Even the weather decided to upgrade itself for our weekend getaway and we were treated to sunshine and crisp blue skies throughout! Having visited Graz (pronounced, Gratz) before, this weekend was a chance to eat more great food and otherwise idle away an ordinary January weekend.
I had reserved a suite in a funky, artsy design hotel not just for fun, but also because the hotel had a 24-hour indoor pool. Anna Grace and CTF joined us on the weekend; but while Clayton Theodore was perfectly content to snooze on the hotel room sofa during the day, Anna Grace was busy studying for her first round of high school exams, and we thought she might appreciate being able to take a swim break between studies. Well! At check-in the friendly staff informed me that we had been upgraded to one of the apartments, a two-bedroom modern space with large windows, a balcony, and more than enough space for all of us for the weekend. No complaints from us.
After settling in on Friday, the hotel staff suggested a small restaurant just steps away at which I could enjoy my absolute favorite Styrian dish of Backhendl, the crispy coated fried chicken served atop a salad and drizzled with Kürbiskernöl (pumpkin seed oil) another specialty of our neighbors to the south. The small restaurant was beyond crowded and there was not a place to be seated, so the kind proprietor offered to prepare the Backhendl to take away. Another upgrade! What is not to love about sitting in your jammies watching BBC News and eating a favorite dish? For the record, the Backhendl was delicious.
On Saturday morning I set out for the market at the Kaiser-Josef Platz, the site of the main city market since forever. On my walk I took in the local scenery, naturally. It’s always fun to observe what another country thinks of as “American.”
I, on the other hand, delight in the simplicity of all things Alpine-y, even if that is not a word. Eggs, Chickens, and Wild Game. This butcher had it all, and with decorative antlers.
A couple of other culinary specialties of Steiermark included Käferbohnen that, when cooked, have a melty-smooth taste (that’s a culinary term) not unlike a roasted chestnut. We enjoy the beans in all kinds of dishes at home, some of which might make an Austrian Oma wince. But, hey.
What is this? Outdoor tables in January? Obviously I am not in Vienna. I will note that this photo was taken early in the morning; on my return walk through the market there were patrons enjoying the outdoor seating.
The weather was Central European cold. The farmers even had blankets over the light Vogerlsalat greens. Too cute.
A transit intersection near the market. No mistaking this is Central Europe.
Later in the day I rode the funicular to the top of Schlossberg, Graz’s castle that sits atop the city. From the top the walk down to the city proper is just a few hundred steps, and the views make it worth the (minimal) effort.
Once down in the city proper, there were stores to drop into and all manner of beautiful buildings and streets to photograph.
Looking back, another view of Schlossberg from a bridge crossing the River Mur.
What is this? Outdoor dining in January, again? Oh, Vienna, your aged Imperial ways can be so drab and weary. Just look at the happy people enjoying their refreshments outdoors, even on a -3°C day.
Changing trams at the Hauptplatz. The square is sprinkled with vendors and local color; and if the weather had been warmer I might have lingered for the people watching.
On Saturday evening Anna Grace was all too happy with in-room dining, so Tony and I stepped out for dinner at Glöckl Bräu, a well established inn serving traditional Styrian fare. Everything from our table overlooking the square to the excellent wine and dinner made for a perfect cap to our weekend.
En route home on Sunday, a colorful mosaic on one of the public housing buildings as we left the city. A nice reminder to start wandering again in Vienna.
Though we have visited Graz before, our previous visit was only for a few hours to tour the enchanting Schloss Eggenberg and enjoy a delicious lunch. Graz is a pretty city worthy of an overnight, and I decided that we should return during the holiday market season to once again enjoy a city that is a little bit like Salzburg and Innsbruck with its narrow, cobblestoned streets and charming shops; and a little bit cosmopolitan with its culinary scene. Until next time, Graz.