Graciously Graz

Posted by jswt | Posted in General | Posted on 26-02-2012

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After cold months through eastern bloc countries, we popped over to Austria for a week in Graz which was really great. The sun had come out, and the week we were there was essentially their Halloween and they partied in costume for the whole week including a giant parade one day. That night the city was packed with the local university students dancing in the streets as all the bars set up streetfront bars and stages and had music going in the squares – we walked into one area that must have had 3-4000 people all just dancing, and smiling and being seriously merry.

The city is gorgeous, having never been bombed out during the war, and there’s a huge mountain fortress right beside the city that’s great for hiking. This being one of the first sunny times of the year, the mountain was covered in Austrians just laying about drinking up the sun, and sipping coffees in the little restaurants at the top (the beer garden doesn’t open until summer – sigh). Right in the middle of the mountain, there’s old bunkers, and one’s been turned into a giant club that fills a whole cave. Big respect to the Austrians for knowing how to party really really well and enjoy life.

On Saturday we had a day off so we rented a car and drove out to a hot springs resort/town called Bad Blumau, about an hour from Graz. It was full for the day (tip: call ahead for reservations on weekends!), but somehow we talked them into letting us come back later, so we whittled away the afternoon driving around the hills of Austria having our own Sound of Music singalong, and picking our route by heading randomly towards the oddest sounding villages. We ended up at a castle along the way which doubled as the Austrian Study Centre for Peace and Conflict resolution – a noble academy indeed. Lunch of beer and schnitzel, some weird dirt roads through forests, and then back to the resort for a *fantastic* soak in their well developed hot springs – one of the best developed hot springs I’ve ever been to: big indoor and outdoor areas (with a volcano!), giant sauna space downstairs, bars, restaurants. The whole resort is done up like a bedouin Hobbit lair reimagined by Dr Seuss – seriously, the asthetic is odd, but really unique and kinda cool. After a good soak, we rolled back to Graz and sunk into a deep sleep.

Tip: Restaurant Der Steirer is good eats, a great wine list and very reasonably priced. Worth seeking out.

Anyways, our week in Graz was lovely – even if it’s just a small town, I’d go back in a heartbeat… the people are incredibly friendly and fun, the city’s surrounded by accessible nature, and it’s just an absolutely gorgeously cute place.

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