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Trip to Austria

posted May 17, 2016, 10:55 AM by Reinhard Schoeller   [ updated May 17, 2016, 11:41 AM ]
Nine members of the Irish-Austrian Society went on a culture and wine tour to Burgenland and South Styria from the 17th - 22nd April. The tour was organised by Ulrike Schoeller and we all met up at Dublin Airport for our Aer Lingus flight to Vienna on Sunday morning 17th April. From Vienna we travelled by coach to the village of Podersdorf in Burgenland - a journey of about an hour. Our Hotel Seewirt had lovely views over the lake (Neusiedlersee) - and we had an excellent dinner in a dining room of our own during which we sampled some local wines.
Next morning was overcast and dull and we had rain on our journey by coach to the town of Eisenstadt where we were met by our excellent guide, Waltraud Kumer. She was steeped in the history of the town, where the composer Haydn was in residence for so long, and gave us a very interesting tour including the wonderful Castle Esterhazy. The rain soon cleared and after lunch we headed for Frauenkirchen and the Umathum vineyard. The owner gave us a very interesting talk on the soil of the region and took us out to his vineyard. On our return to Podersdorf we stopped to see the basilica in Frauenkirchen.
On Tuesday we travelled to Riegersburg and visited the huge Goelles distillery - famous for its vinegars and Schnapps. I brought home a delicious rose wine vinegar. Not far away we stopped at a chocolate shop - selling beautifully wrapped homemade chocolates. Ideal presents!
After lunch we travelled through South Styria in lovely warm spring weather: acres of vineyards and peach, pear, apple and cherry orchards covered in blossom. We were really seeing the countryside at its best. We arrived at the village of Leutschach where we were to stay at the excellent Hotel Langgasthof Tscheppe for the next three days and enjoy its excellent cuisine and wine.
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On Wednesday we set off for Graz on a glorious sunny morning. We were met by our guide Martin Haller who told us he had lived for a number of years in Kilfenora, County Clare breeding Connemara ponies ! He also spoke English with a Clare accent! Graz is a 900 year old imperial city dominated by the Schlossberg on the hill with its famous clock tower and wonderful views over the city. To get there our guide took us through the tunnel built during World War 2 to serve as an air raid shelter - and then to the glass lift which brought us to the top. We were glad to sit up there and have cool drinks in the sunshine. Afterwards Martin took us to the beautiful baroque basilica in Stainz and told us of the influence and patronage of Archduke Johann - the "Styrian Prince" whose statue stands in the main square in Graz. He also mentioned that the great Austrian conductor, Nikolaus Harnoncourt (recently deceased) was a direct descendent of Archduke Johann and had given a special concert in the basilica. And we saw a small exhibition of photographs of Harnoncourt and his family at the back of the church. Then we returned to our hotel in Leutschach after a very fulfilled day.

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On Thursday morning we were taken on a walking tour of Leutschach by the town mayor and former school teacher, Karl Neubauer. Karl knew everyone in the village and we were constantly greeted by locals as we walked along ! He took us to sample some beer at a local small brewery and also pointed out a large house opposite our hotel which once belonged to a branch of the Trapp family. Karl came with us when we later visited the winemaker Skoff and all had lunch at his restaurant near the Slovenian border.
Friday was our last day and on our way to Vienna airport in the morning we visited a small family-owned pumpkin oil factory near Leutschach, Styria is famous for its delicious pumpkin oil which I find makes great salad dressings.

Thank you, Ulli for a truly Austrian experience. I know I speak for everyone on the trip when I say we appreciate all your dedication and hard work.

Anne FitzPatrick