Day 229: Exploring GrazOctober 1, 2017 in Austria
Busy day of exploring today! Graz (pronounced Gratz) is Austria's second-largest city, and the only major place in Austria we hadn't already visited. The old centre is of course a UNESCO world heritage site, so we were keen to check it out!
Had a hotel breakfast (first time in a long time!), then walked down into the old part of the city (we were staying about a kilometre outside near the train station). We basically just kind of wandered around for the next few hours, soaking in the sites and filming at a few different spots.
It's quite an interesting mix, since it's much more of a cross-roads than other cities nearby, so you can feel the influence of several different cultures (Germanic from the north, Balkan from the south, Orthodox from the east). It also survived the upheavals of the 19th and 20th centuries (ie mass artillery and bombing) mostly intact, so there are probably more old buildings here than in nearby Vienna.
Stopped at a nice-looking restaurant for lunch and had some traditional food - Shandos had sausages and I had a mixed meat plate of pork & chicken, some fried and some grilled. With biers, of course. Took a while to get the bill but then we were back out amongst it.
As there often is, Graz has a large steep rock sticking out of the middle of the city with a castle built on top, so we caught the lift up and checked it out. It was once reckoned as the world's strongest fortress, and even Napoleon with the might of the Grand Armee couldn't capture it. In the end, Graz surrendered anyway as the French threatened to burn Vienna to the ground if they didn't. What a dirty trick!
After this the fortress was pulled down, so there's actually very little of the battlements left now. Though there is a clock tower perched at the front of the hill which looks very cool. The tower has existed since the 13th century, though obviously the clock was added much later! Also interesting to see that the clock used a large hand for hours and a smaller hand for minutes - when it was installed the concept of "minutes" hadn't been invented and wouldn't have been useful in any case!
(If you're wondering, "minutes" were only really fleshed out as a concept in the early 19th century with the advent of railways. Prior to this it wasn't really necessary to know the time any more accurately than the hour!).
Wrapping up our filming we headed back down into the old city, where we chilled out in an outdoor cafe for a while. We'd done a fair bit of walking, and though it wasn't hot it was definitely warm in the sun! Back home where we relaxed for a little while before heading back out to a nearby Asian restaurant for dinner. It was kind of a pan-Asian restaurant, where you could get sushi, Thai curry, Chinese dumplings and so on, so I didn't have great hopes. In the end my Thai curry was OK, nice and spicy but very very oily. The sushi at a nearby table looked good, but I was dubious about ordering raw seafood on a Sunday night in a land-locked country!Read more