Graz and Surroundings

View over Graz from Schlossberg hill

Mike and I are definitely getting back into long distance cycling.  Of course, our idea of long distance, is a little bit (30 – 40 km) at a time.  When all these legs are joined up it looks like a really long route on our map.  If you look at our map you will see that while we were in the Graz area we joined up our path from southern Austria, through Graz and we are now cycling towards Vienna to join up with our long distance route from last year.  Some cycling routes are just lovely as they weave beside rivers and through valleys and trees.  These are the times though, that Mike and I get very hungry and thirsty because there aren’t any restaurants on the rural bike paths.  Sometimes the rides take us along busy roads which isn’t the best.  Other times the bike routes take us through a lot of small villages and those are the rides that I really like.  Once we saw a bike riding exhibition.  You can see in the picture below the riders doing loops one after another.  Mike figured that if one went down, everyone would land on top of him and it would hurt.

Better them than us
Riding through Leoben town square

We see a lot of lovely town squares and fantastic plaster work on buildings.  It is too bad that town squares have very few people in them and many of the cafés are still closed.  The tourists just aren’t here thanks to the corona virus.

Our biggest disappointment this year has been the lack of campers from all over Europe.  98% of the campers have been either Austrian or German.  We found out in our first year of this trip, that German is spoken by so many people that Germans (and Austrians) are less likely to also speak much English. This is really just like Americans and Canadians who don’t have many requirements for speaking languages other than English. I think that a lot of Germans probably have a little English but they just aren’t interested in using it.  The next country we expect to visit will be Slovakia. The good news is that Slovak websites often offer an English version which implies that English will be more common.

We did meet, sort of, a couple of men from Bulgaria who have lived in Austria for a few years.  One night around 19h or 7pm, we had a knock on our camper door.  There was a camper we had never seen before, standing at our door with a plate of home cooked food in his hand.  Did Google Translate ever get a workout that night.  This camper was originally from Bulgaria and spoke very little English and just enough German to get by.  Mike and I speak zero Bulgarian.  We gathered that the other man, who I had briefly met earlier, was a chef and had cooked a meal and had leftovers.  They brought them to us on a plate.  The meal was excellent.  Communication wasn’t easy but thanks to technology we managed.

We took the inside elevator!

Mike and I biked to Graz when we were staying south of the city and this time we biked in from the north.  Graz is Austria’s second largest city after Vienna.  The steps in the picture above lead up to Castle Graz and great views over the city.  Luckily, for a small fee, you could take an elevator built inside the cliff, which of course, we did.  Inside the cliff, is the largest underground slide in the world at 170m long.  It is basically an enclosed tunnel that makes S-bends all the way down the inside of Schlossberg hill.  Mike didn’t understand how anyone could make the ride and not be sick.  The internet talks about the long queues but, if we had wanted to, we could have walked right up and gone on the ride this year.  I do feel bad for all the people in the tourism industry.  The picture of Graz at the beginning of this article was taken from the top of Schlossberg hill.

The picture below is of the “Painted House” or the Herzogshof in Graz.  The front of it is completely painted.  The building was first referenced in documents in 1360.  Around 1600 the facade was painted for the first time, and in 1742 it was re-frescoed.  It was very interesting to come across.

Beautiful painted building in Graz
Interesting neighbours

Another curious sight was in our own campground.  We thought that these were two rather unique campers and tow vehicles.

We are heading off to Vienna next.  I am afraid that one of our side windows in the camper is very broken and Mike thinks that it will fall out completely with the first bumpy road.  It looks like it will take 5 or 6 weeks to get a replacement windows from the U.S. which is too bad.  Keep your fingers crossed for us. 

Here is a webcam of the town that we have just been camping next to.  It would have been better if I had sent you this when we arrived and not as we left, oh well.

Our next update will be from Vienna.

P.S.  My attempts to buy a new touch screen laptop in Europe with an English keyboard have not been going well.  I have found an HP and a Dell that would work for me but trying to place an order with a Canadian billing address on an Austrian website has proven impossible so far.  I will get there soon, I have to.  I am still starting my computer multiple times every day by removing the keyboard on the laptop and using some electrical device of Mike’s near the internals of the power switch.  Once I actually get my PC started, I get an error message that the computer is going to shutdown because my fan isn’t working properly unless I hit enter very quickly.  If I miss this, I have to start all over again.  I don’t dare leave the computer running when I am not using it because of the fan.

Here are a few pictures from our bike rides in this area:

Fortified Church-Castle
Really interesting buildings in Austria
Small café with music but very few patrons this year

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