Burgenland. Land of Castles, Sunshine and Parties.

Visiting friends in Burgenland, Austria. They know how to party.

When people think of Austria, skiing and wintersports are probably what comes to mind first. The West side of Austria is really beautiful and cities such as Salzburg and Innsbruck are really great to visit but for me my favourite part is Burgenland along the East side of the country, bordering Slovenia, Hungary and Slovakia. It gets about 300 sunny days a year and has castles, lakes, palaces and most importantly parties!

The reasons for this trip are: rambling by motorcycle around Europe; and, visiting my friend Steaffi that I have know for twenty years, when we were Peacekeeping in Bosnia in the 90s. He has a big “roundy” birthday and he invited me to the party. So I am staying in Austria for five or six days. I have been here at least a dozen times before and love his family and extended family and friends. I know all the good restaurants and wine houses by now too. 

Aunty’s place and Heidi’s wine house for example. Heidi makes great wines and really that is true for all Burgenland wines because they are very interested in the quality of their produce. It’s probably helps a lot when you have sunshine 300 days a year. 

Another remarkable thing about the friendly people of Burgenland is their ability to party. For example, have you ever heard of a celebration called Fruhschoppen? Neither had I. What does it mean? My friends weren’t sure either. Something like early drink celebration. 

I know exactly what it means. A reason to start partying early! That’s the “fruh” part. As for the rest? Who cares. It just means that instead of starting at the normal time for partying, you start before lunch. You eat beautiful food that’s cooked right there by the locals and served by young people who are wearing traditional Austrian costume, Lederhosen and Dirndl.
 There is no charge to attend but you can donate money which is collected for local youth activites. Another great aspect of these big parties, that the whole village or town, young and old usually attend, is the music. 

Every town has a band that plays traditional music. The sound is somewhere between brass band and orchestra, according to my limited knowledge of these matters. 

In some countries it would be frowned upon if you stood on the furniture.

 

In Austria it is almost obligatory to stand on the table and clap and sing along to show your appreciation. 

You have to be a little careful too in Austria because sometimes one party sort of runs into the next, or should I say the next day. 

On the day of Steaffi’s birthday party we went to a celebration party hosted by the local motorcycle club, the Flying Foxes, 

which had an emphasis on activities for the local children. The cluhouse and garden was jammed and yet again the guys were cooking and barbequeing right there in the yard and families enjoyed the festivities with great food and local wine. The club had gone to the trouble of making a little track in the garden so the children could try out mini quads which they loved.

 

We couldn’t stay long though because we had to get ready for Steaffi’s party. It was held in the Music Band Hall. It’s not the first party I went to there and as usual the food and the company was extraordinary. As well as the traditional main courses there were approximately a million cakes and sweet dishes. Everyone brought something. It was a fantastic party. The highlight for me was a music video that everyone of his family, children, parents and grandparents took part in, dancing to a very happy song indeed.

A meal in the Grenadier restaurant in Forchtenstein Castle, the night before my departure, 

with friends rounded off my visit. It’s a favourite for bikers too because of the interesting winding road up to the castle. 

Something tells me it wont be long before I visit again. In the meantime Steaffi and some friends are visiting my home two days after I get back. So where to next…

From Stelvio to Bled, Slovenia.

Through the Italian Alps to Bled, Slovenia.

After Stelvio I stopped in a beautiful town in South Tyrol, Italy called Silandro, or Shlanders if you prefer the Austrian version. First night in Italy so it had to be fantastic Italian food and wine and a stay in a lovely hotel. Next morning I tracked East through the Italian Alps. Remarkable little towns that seemed to be barely perched on the steep mountainside. 

Then after two days in the Italian Alps I decided to visit Lake Bled in Slovenia, and to get there the best option seemed to be the autobahn through the 7.5 kilometre Karawanken tunnel that links Austria to Slovenia. So Suzi Suzuki had the first run on a motorway all the way from Northern France.

When I visited the castle I made sure she had some shade from the hot sun as well as the company of some other motorbikes.

Now it’s time to return to Austria, to Burgenland South East of Vienna, to spend a few days with a great friend who has a “roundy” birthday to celebrate. Steaffi and I were peacekeepers together in Bosnia twenty years ago and have been close ever since and I’m looking forward to meeting his fantastic extended family again. I think there is a possibility that we might drink one or two white wine spritzers too.

Lake Constance and Onward.

Motorcycling in the Swiss Alps.

Suzi was happy in a cosy Contance, or Konstanz, hotel basement while I explored the beautiful city that is Constance. 

Today it was onwards and upwards, literally. Switzerland is two kilometres from the city and I pointed her towards the Swiss Alps, without (wash out your mouth) touching an Autobahn (motorway). 

But when you’re passing a little country like Lichenstein, it would be bad manners not to stop

and say hello. And Vaduz the capital is well worth a look. It doesn’t take long because it’s tiny. 

Now for some of these fabulous Swiss roads, beautiful villages and mountain passes. Always heading South. The roads are fantastic, the views are spectacular and the hairpin filled roads to the mountain passes are just amazing. Reminds one of that mountain pass in Italy 🇮🇹. Wonder is it open…

Lunch in the Black Forest. 

This place is a bikers paradise and you would know it. Everything on two wheels and four trying out the popular twisties. As well as all the modern bikes, vintage bikes as well as vintage sports cars such as the two vintage Porsche cars heading up a popular steep incline I can see from my vantage on the terrace of the restaurant called Landgasthaus Engel in Gutach, on the road to Triberg. 


My lunch is a bit of a mystery because I’m not sure what the description on the menu meant. It comes is a hot metal pan with a handle. It said something like: wild game stew, if my German is right. Mashed potato with gravy and meat (deer I think) with a load of melted cheese and smothered in red jelly jam 👍🏼🇩🇪😎


While I’m tucking into it, watching all the bikes turn up the steep incline opposite the restaurant, two gorgeous 40s Harley’s pass. 

Ah well, no rest for the wicked. Just have to do another hundred or two kilometres of twisties before I see where I’ll stay tonight 😊

My Cottage in the Woods.

Yesterday I rode the V-Strom from Versailles to Neunkirchen on the West side of Germany in Saarland. It’s not very far South of Luxemburg. There is not much to say about Neunkirchen except that it’s conveniently located, not far some fabulous small historic cities such as Saarlouis and Homberg. Another reason I love it is the beautiful cottage I get to stay in. It’s in a wooded area with lots of forest walks and sports facilities close by. It’s so quiet and idyllic you would never think you were less than a Kilometre from the Autobahn. I stayed last night and visited a great little bar and restaurant Gaststätte Zum Landsknecht, which is a short walk through the forest. The food was top class, thanks to Hans, the owner and Chef. A good friend, Thomas Schmitt joined me later for a drink and to renew our acquaintance. 

I’m staying again tonight because I did some exploring today. One of the most beautiful cities, and the oldest in Germany, is about an hours ride away called Trier which dates back pre Roman times and was home to some celts at one stage. Probably just a bunch of lads on a stag weekend or something 😊. 

It was showery today but when I pulled up in a little square in Böhmerstrasse I  was delighted to see that, purely by accident, I had parked beside “The Irish Pub Trier”. Well it would be bad manners to pass by of course, and I met a very welcoming Dublin man who owns and runs this fine quaint establishment. Alan has been in business here for 20 years and was very helpful with advice and directions. It’s a little gem of a pub    which I called back into after touring the magnificent city of Trier. 

Tomorrow is to be wet but I think it has to be on to the Black Forest area in spite of that. 

Menu in Neunkirchen in Germany.

So made it from Versailles near Paris to Neunkirchen, Saarland in Germany today. The quandary is what to have and yes it’s that hard to read. Going for the first one which I’m fairly sure is roast beef with red cabbage and… I give up on the 3rd one, but I have eaten here a few times before and it’s always good 😊. The temperatures are over 30 Celsius which in Fahrenheit is hot, damn hot. Too hot for motorcycle gear 😳.