side of the road could no longer withhold. The tree let out an agonising creak and fell to the ground, covering the road, spraying us with pine needles. Having narrowly missed being hit by a falling tree, my anxiety levels went through the roof. 'Get me out, get me out, get me out' screaming through my head, I hurriedly requested to the others that we make a pit stop in a road side bar 100m in front of us.
Jonas and Lubka 

We were not the first to have this thought. Huddled under a tin roof with no walls, were hikers and cyclists who had also been caught out. The rest stop cum bar had no indoor area – aside from a toilet, which someone suggested to me I could go into to be warmer. The times to see the best in humans are in times such as these. Everyone there was happy and smiling, despite being soaked, frozen and essentially still outside. The mateship was strong, even if we couldn't speak the same language.

Realising the windows were still open in the cabin, 2 of our group hiked off into the rain to get home. Deciding that I had faced death enough for one day, Tom, one of our Slovakian friends and I waited for the rain to finish. As the sun began to shine again, we set off, discovering (of course) that after hiking for hours in the pouring rain, we had stopped within a 10 minute walk of the cabin.


That evening we made fires, shared stories, cooked meals, drank wine and eventually when it was sufficiently dark went for an evening swim. The circle was complete for the day, although this evening I was feeling slightly more grateful for being alive.  

The last day in the mountains, with about half of the group.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Airport Security

Over the past 27 years I have been travelling overseas by plane at least once a year. I embarked on my first overseas flight when I was 8 weeks old and have never looked back. During these years I have watched the airport security evolve. In the humble beginnings of my flying life a bag scan and walking through a metal detector, sometimes with precautionary pat down was considered more than ample. However, step by step, scan by scan, under the hushed (or sometimes shouting) tone of 'preventing terrorism', these checks have become more and more intense. You can now also enjoy full body scans, bomb swabs, questioning and surrendering of your liquids and knitting needles with each overseas flight.

While I quietly feel that putting under 100ml of liquids in a clear bag and surrendering nail files is a touch ridiculous, I go along with it as much a the next person. Laughing at the fact that while airports in countries such as the UK and USA scrutinise everything from the flakes of your skin to the souvenir snow globe you just purchased, many airports in smaller countries don't really give a damn and sometimes don't even scan your carry on (let alone care about liquids).

On my most recent flight, however, leaving Stanstead, UK things went too far! I have reached my breaking point with this system. Let me tell you why. After my bag went through the scanner it was put to one side. After waiting a few minutes a friendly lady greeted me and promptly opened my bag and proceeded to dig through my dirty knickers (I was on my way home...). Confident it would just be my empty water bottle I chatted away with her, until she delivered a foul blow. An insult which will make Australians abroad cry. She extracted a brand new jar of Vegemite and then, announcing to me that it is classed as a liquid (has she ever even seen Vegemite???), she promptly threw it in the bin. I was shocked. I wanted to cry. She didn't even let me say goodbye, or taste its bitter salty flavor one last time. Does she know how was this jar of black gold is to find in the Northern Hemisphere? I promptly informed her that she has just saddened Australians worldwide.

I call to you now people. Enough is enough. Stop this ridiculousness! I know that no one understands Vegemite like Australians, and I know that English people think Marmite is better. But really, do they have to go so far as throwing out a brand new jar because it is a 'liquid'? And all to stop terrorism.... Really now, we have to be going too far.

End the reign of 'terror', stop convincing people to be afraid and let us keep our Vegemite!



Tuesday, July 15, 2014

La Jonquera

We rolled through the dusty border town joining France and Spain, it was clear it had seen better days. With the development of the European Union it could no longer hold a duty free appeal, so it had clearly reached to darker places to still attract visitors. Prostitutes in fluro spandex lined the highway in pairs, some displaying their business, dancing and waving, others just sitting, watching cars and life speed by. Brothels and clubs advertising dancing girls filled the streets, with shops selling tobacco and marijuana apparatus in between. We had stumbled into a darkly hedonistic hell hole – or haven depending on your preference.

A lady taking a phone call while on the job
The other prominent industry in this town was discount stores. Spying one advertising camping gear, we pulled over to take a look. A local youth walked passed the car, sneering at us - I can
only wonder at how people grow up in this place. In the car park police were interviewing a man with a small girl, I hid everything of potential value and triple checked the car was locked. In the 50m between the car park and the shop we crossed 4 police vans, several police officers and two prostitutes, one dancing, one chilling. The police turned a blind eye to the prostitutes, clearly this was not a problem in this strange, forgotten town. Besides, it looked like they had far bigger problems to deal with.

Resolving to not need the aid of the police, we made it a quick visit, not wasting time to marvel at the happenings around us. The town ended as it had begun, whore houses and high time shops thinning, disappearing back into the barren land. The border was marked with 2 final prostitutes, standing on the border bridge, waiting for the first and last potential customers, arriving from or going to France. With that we bid a strange goodbye to Spain, feeling as though it had saved its craziness for last.  

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Zagoa - a journey through the Merzouga desert

A Goosebumbs game box appeared out of nowhere...
It started with a journey. A long, hot, roundabout journey. We had packed our bags and left the hostel on the edge of town. It was the middle of the day, but the hostel owner had promised us it was 'just 15 minutes' to the meeting point. We set off on foot, bags on our backs, into the desert, not knowing exactly where we were going. We followed the road initially, taking detours across the sand to see the names of near by hotels, all that we knew was that we were looking for Kasbah Timbouktou and that it was the finest hotel in the area.





Hiking through the sand
Heat rose from the sand, distorting the hard lines of the buildings in the distance. We gave up on the road and walked in the direction of a cluster of buildings. As we drew near, 30 minutes later, two men under a woven palm leaf shade waved us over. 'Come my friends' they beckoned, 'take a rest, it is very hot'. We gladly accepted, the sun was high and we had already been walking twice as long as we had expected, with Timbouktou nowhere in sight. We asked our new friends where to find it, 'oh it is not far, 15 minutes from here' they said. They offered to call us a taxi or accompany us, but we politely declined, we had set off on foot and we wanted to complete the journey on foot. Besides... it was only 15 minutes... The men gave us directions, we thanked them for their shade and once again walked out into the heat.

The wrong hotel on the hill
After following the directions given for 15 minutes we spotted a hotel on a hill in the distance. That MUST be it we said, we kept our heads down and kept on trekking. The sand had given way to hot black shale, every small breeze brought a wave of heat, scorching our skin and it wasn't long before the water in our bottles was as hot as we were. By the time we had reached the hotel on the hill I was dizzy and delirious, my heart broke as we realised it was the wrong hotel. We sat in the shade in the car park of the hotel, hot and faint. A staff member saw us and beckoned us inside, we gratefully followed him. He gave us tea and peanuts and let us hang out in the lounge area for as long as we pleased, showing true Moroccan hospitality. Once we had revived ourselves we asked him about Timbouktou, 'It is not far, just 15 minutes from here' he said, although somehow we were expecting this answer. He took us to a window and pointed to a building in the distance 'That is Timbouktou'. At last we could see it, it really did exist! We picked up our bags, thanked our hosts and continued on our way through the desert, our spirits revived.

Making friends on the road..
After another 20 minutes we were there, we had made it! A man with a backpack on greeted us. 'Are you here for the party?' He enquired, 'They have changed the meeting place, it is now on the other side of the next village'. I was a mix of emotions, half of me wanted to laugh and the other half wanted to scream, but I knew no matter what I had to keep on walking. We were joined by another 6 people from all over Europe and Morocco and all 9 of us set off together, walking steadily, chatting and sharing water. After another 30 minutes a bus pulled over, 'Are you going to the party? Hop in, we'll take you to the meeting point', all out Christmas's had come at once. We all hopped in and collapsed into the seats, any remaining energy we had was sucked out of us once we knew everything was ok. Exhausted and relieved we arrived at the meeting point, a hotel with a pool, and lay in the shade for hours.
Sandstorm in the desert



When we finally arrived to the party in the middle of the desert we felt like we truly earned it. The next few days were a wash of thunderstorms, sandstorms, dancing, colour, hot sun and cold rain, beautiful people and an incredible lack of organisation. We met some amazing people and definitely came out with some strange stories. 
Getting home was another journey altogether! 



Beautiful desert sunrise. 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Marrakech Madness: Souks and Scams

The taxi driver parked in an alleyway, none of the places in sight had the name of our hostel. He jumped out of the car and urged us, without a common language, to get our bags and follow him. He kept a fast pace, winding down endless narrow alleyways. We struggled to keep up as we wound around groups of people with our backpacks on. It was not long before I realised that I would not be able to find my way back again as, in my efforts to keep up with him, I hadn't paid enough attention to the turns we were making. After 5 minutes he warmly greets a man chilling on his motorbike in the alley, they shake hands, hug and exchange friendly greetings. The driver leads us into a small entrance and the other man follows, a sense of relief washes over me as I realise this is our hostel and the man that runs it. It is beautifully decorated in the Moroccan style and we immediately like the place. 


Shops in the Souks of Medina sell
weird and wonderful things...
We had picked a hostel in Medina, the walled old town, as it is close to the hustle and bustle of Marrakech, it wasn't long before we were out exploring our surroundings. The streets of Medina are a giant marketplace in every direction connecting like veins to the heart of Medina, Place Jemaa el Fina, a vibrant, bustling marketplace that has been in action since the 11th century, packed full of snake charmers, drumming circles, henna ladies, handicrafts laid out beautifully on rugs and 50 food stalls all selling exactly the same thing. The surrounding streets are awash with colour; brightly coloured ceramics, spices and clothes fill up every available space. Here you can find everything you could ever want, and more: jewellery, clothes, tagines, scarves from Pakistan, teapots, herbs, traditional medicines, swords, fossils, and even live turtles. Tourists explore the busy narrow streets, street cats and motorbikes dart through them in every direction. "Come look at my shop" The touts beckon, "Looking is free!" More often than not we are greeted in French and we immediately resolve to learn some. Touts we stopped to talk to invited us to drink tea with them, not knowing the etiquette and not knowing if this would be a costly mistake we politely refused the offers.

We weren't in Marrakech long before we were subject to our first scam. We had made our way back to Place Jemaa el Fina and were exploring the busy square. An old lady grabbed my hand and began to henna it, despite our protests, making it sound as though we get a tester for free. After 5 minutes I had a design spanning from the top of my finger to halfway up my forearm, Tom wasn't safe either. "350 Dirham" she said, approximately 35 euro or AU$50. We looked at each other dumbfounded, she had to be kidding. "But we didn't even want it", we protested. "It is very good henna, it will last 3 weeks" she countered (In reality it had started to fade after 5 days and had almost disappeared after 7). We told her it was way too much, I had had it done in Australia for much cheaper. Her arguing grew louder, making sure other people could hear, "But it is a good design, you pay me now". We offered her 50 Dirham (5 euro/$7.50) which of course she refused. We were tired and out of our depth, we convinced her that we only had 100 Dirham on us, which she accepted. It was still way too much to pay, but almost a quarter of what she initially demanded. She smiled broadly and kissed us both on the cheeks and walked off proudly, we knew 100% that we had been had. Henna ladies look old and sweet, but are strong and merciless! 


The henna may have been expensive, but she gave us free glitter!


A Berber Pharmacy  (The bottom
2 are deodorant and lipstick)
The next day we wandered deeper into the Souks, with no real destination in mind. At some point the tourist markets gave way to local fruit and vegetable markets. Raw meat smells wafted though the air, piles of oranges and trailer loads of watermelons are on display, hundreds of bees feast on the open slices of melon. The alley came to a T and we stopped to decide a way to go, a sign on the wall was pointing towards the old palace and we decided this was a good option. Just as we started to move a friendly local man began to talk to us, telling us that there was nothing in that direction and that we should instead go the other direction towards the tannery. "It is very interesting, you must go, it is on today only" he urged. Following his advice we begin to walk in the other direction, down a long, quiet, narrow alleyway. After a 100m or so we stop to survey the street, another man stops to tell us about the tannery, parroting what the first an had said and offering to take us there with him. The enthusiasm of these men gives us a weird feeling and we decide to politely decline and walk back in the direction we came. An hour or so later we met a couple in a local restaurant, they asked us if we had visited the tannery, then proceeded to tell us a similar story to our own, except they didn't turn around. The tannery is there everyday, they had to pay 200 Dirham each for 'entry' (we later found out it is free) and 300 Dirham to the man for the pleasure of his company, 700 Dirham/AU$100 in total. Happy that we were getting better at trusting our instincts we gave each other a mental high 5.

We relaxed after a few days, we had a better grasp on fair prices and we worked on our haggling techniques. We could walk the souks with confidence, drink sweet Berber tea with touts, enjoyed conversations, learned weird and wonderful uses for all sorts of herbs and spices and learned the difference between hospitality and a sales pitch. We even learned how to shake off the henna ladies, although they were never as aggressive as our first night. 





Sunday, April 27, 2014

Buying a car in Austria (For the English speaker)

My partner and I recently bought a car in Austria. Given that neither of us had brought a car before and that my German is less than average this was no easy task.

We did a lot of researching online and posted questions in forums and were fortunate enough to find some helpful people. As I found it hard to find all the information we needed (in English) in one place, I decided to write the following step by step guide, to help people in the same position in the future.

___________________________________________________________________

Finding Cars
To register a car in Austria you need to be a registered citizen with an address. 

Austria is known to be slightly more expensive to buy cars than Germany and some other surrounding countries. However, if you buy a car from another country you must pay an import tax and obtain a road worthy certificate, 2 (potentially large - depending on the condition of the car) expenses you can avoid if you buy the car in Austria.

Good websites to use to look at cars are: 
www.autoscout24.comhttp://www.car4you.at and http://www.gebrauchtwagen.at
Hint: You can translate pages into English by right clicking the mouse and selecting 'translate into English'.



Variables To Take Into Account
The horse power (Pferde-St√§rker) of the car will be a major factor on the price of your insurance. The higher the horse power, the higher the insurance.
Pickerl (Report § 57a) is the term for road worthy certificate. You do not need a pickerl to sell a car in Austria, but you do need one to register the car. As a rule, aim for a car with a pickerl as if will help you avoid unexpected costs in repairs when you register the car, as well as the cost of obtaining the pickerl. When the pickerl runs out you have up to 4 months to replace it while you're still driving it. The pickerl can be checked by looking at the sticker on the windscreen - the cars licence plate will be on the sticker - if you get a new licence plate the sticker should be changed - this is free. 

Pickerl
Image credit:  www.mats.at
 

 See if the car has a valid 'Autobahn Vignette'. You will need this to drive on all 'A' roads and on the spot fines apply if you are caught without one. This can be bought for periods of 10 days, 2 months or a full year.
Note: The Autobahn Vignette does not cover all roads - there are still privately owned toll roads around Austria with varying costs. One way to know where these are is by using online tools such as this one: http://www.viamichelin.com/
If it is coming into winter you should check whether the vehicle has winter tires or snow chains (some restrictions apply with snow chains). Regardless of conditions it is mandatory that you have winter tires or snow chains on your vehicle between 1 November and 15 April. Winter tires can be used in summer as well.
Insurance
Once you have a car in mind you should compare insurance prices. It is compulsory to have third party insurance - known as Haftpflichtversicherung -  when you register your car.  You can organise this directly through an insurer, Versicherungsunternehmen, an insurance broker, Versicherungsmakler or through an online comparison tool such as https://durchblicker.at. With cars over about 10 years old you can only get third party insurance, not insurance for your own car. You can also organise roadside assistance, legal assistance and passenger insurance with your Haftpflichtversicherung.
In Austria you start off with a rating 9 on the bonus/malus scheme, which is the lowest ranked entry level. If you have already had insurance on a vehicle in your home country you can write to the company and ask them to send your insurance record. Be honest with them and let them know you have moved overseas and would like your record to obtain insurance in a new country and they will comply with a nice letter with all the information you need. Most insurance companies in Austria will accept your previous record and rank you accordingly. Depending on how long you have been accident free this can make a huge difference on the amount you pay. If the insurance company you are looking at doesn't accept this, go elsewhere as many companies will.  With some companies you will pay a percentage more if you want to pay monthly instead of yearly. Ask your insurance company if this will make a difference.

Some companies will also offer lower prices (deductions) in exchange for a higher excess in certain situations. For example if the driver is aged under 25, if someone other than the insured driver is driving, if you don't want roadside assistance etc. Have a play around on the websites and see the differences it will make.


Viewing The Cars
Once you have found some cars you are interested in and know the insurance costs you will need to contact the seller. We have found that Austrian's are most responsive if contacted by phone, regardless of any language barrier. Sending emails is easier, but you are less likely to receive a response. If your German is not great, use a translator (such as google translate) to prepare a few sentences along the lines of 'I am interested in your car, is it still available?', 'When could I view the car?' etc, to save being caught out if they don't speak English (though many people do). 

Many prices are 'by negotiation', so if you want the car you can ask for a lower price - although it is rude to bargain if you do not actually want the car. 


The Paperwork
Once you decide upon a vehicle and an agreed price you will need to hand over the cash and fill out paperwork (autoverkauf vertrag)  with the owner, this is the legal document signing the car over to you and is needed when you get your insurance. You will also receive documents about the car, the service history (if available) and pickerl documents. 

You then leave the car with the seller and contact your insurer - you may need to make an appointment. 


Back To The Insurer
Safety Triangle
Image credit: www.rtpromotions.co.uk
Once you have filled out the paperwork for your car with the seller, you need to visit your chosen insurance company, where you will also register the car. You will need to bring with you, your passport or photo ID, (international) drivers licence, the autoverkauf vertrag (Car-sale contract),  pickerl (Report (§ 57a) documents (if your car does not come with a valid pickerl you will need to obtain this before registering the car). The initial registration & licence plates will cost approximately 170-200 euros, depending on your insurer. 

Once the registration and insurance is complete you will receive your licence plates (Autokennzeichen) ready to put on your new car, a pickerl with the new licence plate details (but same validity date) and have third party insurance and be almost ready to drive your new car. The documents you receive will need to live somewhere in your car and the new pickerl is placed on the front windscreen.

By law when driving in Austria you need to have with you a reflective safety vest, a reflective hazard triangle and a first aid kit. These can generally be found in service stations and at border crossings.   


Pick Up Your New Wheels
Go back to the previous owner and car. Put on your shiny new licence plates and pickerl. Shake hands. Drive home. Do a dance and open a beer =D