Sunday, July 11, 2010

Planning ahead

There are so many things I love about Europe. Really. I love that you can see buildings that were built thousands of years ago. I love that you can actually live the history and culture of the place. I love trying to figure out another language. I even love that they don’t use air conditioning and let their laundry air dry. Love love love.


I hate that stuff isn’t open on Sundays. It really is one of the things that drives me absolutely crazy every time I’m here, and no matter what I do, I cannot get used to it. I know, I know, I’m an American consumer, used to over the over-saturated convenience of wanting what I want NOW. It’s an unhealthy, capitalistic notion full of entitlement. But I still seriously need shit on Sundays.

Like this morning. I woke up in the middle of the night, and really needed some advil. There are certain pains that only advil can cure me of, and this was one of them. I searched around in my stuff, and I had a bottle, but there were only two left. Enough to let me go back to sleep in the moment, but to cause me to roll my eyes before I drifted back to sleep, knowing that it was Sunday, and I was going to have to go on some kind of major expedition when I woke up in order to find a pharmacy that is actually open.

After I woke up, I set out into the streets hoping that Austria would be different from Germany and Italy, and I would magically find that they sold advil at the Grocery Store, which would magically be open on Sundays. No on both counts. I walked through the “Old Town” where all the tourists congregate thinking that some brilliant person would keep their pharmacy open on Sundays for all the stupid Americans who needed to buy asprin and didn’t plan ahead. The only place I found open besides the restaurants was a tourist postcard shop, and I conjured up my best smile and my best German to ask the nice lady if she knew of any pharmacies open on Sundays? She scowled at me and asked in a mean Austrian accent how should she know these things, I would have to ask in the tourist office, dummy. She didn’t say dummy out loud, but she said it with her eyes.

So after more walking and suffering, I found the tourist office, with a line 15 people deep. I saddled myself up to the side of a counter and tried to get a woman’s attention who was shuffling papers. I mean, I didn’t want to buy the special tour card all these people were waiting for, I just needed some freaking advil! “Entschuldigung?” I said, loudly enough for her to hear. She ignored me. “Entschuldigung?” I said even louder. Still ignored me. So I just yelled it in a voice that was obviously too loud, so that she had to look up. I asked her in my same German about open pharmacies, and she answered me in a voice that was way too soft for me to hear (especially after how loud I had to talk to get her to pay attention to me) and pointed to the left. “It’s open today?” I asked again, just to be sure (still in German). She said something else soft, pointed, and looked away from me to show she was done with me.

I set out again into the old town in the direction she had pointed, and finally saw a sign that said Apotheka with a light on! Eureka! Nope, it was not open. So I continued to walk around until I passed a café that I had been told had internet, and since I had my computer with me, I decided to stop and have a coffee, hoping the caffeine would at least help a little in the meantime. I asked a couple of different waitresses if they knew of any open pharmacies, and finally one kindly leaned over my computer and typed something in German, which magically brought up a list of the pharmacies that were open on Sunday! And she even told me in great detail, in a mix of English and German, how to get there from where I was!!

It turned out to be like 5 minutes from my apartment in the opposite direction that I had started out in. Of course. And it wasn’t actually open open – there was just a little tiny window where the pharmacist could peek out and ask you what you needed.

Luckily, he knew what ibuprofen was (It’s called Nurofen, in case you’re ever in a German speaking country and need some), and for only 5 Euro 50, I was about to feel some sweet relief. He was weirded out that I took the above photo, but come on! How often am I going to come up to a pharmacy, where the drugs are doled out of a tiny window, above which you are looking at a reflection of the Alps? Only here, probably.

I probably won’t ever learn exactly how to be a native here. Or how to speak German very well. But who cares? I got my drugs. Ahhhhh.


Anonymous said...

Ha ha ha ha ha ha!!!

Anonymous said...

Oh yeah, their definition of customer service, if they even embrace such a concept, is quite different from ours. "The customer is usually wrong" or "the customer should be grateful we are willing to sell our goods and services to them" would probably sum it up!

You were good to speak in German, however, because they hate nothing more than loud Americans assuming that they understand English. Many do, of course, it's just the principle. And don't be surprised if your grammar gets corrected across the bakery counter, either :-). You probably know all about that by now. Don't let it intimidate you, keep trying, they really do appreciate your effort.

As for the Sunday thing, I think there may now be malls outside town that stay open, but it's still minimal and you'd need a car. And they must have laws about the integrated one-stop shopping concept, because as you know there is no such thing as buying medication from any place other than an Apotheke, which always stands on its own separate from other stores.

Martina said...

Yes, most shops are closed on Sundays in the german-speaking parts of Europe. But at least as far as pharmacies are concerned things aren`t that bad. Even though they are closed on sundays/at night there`s always a pharmacy on call in case of emergency. You will have to deal with the tiny window thing but otherwise you`ll be fine.

As to finding an open pharmacy check out!OpenAgent&p=WebApothekensuche&fsn=fsStartHome&iif=3

for Austria or

for Germany.

Just insert the name of the town you are looking for ("ort")
And yes, there`s an app for that (for german pharmacies at least)

If don`t have access to the internet all is not lost. Try to find a pharmacy and look for the "Notdienst" sign. It`ll tell you the name and address of the nearest pharmacy on call, at least that`s the way it works in Germany.

Oh, one last thing, ibuprofen is ibuprofen in german. Nurofen is just one of many brand names.

Hope you have a great time in Innsbruck.