BURGENLAND-NEWSLETTER-L ArchivesArchiver > BURGENLAND-NEWSLETTER > 1999-08 > 0936102517
Subject: [BURGENLAND-NEWSLETTER-L] BB News No. 63B dtd 31 Aug 1999
Date: Tue, 31 Aug 1999 08:28:37 EDT
THE BURGENLAND BUNCH NEWS -No. 63B
DEDICATED TO AUSTRIAN-HUNGARIAN BURGENLAND FAMILY HISTORY
(issued biweekly by
August 31, 1999
This third section of the 3 section newsletter contains the first of 3
installments of John Lavendoski's recent trip to Austria. It also contains
My Family Trip to Austria and Hungary
My Attempt to Digitally Photograph Various Church Records
As some readers may already know, I have just completed a two week visit to
Austria and Hungary. This trip was an attempt to combine a family vacation to
the old country (for myself, my mother, sisters, aunt, and various cousins
- 9 persons in all), with some serious genealogical research on both sides of
the border. My visit included:
1) Several days in Southern Burgenland (including attendance at the BG picnic
2) A bus tour of the Austrian provinces,
3) A three day trip to Budapest and some other places of interest in Hungary,
4) A return trip to Burgenland and a visit to Eisenstadt for record archival
using a digital camera.
The family vacation portion of the trip was planned to coincide with the
annual Burgenland Picnic in Moschendorf. It also included a self driven
sightseeing tour, and a mini family reunion with some close cousins left
behind when my own grandparents left Austria-Hungary. In part 1 of this
article, I will cover some of the highlights of the Southern Burgenland
portion of the trip, and also give some anecdotes and travel tips so that
other persons who may make such a journey in the future can benefit from my
familys successes as well as our foibles.
In part 2 of this article, I will describe our experiences on the bus tour of
Austria and our side trip to Hungary.
In part 3 of this article, I will write about my attempt to digitally
photograph church records in Eisenstadt, the provincial capital of
Burgenland; and also in Szentpeterfa, the little village from which my
grandfather emigrated, and one of the few Southern Burgenland villages which
remained part of Hungary after the 1921 plebiscite.
Part 1 - A Burgenland Vacation for the Family
For many years, I had dreamed of taking my mother back to the places where
her own parents had lived so many years ago, before their emigration to
America as part of the great Auswanderer Movement at the turn of this
century. I had been fortunate to visit Burgenland several times in the past
in connection with various business trips to Europe, but my family had only
visited through my photographs and stories.
Mrs. Tessie Teklits of Northampton, PA, who serves as the Pennsylvania
representative for the Burgenlndische Gemeinschaft (hereafter called the
BG), has been organizing trips to Burgenland for over 25 years. Her trips
typically combine a bit of organized touring with substantial free time;
thereby allowing one to make a more personal exploration of Burgenland than
with a conventional bus tour. This year, as she has done in the past, Tessie
planned the trip to coincide with the BGs annual Burgenland Picnic held at
the Vinothek in Moschendorf. It seemed to me to be an ideal opportunity for
my long awaited family trip
Nine members of my family, ranging in age from 18 to 81, made the trip with
Tessie. In addition, about 10-12 other regulars from Tessies previous
trips also traveled with us.
The group left from JFK on a Thursday evening and landed in Vienna on Friday
morning. We flew nonstop on Austrian airlines which, by the way, has a
partners arrangement with Delta, including credit for sky miles. Austrian
airlines service is, as one might expect, highly efficient and I highly
recommend their service to Vienna. We flew aboard a brand new aircraft with
all the latest gadgets and gizmos, including a personal video and audio
center in every seat, and even outside cameras so that passengers can watch
either the pilots view from the cockpit, or a view looking straight down
from a camera mounted underneath the jet. I thought this was great, but, I
must admit, it was a little harrowing to watch on take-offs and landings !!
>From the Vienna airport, we boarded a bus which had been arranged by the BG,
for the approximately 2 hour drive to Southern Burgenland. The first part
of our tour allowed individuals to make our own hotel and meal
accommodations, so the group, of approximately 20 or so persons, actually had
numerous initial destinations within Burgenland. The bus ride was about $25
extra, but the driver was willing to deliver passengers directly to their
hotels, or even to their individual family homes. From the large windows of
the bus, a nice view was had of numerous small villages which might have
otherwise been overlooked by many of us on the tour.
For my familys initial hotel accommodations, I had chosen the venerable
Gasthaus Gibiser in Heiligenkreuz, about 12 miles SW of Gussing and very
close to the Hungarian border.
I had stayed at Frau Gibisers inn before and have previously given her
establishment excellent reviews in this newsletter. The inn is renowned
both for its Austro-Hungarian cuisine and its picturesque accommodations,
which even include a number of thatch roofed guest cottages at the rear of
her compound. It has been praised by many travel publications (Fodors,
Birnbaums, etc.) and has been, for over 25 years, a superb hotel and
restaurant choice for the Southern Burgenland visitor. (Note: Please be
aware that there is another restaurant called Gibisers in the next town
(Poppendorf) to the West. Be sure to pick the right one; the one in
On this latest visit, I am happy to say that the food was as outstanding as
ever. Even if one is not an overnight guest, a dinner at Frau Gibisers is
really a must-do when in Southern Burgenland. The innovative and always
fresh meals which come from her kitchen provide the perfect end to a hard
day of touring.
Frau Gibisers establishment is now so popular that I would definitely
recommend reservations well in advance, especially on Summer weekends, when
knowledgeable locals from as far away as Vienna come to get away from it
Unfortunately, the rising popularity of the inn has apparently necessitated
some small management changes which can best be described as a work in
progress. While Frau Gibiser is still on premises most of the time, it
appeared to several members of our group that she has come to rely more on
her professional management staff to cover the details for international
guest visits. While our stay was, overall, very pleasant, we did experience
instances of lost reservations, room changes, and some general staff
confusion both at our arrival and during some of our dinners. These
incidents themselves were nothing major mind you, but they were certainly the
type of issues where it is always nicer to deal directly with an owner rather
One other surprising discovery I made during this visit, was the fact that
the inn apparently has only one printed copy of their outstanding menu in
English. Furthermore, this singular English copy is an abbreviated version
of the full German language menu and is missing several of the best dishes.
Watch out for this if you visit, and make sure to request a copy of the
complete menu for this wonderful restaurant even if it means relying on the
In summary, I would certainly continue to describe the inn as highly
recommended for dinner and also for an overnight visit (especially those
thatch roofed cottages in back), but, by way of constructive criticism, I
guess I miss those old homey touches and attention to all the little
details that the place always seemed to have when Frau Gibiser was running
To avoid any reservation problems in the future, rather than trying to book a
room independently, I now plan on using the services of the very able Frau
Dolmanits at the BGs office in Gussing. Frau Dolmanits was instrumental in
flawlessly arranging two separate car rentals for my group from Wieners
Opel Dealership in nearby Eltendorf. She was also very helpful in clearing
up some of the confusion regarding the hotel accommodations at Gibisers.
Regarding those car rentals, the owner of the Opel dealership, Herr Josef
Wiener, did a terrific job of providing service for our group. He even
delivered the cars directly to Frau Gibisers and picked them up there at the
end of our rental period. At one point, I had accidentally left the lights
on in my car and drained the battery; Herr Wiener came to Frau Gibisers and
gave us a jump start free of charge. Our car rentals were a very good
experience and this service should be considered by any guests who, like our
group, choose not to begin a car journey from Vienna, but rather need a car
only while in Southern Burgenland.
A piece of advice for those not accustomed to European fuel prices: be
prepared for sticker shock at the gas pump. By my calculations, unleaded
gasoline was about $4.00 a gallon and diesel was about $3.50. Fortunately,
distances are small, and European autos always seem to get better mileage
than their US counterparts.
My family and I spent the first two days simply driving around the rolling
Burgenland countryside, taking in such sights as: the castle at Gussing, the
little villages and vineyards along the so-called Prostrum Hill, the tiny
yellow churches present in nearly every village, and the numerous storks
nests perched atop chimneys throughout the area.
The sight of the red-tile roofed farmhouses of Southern Burgenland, combined
with the gentle curves and hills of farmers fields, is a sure antidote to
the stresses of modern living. A trip through the many small villages around
Gussing is like a step back in time, to a simpler, and more peaceful era. If
any readers make the trip to Southern Burgenland, please allow yourself a day
or two to just wander from village to village, perhaps stopping at one or two
of the small, family-run wineries along the way to sample some of the local
hospitality. Southern Burgenland is most definitely in the middle of farm
country, and I definitely feel that the unhurried pleasures of such
wandering, allows one to best experience the rhythm of that farm life.
The twin highlights of our 3rd day in Burgenland, were a trip to
Szentpeterfa, Hungary for Sunday morning Mass, followed by our attendance at
the Burgenland Picnic in the afternoon.
Szentpeterfa, which is also known by the German name Prostrum, and the
Croatian name Petrovo Selo, is a small village situated directly on the
border. It was completely isolated from its neighboring Austrian hamlets
after the communist occupation of Hungary even though it is, literally,
surrounded on 3 sides by the Austrian border. Its very presence on a little
finger of land jutting out from the main body of Hungary has always struck me
as a glaring anomaly of mapmaking.
No less striking for me, is the trip across the Hungarian border itself,
which continues to be a sobering experience for me even after many crossings.
To cross, one must pass through two separate checkpoints, one in Austrian
control, the other in Hungarian hands. Passports and auto papers must be
shown at both stops.
The Austrian border police have the practiced and efficient air of a true
service organization; a service organization whose mission is clearly to help
tourists make an easy transition from one country to the next. The Hungarian
border guards, however, seem to be a last remnant of the late communist
regime. Armed soldiers and many wary looks are always the order of the
day. I always get the feeling that they suspect everyone of being up to no
good and view it as their sacred duty to ferret out the evil intentions
which all tourists must have toward Hungary. Long delays are possible for
some cars, but we Americans seem to move through a bit more freely than some
other countrys nationals.
One major word of warning, every rental car is NOT necessarily allowed to
cross the border. Special provisions must be made with the rental car
company in advance, and a higher insurance fee typically applies. At another
crossing during this same trip, my mom and I waited for an hour while
Hungarian soldiers eyed our car, our passports, and our vehicle papers.
The problem was simply that I had the wrong stamp on my rental car voucher.
They sent us back to Austria even before we got through the Hungarian border
checkpoint, and we had to go back to the car dealer for the right stamp. Of
course, the Hungarian police also made us wait in line all over again once we
got back to the Hungarian border, rather than letting us go right through.
About 3 hours was lost to this simple mistake, so be prepared.
Morning Mass in Szentpeterfa was incredible. The sound of the entire
congregation singing the high Mass in flawless musical tone would have, by
itself, made the trip worthwhile. By prior arrangement, before and during
the service, I was able to play the churchs new pipe organ (bought recently,
in part, with donations from as far away as America). The village priest
graciously made an announcement before Mass regarding our groups presence as
the descendants of one of the towns sons, and even announced the that fact
that I would play several songs during the service. It was a very warm
Afterwards, my family and I were able to walk through the cemetery grounds in
search of our forebearers graves. Graves are usually re-used in Hungary
(and in many parts of Burgenland) after about 25-30 years. A single family
generally owns the plot, and can bury numerous family members in the same
small space over the course of time, one on top of the other. In this way,
the bones of sons, fathers, grandfathers, etc. are co-mingled through the
After much searching, I was able to find the graves of my great-grandfather,
and great- great- grandfather under the same white marble obelisk. My
great-grandmothers grave was also found a few feet away, and I was surprised
to see that on the bottom of her gravestone was a small inscription with my
grandfathers name and the word American. My grandfather is most
definitely buried in Northampton, PA, not in Hungary, so this was a small
mystery. My great-grandmother had died in 1925 after her son (my
grandfather) had already been in America for 13 years. The potential
solution to this mystery ?? The local townspeople felt that he must have
sent the money back to erect this monument, hence the inscription and the
reference to America.
The return trip to Austria for the Burgenland Picnic was uneventful, but
long. Even though Moschendorf is only about 1 km. from Szentpeterfa as the
crow flies, one must drive to a distant border crossing about 45 minutes
away (in the wrong direction no less), then back track along the Austrian
side. This is particularly frustrating as there IS a perfectly suitable
border crossing right in Szentpeterfa itself; so the trip to Moschendorf
should take about 10 seconds rather than 1 hours.
This border crossing, however, is known as a farmers crossing. It is so
named because, in the old days, it was intended solely for Austrian and
Hungarian farmers going back and forth to market. Nowadays, the most common
travelers are the young, increasingly affluent Hungarians who work in Austria
but choose to commute across the border each morning and evening to and from
On both sides of the border, the small farms, which were for centuries a key
source of employment for much of the populace, are being squeezed out, with
increasing rapidity, by large corporate farms from far-flung areas of the EU.
Factory and shop jobs are now the norm for most of those persons under 30 in
The Burgenland Picnic was a stellar affair. Held annually at the Vinothek in
Moschendorf, this was truly one of the highlights of the entire 2 week visit.
Several hundred persons attended the day long picnic, which was filled with
food, wine, and song. The latter was provided by a twenty piece orchestra
which cranked out dancing and drinking music while the corks popped, the kegs
were tapped, and the smell of bratwurst filled the air.
The picnic is organized by the main BG office in nearby Gussing, and is
attended by local villagers from both sides of the border. This year, a
special bus ferried persons from Hungary back and forth across the nearby
farmers crossing. In attendance along with us and these locals, were
other descendants of the Auswanderers of many years ago. The US contingent
included representatives from Chicago, Allentown-Northampton, and New York.
Other international visitors included persons from Canada, and even Australia
and South America.
As one dignitary put it, Burgenland welcomes us all back with open hearts
and open arms.
Local radio and TV reporters were present, and a live feed was used to
broadcast some interviews and music from the event. The New York winner of
the Miss Burgenland Contest and her family were also present, as were
government dignitaries, and the BG staff.
Everyone concerned did a great job, and many a laugh was shared during our
all too brief day together. As evening fell, so did a few tears at the
thought of having to wait at least another year for this wonderful get
together. If you have the chance to go, dont miss this happy event.
The Vinothek is supposedly a wine history museum, complete with thatch roof
cottages and displays on making wine like it was done in the old days. I
dont know how it ranks as a museum, but, as a venue for such a gathering, it
is, most definitely, one of the most congenial picnic grounds I have ever
visited. The large wooden tables, and the ample cover from the sun which is
provided by mature trees and graceful awnings, combined with the thousands of
bottles of good wine stored and sold at the Vinothek, add up to a great
recipe for fun and frolic.
For me, an extra special treat was my discovery of something called
Uhudler. This is a totally organic wine, pinkish to amber-red in color,
which is grown, pressed, and bottled using the old methods of past
centuries, completely without modern chemicals or preservatives. It is
literally a taste of the past. Numerous families produce their own version
of the beverage, and each familial variety has a slightly different taste and
character . I enjoyed the Uhudler so thoroughly, that I brought back 3
bottles for myself and about 3 or 4 more as gifts. The prices were very
reasonable, and the bottles generous in size.
Other nice wine finds, were several nice varieties of Blaufrnkisch. I
have sung the praises of this spicy red wine before in this newsletter, and I
must do so again. Similar to a good California zinfandel, Burgenland
Blaufrnkisch is ideal with spicy foods and also VERY refreshing when
combined with mineral water and a few cubes of ice in a spritzer.
In the evening, but long before the official 9:00 oclock sunset, we returned
to Frau Gibisers for coffee and a light dessert before bed. It was the
perfect end to the perfect day, as Frau Gibiser never disappoints when it
comes to dessert !! Try the Carmel-Vanilla Ice Cream with Fresh Fruit on
your next visit. Or how about some delicious apple strudel with cream ??
Fattening ?? True...but hey...youre on vacation !!
NEXT INSTALLMENT - Our bus tour of Austria & The Trip to Budapest.
BURGENLAND BUNCH INTERNET LINKS - ADDITIONS, REVISIONS 8/30/99
(from Internet/URL Editor Anna Kresh)
AUSTRIAN, AUSTRO-HUNGARIAN INTERNET LINKS
o Via Imperialis Members <http://www.viaimperialis.at/> - links to beautiful
photos and data on Burgenland and Austrian castles, palaces and monasteries
NOTE: Eight archives and special collections units at the University of
Minnesota-Twin Cities will provide extremely limited services to
users--including temporary closings--due to relocation between September and
December 1999. You may experience difficulty accessing the following site
during that time: CAS-UMN <http://www.socsci.umn.edu/cas/> - Center for
Austrian Studies at the University of Minnesota
BURGENLAND INTERNET LINKS
o Pamhagen Museum
Pamhagen on-line museum showing pictures of artifacts found in the cellar of
the school (Jill Johnson)
LANGUAGE AIDS - TRANSLATORS, DICTIONARIES, etc.
o German Genealogical Dictionaries
<http://home.navisoft.com/scrolls/dictinry.htm> - extensive dictionaries of
old German professions, medical terms, and common causes of death (Maureen
o Slovak-English Dictionary <http://members.tripod.com/~elszat/slovak/> -
small (more than 1,300 words) downloadable dictionary (Maureen Tighe-Brown)
End Of Newsletter
BURGENLAND BUNCH STAFF
Co-ordinator & Editor Newsletter> (Gerald J.
Berghold; Winchester, VA )
Burgenland Editor> (Albert Schuch; Vienna
& Kleinpetersdorf, Austria)
Home Page Editor> (Hap Anderson, )
Internet/URL Editor> (Anna Tanczos Kresh;
Burgenland Lake Corner Research> (Dale Knebel)
Chicago Burgenland Enclave> (Tom Glatz)
Croatian Burgenland> (Frank Teklits)
Home Page> (Bill Rudy)
Judaic Burgenland> (Maureen Tighe-
Western Hungary-Bakony Region> (Ernest
Western US BB Members-Research> (Bob Unger)
BB ARCHIVES>(can be reached from Home Page hyperlinks)
BURGENLAND HOME PAGE>
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