National Secretary: Doro Schelch , doroist-at-gmail.com
Deputy: Heidi Schuster, heidi_schuster-at-hotmail.com
Telephone contact: Iris Eibensteiner, +43 660 7380 224 (preferably from 6 pm to 9 pm)
Host List Coordinator: Walter Dieringer , walter.dieringer-at-gmx.at , +43 664 8242519
In case you don’t know much about Servas, here is some basic information:
WHAT IS SERVAS?
Servas is a world-wide network of hosts and travellers who try to get to know each other in a deeper and more meaningful way by meeting on a personal level and showing mutual interest, respect and tolerance. Some members belong to peace groups, others are committed to peace in less formal ways, but all have in common a wish for a more tolerant and peaceful world. It is fundamental to the spirit of Servas that people are accepted as travellers and hosts regardless of their race, religion, or culture. Hosts and travellers can be of all ages, single, couples, friends and families, and from all backgrounds.
HOW DOES SERVAS WORK?
Members can choose to be hosts or travellers or both. In practical terms Servas works on the basis of travellers staying with hosts for two nights, sometimes longer if hosts suggest it. Hospitality is offered for free; no money changes hands between hosts and travellers. However, a membership fee has to be paid (in Austria only by travellers) in the country of origin.Travellers make contact with hosts by phone, letter or e-mail, using information from the host lists published for each country. Hosts then offer hospitality if it is convenient. A few simple rules quickly put travellers and hosts at ease with each other and help avoid misunderstandings. To ensure some meaningful communication it is important that hosts and travellers share some common language, not necessarily one of their own. Languages spoken are therefore also shown in the hosts’ entries in the list.
HOW TO JOIN SERVAS
If you are interested in joining Servas as a traveller, you will need to meet with a local coordinator/Servas contact person. Because the organisation is based so much on the trust between host and traveller, this meeting is an important safeguard to establish that new members are responsible, open-minded, and support the basic aims of Servas. Also for future hosts it is advised that they meet with a coordinator or an experienced host to clarify any open questions. In many cases this can also be done by telephone.The information meeting is informal and aims to provide a valuable opportunity to find out in more detail about the aims of Servas and how the organisation works. You will be able to discuss what you could contribute to Servas as a traveller, and whether or not it is the right organisation for you. Find your local contact and read up more on www.servas.org.
Austria is a small country (approx. 84 000 sq.km or 32 400 sq.miles / population about 8 million), but with great scenic variety and numerous places of cultural, architectural or historical interest.
The language spoken is German with quite a number of regional variations and dialects.
Many of Austria’s beauties are found ‘off the beaten track’ – it is worthwhile to visit not only Vienna and Salzburg, but also travel to places in the less touristy areas: We are sure you will make rewarding experiences and you will get to know Austria and its people in greater depth. There are many SERVAS hosts in small towns and in the countryside, who will be eager to tell you about points of interest in their region or simply let you share their easy-going lifestyles. Several of our hosts live near or with easy access to the Danube cycle path, which follows the Danube all the way through Austria, from Passau (German border) in the west to Bratislava (Slovakia) in the east. Bicycles can be hired and returned along the way at larger train stations. Public transport is generally well developed throughout the country.
Information about Austria and its provinces: Österreich Werbung, Margaretenstraße 1, A-1040 Vienna www.austria.info/uk (You may replace “uk” by you country symbol).
Austria’s capital boasts more than 2000 years of history and offers a bustling life of culture, art, business, sports, etc.. There are numerous museums (some of them in splendid old palaces), historical churches, as well as a most diverse schedule of concerts, theatre and opera performances, and art exhibitions. For relaxation you will find coffee-houses, restaurants, parks, the „Donauinsel“ (an artificial island stretching along the middle of the river Danube for many miles, ideal for walking, jogging, roller skating etc.) and the Vienna Woods, which form a semicircle around Vienna in the north and west.
Information on Vienna, including city maps, concert programmes, museums, opening hours of shops, banks etc. is available at the central Tourist Information office located in Maysedergasse (off Kärntnerstraße, near the State Opera) as well as at the major train stations and at the airport.
Although there are quite a number of Servas hosts in Vienna, they may be busy or out of town, especially during holiday season. We recommend taking a look also at section 2, „Niederösterreich (Lower Austria)”: many of the hosts listed there do not get a lot of visitors although they live quite close to Vienna and/or can be reached easily by public transport.
NIEDERÖSTERREICH (Lower Austria)
The largest Austrian province is a region of great scenic variety, comprising the Vienna Woods, the Alpine foothills, the Danube Valley with its terraced vineyards and orchards (‘Wachau’), a large forested area in the northwest (‘Waldviertel’), a wine-growing district in the northeast (‘Weinviertel’) as well as high mountains in the south. It has many picturesque towns with medieval squares, peaceful villages, famous abbeys (e.g. Melk, Zwettl), castles and palaces, many of which are used as the impressive background for summer concerts, art exhibitions, etc..
Bordering on Hungary, this province has hilly landscapes and vineyards as well as a large steppe lake with bird sanctuaries and squat villages with thatched roofs, and picturesque fortresses. The village of Wiesen hosts an annual jazz festival as well as various world music events (e.g. African, Latin American, Caribbean…) each summer.
Since one third of Styria is covered by woods, Austrians call it the green province. Its capital Graz has one of Europe’s finest surviving medieval town centres, and numerous cultural events going on throughout the year. In Stübing, northwest of Graz, you will find Austria’s biggest open air museum with more than 100 old buildings such as farmhouses, stables, mills, blacksmith shops and the like, from all over Austria.
OBERÖSTERREICH (Upper Austria)
This province, too, is full of fascinating contrasts: huge square farmhouses amidst orchards and cornfields, old market towns with beautiful squares or medieval fortifications (e.g. Freistadt), the picturesque Upper Austrian section of the „Salzkammergut“ (the Austrian Lake District, e.g. Bad Ischl, Gmunden on Lake Traun), and the province’s capital Linz – a modern metropolis with a finely preserved old town center, which is at the same time the centre of Austria’s iron and steel industry and host of numerous cultural events.
Austria’s southernmost province can offer beautiful scenery, with numerous lakes surrounded by high mountains that are perfect for hiking, rock climbing or maybe paragliding, and skiing in winter. In summer the weather is usually warmer than in the rest of Austria and ideal for swimming in the lakes, but Carinthia also has some of Austria’s highest mountain peaks with huge glaciers, some of which offer year-round skiing facilities.
When talking about Salzburg, please bear in mind that it is not only the name of the famous city, but also of the beautiful province of which Mozart’s birthplace is the capital. As Salzburg city is extremely popular with visitors and we only have very few Servas hosts there, you may not be able to arrange a stay with them. However, Salzburg city is small enough for you to see many of its attractions in one day, and we recommend contacting one of the hosts outside town (also in neighbouring Upper Austria!) to see more of the area’s lovely countryside.
Austria’s most mountainous province is frequented by large numbers of tourists all year round. It has to offer a lot in cultural heritage and natural beauty, and its capital Innsbruck is famous for beautiful architecture and a unique setting at the foot of a massive mountain range.
Austria’s westernmost province has a bit of everything, from the towering Alps to the fashionable resorts beside Lake Constance, from mountaineering and skiing schools to music festivals in splendid settings: Schattenburg fortress in Feldkirch, for instance, houses regular evening concerts and recitals, while Bregenz is renowned for its lakeside summer opera festival.