We were late getting away from Enzesfeld (we had to tear ourselves away) and we hadn’t really settled on our next destination. Zadar in Croatia appealed but at this time of the year (July and August), prices in Croatia are trebled and that kind of extortion never appeals.
We headed south and made it as far as Oberaich in Styria. We had found a small campsite in the back garden of a Gasthof – Gasthof Pickler – and decided to stay the one night. They were charging a reasonable price for the local beer and a very good Gruner Veltliner and the menu looked good.
It was late afternoon. That gave me time for a brief walk and a couple of beers before dinner. There is very little to Oberaich (other than a furniture store and a rather dilapidated Roman bridge) but, further along the road, up in the hills is another slightly larger hamlet known as Utschtal which provided nice views into the valley and, better still, has to be a serious contender for the village with the best kept gardens in Austria. Some of the gardens are stunning.
Some of the gardens were a riot of colour
And then it was back to Oberaich and the Gasthof Pickler for some beer and food. What a great find the GP was!
The Schlossberg, almost smack bang in the centre of Graz, doesn’t look that striking from down below (the summit is only 123 metres above the town) and, until I spoke to Gerhard over the ‘phone last night, I had written it off as being not worth the effort it would take to walk the 260+ steps to the top. I’m pleased he persuaded me otherwise. This morning I spent 2+ hours investigating different aspects of the hill and taking in some great views and I would certainly recommend it. For those not keen on steps, there are three alternatives means of getting to the top (a lift, a funicular railway and even a road around the back of the hill) but, the walk up is neither difficult nor exposed.
The start of the steps and a section of the ascent
The hill is steeped in history (there was a fortification there as long ago as the 10th century) and covered in interesting features, whether it be the Clock Tower (which is different from the great majority of other clocks in that the larger hand reflects hours and the smaller hand reflects minutes), the Liesl Bell (said to be made of metal from 101 Turkish cannons and therefore rung 101 times at 7am, 12pm and 7pm), the Hacker Lion, the Chinese Pavilion, the Turkish Well, the Starcke-Haus and the Schlossberg Stage to name but a few. It doesn’t end with the features on top of the hill; 6 kilometres of tunnels were built in and under the Schlossberg during World War II so as to provide protection for up to 48,000 people during Allied air raids.
The Uhrturm or Clock Tower and a view of the south of the city from behind the Tower
The Chinese Pavilion
The view south from the Schlossberg with the River Mur just visible in the lower right hand corner
Lunch followed at the Krebsenkeller on Sackstrasse (a very welcoming and comfortable restaurant but the food wasn’t great) and then it was shopping. I’m not a great one for shopping, especially now my wine cellar is full, but a visit to the Kastner & Ohler department store is a must for anyone interested in designer brands. For those not interested in designer brands, you should still visit the store but make straight for the tea room on the top floor and enjoy the view across to the Schlossberg.
A last walk around the city took me away from the main square (the Hauptplatz) and into the surrounding narrow lanes and arcades and, would you believe it(?), I stumbled on yet another Irish Bar (the Molly Malone) although I gave this one a miss.
Reflecting upon the last week or two, I have spent the majority of my time in cities (Zurich, Munich, Vienna and Graz). Time to head for the mountains, lakes and rivers. Slovenia, here I come.
Very reluctantly left Enzesfeld this morning for Graz but if I’d stayed any longer I might never have left and I am already gaining too much weight. Many thanks to the Family Dedic for making me feel so welcome. Words cannot express…
Of course, having left my summer tyres with Profi Reifen, Leobersdorfer Strasse 153 (I record those details here because I know I’ll forget them), I will have to return in the Spring. Great stuff! See you then if not before.
The journey down the A2 motorway from Vienna to Graz went very well (it was brilliant sunshine and beautiful scenery all the way) and even the view from a motorway service station wasn’t bad. I did the necessary diesel stop and I also took time out at the village of Bad Waltersdorf to fill the Van’s garage with Gruner Veltliner. Well, there’s room now I’ve been able to unload the tyres that were changed at Colmar.
View from the motorway service station on the A2
View of the Bad Waltersdorf church from the local supermarket together with a photo of one of the Gruner Veltliner’s I bought.
Graz operate a camper van Stellplatz (which accommodates up to 160 vehicles although there are only 3 here now – GPS N47,02472 E15,39694) and it is a simple 15 minute journey by bus from this Stellplatz into the city centre. I popped into the town for a couple of hours to get my bearings and I will return tomorrow morning to see a bit more but what is left of this evening will be given over to the Gruner Veltliner I opened earlier and to determining whether I travel into Hungary, Slovenia or Italy tomorrow. Time will tell.
First view of Graz from a bridge over the river. Graz, like eveywhere else, seems preoccupied with putting up Christmas decorations but, upside down hanging Christmas trees?!?
I wouldn’t mind but these Christmas market stalls in Germany and Austria are spoiling a great many photos – Bah! Humbug! Interesting that the Opera House is about to show Verdi’s Il Trovatore which I last saw on my 50th at the Prague Opera House.