The “world’s most beautiful dead end”
After visiting the Kleinwalsertal in Western Austria, I now find myself in the Lower Austrian Waldviertel once again. Klein-Nondorf 4 is the delicate-sounding address of the Biohof Besenbäck organic farm, around an hour’s drive from my home town of Krems an der Donau. ‘A whole summer long they were up there’, Fritz points to the main road, ‘weeks of construction work. The traffic was redirected and then went straight past us. It was rather noisy for a bit! Because, in fact, the thing that sets us apart is the peace and quiet. This lovely sense of serenity. Our guests love and value that too.’ After the intermezzo of traffic, Klein-Nondorf was “declared” a dead-end street. This means that it sits right at the end of the valley and is certainly a worthwhile trip destination. Like Grandma Rienesl, the Besenbäck family now make me promise to come back. Because...
Fritz Besenbäck is an excellent wood carving artist. Doing a creative course like this at his place in the forest, that would certainly be something!
Fritz lovingly looks over his creations. He modestly says that ‘the wood already has everything’, and as an artist, you simply need to do what it says. Of course, many years of practice and perfectionism went into his works, the mastery of which is evident when comparing his creations with my own prior attempts at wood carving. Awe-struck, I look around the Besenbäck family’s organic farm, dotted with Fritz’s works.
The family’s long tradition of friendly hospitality is evidenced by Grandpa as well, as he takes me by the hand and leads me to a week-old calf in the barn: ‘Look!’ What a peaceful experience: The little calf is dozing on his straw bed, surrounded by his mother and “aunties and cousins”, watching over him.
Biohof Besenbäck: All of this is an embodiment of values like honesty, originality, craftsmanship and authenticity. ‘The view from the window...’
Judith Besenbäck emphasises to me once again, as we look at the beautiful holiday homes “Valentina”, “Flora”, and “Elisa”, ‘is what really takes our guests’ breath away. They’re always so happy to see “simply nothing”’ – ‘no noise, no distractions, just this picturesque, peaceful, and beautiful countryside’, I finish, dreamily, and nod to Judith in understanding. And then, when Sheila the horse is grazing in front of the window, the chickens are running around squawking and the cows are looking for a sunny spot on the meadow, the heavenly organic farm experience is complete. ‘Of course, you have to love what you do,’ Fritz reiterates over coffee and cakes, and later as we enjoy lunch together. ‘Running a farm and a hotel, both to a healthy degree without taking on too much, and looking after the family and having enough time for my wood carving as well: I think, at the end of the day, the guests sense that everybody is well here. These are the things that we stand for and the reasons why people keep returning: we take the time to be attentive, to take care of what we have, and there’s no smoke and mirrors here, we’re simply honest.’ Right now, that seems very apt, I add silently. And I smile. ‘Come on, dinner’s ready’, Judith interjects, interrupting my almost philosophical discussion with Fritz. Before joining us, she had merrily ground her own flour from spelt grains to make the Gemüsespätzle cooking in the pan, and the taste is authentic, hearty and simply excellent. ‘Thanks’, I say while savouring the delicious food, and send a meaningful smile across the table. She seems to respond with a tacit ‘any time, Elena’, followed by ‘we’d love to do a wood carving course with you next!’