We have found Sundays to be perfect days to escape shuttered Vienna. The neighboring state of Niederösterreich (Lower Austria) welcomes us with at least a billion things to see and do, especially in the Weinviertel (wine quarter) region. The scenery changes with each curve in the road, and the villages all seem to be begging to be photographed. And at this time of year, the wine festivals make an afternoon outing a simple delight.
Pumpkins!

The village of Poysdorf lies in the heart of the wine-growing region, and last Sunday held its “Kirtag.” Once upon a time the “Church Day” festival celebrated the consecration of a Christian building. Now the event is primarily an opportunity to show off Dirndls, and to eat and drink. What could be better?

The menu is often not too varied. Fine with us. A good schnitzel and a glass of wine makes a perfect lunch.

Lovely Dirndl-ed Damen walk around the festival, as well, offering shots of Schnapps (I think?) to guests. Perhaps it is brandy? Guests not in traditional Trachten seemed to be overlooked, as we were on this day.

The garlic-ed, dill-ed, and salt-ed pickle is one of my favorite things about Kirtag. Or, really, any food festival.

Poysdorf is one of the more charming villages we’ve explored, though bordering ever-so-slightly on touristy with its wine bottle decorative motif throughout.

The village also showcases a sculpture garden of sorts with busts of persons deemed important, we think. There are also a handful of sculptured busts around town.

At a roundabout in the village there was no mistaking who the important person is, however, none other than Austria’s favorite Daughter/Son, Conchita Wurst.

An afternoon in the Weinviertel is picturesque and truly enjoyable, but sometimes we want a livelier scene.  As the fields crest toward the Czech Republic, the “big cities” of Znojmo, Breclav, and even Mikulov beckon us, so across the border we travel.
Yes, yes, Austria is closed on Sundays, a point I grouse about rather frequently. I’ve heard all sorts of reasons for the Sunday Shutdown, everything from “It’s not economical,” to “Sundays are about family,” to “Austrians just aren’t into consumerism.”  When we travel on Sundays to the Czech Republic (and specifically to shopping areas), we play the “Who’s not at Oma’s house?” game.  On this particular Sunday afternoon at the mall, easily every third car had Austrian tags, half of which were Viennese. Many were families shopping for clothes and shoes for the upcoming school year. Family time? Check. (Or should I say, “Czech?”) Later, at the grocery store I watched a Viennese family load the back of their wagon with cases of beer and wine! I somehow don’t think they were going to party with Oma. Consumerism? Check. As for the economics? I think the Czech Republic is quite fine with Austria’s Sunday Shutdown.
Eurovision 2015 will be held in Vienna next spring. The event is a big deal both across Europe and in Vienna, and friends and I are hoping to score tickets to the finale. Recently the Österreichische Volkspartei (ÖVP), (Austrian People’s Party) called for Sunday trading (meaning, the stores should be open) during the Eurovision contest. As much as this fantasy appeals to me I, though, tend to agree with the Pope and the Dalai Llama, “Weltfrieden ist möglich.” (World peace is possible). Sunday trading? Not so much. Prost!