Hemingway in Graz

Austria’s old scholar center Graz is a quiet town on the Mur River. In 2003, it was pronounced for the European Capital of Culture. For that occasion they built the Museum of Contemporary Art – Kunsthaus, a hyper-modern structure very different from surrounding area. I was very pleased when I bought a nice watch in shop within the museum. It was of unique and unusual design; very affordable considering that you can’t buy it anywhere else.

My company and I proceeded along the riverbank and after a while, a futuristic bubble emerged behind the trees. It was Murinsel, a floating island on Mur River, also erected when Graz was the European Capital of Culture. A steel construction was connected to the land with two bridges; the central part was shaped as upside-down seashell. We enjoyed some coffee near the water, in Murinsel’s café.

Hauptplatz, the main square of Graz, is a cheerful place where you can eat from karts both local and foreign food, because in the recent years, a lot of immigrants from Far East, Turkey and Balkans live here. I wanted to try the local cuisine, so I ate some sausages with mustard and black bread and beer. For desert I had Apfelstrudel (apple cake).

After I had some beer in park’s café, I was too lazy to get up from the lazybag chair and go for sightseeing, so my companions left me here and went to Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (Herz-Jesu-Kirche) and Styrian Armoury (Landeszeughaus).

We met again at Schlossberg, a castle on top of the hill. Of course, I went up by elevator, while my friends chose a bit more challenging way – the stairs. We watched the city as the night was falling. I had another beer…

Next day in Vienna, I was pleasantly surprised to see some seats and a big screen in front of the opera house (Staatsoper), where people could enjoy the show even when they don’t have enough money for the ticket. The opera house’s staff was dressed in costumes from Mozart’s time.

Near the opera, there was Sacher hotel & bar where first Sacher cake was made. The waiter brought us a few pieces of cake with some cream aside. It was de-licious, but I can honestly say that I’ve had much better cakes for far less money. Ah, well, I guess this is the price for the brand and location…

We walked through the park around Schönbrunn Palace, a beautiful baroque building. Once, this was the home of the royal family, but today it’s a museum with over 2 million tourists every year.

At last, we sat in front of the Gloriette and enjoyed the view. The Schönbrunn gardens are magnificent, in French style with mazes and fountains.

Being a child in heart, I had to visit Prater, the old entertaining park dated from 1766. There are probably better entertaining parks in the world, but none of them has such a long history. Once the hunger overpowered fun, we went to Schweizerhaus, a place of local cuisine by the park. I especially recommend the baked pork in beer and honey with some mustard or horseradish aside. And a pint of beer, of course…

One thing I was most excited to see was the Hundertvasserhaus, an interesting and unusual apartment complex, with colorful and alive facade.

Vienna’s Central Cemetery (Zentralfriedhof) is not just the resting place of the deceased; it is also a place for strolling and having a break on the grass. After we visited a few famous composers’ graves and some other interesting places (I’ve never visited a Buddhist graveyard before!), we sat on the grass and opened a bottle of beer. In a blink of an eye a squirrel ran over, near my feet.

For our next destination we chose to take the boat ride to Slovakia’s capital Bratislava, only an hour and a half away from Vienna. I was relived with the fact that I won’t have to drive from now on. I don’t want to worry about speed cameras and parking spots. Or my alcohol levels…


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