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SHOPPING

Revealed: The cost of home comforts in Austria

It’s the question on everyone’s lips: Which country in The Local's network offers the best value for wistful expats craving comfort food and drink from home? Well, wonder no more!

Revealed: The cost of home comforts in Austria
Shopping photo: Shutterstock

Our mission was this: hit the streets of Vienna, Madrid, Paris, Stockholm, Berlin, Rome, Lausanne and Oslo and fill a basket with 14 items that fill the hearts and clog the arteries of Anglophone foreigners everywhere.

When in Rome, why not sample some stracciatella soup, a plate of succulent osso buco, all topped off with tiramisù? 

Forget about it! Where’s my Jell-O! 

THE SHOPPING LIST IN PICTURES:

14 Shades of Brown: Food and booze expats miss

Photo: Mikey Jones

What then will it cost to get hold of these delicacies in cities across Europe? Scroll over the heat map below to count the cost of foodie homesickness.

How we tracked down the goodies

Running low on tinned haggis? Got a hankering for English pork sausages? Wishing you'd stashed some Reese's Peanut Butter Cups into your carry-on luggage the last time you visited home? 

We understand. It's a new country, a new language and new cuisine. You're on an adventure, but there are times when you'd give anything for a taste of home. Never fear. The Local has gone shopping, just for you.  While we were able to find most things, any items that weren't locally available have been assigned an average price based on the cost in other countries.
 
Bobby's Foodstore, near U4 Kettenbrückengasse (Schleifmühlgasse 8, 1040 Wien) is an institution. 
 
They specialise in British and American imported foodstuffs and will try to source an item if you don't see it stocked on their shelves. The Local spoke to Lauren at Bobby's to find out just what people go crazy for.
 
According to Lauren, teenagers go wild for Wonka Nerds, Butterfingers and M&Ms, young adults buy Strongbow and PIMM'S by the truckload, particularly in summer, and older customers love the ready-to-bake pancake and cake mixes. People even go mad for tinned haggis. Really. 
 
One regular customer is forever asking them to stock her favourite brand of English toilet paper. (Andrex, in case you're wondering. No idea how she's surviving in the meantime.) And three people have come in on separate occasions asking for potatoes.  Just to be clear, Bobby's don't stock fresh fruit and veg – you'll find an abundance at your local supermarket and grower's markets.
 
Marcus, a born and bred Austrian, was in Bobby's to buy his weekly fix of Tunnock's Caramel Wafers (€1.60 for 4 x 30g packets). He explains that his addiction to the Scottish sweet developed when a friend brought some back after visiting Brighton on holiday.
 
This is apparently not unusual according to Lauren, who says that quite a number of their customers are Austrians, who've either developed a taste for something while overseas or have seen an item on film or TV and are keen to try it. Newsflash: This even extends to Vegemite! So the taste can be acquired!?!
 
If you prefer to shop at the swishier end of town, you'll also find many imported favourites at Julius Meinl am Graben near Stephansplatz (Graben 19, 1010 Wien). They stock a range of imported food along with European delicacies and many fresh food options. Seafood, chocolates, wine, it's all there. If you're in the mood to celebrate, why not grab a 700ml bottle of Le Voyage de Delamain Cognac – a steal at only €5,900.
 
If your mood isn't quite this euphoric, perhaps opt for the more "down home" Remy Martin Louis XIII Cognac, for a mere €1,990. If you don't own a fireplace, a smoking jacket or a well-stuffed armchair, get into their 6-packs of Guinness or hey, try a The Famous Grouse Truffle Bar. At €2.49 for 90g, it's 3% whiskey and a melt-in-your-mouth, little slice of Scottish heaven. Hoots!

 
 
Use the scroll bar on the chart below to see all the prices. 

Incidentally, we're aware that we've navel-gazed somewhat and overlooked a lot of nationalities. Please let us know what you miss from your country in the comments or on social media. Can you give us the ingredients we need for another article?

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SHOPPING

EXPLAINED: How will Austria’s compulsory test requirement to go shopping work?

Eastern Austria's post-Easter reopening may include mandatory testing in shops. Here's what you need to know.

People queue up to use the shops
ALEX HALADA / AFP

Please note: As at March 30th, this plan is currently on hold. Please click here for more information. 

This week, Austrian officials announced a hard Easter lockdown in the east of the state. 

From April 1st until April 6th, the states of Vienna, Lower Austria and Burgenland will enter a hard lockdown. 

While the lockdown should end on April 6th, it may be extended if infection rates and hospitalisations remain high. 

What is the plan as it currently stands?

If shops open again on 7th April following the Easter lockdown in Vienna, Lower Austria and Burgenland (from 1st April to 6th April), you will need a test to go shopping, according to the latest plans of the Ministry of Health.

Will I need a negative test result to visit all shops? 

Not all shops. Some retail outlets, such as those providing vital services, appear to be be exempt.

For example you can go to supermarkets, pharmacies, banks and post offices without a test, reports Austria’s Kurier newspaper

As it stands, it appears the shops with a negative test requirement will be those considered ‘non-essential’ by the government which are not allowed to open from April 1st to 6th. 

How could a test requirement work in practice? 

Although more details are forthcoming, Austrian media reports that the system may be similar to that currently employed for close contact (i.e. body-hugging) services like hairdressers and cosmetic services. 

Austria’s Kurier newspaper reports that the test would need to be less than 48 hours old, much like in rules for close contact services. 

Alternately, it could mirror the system in place in Vorarlberg. 

EXPLAINED: What is Austria’s compulsory testing requirement for visiting hairdressers?

In Vorarlberg, the only state in Austria to open up its restaurants and events so far, has done so with a test requirement.

In the western state, there is an online test platform which people can use to upload negative self-tests.

A digital confirmation of the test is used as a 24-hour entry certificate for events, as well as giving children aged under 18 the chance to participate in indoor sports.

A PCR test result is valid for 72 hours. An antigen test carried out under supervision by an authorised body gives access for 48 hours. 

To visit a pub or restaurant a negative PCR test (taken in the past 72 hours) or an antigen test (taken in the past 48 hours) must be presented.

In Austria it is already necessary to show a negative recent PCR test result when visiting a hairdresser or other “body hugging” services, such as a manicurist or a tattoo parlour. 

People with FFP2 protective face masks wait in front of a pharmacy in the well-known shopping street Mariahilferstrasse in Vienna (Photo by ALEX HALADA / AFP)

What exemptions could be in place? 

If the eastern states follow Vorarlberg’s methods, people who have contracted Covid-19 in the past six months are exempt from the obligation to test. This can be proven with a doctor’s certificate or proof of neutralising antibodies (for a period of three months). Vaccinated people are not exempt from the obligation to test.

What do the shopkeepers say about the plans? 

The GPA union has criticised the corona access tests planned for retail in eastern Austria, saying they are “unrealistic” and “unsuitable for fighting pandemics”.

The union fears a test requirement may increase attacks on shop employees from disgruntled customers, many of whom already dislike the mask requirement in shops. 

If tests were compulsory, the non-food trade would lose two thirds of sales, Rainer Will, managing director of the trade association, told the Kronen Zietung on Monday.

How likely is the plan?

One of the major stumbling blocks appears to be whether or not the plan can be supported under existing law, or whether a new amendment would need to be passed. 

While the Austrian government is pushing ahead with the plan, it is expected to receive some serious opposition from the other parties in parliament. 

Health Minister Rudolf Anschober however said he believes the Covid-19 Measures Act framework allows for the measure to be introduced, much as it has been for hairdressers and cosmetic services. 

Free gurgle tests for Vienna

Vienna has announced today all people working or living in Vienna can be regularly tested for the corona virus free of charge using a PCR gargle test. People who drop off their tests at participating stores before 9am receive the result within 24 hours.

The Alles Gurgelt (everyone gurgles) website explains test results can be already be used to visit a hairdresser or in the future, to visit other businesses with a test requirement. Starting next week, up to 200,000 free PCR tests should be possible for all Viennese people every day.

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