Pharmacy windows – after hours

Viennese shops close quite early – some as early as 6.00 pm and on Saturday others close at 1.00 pm and the majority at 6.00 pm.  Stores are closed on Sundays except those at ubahn stations.  This was a shock to me when I moved here because I had been used to shops closing late in other places and being open everyday.

Well, one day I needed to buy some medication urgently but it was after hours.  The doctor told me that pharmacies around Vienna rotate on being open 24 hours and he told me the one that was open that evening.

The pharmacy doors are locked during the off-hours and you have to ring a bell on the door. The ‘window’ that you are served through is the small cut out in the middle of the door.  (Of course, there are different kinds of windows).

Pharmacy window before customer comes

Pharmacy window before customer comes

In the picture below, a customer is being served at the window.  The system may seem strange, but it works and that is what matters.

Customer buying medicine

Customer buying medicine

Pardon the fuzzy photo – I had to use my camera ‘zoom lens’  function.

Do I miss having shops open for long hours and on Sundays and holidays?  Not really because I have now learnt to adjust to Viennese shopping hours. If I need medicine urgently I just go to the window and get it.


12 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Bespoke Traveler
    Feb 02, 2015 @ 21:59:54

    This is absolutely fascinating! What an interesting way to remain available to customers while being “closed.” How do you find out which ones are available for the 24 hour service?


    • Zambian Lady
      Feb 02, 2015 @ 22:13:01

      The doctor attending to you can tell you otherwise there is an electronic message on closed pharmacies giving you the address and telephone number of the ones that are open. The latter system works quite well. I am not sure if there are other ways.


  2. Gallivanta
    Jan 30, 2015 @ 23:44:26

    Interesting that there are still places that restrict shopping hours. I didn’t mind life when it was like that in NZ, but I am not sure how I would cope now if our relaxed shopping times were tightened.


    • Zambian Lady
      Feb 02, 2015 @ 14:18:38

      I used to think that I would not adjust to the shorter shopping hours, but I am now so used that I do not expect shops to be open longer when I visit other countries. I do miss the less restricted shopping hours, though.


  3. Otto von Münchow
    Jan 29, 2015 @ 19:56:55

    The opening through the door after closing hours is very peculiar. But seems to be a good way to get around early closing hours. Generally I think it’s good for people – particularly for employees – that a place doesn’t have a 24-hours business culture.


    • Zambian Lady
      Jan 29, 2015 @ 21:37:16

      I think that employees having fewer working hours can be one of the advantages. However, one also wonders whether these very employees would not mind a few more hours and having a bit more disposable incomes.


  4. Bill
    Jan 28, 2015 @ 11:44:51

    It’s interesting to see how different cultures have different practices and customs on things like this. When I was growing up here in Virginia everything was closed on Sunday. The only place that stayed open was the hospital. But no stores or restaurants were open. It was unthinkable and probably illegal. Now most every place is open every day, and often 24 hours a day.

    I recall being amazed at how late in the morning the pastry shops opened in Spain–which was torture for a hungry early-rising American. And of course most places shut down for long siesta/lunch breaks.

    All places are different, I suppose.


    • Zambian Lady
      Jan 28, 2015 @ 13:54:21

      Shops in Zambia also used to keep office hours except that they would also be open on Saturdays from 8.00 am – 12.00 pm. Now things have changed and shops are open every day very early and closed late with some 24 hour ones. I was also attacked by starvation (or so it felt) when restaurants were closed for siesta in Spain. That surprised me.


  5. anotherday2paradise
    Jan 25, 2015 @ 19:21:10

    That’s really strange. Is it not safe for shops to stay open after dark? That tiny window must seem a bit surreal, as you won’t even see who is on the other side. 🙂


  6. Eltywah
    Jan 24, 2015 @ 18:17:23

    How curious! Having lived in a city with a 24-hour business culture, I can respect a place that places boundaries on commercial hours. It must really affect the pace and quality of life there. I imagine this is a city policy? Though I wonder how store owners feel about it? Does it apply to stores that may also have food service built into them like a bookstore with a cafe inside? Thanks for sharing!


    • Zambian Lady
      Jan 28, 2015 @ 13:49:59

      I have been told that these hours are kept because of Austria’s Catholic background and it is also the law not to open stores on Sundays. This information is from other foreigners, so I do not know whether to believe them or not. Restaurants and cafes are open. Shops at ubhan stations are also open, but only for things that travellers need. Everything else in these shops e.g. cooking oil, uncooked rice, etc is locked away in cages (the reasoning is you do not need cooking for your immediate consumption – interesting).


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