A Day in Burgenland

Sometimes you sign up for these trips without an idea of what it will be like. This was one of those times.  The trip was to Burgenland, the Eastern and least populated state of Austria, and the company were other interns from IST (we are cleverly called ISTerns).

Meet Nastia. She’s from Ukraine. The first time I met her, she asked me where the running club was. I had no idea, so we walked to the directory where it pointed to where we just were, a place with no traces of the running club. I invited her to play ping pong thereafter with my labmates and she joined briefly. Anyways, she is a curious one, tall, slender with an aura of maturity and warmth.

Praveen is next. He attends an IIT in India and researches physics on the same floor I work at. We bump into each often and share stories of our weekends. He is famous for taking these wild trips where he travels to distant lands, sacrifices his sleep, and takes trains overnight. I usually see him drinking a coffee although he swears he’s not addicted to it. I believe him.

Alena, a Russian with an interest in Japan. She tries to teach me Russian and encourages me to learn it. I say ‘speziba’, which means thank you, for that is the only word which I don’t butcher.

Ege, from Turkey. He’s a little brother like I am. I saw the mischief in his eyes, one only which little brothers know too well of each other. We talked about how our sole purpose when we were younger was to annoy our older sisters. Operation annoy sister was the theme of our childhood.

Lastly, we have Anna. Anna is from England. She has a British accent and attends Cambridge. Growing up watching Harry, Ron, and Hermoine speak with their accents, I couldn’t help but dream that one day I could, too, speak like them. Unfortunately, I’ve never been able to reproduce those fancy sounding sounds. Anna tells me about life in England and traditions at Cambridge such as spraying each other with champagne at the end of the semester.

The six of us gather for a trip to the Burgenland. Let’s begin.

We start in Eisenstadt. You see this beautiful pagoda thing.

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And that’s it for Eisenstadt. There wasn’t much in this small town, at least in the time we had here.

Next was the city of Rust. This is a place where there is a stork on the top of every roof. Symbols of stork are everywhere. I always think of these birds carrying a newborn in a cloth, flying around, delivering babies to the doorsteps of unexpected families.

I would speak more about this city if only I could. We were occupied by more important matters; matters that made our minds restless with unease and difficulty. Riddles. Nastia had started the challenge of riddles. The first began in the restaurant at lunch. Here you see Praveen and Anna, two bright minds putting their all together, to solve the riddle posed by Nastia. The riddle is that there are nine dots arranged in a square. You can only draw four lines, how can you connect them all?

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Anna (left), Praveen (right).

Praveen and Anna solve the problem after a period of intense concentration. Nastia poses another about a bag within a bag, and then one that we didn’t solve for the better half of the next hour.

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Nastia (right) poses the riddle in a small church.

The riddle is there are three numbers: 1, 2, 3. You may ask only one question to the other person and they may respond only with Yes, No, or Maybe. Find out which number the person has in mind.

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Alena (right) and Praveen are stumped. Nastia pretends to be thinking.

Anna finally solves the riddle, relieving us of our troubles. We put these riddles behind us and continue on with our journey. The next stop: Lake Neusiedl, the largest lake in Austria.

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Group photo, (Ege is the one with sunglasses).

Anna tries Almdudler, a drink Praveen and I are quite fanatic about.

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We head back to Vienna. With the hours left in the day, we walk around, enjoying the city, falling into the comfort of the place we call home for this special summer of our lives.

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Had to include this one.

Trip Date: Saturday, June 24.