Tuesday, April 3, 2007
Fritz & Joanna in Europe, Day 5
We're on a trip to his father's homeland, Burgenland, and Fritz says his head is "smoking." Poor husband, he's soaking in the sights and information spewing from his parents' mouth and there I am, patting him on his leg and saying, "What did they say?" The good thing is that his brain is really good at turning the languages around quickly for immediate translations. We enter the province, Grosswarasdorf in German, Veliki Boristof in Hungarian. I'm surprised at how close Burgenland is to Vienna. Up until the 1920s during the Austro-Hungarian empire, Burgenland was considered more Hungarian than Austrian.
We enter continue to Fritz's father town, Kleinwarasdorf -- the prefix "gross" means large, "klein" small. The name of the town in Hungarian is Mali Boristof.
We drive past the church where the Prikoszoviches have prayed at least since the 19th century. Fritz's father pointed out an area where in his youth all the kids youth to gather.
A short walk away is the end of town -- and the cemetery. It's a small cemetery, but rich in history -- and marble. It's like each time someone dies, they pull out all the stops to build the best memorial.
I have never seen the name "Prisoszovich" or its variations so much in one place. But Fritz's father tells me, no, these Prikoszoviches are not his family. There were many Prikoszoviches in Hungary. Fritz's father tells me the "Z" in Prikoszovich is very important, because it identifies the name as Hungarian.
We keep walking till we get to his mother's and father's graves, Michael and Agnes Prikoszovich. Except on the tombstone, the name is spelled Prikosovich. I ask him, "Where's the 'Z'?" Then he tells me about the scandal with Uncle Ignaz, his brother. Like Fritz's father, Ignaz left Hungary as a teenager and headed to Vienna for schooling and work -- except Ignaz totally left Hungary behind and didn't even want to be associated with the country. Well, long story short, when their parents died, Ignaz was put in charge of the burial and he ordered that the headstone omit the 'z' -- as if that could wash away his ethnicity. There was a big uproar in the family, but marble headstones costing what they do, the living agreed to learn to live without the 'z' in this one case.
Before we left the cemetery, we went to visit the wall of the forgotten monuments. These are the old, tombstones of the graves where the family lineage has died out and there's no one to care for the graves.
Then we walked across the street from the cemetery to the exact spot where Fritz's father grew up. While most of the structures are new, there is one structure remaining from his youth and it's used mostly as a shed.
Fritz's parents knock on the door of the person there, and it's the wife of one of Fritz's father's cousin. I'm surprised, there are still Prikoszoviches in town!! She invites us in like she was expecting us and made us some espresso -- no matter where you go in Austria, it seems, every home has an espresso maker.
Afterward we jump in the car to get lunch. We drive through the countryside. It seems like every backyard, no matter how small or large, has a vineyard. We head to the border with Hungary. The border patrol just waves us through, but I insist on getting my passport stamped. How many times does one get to go to Hungary?
Signs for 'Vienna' turn into signs for "Becs". The word "yes" that was "ja" in Vienna now becomes "egan". And the money changes from Euros to Forint. Hungary is part of the European Union, but the country is still phasing out its own currency. But I don't see anybody rushing to change it. Check this out, for 5 Euros, we got 1,160 Forintz. And yes, the cost of living in Hungary is much, much cheaper that in Austria. In fact, that's what some folks complain about when talking about being a part of the European Union. That with the open borders, people are starting to make the 2 hour commute from countries like Hungary to work in Austria then turn around at the end of the day to head back to their own countries. These commuters are willing to work at a lower wage than someone living in a high-cost area like Vienna, and some Viennese think its scandalous.
The food in Hungary is phenomenal. I had Hungarian Goulash -- the flavors are as rich as Carne Guisada!! Lunch for four adults was 9,000 Forintz -- about 38 Euros.
The day goes by quickly and before I know it, we're driving back to Austria. The Hungarian border waves us through, but I already got an entry stamp from them. I make sure to get stamped entering Austria, though, because I don't want any trouble from the airport security.
After we separate from Fritz's parents, we head back to the center of Vienna. We visit Martin, then get in the car to drive to the first district to take a night stroll. I'm getting spoiled, but I really like driving around Vienna, day or night.