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…