A Travellerspoint blog

Austria

Hercules and the Lindworm

Klagenfurt


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My first time with Airbnb today. I fly from Klagenfurt to Hamburg very early tomorrow morning, and I was thinking I'd have to spend the night at the main train station, as the airport isn't 24 hours and no hostels were available at all, but Airbnb came to the rescue. It's been a luxury being able to cook for myself and use the washing machine!

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The bus journey from Graz this morning took two hours; I split that time between gazing out of the window at the often magnificent scenery and reading a very interesting travel book about Welsh-speaking communities around the world.

Klagenfurt is lovely, like a mini Graz.

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Unlike Graz, however, it has intriguing statues of a lindworm and Hercules in the main square. The former, part of a fountain, dates from 1590 and the latter from 1633. This represents an old German tale from the 13th century of a lindworm near Klagenfurt. An interesting reminder to me that these tales of 'Worms' (really, dragons or serpents), appear in local folklore across Germanic and Scandinavian Europe, not just the UK.

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Apparently the head of the statue was modelled on the skull of a woolly rhinoceros found in a quarry in 1335.

Posted by 3Traveller 12:35 Archived in Austria Tagged austria buses klagenfurt explorations Comments (2)

Back in Graz

Deutschlandsberg and Graz


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It was another beautiful sunny day as I said goodbye to Deutschlandsberg and took the train back to Graz.

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I'm at A&O Hostel Graz Hauptbahnhof, where I stayed last Saturday. Since I got back here I've had another lovely walk around the historic centre, taking in the sunshine, beautiful architecture and the view from the Murinsel, a tiny manmade island on the river Mur.

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I also went to the Dom, admired the Gothic and Baroque interior and lit a candle.

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I also admired a fresco on one of the exterior walls which is kept behind glass because of its historical importance; although religious in theme, it contains the earliest depiction of the city of Graz. Unfortunately my photos of it didn't turn out well due to the reflections on the glass.

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Tomorrow I spend the night in Klagenfurt before I fly to Hamburg and take the train from there to Lübeck on Sunday.

Posted by 3Traveller 02:28 Archived in Austria Tagged bridges art trains austria cathedral hostel graz unesco_world_heritage_site deutschlandsberg Comments (2)

In the middle of Austrian wine country

Deutschlandsberg


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When I arrived in Deutschlandsberg last Sunday after a smooth 55-minute train journey from Graz, I was picked up from the station by the guesthouse owner and taken on a brief driven surprise tour of the town, including the little castle which lies on a hill overlooking the town. Deutschlandsberg lies in wine country, as I could see from the fields of vines on each side. There was an amazing view from the castle; apparently you can get married there - a stunning setting, to be sure. I'd heard that it contains an interesting museum; this turned out to be true, but apparently it's closed for the winter. The restaurant there - a very good one, apparently - is also closed until April.

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The town itself is small but very pleasant to walk round, with colourful buildings, market stalls, a peaceful atmosphere and some Konditorei for coffee, hot chocolate, beers and cake.

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This evening we climbed one of the hills surrounding the town.

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The course I was teaching this week went well. It was general English, which I have lots of experience in, but for the first time ever I had to prepare one of the groups for a show. It felt quite strange to be acting more like a drama teacher than as an English one. The show was good considering how little time they had to create a script and rehearse (it was a 4-day course rather than the normal 5), though there were definitely areas that could have been more polished. The story that the class and I came up with was a modern retelling of Cinderella with some role reversal and the appearance of one or two characters from other fairy tales.

It was an informal show, only performed to another class rather than to the whole school and/ or to parents; I was quite grateful for that because it was my first Show and because of the said lack of enough rehearsal time! Next week there isn't a Show because it's an exam prep booster course, but in my final week of this contract there is one, so I've already had a couple of ideas for how to streamline the deciding-on-the-type-of-show and the scriptwriting stages.

Posted by 3Traveller 10:06 Archived in Austria Tagged landscapes market austria english_teaching fortifications deutschlandsberg Comments (1)

UNESCO World Heritage Site: City of Graz - Historic Centre

Graz


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After a smooth and uneventful journey from Maribor I got to Graz Hauptbahnhof (the main train station) at about 11:30 and easily found my way to my hostel round the corner. The hostel is huge - my dorm is on the 4th floor - and feels more like a hotel; it feels a bit sterile, but serves my needs. They did annoy me a bit at check-in though by charging me 3.5 euros extra for bed linen - making this an extra cost, and a mandatory one at that (for people who haven't brought a sleeping bag), seems rather cheeky!

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Anyway, I had all afternoon to explore, so explore I did! The historic centre of Graz is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it's easy to see why! I found it absolutely enchanting.

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After wandering the streets for a while (and buying a fridge magnet) I headed to the Schlossberg, a bastion on a limestone crag which overlooks the rest of the city. For the sake of exercise, and the general experience, I chose to take the path instead of the lift or the funicular. The views from the top were well worth it!

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The buildings on the Schlossberg were closed for the winter, but it was still lovely to walk round. Aside from the bastion itself, built in the 1540s, there are terraces, a small 19th century pagoda, and two clock towers.

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One of these clock towers is a symbol of the city, and the townspeople are incredibly proud of it. In fact, when Napoleon invaded in 1809, they successfully bribed him not to destroy it.

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Before returning to ground level I had a delicious apple strudel at a cafe perched dramatically on the side if the crag and bastion. I had it with a 'kleiner mokka' coffee, which itself came with a small wrapped chocolate sweet and (like all the hot drinks I've had so far this trip) a glass of cold water. I was just thinking to myself earlier that I needed to have apple strudel at least once before I left Austria, so this was a great place to have it!

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Once I'd walked back down the path again I wandered the streets again for a bit before returning to the hostel via Billa, where I stocked up on sandwiches, grapes and drinks for tomorrow, and the Hauptbahnhof, where I bought my ticket in advance. I'd probably be fine to leave getting it until tomorrow, but better safe than sorry when it's important I get to Deutschlandsberg - my next teaching destination - sooner rather than later tomorrow!

Posted by 3Traveller 03:07 Archived in Austria Tagged trains austria hostel clock_tower graz explorations fortifications unesco_world_heritage_site austrian_cuisine Comments (1)

The Oberstadt

Bregenz


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Update from October 2019: I later found out that the curious object is a mummified shark!

Last day of teaching this week, as it was a short course.

By the time we got back to the guesthouse after school it was 14:30; after only a brief stop we headed out again, into the city centre. I wanted to go to the Oberstadt, the oldest part of town, and H wanted to do some shopping, so after hot chocolates at a bakery we split up and agreed to meet up again at 18:00.

The Oberstadt (as you may have guessed from the name) looks out over the rest of the city from a hill. After following a cobbled path up the hill I reached the old fortified city gate, which had hanging from it the most curious object - it looked like a stuffed or model hybrid animal, like a cross between a dried-up shark and a bird.

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As I stood there two women and a toddler came up with sledges and rode down the path I'd just come up. Their dog ran along beside them but didn't try to catch a lift!

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Out of interest, I've seen surprisingly few people playing in the snow here in Austria. No snowmen or snowball fights. Maybe because they're so used to snow here, they go skiing as a matter of course at weekends, but don't go crazy about snow in more casual ways like people do in the UK.

Anyway, back to the Oberstadt. It was small but picturesque and I was almost the only non-local person there the whole time. I imagine it gets a lot busier in the tourist season!

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I walked down the other side via a smaller cobbled path, then up again and came out by the Church of St Gallus, the church I had come across on Monday. It was closed, so I walked round the outside instead. The snow was deep in places. I came across a small plot of WWII graves on one side; in place of headstones they had thin metal decorated crosses.

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Nearby the church I saw this Christmas-decorated tree in someone's garden;

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On my way back to where we'd agreed to meet up I got a bit lost, but found my way in the end!

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On our way back to the guesthouse we stopped at a big Interspar supermarket to stock up for our journeys tomorrow, before having some pizza at a small Turkish café. The people working there were incredibly friendly.

Posted by 3Traveller 02:53 Archived in Austria Tagged churches art snow austria bregenz explorations fortifications Comments (0)

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