I turned to look for a second time. My brain was just refusing to register that my eyes had been within an arm’s reach of a rifle with telescopic site attached. The shock of turning round in my seat in a quiet little restaurant in Lower Austria’s Waldviertel and coming face to face with a man with a rifle was, I felt, understandable. However, any sense of panic that was probably about to kick in was immediately suppressed when the little grey cells rapidly registered the man’s traditional Austrian hunting gab.
For everyone else, in this rural corner of Austria, having someone walk into the restaurant armed with a rifle failed to register any comment but as an Englishmen brought up with only the sight of the occasional farmers shotgun I’m still adjusting to living in a society where guns are much more common place. I’m getting used to the fact that all police officers carry weapons, let alone civilians walking around public places. One of the oddest sights though is at zebra crossings near primary schools where instead of the ‘Lolly Pop’ man or women (you see in England) here you have a gun carrying police officer – one upside being that you don’t get cars ignoring the instruction to stop.