Weekend in the Country

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Kleinschuster Pension.  Burgau, Austria

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I found Kleinschuster while googling for somewhere to stay on our trip to Graz.  I like places that are also a cultural experience, so this bed and breakfast in Styrian wine country, mostly invisible on TripAdvisor, seemed perfect to me!  But my poor boys.

Eli is always asking when we’ll get to stay at “a hotel with a key card.”

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Kleinschuster Weingut is a family-run winery surrounded by golden farmland and rolling fields of vineyards and sheep.  We slept under bright yellow comforters and woke up in the morning to a blanket of fog settled over the cornfields.  There was a Singer sewing machine on the stairs and a cooler full of wine for guests.  An Italian family parked their Maserati next to our CRV.  We ate soft-boiled eggs out of egg cups for breakfast.  The boys love egg cups.   I’m not sure if they love soft-boiled eggs, or if they just love the ritual of the cup.

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Our destination this weekend was Rogner Bad Blumau, a thermal spa designed by the artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser, famous for his architectural designs of bright colors, environmentalism, and reconciliation of humans with nature.  Committed to making things beautiful, he designed low-income apartment blocks and waste treatment plants, sometimes for free, “to prevent something ugly from going up.”  He believed in individualism.  He did not believe in straight lines.

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Because it was a thermal spa I didn’t take my camera inside, but this has been one of my favorite Austrian experiences yet.

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The property itself is a full service resort, with bike trails, orchards, and a complex of uniquely designed buildings with no corners or even floors.  (no straight lines).  The day spa experience in Austria is such a wonderful thing, so different than the way Americans approach our weekends.  In America we wear t-shirts that say “Work Hard, Play Harder.”

Nobody here wants to work hard OR play hard, they just want to live a normal life.   They don’t need to prove they’re on vacation.  Sitting around in a bathrobe with a beer is okay.

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It wasn’t exactly a kid place, but Jake and Eli had fun swimming in the salty water and making rafts out of fun noodles.  Apples and plums from trees on the property were piled up in huge bowls, so the guests all strolled comfortably around in fluffy, white bathrobes, eating plums.  We spent most of the day outside sunning ourselves in the different pools, occasionally floating over to the shore to build cairns out of smooth rocks along the waters’ edge.

“What’s a cairn, Mom?”  “It’s a prayer to God.”  Eli and I had some deep conversations about Cairns.

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We also visited Graz, Austria’s second largest city.

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The stone streets were littered with bicycles and autumn leaves.  We found ice cream and raced with the boys in the park.  Who knew pumpkin seed oil ice cream was so good?

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I forget that Austria is so close to Italy until I see calamari on the menu.  Lunch is always delicious for this reason!

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Not sure what happened here… maybe too much calamari?

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We walked off our lunch by hiking up the Schlossberg, a castle fortress overlooking the city in the center of town.  Graz has a network of underground tunnels that were created during World War 2 to protect people from air raids.

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The boys are getting quite a history lesson from living in this part of Europe.  I guess it’s never too early to learn about the destructive ways humans can treat each other.  Never too early to learn that we all bear responsibility for our choices, whether we choose to act or not.  Time doesn’t let you go back and fix your mistakes.

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When we reached the top of the hill, the sun was setting and the clock tower was full of shadows.  An oompah band was playing.

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Inspired by the oompah band, we bought the kids new jackets!  They are part Austrian now, after all.  A quarter of their life will be lived here.

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And every time I think we’ve saturated ourselves with memories, a new one comes along.

Here is a new one, seared forever.

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3 thoughts on “Weekend in the Country

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