In the green, green Graz of home that is Austria we headed to Styria for a long-weekend break in Austria’s second largest city.
The two and a half hour trip is a picturesque journey, albeit with a stop start average speed as works continue to improve the road and maintain the mass of tunnels, some of which are more than 10km long. Halfway through the longest tunnel the outside temperature had risen from -2 when we entered to +20!
As well as being in a much more ethnically diverse region Graz has a few obvious landmarks which rise above the city, notably the clock tower and the castle which sit on a hill right in the heart of the city.
As well as the free entertainment on offer the Christmas markets were all in full swing and tourists and locals alike packed the clock tower surrounds. The murmur of different conversations in Italian, Russian and other Slavic languages, as well as German, made it a very different feeling to being at home in Gmunden.
As in most Austrian cities and town the Rathausplatz is the city’s central hub, packed full of people feasting on street food and drinking mulled wine wrapped up snugly against the weather. Given the lack of variety in the Upper Austrian food scene Graz offered much more choice and we took advantage of these delights by sampling Thai (fabulous), Spanish (disappointing) and then a real beefburger (spot on).
A few kilometres out of the city in the village of Gösting sits the remains of an 11th century fortress guarding the river Mur into the city. The leisurely but steep hike up to the castle through the forest is pleasant enough but it was certainly no warmer than in the city as we posed for photos and smiled through chattering teeth.
Back to the aptly named Hotel Daniel for a cup of tea – Lou now insists on taking a kettle and Yorkshire Tea with her if she has been able to ascertain that these do not come with the hotel room. That’s my girl!!!