Siblings See Slovenia

Saturday, April 26, 2014


Our second morning in Klagenfurt was beautiful and sunny as we headed out to find breakfast. Dianne's spider sense didn't disappoint as she led us right to a bustling farmer's market near the Lindwurm square. Here's a tip: follow anyone carrying a basket and they'll lead you someplace to fill it. We wandered among stalls filled with beautiful breads, pastries, cheeses, meats, herbs, veggies galore. Mike found a pretzel three times the size of any he'd ever had the pleasure of eating before! 

      ( This is Mike--very happy)

  (Soup for breakfast that reminded us of Oma's noodle soup) 

Dianne got verklempt when we came across a flower stall--the lily of the valley reminded her of Opa and his garden.


Off we went to retrace the footsteps of Mom and Tante's childhood. Just a short drive away, we came to the little village of Ratzendorf--where they spent 7 years in a barrack. Tucking the car off to the side of the road, we were promptly greeted by a wee dog we dubbed "ratzen-dog" who seemed to lead us, like an angel, part way up the hill towards a cluster of houses.

At the fork in the road we chose to go right, leading us to two women who happened to be in their yard. After the exchange of hellos, next came the usual question: "do you speak English". No was the response, but they quickly called over their neighbour who was doing the lawn who in turn called over his wife. She, Isabella, was kind enough to be our impromptu translator and we quickly found out the elderly woman KNEW Oma and Opa and their girls. They--Trude and her daughter, Trude--told us where the barracks had been and kindly invited us for coffee, which we happily accepted. 

In fact, as we stood on the corner showed them old photos from the journal I had brought, Isabella's husband, Peter, noticed that THAT spot was where this picture was taken of Mom and Tante!

  (Some trees have grown in, but I think he's right)

(Just behind us at the end of the lane on the left is where the barracks were located)

      (The view from the barracks site)

    (New building in place of barrack)
            (Trude & Trude Mrak)
 (the Scheliessnig farm on the main road--read on later for how we found this out!!)

     (Talking to Frau Scharl Marlies who remembers Mom and Tante too)
      (Our friendly translator and her family)

Coming upon this family and the Mrak's was truly a delight and, without them, the visit would be devoid of the precious information we received from them. 

Filled with information and caffeine, we walked to school just like Mom and Tante did for years. 


(The graveyard as you enter the town is where Opa's dad is buried, but the grave can't be found)

              (Beautiful plots)
     (You know this will be a painting!)

         (The church they went to every Sunday, where mass was in Latin and the priest had his back to the congregation)

  (Right behind the church sits their school which is now a museum of some kind)

(Behind the school is where Mom remembers playing--we imagined her climbing this tree. Apparently for art classes they sketched the trees)

   (Painting inside the church)

Ok, so here's the story of the Scheliessnig farm:

When we were inside the church, there were musicians playing lovely baroque music. I sat down in a pew near the front to imagine my family sitting there years ago, and watched the musicians pack up. I asked a man near me if they were recording a CD because there were mics hanging above the altar. No, they were rehearsing for a concert they were doing this evening which he insisted we must see. He, Stephan, had organized a group of 9 singers and a handful of string instrumentalists. We chatted a bit about why we were here, and he told me he lived in Maria SAAL but his family's farm is...the one we had taken a picture of an hour earlier. This fact went from interesting to fantastic when we face-timed Mom after the concert (yes, Dianne and I did go), she told us that they knew the Scheliessnig's well--that one of them was actually Tante's confirmation sponsor.

   (Stephan invited us to have coffee with the musicians in a beautiful house nearby that was a home to writers he said--must look into this)

      (A beautiful shed)
       (Walking back to RATZENDORF in the rain. Mike showing off his fancy German backpack with it's own raincover)

    (Late lunch in Klagenfurt. Wiener Schnitzel and kasespetzle (like Austrian poutine)

     (Back at church for concert at 7)
          (A night I'll not forget!)

Might I say--I guess if you've read this far a few more words won't kill you--that this day has been THE BEST!

Had an excited chat with Mom, blogged and now it's bedtime. Sigh...


  1. Wow, that is awesome. Ratzen dog, love it.

  2. William has requested a pretzel, LOL!!!!!! I request that painting you mention earlier, please. I cried when I read about how you discovered and met all these people, so happy for you guys.

  3. What a great experience to connect with your family's past and meet people who knew Oma and Opa. Too bad your mom and Tante weren't there.