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« Gross Tasting | Main | LAWA Route 13May-21May »

21 May 2006


Alienviewedfromschlossberg_1Graz is Austria's second largest city.  It's by far the country's greenest urban area.  Walking around downtown, I stopped repeatedly to gawk at the greenness - particularly Schlossberg, a clock-tower-topped hill rising in the heart of the old city.  In this part of town, there are countless nooks and crannies with ancient cobblestone and classic Italian-influenced architecture.  The city offers an impressive collection of gothic and baroque cathedrals and squares.  However, Graz also surprises with modern architecture and art.  The city was selected as Europe's 2003 culture capital.  This revitalized the city and paved the way for two ultramodern architectural works: The Kunsthaus (art museum) and Murinsel (Mur river island).


The locals refer to the Kunsthaus as the "friendly alien."  This blue, acrylic-skinned building does indeed look like the mother ship from planet Xantu.  My guide, Robert observed that others believe it's shaped like an organ of some kind.  I agreed.  It looks like a multi-ventricled heart. 

The Murinsel is an Iron & steel island sitting in the middle of the Mur river.  I was told that this steel structure sits atop several iron pilings.  It is secured in the middle of the river with a heavy duty anchor.  However, the structure literally floats.  It rises and falls with the water in the river.  The Island offers a kids playground, small cafe/bar and amphitheater.


Armoryhelmet If you wish to go the historical route in Graz, then a visit to the Armoury (Landeszeughaus...aint German fun!) is in order.  During the wars against the Ottoman empire, this armoury equipped armies from all over Styria.  In the Armoury, you can see the evolution of black powder rifles, helmets, and a stunning piece of equine parade armor.

Graz also offers a taste of traditional Styrian cooking, along with a number of spots experimenting with various modern expressions of southern Austria's kitchen (try Eckstein - the asparagus foam soup with Riesling is crazy good).  Kerniskernöl (pumpkin seed oil) is de rigeur at every meal.  For example, I had a lovely meal at Landhaus-Keller (when you visit, say hello to Anna Schachner, the Sommelier, for me) featuring green salad dressed with pumpkin seed oil. My steak was topped with a hollandaise sauce accented with p.s. oil. And, believe it or not, dessert was a creme custard glazed with the stuff. The Styrians aren't exaggerating when they say pumpkin seed oil is culinary necessity. Kerniskernöl posseses an earthy-nutty flavor, which I must admit, is rather addicting. 

Of course, there are thousands of sites to see in the city. I've been here two days and feel as if I have yet to scratch the surface. Grazie Graz! See my Graz photo gallery here.

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Dr. Vino

How can you write about Graz and not mention the Governator? Well, the love is lost between them...


Ahnuld sent the city back his ring (kinda like the key to the city). He told them not to use his name anymore (e.g. for the soccer stadium). sniff. Poor Arnie.

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