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Monday, December 6, 2010

Trip to Graz/Gradec, Austria

Click the photo below to see the map of our Slovenia tour 2010.

Sloveniatour 2010
Graz (Slovenian Gradec, with around 260.000 inhabitants) is the second biggest Austrian town and the last destination of our Slovenia tour 2010. I thought it would be great, if my girlfriend, who saw towns like Piran, Trieste, Bled and Maribor, also sees another medieval gem in this part of Europe. Graz is not only the hometown of the actor and soon to be former governator Arnold Schwarzenegger, it's also one of the European cities with the best preserved medieval centers, which is even protected by the UNESCO. From the 12th to the early 20th century Graz used to be the capital city of Styria, a duchy within the Austrian monarchy, which included big parts of today's northeastern Slovenia, including my hometown Maribor. For a long time Graz was the economic and cultural center of this part of the world. It also had one of the first universities in the area and many famous Slovenians in the past (and even today) got their education in Graz, that's why the city is also important for the history of Slovenians (more info about Graz here).

FUN FACT: The name "Graz" originates from Old Slovenian "Gradec" (pronounced Grah·dets), which means "Small castle". Interestingly, "Maribor" originates from Old German "Marchburg", which means "Castle in the border region". Well, this just proves that in the past Slovenians and Germans used to live on the both sides of the border.

Now you know, why I had to bring my girlfriend there. I'm sorry, this post is photo intensive, but I really like Graz's old town and want to show you all the beautiful spots. See my 4o photos of Graz, Austria's second biggest city:

Our trip started near Maribor and lead us over the border to Austria.

We needed about 35min and we reached the suburbs.

We were lucky to find an empty parking spot. A bit far from the center, but still ok.

We had to walk like 15min along this road, where many immigrants live.

On a Bosnian restaurant. She's a singer and she surely has a lot to offer.

The river Mur that flows through Graz also flows through Slovenia, we call it Mura.

The Franciscan church originates from the 13th/14th century.

That's where we enter the center of Graz.

I knew where I wanted to bring my girlfriend: To the Town hall building.

And this is one of the most impressive buildings in Graz: The Town hall or Rathaus.

The Hauptplatz or Main square in Graz.

The famous Herrengasse, which is the most popular street in the center if Graz.

That's how the tram looks like in Graz.

And then we went to have a nice dessert. It was getting hot and we saw a big queue of people in front of an ice cream shop called Charly Temmel. The common sense says, if there are many people around a certain shop, it has to be good. So we gave it a try.

The ice cream was really yummy! I highly recommend.

A view on the Herrengasse (literally Gentleman street).

The Mariensäule (Mary column) with a fountain.

The Stadtpfarrkirche church from the 18th century looks nice.

We left the Herrengasse and explored some other parts.

This part had a Mediterranean atmosphere.

I love cities, where people hang out and fill up the restaurants on the streets.

Walking to the northern part of Graz, I wanted us to go atop the castle hill.

This part is lovely as well, but we went the wrong way.

Ehm... do you love yours? :P

Judging by the accent, this girl with the gnarly hairdo was American.

And we finally reached the stairways to the Schloßberg (Castle hill).

I was afraid that my usually clumsy girlfriend will trip, that's why I had to escort her up like a bodyguard. I'm not really comfortable climbing such stairs, but it was really worth it.

The view was getting better and better.

And then: Ta-dah! The Town hall building.

This is the Urhturm (Clock tower) located atop of Schloßberg (Castle hill).

The name Castle hill indicates a castle, which doesn't stand here for over 2 centuries. When Napoleon's army came to Graz in the early 19th century, they destroyed the old castle, but the citizens offered money in exchange to keep the Clock tower and Glockenturm (Bell tower) intact. The French invaders agreed and today the two towers are famous landmarks of the city.

A nice garden on top of the hill.


The whole area was lovely, however we couldn't stay here too long, the sky was getting gray and I suggested that we leave the top and go back down and home. I feared a storm.

It's gotten really gray, but luckily we weren't caught in the rain.

We passed by the Murinsel (Mur island), a floating platform, built in 2003.

The view on the Castle hill.

And then we came back and most of the cars were gone. Luckily ours wasn't.

Graz is definitely worth a visit. Even if your main destination is Slovenia, go for a day trip to Austria and visit this city. It's clean and very beautiful. Compared to Maribor, it attracts a lot of foreign immigrants, be it from ex Yugoslavia, Turkey, Africa or Asia. It will give you the feeling of being in a big cosmopolitan city, but with a small town atmosphere. However, compared to Vienna, Graz is a small town, so don't expect too much. Compared to Maribor, Graz is a big city.

My rating of Graz:

Great place for photos ✰✰✰✰✰
Well preserved and clean ✰✰✰✰✰
Toilets, parking, souvenirs ✰✰✰✰✰
Friendly to tourists ✰✰✰✰✰

Maribor: City of towers :Before [Slovenia Tour 2010] The tour ends here.

[My MARIBOR page][All photos by MKL, 2010]

22 COMMENTS:

you sure do a lot of traveling! :)
I have a friend who is half Thai half Austrian :P Now I know how Austria looks like :p
your gf is always so photogenic! I like her skirt :P

@*~kAy~*: Well, this place is close to my hometown, so it's not really traveling. But actually I travel a lot, this year I broke a record, haha. Won't be like this in 2011. Or maybe it will, no idea :)

Yes, her skirt was good, I can accept :P

Hi, MKL! Thanks for bringing photos from my grandmother's birth-town. She was already gone when I have been born but I visited the town years ago. So your photos brought nice memories. Although I haven't seen the floating platform :)

@Traveling Hawk: It's a small world, huh :) Glad to bring some memories back to you.

That's so cool that Arnold grew up there. I'm not totally fascinated by him, but I do appreciate his dedication to his two vastly different careers as a body builder and the governor.
Ah the view up castle hill is very nice!
Might your "clumsy" girlfriend say you're clumsy as well? :P Those stairs don't seem too bad - they look quite modern and not falling apart like a ton of other stairs I'm sure we've both climbed up for nice views, no? And I always despise climbing down more than up because I have to look down and it just looks like, wow, a dangerous fall if I lose my footing :S
That is quite a unique platform - that Murinsel. It just looks so futuresque in that river!

I love this post right from the start till finish. Nice clear shots and structured guided virtual tour. Would enjoy having my coffee on the street cafes. So this is the hometown of 'I'll be back' Terminator. Castle Hill would be a good climb and scenic view from the top. tQ

A friend of my ex boyfriend used to study in Graz, but I've never been there UNLUCKILY!

I want Arnold back in the games! I heard he have got lot of scripting offering and I want him to say "I'll be back!"

1) what else Jana offers? (evil laugh* heheheh) Nice rack! LOL

2) 1 hot dog for me please! how can you eat those juicy and tasty with your gf only?

3) the flowing pink skirt is nice :)

4) I love tram and train! I need to ride that one at least once in my life.

5) again one ice cream for me pls!

6) OMG why Lily has to stand beside the silly doll? (hahahahah) what shop is that?

7) the sructures of all the building are really amazing! We still have few building like that in Kuching. You guys have lot of churches too!

8) LOL I love my vagina! hahahahahah

9) stairways to the Schloßberg wow! i can imagine a nice wedding photos there.

10) your photos don't show lot of people around but when you got up there! man the building seem to be more than the people!

We should have our blogger meeting there!

What a lovely post and lovelier pictures - medieval buildings, pretty clock towers, beautiful blooms, Lily's purple skirt (hehe..), roadside cafes (love them too), quaint little shops, sleek tram, birds-eye views, town squares - what an adventure. Thanks for the tour. I know someone who hails from Salzburg. And oh btw, I love my ------ too. LOL!

@Karen: The stairs are in good shape, but believe me, she's really clumsy. She fell many times, so I pay close attention to her :)

@Bananazஇ: Thank you for liking my post :)

@daisy: Maybe you can drop by one day.

@Netster:

1) Don't know :P
2) Well, you weren't there.
3) I agree.
4) Go for it, bro.
5) Coming soon.
6) It's a restaurant.
7) Yes, many churches in Graz. Austrians are very religious.
8) I know you do :P
9) True. A very nice background.
10) Well, the weather wasn't so good, so people stayed below :)

@HappySurfer: Thanks for dropping by. Happy to see a HappySurfer surf to my happy blog :P Keep loving your ----, haha :P

Wait.... there is something fishy.
How come you have sunshine and I don't. Why is there no snow on your pictures. Austria isn't that far from here. I envy....

Nice pictures.

@Junjie: Because we went on this trip end of August :) We have snow now, too.

You know, I read this post repeatedly, because I really miss that day when we wandered through the city. I miss the strong sun light, the wind breezed, the grandma's hotdog, then trams, the coffee shops, the street performance, the ice cream, and many pretty women walked there.

It's indeed a great city that I would highly recommend my friend to see. Thanks for taking me to Graz. :-***

beautiful city! 40 photos here, you say? never seem enuf for me! :P

i love how the town seems very walkable and pedestrian-friendly. and remarkably clean! what a gem.

Graz is beautiful. I love your photo essay. Oh wait your gf is beautiful too, I like how she pose next to the statue so cute!

Yes, I love mine! :D

Somehow I think Graz is a great place to have peace of mind. Everyone seemed so chilling in the pictures. Would like to try the hotdog one day, I trust you guys' taste buds. Worth to wait for it if it tastes really nais!

Wow, your girlfriend's really lucky that you did escort her all the way up the stairs. They seem an eternity!

The town seems really medieval (except for the vandalism =P) with a modern edge. Would love it.

@LilyChen: Ya. I'm happy we went. We had a short but great time there, hehe.

@kyh: Glad you liked it. It's really a gem.

@Sarah Wu: Haha.. yes, both are cute :P

@Stefanie: Those stairs are truly long, but the view is so good, you forget about them. It's really a lovely city to visit.

@Joanne:

The Murinsel sure's something special.

@Joanne Adylse Lynne: It is special indeed. Wish I'd go there and see it from close, but haven't had time.

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