Austria / Europe

A Sustainable Austria

Something I’ve noticed in Austria is that everything is very green. Not only is the city of Vienna 50% park land, but the infrastructure is also very green. Many people in Vienna take the public transportation (U-bahn, S-bahn, buses and trams). These modes of transportation take you from point A to B in less than twenty minutes. The U-bahn trains depart every 5 minutes, are always exactly on time, and run 24 hours during the weekends for all of your partying needs. Sometimes I feel like the only person in Austria who’s late is me!

For a weekend trip, we went to visit Graz which is a UNESCO world heritage site about 2.5 hours from Vienna. Although it is the second largest city in Austria, it is only a fraction of Vienna’s size. Graz’s historical center, luckily, survived the bombings in World War II and have been beautifully preserved by it’s inhabitants. One of the most wonderful aspect of visiting Graz is that it is extremely walk-able. When the weather is nice, people can take a ride on the city’s bikes (I think they are free for people to use and you can tell by their green and white colors) and drink in many outdoor cafes.

A dusting of snow

A dusting of snow

Since Graz is also a university town, the old architecture is balanced out by the young artsy vib. There is a very cool museum of modern art appropriately attached to a historical site.

Graz is currently renovating some of its medieval buildings. The renovated monastery, for example, will be built using modern green building technique while preserving the historical facade. How cool is that!

After lunch in Graz (the house beer was 2,40 Euros), we drove to the Zotter chocolate factory about an hour away. Of course, we learned before we started the tasting process that all the cacao beans are organically farmed and fair trade certified. Every year, the factory brings some of the farmers to Austria for a visit to show them how their export gets turned into the consumer product.

What I’ve noticed so far about the sustainable side of Vienna:

1. Ridiculously efficient public transportation system.

2. Water saving features: a stop bottom for toilette flushes, push button that shuts off the shower after every 30 seconds

3. Multiple trash bins to sort metal, paper, organic, or plastic wastes.

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