Hello everyone! This post is something out of my regular posting scheme, but I was thinking, that it might me of interest to like-minded, crafty individuals, so I am putting this up! Travels.. one of my other passions. Seeing and going places, experiencing new things!
Be prepared for a VERY photo heavy and very LONG post. So if this is not your thing (travel stories), feel free to leave this post out :). Due to Covid19 this summer 2020 has been so very different. Travels have been different! I would have loved to fly somewhere and dip my toes into the sea. But then we reconsidered and decided to stay in Austria. And what a blessing that desicion turned out to be! Meet Burg Bernstein (The Bernstein Castle), our vacation location this summer.
Burg Bernstein (The Bernstein Castle) is about an hours drive away from Vienna in the province of Burgenland. This – above – are the first impressions you get when entering the castle. Impressive, isn´t it!!
The Castle is a small family owned hotel with nine lovingly restored rooms. Parts of the castle date back to the 11th century. Each generation living there has left some changes in building´s structure so today you can see a mixture of different architectural styles. The Almásy family – the current owners – bought the castle in the year 1892. It is, by the way, thru that, the birthplace of László Almásy, who´s adventures were turned into the movie „The English Patient“.
There are nine lovingly renovated guest rooms that you can choose from – each with it´s very own and unique character. They are equipped with original furniture , while the bathrooms were changed to suit modern taste. There are no TVs or telephones in the rooms, but you will be surrounded by beautiful nature, clean air and the peace and quiet of the countryside. Believe me, it will be all you need. And when the day comes, that you need to leave, you will be very relaxed and find yourself missing this place already!
The castle is a perfect place for everybody who is looking for peace and quiet and relaxation. The place offers an amazing view over Styria and Lower Austria and has stunning, restorated rooms. On clear days you can see the Riegersburg castle in Styria and even further to the Carinthian alps approx. 150 km away.
You know how you go to a museum and you an only look but not touch nor sit on an old chair. That is different here! You sleep in the old beds, live in the restored, old rooms and use all the old furniture. The castle has no electric heating. It´s done with wood and the old ovens. Also the cakes, the breakfast and the meals you are served are prepared on a wood stove! Alone the smell of old furniture, wood stove cooked foods and meals in candle light immediately give you another mind set and feeling very much apart from the busy everyday life.
Above you can see their stunning breakfast and dining room. Because of Covid19 regulations the long table was not on use. Instead there were smaller table groups placed on safe distance form other guests, to make the stay not only pleasant, but also SAFE. The room booking includes breakfast that will fulfill all your wishes. If you decide to eat outside of the castle, you will miss out in my opinion, but the breakfast alone will leave you amazed!
On our second evening we ate at the castle. Wood stove prepared oriental chicken in candle light. The food was just delicious. And then a variation of home made cakes as dessert (I forgot to take pictures..!). What an ending for an evening!
There are events held on the castle on regular basis and as we had been visiting, we had the opportunity to enjoy a pop-up kitchen served by Gerda Stocker (more about her here, but only in German). She cooks with local and saisonal products (and typical local dishes) and combines wild herbs, wild flowers and wild fuits/berries to her dishes. She has her own “Gasthaus” she is running, just in case you are interested on visiting.
The Almasy family really does great work in making you feel comfortable during your stay. You can take walks and just relax in the castle itself, walk around the castle (inside and outside) and discover the beautiful garden with old plants as well as interesting corners inside the castle. The fire place room and library invite to sit and relax in the evening and they also have a “ball room” where weddings or other festivities can be held. You are free to walk and discover everything and if you are interested on learning more about the castle, do take their guided tour. And do try their wines! These can also be purchased at the premises, by the way.
So we did all of this. Ate cake (which was delicious!), tried the wines (recommend it!) and ate and relaxed and discovered the beautiful premises. Only the weather was not so much on our side, so we didn´t go hiking. But you can do that in the area too.
Also, Bernstein itself has a wonderful nature swimming pond, not far away from the castle. Had the weather been nicer, we would have gone for a swim. Now, we just instead booked ourselves a table at Kantine48 – the restaurant by the pond. Food is delicious, but if you want to go eat there, make sure you book a table in advance to make sure you get one.
The region also has lots of thermal baths to offer, so you will have all kinds of possibilities to spend time, while in the area. The Almasy family has put up quite an impressive list of activies for you to discover – do read more on their website. Also, when booking, do contact them directly to get the best information and service, you won´t regret it.
Another place worth visiting is the “Felsenmuseum” (a minin museum), just a few minutes walk away from the castle. It is a privately founded and funded museum around noble serpentine mills, but offers a vide variety of rarities of precious stones from Austria’s mountains are presented to mineral lovers in rock showcases. But also unique items made by local noble serpentine mills from the previous century can be seen in this exhibition.
The exhibition also shows the creation and extraction of amber, the trade on the amber roads, as well as antique jewelry and ornaments. The most valuable precious serpentine sculptures – created by the sculptor and museum founder Otto Potsch – can be also be seen in this unique exhibition. We visited and were truly impressed by this exhibition! While in Bernstein, make sure you pay a visit.
Last, but not least, the Zotter chocolate factory is about an hours drive away from the castle and we did the full tour. And it was great (if you like chocolate)! So much chocolate to taste & so much to see, lean and experience. Make sure you book the tour while there. We did the Schoko & Aperitif-tour and it was the best choice! Something salty for startes and then the sweet tasting tour thru the premises. What a day!
Just in case that was not enough activities for you to discover, the Almasy family has put up a nice list of possibilites and ideas (incl. contact data) for your stay. That sould help you find even more to do during your stay. But also just take your time in the castle, enjoy the surroundings and a glass of their wine and just relax and take it all in. We had more planned in the beginning, but in the end we mostly just enjoyed the time together in these amazing surroundings and just took time off from the busy everyday.
It was an amazing vacation and I am sure we will revisit some day. It truly left an impression on us!
Have a great week everyone!