Burgenland - a province known for its Zweigelt grape variety and its proximity to Hungary is perhaps not Austria's most enticing province, but it is nonetheless a crucial cog in my newfound goal of visiting all nine Austrian provinces (although not necessary for my other newfound goal of visiting all eight of Austria's neighboring nations, even Liechtenstein).*
But beyond fulfilling my trivial and arbitrary geographic ambitions, I also had a great time reconnecting with some terrific American friends I made at orientation in Graz back in September and visiting some truly minor tourist attractions. First and foremost among them was an eerie monument constructed by Nazis in the village of Oberschützen that has since been rededicated as a memorial to the horrors of racism and autocracy.
|Approaching the former Nazi monument, finding the weather appropriate|
|Inconsiderate tractor traffic made for a very representative Burgenland photo|
|Perfecting the Eastern European art of not smiling in photos|
|Americans prefer smiling, even while being burned by hot grease|
Unfortunately one site that I did not make it to was the nearby village of Klingenbach, where in 1989 the Iron Curtain first ripped and allowed an indirect passage to the West for East Germans. Another aspiration of mine is to return and snap a photo of myself running across the once-fortified border, hopefully under the surveillance of a confused but harmless border guard.
Fortunately my somber and rainy return to the weekly grind at school was cushioned by the auspicious arrival of Waidhofen's official town Christmas tree, which, in my absence, appears to have been installed by municipal Christmas fairies in the center of one of our many traffic circles.
And finally, today's German word takes its inspiration from the lowly-populated region where I spent my weekend - das Dorf means "the village."
*So far I have been to four of nine provinces (Vienna, Lower Austria, Styria, and Burgenland) and only one of eight neighbors (Czech Republic).