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Burgenland is what rural European travel was 30 years ago-inexpensive and authentic

Vinyard Neusiedlersee
Burgenland Scenery

After the vineyards, the countryside's dominant feature is the reed-ringed Neusiedler See, a seven-foot deep, 124-square-mile body of water that sometimes mysteriously disappears. The last time was for four years starting in 1865.

The region's peaceful, bucolic demeanor belies its bumpy history. Both the Turks and the Romans came here with less than honorable intentions, and from 1945 to 1955 it was occupied by the Russians.

The province's most interesting town is Rust (pronounced "roost"), though the Michelin Green Guide for Austria gives nearby Mörbisch two stars and Rust, about 41 miles south of Vienna, none. No matter where you choose to headquarter, both villages should be explored. Gaze upward to the rooftop storks nests and stop for a snack and a made-on-the-premises glass of fresh white wine at one of the ubiquitous Heurigen (wine taverns). Both towns are on the lake.

Unfortunately, neither Rust nor Mörbisch is served by rail. The nearest train station is in Eisenstadt, the provincial capital and Burgenland's most important city. It is also where composer Joseph Haydn lived for 30 years. Mementos of the beloved musician can be seen in the Haydn Room of Schloss Esterhazy once home of the renowned Hungarian family and in a museum in the house where he lived.