Travelers get taste of Austria during Iowa tripPublished 11:57am Saturday, July 7, 2012
We discovered a way to visit Austria for an afternoon.
No planes to catch, no strange hotels and no bags to pack. This was our most recent trip this summer. We experienced hospitality by visiting Villa Comagena, located on a farm near Shellsburg, Iowa.
The home we visited has been remodeled to resemble an Austrian farmhouse. The name Villa Comagena is derived from the Austrian word “villa,” meaning building. Comagena is also the name of the town our host, Inge, came from.
Inge was born about 20 miles from Vienna, a city on the Danube River. She grew up during war time when the Russians were still occupying the country. After World War II, Austria was divided into four world powers that were divided into the Russian sector.
The Austrians were tested by Russian officers each week on learning Russian and reciting the vocabulary. The Russian officers stood by (with guns) to hear what they had learned. Inge remembers the vocabulary yet to this day.
Inge, at age 15, fled Austria and moved with her family to Canada. Her father was a soldier during Hitler’s domination. She met her husband-to-be while working during her college years. She said he traveled to Canada to fish while she was hunting, and their love story bloomed quickly.
She now shares her Austrian stories to groups near Shellsburg and many bus groups.
Her European hospitality really came through when she served Austrian food made from scratch. The guests were seated in the charming home with fine linens and china. Five or six desserts were already on small plates in front of each seat, and we were warned to clean our plate before our Austrian coffee and the individual desserts.
Inge also plans trips to her homeland and neighboring countries. She speaks several languages and is like a personal representative of each country.
Our group of travelers have made several trips with her and get that ‘like home’ feeling when we stop at homes and places where she grew up and now enjoys revisiting.
July 12: We will host our annual mystery trip. We have a couple of openings due to late cancellations. The mystery of the trip is the destination and location of stops.
Here is the first clue for the trip:
“We’ll warm you up, don’t look for a cave, its history we’re after, don’t look for a train.”
Here is the second clue:
“We’re not pulling the wool over your eyes. There will be a joyful sound. Another new destination is what Oliver has found.”
Mystery trip departs at noon and returns at 10:30 p.m.
July 25: Xanadu at Chanhassen Dinner Theaters.
Aug. 30: Minnesota State Fair
Sept. 6-7: Fireside Theater at Fort Atkinson, Wis. New Glarus, Wis., on day 2.
Watch dates for fees due on the trips.