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UNESCO World Heritage Site: Hanseatic City of Lübeck

Klagenfurt, Hamburg and Lübeck


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On Sunday I arrived in Lübeck knackered after half a day of travel; a walk to Klagenfurt Hauptbahnhof early this morning, a short train ride from there to the airport station, walking from there down the road to the tiny airport itself, a long wait there, an hour and a half's flight over some spectacular mountainous scenery to Hamburg, the S-bahn train to Hamburg Hauptbahnhof, a 40-minute train to Lübeck and then another 40 minutes' walk to the budget hotel.

Klagenfurt Airport (or, to be precise, Kärnten Airport) was one of the smallest airports I've ever been to, beating only Baltra and Catamayo airports in Ecuador for size.

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I had a window seat on the flight so I managed to get some pictures of the mountains.

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I haven't got many photos from Lübeck itself, mainly because the weather wasn't particularly nice for most of it, and secondly because both the school and our hotel were outside of the centre so I was often too knackered to go out again once we'd returned from school. There were a couple of exceptions though which I will describe below.

One of the few sunny times during the week was on Monday afternoon when some of us went for a little walk down the side of the river Trave.

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On Tuesday we were given a short tour of the historic centre by some of the lovely English department. It was done at quite a pace, because we had a booking at a restaurant we couldn't be late for, so I didn't have time to get many photos. For such a historic place, the centre of Lübeck does have a couple of streets which look more like a typical anonymous post-war British high street; this is because those streets were bombed by the Allies during the war. Amongst other places we passed there was the historic Rathaus, the Marienkirche with its Devil statue outside and a couple of historic alleyways leading to courtyard cottages, built three to four hundred years ago for poorer people when the city expanded (the passageways are narrow but had to be wide enough to carry coffins through).

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Dinner at the restaurant we were booked into consisted (for me and most of the others) of their speciality, flammkuchen. Flammkuchen is common in Germany and Eastern France (and I've had it once before in Luxembourg); a lot like pizza, with an extremely thin base, and creme fraiche instead of tomato sauce. Delicious!

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On Thursday afternoon we went into the town centre to have coffee and cake. We went to Café Niederegger, which is within the most historic and famous marzipan shop in Lübeck. I didn't end up feeling like cake, so I had Swiss Rösti, which came with a fried egg, bacon and cucumber slices. The café was very atmospheric; displays of fancy silver spoons and other cutlery on the walls, classical music playing in the background, elegant decoration. Marzipan featured heavily in the menu, and was piled up in various forms in the shop downstairs. If only I liked it! Marzipan lovers would be in heaven in Lübeck. I did end up trying a piece at school, and it was a lot nicer than any I've had before (not sickly sweet), but still not something I'd really bother buying for myself.

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I am leaving Lübeck with the feeling that I didn't fully make the most of being there. I wish I'd explored more, despite being tired and having prep to do for work each day. There's a great museum here which I never managed to get to - the European Hansemuseum, about the Hanseatic League and the part Lübeck played as the leading city within it. I would also have liked to have gone inside the Holstentor, one of the two remaining city gates and the symbol of the city. I will just have to come back to Lübeck another time!

Posted by 3Traveller 04:25 Archived in Germany Tagged mountains airport austria germany lübeck unesco_world_heritage_site german_cuisine Comments (0)

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)

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