Archiver > BURGENLAND-NEWSLETTER > 2001-06 > 0993902160

Subject: [BURGENLAND-NEWSLETTER-L] BB News No. 97B dtd June 30, 2001
Date: Sat, 30 Jun 2001 07:56:00 EDT

(issued monthly by )
June 30, 2001
(all rights reserved)

This third section of the 4 section newsletter contains:

* Easter Trip To Burgenland (Susan Peters)

(Susan M Peters)

I went to Burgenland for Easter to visit cousins I met last year on my first
trip to Burgenland. My closest relation is a fourth cousin. Our mutual
ancestor, Ladislaus Grassinger (Grosinger), left Burgenland in 1858. This
trip, although lacking the excitement of a first trip was equally rewarding.
One cousin will be visiting me this summer.

Thursday/Friday, April 12 & 13- The trip started in a panic, as the United
flight and time on my ticket from Minneapolis to Chicago O'Hare were wrong. I
had checked the information the week before. I left my house at 11:30 for
what was now a 12:00 flight. No need to worry though, the 12:00 flight was
delayed until 2:00. I had 4 seats to myself on Austrian Airlines direct to
Vienna. After 3 glasses of complimentary wine, I was able to relax! In
Vienna, I cleared customs and didn't see my cousins waiting for me. The
flight was early. After about ten minutes, Anneliese, her husband, Joseph,
and daughter, Sonja ran up and greeted me. We took the scenic route to
Burgenland, but after the long flight, I was ready to sit on something that
wasn't moving. We got to their house in Pilgersdorf for lunch. They then
took me to my own little apartment in Lockenhaus about 5 minutes away. The
apartment building is owned by friends of Annelise, Wilma and Leo. Walking
into the apartment, there was a bathroom on the right and a full kitchen
straight ahead. Adjoining that were two twin beds and a large closet. There
was TV with satellite so I could watch CNN International and CNBC. (I do not
know German.) Cost for 6 nights was $230. I managed to stay awake until about

Saturday, April 14- Sonja picked me up in the morning and we went to her
house. Other cousins and friends also came to visit. My birthday was a few
days away and everyone brought presents and flowers. I received a copy of
the Burgenland Panorama book, which I recommend. The photos are great and it
really shows what Burgenland looks like. My main village of research
(Lebenbrunn) is featured on the back cover. As this was Easter Saturday, we
went to church in the evening. We later went to a friend's house for red wine
and poppy seed strudel. We then attended the Osterfeuer (Easter Fire). The
Osterfeuer signifies the end of winter and the beginning of spring. The young
men of the village spend days putting it all together. They make a large,
impressive fire. It was huge! They provided schnapps and hot mulled wine It
was an extremely cold day, high temperature of only 32 degrees. The coldest
Easter since 1953. It was a great experience to be out with all the
villagers, experiencing a Burgenland tradition. On the drive back to the
apartment at about midnight, we saw the many Osterfeuers of the surrounding
villages on the hillsides.

Sunday- April 15 (Easter)- We slept in and my relatives picked me up at
11:30 for a birthday lunch at Gasthof Kappel in Weissenbach. Sonja has her
birthday just 4 days from mine and we celebrated together. There were 15 of
us and it was great fun. I had wienerschnitzel, which is a Burgenland Sunday
dinner requirement. The men demand it! This wienerschnitzel was the best I
ever had. Moist and tender on the inside and golden and crispy on the
outside. After a lunch that lasted about 3 hours, we went back to my
cousin's for more, wine and coffee and birthday cake. Anneliese had made an
absolutely beautiful Sacher Torte. It could have come straight from the
Hotel Sacher in Vienna. There was another cake that cousin Franz (Annelise's
father and my closest cousin) had purchased at the bakery of his wife's
relatives in Deutschkruetz. This cake was decorated in marzipan and was so
perfect, it barely looked real. It was a festive day. After everyone else
had gone home Annelise, Sonja and I decided a walk was absolutely necessary.
Too much sitting and eating and drinking! A day to remember. My newly
discovered relatives are now really family.

Monday, 4/16- Easter Monday in Austria is a national holiday. Many places are
closed. Sonja came at 11:00 and we went to Anneliese's house for lunch. When
I got there, Anneliese took a break from her cooking to give me another
birthday present. She gave me a glass beer stein with pewter cover that
belonged to Franz Grosinger, born in 1856 and grandson of Ladislaus. Franz
would be her gr-gr-grandfather; a 2g grand uncle to me. It is engraved with
his initials. I was so surprised! I was a complete stranger less than one
year ago. Anneliese says she knew I would treasure it, so she gave it to me.
It was a very moving moment. Almost symbolic of bringing our family back
together. Then Franz (namesake to the original beer stein owner) and Erna
joined us. Anneliese cooked a typical Burgenland wedding dinner. Boiled beef
roast, root vegetables (carrots, turnips), fried potatoes with onions, and a
porridge-like dish, the name of which I don't remember. It is made by
cutting bread into small pieces, then frying it in a little oil, thus making
croutons, then pouring over some of the liquid from the beef, grating in some
horseradish, and adding salt and pepper. It was nice to experience authentic
Burgenland food. That afternoon, we went to Piringsdorf, a village a few
minutes away that has been noted for basket making for centuries. They also
do ceramics. We picked up Wilma and drove down to Bad Tatzmannsdorf to visit
the Freilichtmuseum, the Southern Burgenland Open Air Museum. It has original
old buildings from various villages in Burgenland, many are over 200 years
old and provide a good idea of how our ancestors lived. There are houses,
barns and various other out buildings. You can get through it in about an
hour. Well worth the visit. After that, more coffee and pastries.

Tuesday, April 17- We had reserved this morning to go to the church for
research. We went to Anneliese's house to wait to hear from the church
secretary. She finally called at 11:30. My main assignment was to get copies
of two pages of death records inadvertently missed when we were there last
year. This was done in short order. When you are in Burgenland and want to
look at church records, it is in your best interest to contact the church
before you go or as soon as you get there to schedule appointments. Many of
the churches are open only limited hours and you have to follow their
schedule. Few exceptions are made, at least not in our parish. After lunch,
Franz and Erna joined and we took a ride to Deutschkruetz, Erna's from there.
We went to her family cemetery. Took a ride around town and saw the old
castle that was bought by an artist, now in residence. He is slowly
renovating it. Easter was a good time to visit as there were few leaves on
the trees; you could see things much better. We drove "downtown" and went to
her cousin's coffee and pastry shop. This is the place where they had bought
our birthday cake. A stranger introduced himself, talked to us the whole
time we were there, and ended up paying our bill. He said he thought it was
very nice of me to travel all the way from America to come to that coffee
shop! We walked around the town window shopping. The Juvina mineral water
spring is in town. People can come and fill bottles with the unprocessed
water right out of the spring. I tasted it and it had a very strong taste.
On the way home we stopped in Raiding, viewed Franz Liszt's birthplace, and
then drove through Oberpullendorf.

Wednesday, April 18- Sonja and Anneliese came early to take me to Castle
Schlainning, which is now a Peace University. Two floors in the castle are
devoted to anti-war exhibits. Not at all what I expected. The third floor
had some good exhibits about life in Burgenland. Pictures and items used in
the homes and farms. We spent a lot of time there. There were no castle
related items. After walking around town, we drove back to Pilgersdorf for
lunch at Wilma's. Her house is impressive and she is a fabulous cook. The
room in which we had lunch was large and had a huge tile heating stove. Her
husband, Leo, carved the wood ceiling and they have some very old furniture
and oil paintings of ancestors. A great example of how things are still
passed from generation to generation in Burgenland and how family treasures
are protected. For lunch we started with a delicious sauerkraut soup. Then
we had ham and vegetable strudel followed by apricot knodl, which was sweet,
but not dessert; a big dumpling with a pitted apricot inside. For dessert we
had apple strudel. We took a long walk around Lebenbrunn. Later we went to a
Heuriger in Oberpullendorf to eat again. We had wine and shared 3 plates of
food: meats and breads, etc. I really over-ate that day!

Thursday, April 19- We left Burgenland for Vienna. Arrived at Sonja's
apartment where I stayed until Monday. We took the subway to Karlsplatz and
went to St. Stephansdom. Wilma and Anneliese decided they wouldn't climb the
stairs in the tower of St. Stephansdom with Sonja and I, so they went window
shopping. There is a tower attached to the church that you can go up and view
Vienna. There are 343 stairs. Not for the weak of heart! The view was mostly
a bunch of rooftops. I don't know if I would recommend it. We met Anneliese
and Wilma at a Turkish restaurant for lunch. There are now a lot of Turks in
Vienna. Sonja and I went back to St. Stephansdom and toured the catacombs.
During the black plague they dug a big hole in the square outside of St.
Stephansdom and threw the bodies into it. After many years the hole filled
up and they sent workers down to "organize" the bones. There are rooms where
the larger bones are stacked like firewood. The skulls are stacked together.
The catacombs include the entrails of the royals. The royals were buried in
three different churches. Their hearts are at the church where they married,
the Augustinerkirche; their entrails at St. Stephansdom; and their bodies at
the Kapuzinerkirche. We then walked around and saw Roman ruins, the Hofburg,
the Volksgarten and Beethoven's house. As it was getting dark we decided to
go to a café for a glass of wine and relax. We went to Cafe Hawelka, which
is one of the older and more famous of Vienna's cafes. It is run by a very
old couple who have owned it for many decades. The old woman was there that
night and we estimated she had to be at least 90 years old. We stayed at the
cafe until about 11:00 and then took the subway home.

Friday, April 20- Subway to the Hofburg Palace. Viewed the impressive
Imperial Jewels. Had lunch at the greenhouse of the Hofburg Palace which is
now a restaurant called the Palm House. Great food and atmosphere. Austrians
really enjoy their meals and take their time. There is no rushing and it
takes a little effort to get used to it and slow down from my normal eating
pace. This lunch lasted about two hours. I found this was the case with
almost every meal I had, whether in a restaurant or someone's home. If it was
just a small meal, much time would be spent drinking coffee. We took a street
car to the University of Vienna. We went inside the Votivkirche. By Austrian
standards this is quite a new church, having been built in the mid-1800's. We
walked to the Dorotheum, a prestigious auction house. You can view the the
items that are to be sold at the next auction. We spent at least an hour
there pouring over the jewelry and antique toys... mostly the jewelry! They
also have a retail store with many interesting antique items. We then walked
to the Schottenkirche, originally built in 1177, but rebuilt and renovated
many times.

Saturday, April 21- Took the subway and the train to the Central Cemetery
(Zentralfriedhof), very cold, windy and drizzly. Worth braving the weather to
view the beautiful gravesites of the Strausses, Schubert, Beethoven, and the
Mozart memorial (he isn't buried there). There are many impressive graves of
other prominent Austrians. I took pictures of some because of their beauty,
even though I didn't know the significance of the people buried there. Went
back to the First District to the Kapuzinerkirche to view the tombs of the
royals, including Maria Theresa and Franz Joseph. They are in the Imperial
Vault in the basement and the tombs are incredibly ornate and rococo. We saw
the Anker Clock, but were too late to see the figures come out at noon.
There are beautiful monuments all over Vienna. Many are not shown in the
guidebooks. We went shopping at the Steffel Department Store, which is very
trendy and popular. Also, did a lot of window shopping on Kanterstrasse. At
6:00 we took the subway to BB member Klaus Gerger's apartment where we had
dinner. Albert Schuch and his friend, Elizabeth, were also there. Klaus's
wife, Heidi, and his two darling daughters, Eva and Victoria, served fondue
with many different meats and sauces, a couple of salads, and that good
Austrian bread. I had met them all previously and it was a very fun evening,
so nice to see them all again.

Sunday, April 22- My last day in Austria. We went to the Belvedere Palace
Art Museum. It has paintings and artifacts from the Middle Ages up into the
20th century. The grounds and palaces themselves are very ornate. There are
actually two palaces, Upper and Lower Belvedere. Building started in 1700 and
both were completed by 1724. There are many paintings by Gustav Klimt, maybe
the best known of Austrian artists, including his masterpiece "The Kiss."
Photos or reproductions do not even come close to copying its beauty. We
went to the Sacher Hotel and had lunch at the Anna Sacher Restaurant. This
place was fabulous. The decor was opulent with marble and crystal and satin.
The food was excellent, continental, rather than typically Austrian. The
price was also fabulous (for two of us it was $145, which included a full
five course meal, plus one glass of wine and tip). It was worth the money- a
special day and a real indulgence! I highly recommend the experience if you
want to treat yourself to a Viennese extravaganza.

Monday, April 23- It is very easy to take public transportation to the
airport, but seeing that I was going by myself, I chose to take a cab just
for peace of mind. My luggage was now even heavier. Everything went well
until we got to Chicago. Again, bad weather had disrupted all the schedules.
I spent a long 5 1/2 hours at O'Hare. My first flight was canceled. The
next flight 2 1/2 hours later was late. Then there was a mechanical problem,
so we sat at the gate for 45 minutes. When we finally arrived in
Minneapolis, we didn't have a gate, because we were unscheduled, so we sat on
the tarmac for 20 minutes. When I finally arrived home, it had been 23 hours
since I had left Sonja's apartment in Vienna. Except for the two awful
flights between Minneapolis and Chicago, the Burgenland/Vienna experience was
absolutely wonderful. I can't recommend a trip to the homeland strongly
enough. By all means go if you can possibly arrange it. I look forward to my
next trip to Chicago, only if I can continue on to Austria.


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