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Subject: [BURGENLAND-NEWSLETTER-L] BB News No. 82A dtd 15 June 2000
Date: Thu, 15 Jun 2000 10:36:19 EDT
THE BURGENLAND BUNCH NEWS -No. 82A
DEDICATED TO AUSTRIAN-HUNGARIAN BURGENLAND FAMILY HISTORY
(issued biweekly by )
June 15, 2000
This second section of the 3 section newsletter contains "Helpful Hints About
Travel In Burgenland, Austria", by Bob Unger. We have been receiving so many
requests for such information that we bring you this general guide. We can't
compete with commercial travel guides and suggest you also purchase a few to
plan your trip. This guide is directed toward what those guides won't tell
you. We also suggest that you refer to the many trip reports, which you'll
find in our archives. We can't bring you personal advice for all villages and
regions, space is limited, so check our archives, URL lists and trip reports
for more information. This article is in two parts, the second part will be
found in newsletter no. 82B.
HELPFUL HINTS ABOUT TRAVEL IN BURGENLAND, AUSTRIA
(by Robert F. Unger, 22 January 2000; )
The ultimate goal for many Burgenland Bunch members is to visit the land of
our ancestors. The purpose of this article is to offer helpful hints, based
on lessons learned, to assist others to plan and experience first-hand what
Burgenland has to offer.
Our ancestors came to America for many different reasons. Often their goal
was to save money and then return (about 25 % did). Many did not return,
choosing instead to remain in the USA. Now, several generations later, many
of their descendants find themselves experiencing the urge to visit the
homeland of their forefathers. One popular Austrian, Arnold Schwartzanegger,
frequently states "I'll be back." Many of those descendants, once they do
visit Burgenland, find they have the urge to go back again and again.
Burgenland however, has begun to experience many changes, primarily due to
Austria's participation in the new European Community, and we suggest that
you plan to visit soon, before all trace of the old lifestyle disappears.
Many previously remote villages are experiencing burgeoning traffic as
commercialism and tourism grows. Property values are climbing as more and
more urban dwellers discover the natural beauty and quiet of the country
side. Old peasant homes are being modernized for weekend retreats. So take
the opportunity to visit Burgenland as soon as possible to "walk" in the foot
steps of your ancestors and envision the life-style of the past.
It is difficult to put into words the feelings of love my wife and I have for
our new found family and the people of Austria. They are so friendly, so
helpful, so wonderful, so Austrian. My wife calls Austria "The Fairytale
Land." What better can one say?
Following are 15 topics associated with a trip to Burgenland, listed and then
discussed later in detail. These hints evolved over many years and I share
them with you in the hope that you will also find them helpful. Feel free to
comment and offer suggestions; we'll update them for the benefit of members.
1. Air Travel
2. Attractions (Recommended places to see)
3. Austrian culture
4. Clothing + misc.
6. Genealogical research
11. Reference material
1. Air Travel: Austria has two international airports, the larger of which
is Vienna, plus Graz, and 54 smaller airports. Recent news tells us that
United Airlines may become Austrian Airlines new partner in the year 2000,
replacing Delta Airlines. An alternative plan, with a possible 50% savings,
is to fly into Munich, rent a car, and then drive to Burgenland. Munich is
280 miles west of Vienna. Also, Salzburg is located only 82 miles (136 km)
southeast of Munich, and a fine place to visit on your way to or from
Burgenland. Check with the major airlines for the best deals. Austrian
Airlines now (June 2000) offers direct flights Washington, DC (Dulles) to
Vienna. What better way to visit Austria than using Austrian Airlines!
On our second trip to Austria we flew into and out of Munich. On the night
prior to departure for home from Munich, we found a very nice, inexpensive
gasthaus north of the Munich airport in the outskirts of the town of
Landshut. This arrangement is highly recommended, since it makes for a
short, easy trip to the airport and a chance to relax before the flight.
2. Attractions: There are many very interesting places to visit in
Burgenland, but there is limited advertising. One can easily drive through an
area and miss many wonderful attractions because there are no large signs.
Listed here are some that I have personally found very interesting.
Northern region, (supplied by editor), Rust, Mörbish am See, Frauenkirchen,
Eisenstadt, Sankt Margarethen and Forchtenstein. See archives for articles.
Middle region, Bernstein, Bernstein Castle, in the town of Bernstein, on
route #50, Bob Unger <>: I consider the Bernstein Castle one of
the jewels of Burgenland. My wife and I discovered this fascinating place in
'97 and stayed during our '97 visit and again in '98. This medieval castle,
built in the 12th century, became a hotel in 1953. Its hilltop location
gives it a birds-eye view of the peaceful Tauchen Valley, just west of the
village of Bernstein. The rooms, which tend to be huge, are furnished with
antiques and heated by traditional ceramic stoves. Meals are served with
regional wines in a Baroque style baronial hall. A tour of the grounds is an
added thrill. So, if you want to spend a night in a real castle, I highly
recommend Bernstein Castle. The castle has many rooms, but only a few are
offered for rent, so call ahead for reservations. The food is excellent.
There is no menu - they serve a special for the day. Consult the Burgenland
Tourist bureau web site for the latest information and pricing. While at the
Bernstein Castle, visit the jade(edelserpentine) museum, located at the foot
of the road leading to the Bernstein Castle.
Southern region, Geresdorf, Geresdorf outdoor museum, 8 km west of Güssing,
Bob Unger <> This Freilichtmuseum (outdoor museum) is a treasure.
Old buildings from the surrounding area have been moved to this location to
serve as examples to demonstrate the Burgenland life style of years long
past. Each building contains items used during a specific time period. You
can easily envision how our Burgenland ancestors once lived. On the day of
our visit we were the only visitors, admission, 40AS each, or about $3.33.
Southern region, Mogersdorf, Mogersdorf Museum, 8 km south of Eltendorf,Bob
Unger <>: Following is a translation
from a brochure we received during our visit. "Mogersdorf is a small
market-community in the southern Burgenland, located about 8 km south of
Eltendorf. It is a historically significant place because on 1 August 1664 a
united Christian army defeated a far superior number of Turks. Memorials
remind of this important battle. This battle ground is located on the
Burgenland, Austrian-Hungarian border, and the site is often used for
national and international meetings and activities..."
My impression of Mogersdorf was of a very beautiful community park with much
historical significance. It offers a fantastic view of Hungary. Housed in
the museum is a large display representing the great battle that took place
in 1664. Using lights of different colors they portray the sequence of events
that took place during this battle. It is also an excellent site for a picnic
lunch. (Call ahead to find the hours when the museum building is open.
Telephone # 03325/8200)
Southern region, Moschendorf, Wine Museum, located about 12 km east of
Güssing, Bob Unger <>: The wine museum at Moschendorf,Burgenland
is about 1/2 km from the Hungarian border. No wine is made at this facility,
but they have a large wine tasting room, a large area for drinking wine, and
a large wine cellar where different wines of the area are displayed and sold.
Located in the tasting room is an old wine press, illustrating how wine was
made many years ago.
On the subject of wine, newsletter #70 provided comments by Burgenland Bunch
member Fritz Konigshofer: "Another special treat is the very fresh, still
opaque wine, barely fermented, called "Sturm." Also try to drink an uhudler,
a Burgenland wine specialty, i.e., a wine from direct rootstock (ungrafted)
Southern region, St. Michael - Schulstraße 12, Landtechnische Museum,located
about 10 km NW of Güssing, Bob Unger <>: The museum had a
brochure, written in German. Following is a literal translation:
"In the southern Burgenland...we find an abundance of samples of agricultural
technology in the Landtechnische Museum Burgenland in St. Michael. District
Güssing. Over two centuries of technical development...The country museum
introduces us to the everyday life, the hard rural working world of the
past." I consider this museum one of the best in Europe. They have examples
of items our ancestors used during their every day lives.
3. Austrian Culture: When I first learned that my ancestors came from
Austria, my interest focused on Austrian culture, history, people, etc. I
found a U.S. Government Printing Office book entitled "Austria a Country
Study." It provided much information. To order this book go to
<https://orders.access.gpo.gov/su_docs/sale/prf/prffield.html> and in the
<search terms box> type "Austria a Country Study"; US price: US $22.00.
In 1997 I found that an Elderhostel program offered a course on Austrian
history, taught in Austria, per student cost $2,748,including travel
expenses, food and lodging. In May 1997 my wife and I enrolled in this course
which involved one week in Vienna and one week in Salzburg. The Elderhostel
program allowed us to extend our stay in Austria so that we could visit
Burgenland on our own.(We of course had to pay all expenses involved during
this extended stay.) I subsequently wrote an extensive trip report for the
Burgenland Bunch newsletter which may be found in nos.16, 17A, 20A, 34A, 35A
In preparation for your trip to Burgenland, use the BB archives for copies of
the above six trip reports as well as others. They will provide information
about Austrian culture and history, plus details of travels in Austria -
essentially a detailed overview of the Elderhostel program. For more
information about Elderhostel programs, use <www.elderhostel.org>
Additional reading material is the book entitled Borderland, A historical and
geographical study of Burgenland, Austria, by Prof. Andrew F. Burghardt. It
was published by University of Wisconsin Press in 1962 - Library of Congress
catalog Card Number 62-15992. Out of print, try to get a copy of this book
via interlibrary loan. The copy I read came from the University of California
Library, located at La Jolla, CA.
4. Clothing and other items to pack: The purpose of the following memory
jogger, is to list items to consider packing for your trip. Always pack
light, you will be required to: (1) carry your luggage, even up flights of
stairs, and (2) to store your luggage in the trunk of a car.
1. Alarm, travel alarm clock
2. Addresses - to send post cards (Print on self-adhesive paper?)
3. ATM card/s. See additional comments under the topic of currency.
4. Adhere to the backpacking technique, i.e. pack light and only take
essentials. Include a small backpack or fanny pack for day trips. Take a
reusable fork, knife, and spoon for lunch snacks.
5. Bags, plastic freezer bags - many uses
6. Batteries - take extra batteries for camera, etc.
7. Binoculars: My wife is a bird-watcher, small light-weight binoculars.
8. Car rental info, copy of credit card, collision, and theft coverage
9. Clothes: all clothes should be easy to wash and dry.
10. Coat and hat during the cold weather period or for high altitudes.
(light folding raincoat?)
11. Colors: take neutral or dark colored clothing that can be mixed and
matched and layered for temperature changes.
12. Comfort is the key, that includes clothing and foot wear
12A. Compass will be useful when driving.
13. Contacts - people you want to see or visit, including addresses and
14. Cup and/or plastic bottle for water or drinks - for short day trips
and for lunch
15. Detergent in a small plastic bag, for washing cloths
16. To-Do-list: things you want to accomplish or see during your trip
17. Dictionary: a small German/English pocket dictionary
18. Dress: Europeans usually dress informally - unless for business
occasions or a special event, a sport coat or blazer that matches different
trousers is desirable. Most women wear dresses or skirts but you won't feel
uncomfortable in pants.
19. Drivers license, including an international driver's license
20. Drugs: prescription drugs and over-the-counter drugs in their
original containers, and vitamins. Anything you need to help you stay
21. Electric converter plug: Important note, the plug converter only
changes the configuration from the rectangular prongs used in the USA to the
round prongs used in Europe. In Austria and Europe they use 220 DC so make
sure your electrical apparatus is capable of accepting 220 or carry a DC-AC
converter as well.
22. Emergency contact info, i.e. contacts in Europe and the USA
23. Flashlight, small & light weight-Gasthauses use timed hall lights
24. Genealogical material, including a list of what you are seeking and
where it is located (notebook computer with appropriate charger with
25. Glasses: take extra prescription glasses, also a pair of sun glasses
26. Gifts - books, pictures of your family, home town, etc.
27. Gortex jacket, to serve as a wind breaker and/or rain jacket
28. Inventory list of travel items -handy if luggage is lost or stolen
29. Itinerary, including options in case you need to change plans
30. Knife, Swiss army knife, with cork screw - to uncork your wine bottles
31. Letters or notes written in German if you have no German.
32. Magnifying glass, to help in reading genealogical records
33. Maps: Buying maps in Austria can be expensive but excellent
34. Moleskin, band aids - a small amount in case you have a problem
35. Note pad + pens and pencils for listing each day's events, make a
daily log. Hi-lighter pens of different colors.
36. Nylon or silk briefs or underwear - easy to wash and dry fast
37. Passport: Also, photo copy passports and keep a copy of others in
your group. If one gets lost you have a good reference source for a
38. Photo equipment and lots of film (new digital camera?)
39. A blow-up pillow, especially for the long plane ride
40. Post cards of pictures of where you are from, your family, etc.
41. Shoes, take 2 pairs of comfortable shoes. If you must, only take
leather soled shoes for dancing - most of the time you will be walking
42. Sink stopper - so you can wash clothes
43. Socks; 3 pairs, those that are easy to wash and dry. It is important
to note that in most homes in Burgenland, outdoor shoes are not worn in the
house. They either use their stockings or house slippers. You may want to
consider buying a pair of "boiled wool" house slippers for yourself while in
Burgenland, an excellent house slipper.
44. Sun screen, hat, etc.
45. Sweater (not cotton, it takes too long to dry)
46. Telephone calling card - for call back to the USA
47. Toilet accessories: razor, tooth brush, hair brush, etc.
48. Tourist info
49. Wash cloth: hotels & gasthofs do not supply wash cloths
50. Xerox important papers, have two copies, carried by different persons.
5. Currency: Much of Europe is undergoing a change to the new Euro dollar.
The first phase introduces the Euro via the credit card system. If you use a
credit card, the Euro system started in 1999. For all cash transactions, the
shilling will still be used until about 2002/3. All small villages in
Burgenland will be on the shilling cash system until then, so it is
imperative you have shillings while traveling. I have found that ATM
associated with your debit card is the easiest and most economical method to
use - i.e. you get the best exchange rate and the lowest processing fee. In
contrast if you use travelers checks, the exchange rate is not as good.
Notify your bank if you are planning to use ATMs to withdraw funds from your
account while in Europe. Banks usually track your withdrawal pattern, so if
your pattern changes, they could suspect that your card has been stolen.
Also, the usual max limit/card for withdrawals is $300/day. If you think you
need more than $300/day, you may need two or more ATM debit cards.
Most villages have ATMs. Getting schillings from ATMs is very convenient and
economical. Austrian ATMs do not provide a receipt with each transaction. I
use a note book to list all my ATM debit withdrawals. There was no problem
with my subsequent bank statements.
Travelers checks and American currency (small denominations) are still easily
exchanged at all banks but not accepted for purchases everywhere. The
shilling/dollar exchange rate in December 1999 is the best it has been for
years, i.e. 13.7 shilling/dollar.
There is a 15% value added tax. Tourist offices offer information on how to
redeem this tax before you leave. At the Munich airport we offered all the
required forms required for the tax refund, but were told that we needed to
physically show the actual merchandise that we purchased. If you want to
redeem value-added-tax, have items with you, not in checked luggage.
How much does it cost to visit Burgenland? In newsletter #57 BB member Fritz
Königshofer offered his Burgenland travel tips, which included in part: "With
the price of the room and breakfast in Obendorf, you would easily be able to
live with under $50 per day, including some gas costs for the car." During
my two trips to Burgenland in 1997 and 1998 I also found that one can indeed
get by for under $50.00/day/person.
6. Genealogical research: We stress that your primary genealogical research
should be done before you travel to Burgenland, using the LDS family history
film libraries. Your genealogical research in Burgenland should be limited
to those items that are not available from the LDS film libraries. If you
plan to do genealogical research in Burgenland, it is essential that you make
arrangements well ahead of your arrival, to assure access to the records.
Also, remember records were mostly in Latin prior to 1844, in Hungarian from
about 1844-1918, and then in German (including script) from 1918 onward. To
help with Hungarian records, the publication "Handy Guide to Hungarian
Genealogical Records, by Jared H. Suess" is recommended. Available via
<www.everton.com>, click European books, then "handy Guide..." Cost $6.50
7. Gifts: If you plan to meet relatives for the first time, consider taking
books (in German) and/or pictures of you and your family, house or the area
where you live as gifts. Music tapes and CD's (American folk music is good)
and local Chamber of Commerce brochures are also of interest to relatives.
Something from the air terminal gift shops might also be appreciated.
8. Language: Within Burgenland, German dialects is spoken, but all school
children must start learning English at age 8. Therefore almost all
teenagers and persons in the 20-30 year age group know some English, but they
may be reluctant to use it. There are very few English speaking visitors, so
opportunities to practice English are few. It has been our experience that
most people over 40 do not speak English. Knowing even a little German can be
very handy. In Austria we purchased a very good German/English pocket
dictionary, entitled "Langenscheidts Universal Wörterbuch English." It is
only about 3 x 4 inches in size and it fits nicely in a pocket. Digital
clock-calculators with language translating software are also good.
9. Lodging: A very good source of information about lodging in Burgenland is
found at the WEB address <http://www.burgenland-tourism.co.at/info-sued/>
Click on the icon on the far right - designating a bed or lodging, click on
the region of interest. For example I clicked on Jennersdorf, then I clicked
on <Wählen Sie eine Ortschaft>, (English translation = choose a place in
English), I next clicked on Eltendorf, the village where I had previously
found lodging. Below is one example, the Gasthof where my wife and I stayed
at two different visits, and we highly recommend it. It is located across
the street from the Lutheran Church in Eltendorf.
Info: Tel.03325-2204 faxes 03325-2204-4
Fishing, bicycling, riding, shooting, tennis, hiking, worthy sites to visit.
Host, Rudolf Mirth
No. 5· phone 03325/2216 Fax 2216
Rooms with Shower/WC and cable TV, television-area, garden.
NF: 220. - 250: (Using the 12/7/99 rate of exchange 13.67 shilling = $1.00,
this equates to 250/13.67 = $18.29/person when sharing a double room,
HP: 300. - 330: Using the 12/7/99 rate of exchange 13.67 shilling = $1.00,
this equates to 330/13.67 = $24.14/person when sharing a double room with
breakfast and dinner, i.e. half board).
Nearby is the Gasthof Edith Gibiser, located in Heiligenkreuz, approximately
5 miles east of Eltendorf, mentioned in various BB newsletters.
7561 HEILIGENKREUZ I. L.
Info: Tel.03325-4202 Fax 03325-6390
Angeln (fishing), Reiten (riding), Schwimmen (swimming), Tennis, Wandern
(hiking), Kegeln (bowling)
Gasthof Edith Gibiser ***
Nr. 81· Tel. 03325/4216-0 · Fax 4246-44
Bettenanzahl (number of beds): 30
NF: 400.- bis 450.-
HP: 500.- bis 550.-
For those who want something special, i.e. to sleep in an old castle, try the
Hotel Burg Bernstein, located in the Oberwart region.
Hotel Burg Bernstein, Andrea Berger
Schloßweg 1 · Tel. 03354/6382 · Fax 6520
Öffnungszeiten: V-X · Bettenanzahl: 21
NF: 740.- bis 1200: A max of $87.78/person, including breakfast
HP: 1090.- bis 1550: A max of $113.39/person with half board.
Gasthauses are not expensive. I have always found them to be very clean and
comfortable. The innkeeper will expect you to ask to see the room before you
agree to stay, that is the custom. Gasthauses always serve a standard
breakfast consisting of coffee, sometimes juice, rolls, cold cuts and
cheeses, butter and jam. Gasthauses rarely take credit cards or travelers
checks, so be prepared to pay in Austrian shillings.
(continued in newsletter no. 82B)