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LIVING IN AUSTRIA

IN PICTURES: The Vienna coffee shop where phone-less visitors get a discount

Want a brief digital detox? This Austrian cafe employs pensioners that bake delicious cakes and offers breakfast, all with a 10 percent discount if you keep your phone locked away

Austria's Vollpension cafe offers the freedom only a phone in a cage can offer. Image: Amanda Previdelli
Austria's Vollpension cafe offers the freedom only a phone in a cage can offer. Image: Amanda Previdelli

The idea of enjoying the moment without distractions is a popular one, though not easy to achieve, especially with smartphones and screens surrounding us at all times.

To help people return to the days when a good cup of coffee and a delicious piece of pie could be savoured while talking with friends, Vienna’s Vollpension cafe has introduced quite the incentive: a 10 percent discount for those who lock their smartphones in aesthetic tiny cages and vaults during their stay.

“It is completely optional!” the waitress, one of the senior citizens that work in the shop, assures me. 

READ MORE: Cash and Schnapps: A guide to visiting pubs and cafes in Austria

Austria's Vollpension cafe. Image: Amanda Previdelli

Austria’s Vollpension cafe. Image: Amanda Previdelli

‘Grandma’s public living room’

Vollpension is already a well-known establishment in Vienna. The cafe is famous for its cosiness, living room-style decorations but, most of all, their employees.

Breakfasts and pies are prepared and baked by senior citizens, the “grandmas” (Omas, in German) and “grandpas” (Opas), who also serve the dishes and receive the guests. 

The name itself is a play on the cafe’s concept: Vollpension, or “full pension”, in German, refers to the kind of hotel stay that includes meals and the pension that Austrians receive from the government when they retire. 

The cafe calls itself “grandma’s public living room”. It aims to bridge the generation gap by mixing old and new together in one place. According to its website, the company employs 80 people; the youngest is 20 years old while the oldest is 84. 

One of the goals is to avoid the loneliness that many elderly people feel in big cities. Those who visit Vollpension, especially during those busy weekend mornings, can vouch that loneliness will not be an issue there.

Phones locked in cages at Austria's Vollpension cafe. Image: Amanda Previdelli

Phones locked in cages at Austria’s Vollpension cafe. Image: Amanda Previdelli

Enjoying time

The philosophy of valuing time is a big one in the coffee shop. The menus are divided by time rather than by food. 

Guests can order “30min coffees” for €5.90, for example. That would include unlimited hot drinks (coffee, tea, hot chocolate) and cold drinks (homemade lemonade, iced tea, sparkling water with lemon). 

READ MORE: How to drink coffee like an Austrian

Breakfast combos with several options, including vegetarian and vegan options, can also be ordered based on time: 60, 90, or 120-minute breakfast. 

The playful menu, both in English and German, shows a variety of combinations. One thing is for sure, though: the pies and cakes, baked by grandmas and grandpas in the open kitchen areas, are always a hit among guests.

As they reopen after a long lockdown period and pandemic break (Vienna’s 2G rules for gastronomy apply), a new tool to help patrons enjoy their time there. 

The staff tells us that the 10% promotion for those who lock their phones in cages has been a hit. It shows: the cafe, which has indoor (very popular) and outdoor seating (quite empty as temperatures are still low), was packed on Saturday.

Not a cell phone in sight. Wish I could go back (well you can). Image: Amanda Previdelli

Not a cell phone in sight. Wish I could go back? Well you can! Image: Amanda Previdelli

An early morning on Sunday guaranteed us a spot, but by 10am, the place was already filled again, with the grandmas going up and down the tight but cosy Vollpension to welcome, serve, and chat with people.

They were all warm, sweet and funny, but still business-like with their busy shifts and helpful tablets. 

READ MORE: The best spots to recharge on the weekend in Vienna

You can reserve a spot, but only half of the sitting is available for reservations, as they prefer to always be able to have people come in spontaneously.

A perfect place to enjoy Austrian Kaffee und Kuchen (coffee and cake) culture on a comfortable sofa and no screens allowed.

The vintage decor in Vienna's Vollpension cafe. Image: Amanda Previdelli

The vintage decor in Vienna’s Vollpension cafe. Image: Amanda Previdelli

Vollpension

Schleifmühlgasse 16

A–1040 Wien

+43 676 637 81 06 (Mo-Fr, 11am – 1pm)

Sunday-Thursday: 08am – 8pm, Fr, Sa, Holidays: 08am – 10pm

  • Some of the staff (including the seniors) speak English
  • Children are welcome
  • Dogs are welcome, are patted and get water bowls
  • Phones less welcome, but allowed
  • Several payment options

Useful vocabulary

Kuchen – cakes

Frühstück – breakfast

Heissgetränke – hot drinks

Aufstriche – spread

Ei – egg

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LIVING IN AUSTRIA

How to dispose of unwanted furniture or whitegoods in Vienna legally

Got an unwanted mattress, fridge, or sofa? Here’s how you can legally get it off your hands in Vienna.

How to dispose of unwanted furniture or whitegoods in Vienna legally

If you find yourself with a large piece of furniture or big household appliance that has seen its prime and is not bound to the trashcan, then you might be wondering where to dispose of them – legally, that is.

Even if it is not uncommon to see furniture or appliances next to the big trashcans often placed near households and apartment complexes, it is illegal to leave them there.

Different cities have different methods – some will even pick up trash at specific times and places. To know how your city deals with bulky waste (Sperrmüll), you can google “Sperrmüll + the name of your city”.

READ ALSO: Why does Vienna’s waste department have a helicopter and a military plane?

Vienna has several waste collection points where you can leave bulky waste, electrical appliances, hazardous waste (in household quantities) and other old goods for no charge.

The use of the Wiener Mistplätze is subject to certain quantity limits and requirements, but they are to avoid industrial use. Therefore, most households will have no problem with the limitations.

Here you can find several collection points in Vienna.

It is worth pointing out that delivery to those sites can only be made by cars with Viennese license plates, on foot or by bicycle. Furthermore, no trailers or company cars are allowed to leave trash at these collection points.

What can you bring to the collection centres?

This is the place to bring large sheets of plastic foil, bulky or large metal parts and electrical appliances, for example.

Additionally, you can bring small amounts of bulky waste, wood, styrofoam, large cardboard boxes, green waste and used tires to any waste collection centres.

Depending on what you are disposing of, you might need to go to the Rinter centre, one of the larger ones.

READ ALSO: Hasta la mista, baby? How to vote for your favourite Vienna trash can joke

The centres also have a separate division where it is possible to donate old items still in good condition, the so-called 48er-Tandler-Box.

Tableware, small furniture, electrical appliances, clothes, toys and other items can be reused and bought at a low price at the 48er-Tandler reuse shop.

Most centres are open only from Monday to Friday during business hours, but others are also available on Saturdays.

What to do if I don’t have a car?

If you don’t need a car but still need to dispose of a large appliance, the Viennese solution varies.

Some will take public transport with a couple of friends trying to help them carry an old sofa via the u-bahn, although that can get a little tough at peak hour. 

Alternatively, you can borrow or rent a vehicle to try and save costs.

READ ALSO: The downsides of Vienna you should be aware of before moving there

But Vienna City also has a service that will pick up the trash for a low fee – even if it is located in the attic, a basement or a courtyard.

It’s the Entrümpelungsdienst und Sperrmüllabfuhr der MA 48. You can also ask for the “dump service” when the city of Vienna brings a trough (the smallest can fit 12 cubic meters).

Once you fill it up, they will remove it and take it to the appropriate place.

Costs will depend on the amount of trash, the size of the appliance, and where in the household it is located.

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