Last year I had the chance to spend a few days in Vienna, Austria. I've been looking forward to it as Vienna is a beautiful metropolitan city, rich in gorgeous architecture and history. Unfortunately none of us spoke German, which made is a bit scary. I speak four languages but apart from English, the other three are also useless in Austria. However, I was hoping we could still be ok as Vienna is the capital of the country, hosts all the embassies and in 2017 alone there were more than 15 million tourists visiting the city.
We were doing fine as most of the signs are multilingual. Each and every metropolitan station has maps with the routs and schedules, you can't get lost unless you're illiterate in my humble opinion. We had our maps but from time to time were checking where we are and where we were going.
Out Of Her Own Will
One time an older woman approached us and asked something in German which we did not understand. She didn't speak English so I was hoping she can still understand "we're ok". When she saw we can't understand each other, she went to the security guys to ask for help. I saw that and approached them to let them know we are not lost, we know where we are and to thank them for their kindness. I was totally amazed by the woman's kindness. In this crazy world when everyone is in a hurry, there are those like her who are helping strangers out of her own will.
The next day we were traveling with the metropolitan again and a young woman approached me asking if we're foreigner. I don't know what gave us away, our dressing style or she may heard us speaking Hungarian, I don't know and doesn't even matter. What matters is that she warned us that the line we were on was under maintenance and that we needed to get off at the next stop and change metropolitan. Again, I could hardly believe how kind she was to do that. More, she came with us to the map to show us which metropolitan to chose to get to our destination. And if you think this wasn't enough, a line worker happened to be around and when he heard we're foreigners, gave us metropolitan line maps. I was speechless, honestly.
At another time we needed some guidance regarding parking. Vienna is huge, there are parking spaces all over the city but the fact is, it's essential for you to know where to park. In the city center and around you can end up paying a small fortune (€27) for a few hours of parking, while at the outskirts you can get away with €3/day.
Once we needed some guidance regarding parking. I went to a coffee shop to ask the lady where can we find a parking lot. First I asked her if she speaks English, her reply was *little*. I asked her anyway as had nothing to lose. She understood my question and tried to guide me with a mix between English and German. I also understood what she said and thanked her for her kindness.
Another case of kindness happened at an underground parking garage. We were able to find one but were not sure if we understand the price list they were offering parking space for, so I went to the man and asked him if I got it right. He also spoke very little English but still tried to explain us how things were. The funny thing was, in German the numbers are kind of inversely. The fee for one day parking costed €29 and because the man didn't know they may be the only nation they do this with numbers, he said 92 instead of 29 as in German they say *neunundzwanzig* which can be translated like "nine and twenty". Good thing I knew this and understood it well.
My Travel Rules
I have some strange travel rules which are set to protect me in a certain way. You can measure a country by considering many factors. For me there's one that counts a lot and that's how the citizens are treating tourists. No matter how beautiful and rich in culture a country is, if you're treated poorly. That could ruin the whole trip.
After we came home I said even though I don't speak the language, I'd go back anytime and probably will one day. The city, the culture, the people, their hospitality, these are all amazing things you should experience one day.
To Those Planning To Visit Vienna
I can recommend this city to be visited, even if you don't speak German or English. People are very welcoming, friendly and there are signs everywhere, you can't get lost. It's a place that you must visit, once or twice or as many time as possible.
This is my entry to [Contest: Kindness I encountered from strangers while traveling](https://travelfeed.io/@invisusmundi/travel-writing-contest-kindness-i-encountered-from-strangers) hosted by @invisusmundi.
As a side note
Today while going from point A to point B, I was stopped by some old people, asking directions to a certain hospital. I'm always happy to help as I know what it means to be helped when you're in a foreign city or country. I told them where to go exactly, and then the woman who asked me turned around and went on her way without saying a word. I'm helping be cause I can, not to get rewarded or because I'm expecting something in return but a *thank you* is needed not matter who you are. I was brought up learning to say at least thank you when someone gives me something or does something for me. It's common sense, it's polite and respectful . This woman did not know that or did not care. I said *with pleasure* to her, hoping she realize she missed something. She turned back and said *thank you* very quietly, so quietly that I didn't even hear the last word. It's strange how these people have learned to take and not give back anything.
Regardless, I'm not going t stop helping others as it's in my nature. It's kind of off topic but I'd like to share another story, something that happened 3 years ago I believe. I was stopped by an old women, who was asking for directions, she was looking for a medical cabinet. The street sounded familiar and I knew it was somewhere in that area but didn't know where exactly. So I took out my phone and ran a search. It wasn't far indeed but it was obvious the woman would never find it on her own, so I offered to accompany her there. Took us 10 minutes on foot as she was slow and during that 10 minutes the woman could not stop thanking me for what I did for her. She was so grateful, she said she's going to say prayers for me. It was really not necessary but if it made her feel good ... why not.
It takes so little to help someone, sometimes a few words, some directions or just a little help. It costs nothing and it's highly appreciated. If you are used to not help others, you should think about it and start to change. Actions like this make the world a better place.