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Last updated : Nov 2009
Graz, Austria
Rating: (4.4) (7 votes)

Graz, Austria
September 19, 2003


Pros : Stunning Lakes!
Cons : Not much in Graz

My last log was left in ljubljana in slovenia and since then ive made my way slowly north to Austria...here goes again take a deep breath from ljubljana i moved north to a town called Bled, which has a very pretty little castle on a high cliff perched above a lake with a cute little island with a church, as great as this sounds unfortunately the town itself is basically a tourist resort and even has two casinos with flashing neon lights cast out over the lake! apparently you could ring the church bell on the island for good luck so we made our way out there in a hired row boat, two english girls kindly offer to row out for me! not satisfied with their slow rowing i boldly told them id row back and have them on shore in less than 10 minutes, but its soon became apparent that i am spastic at rowing and proceeded to row in a giant zigzag, somehow nearly colliding with the only other boat on the lake! the tail was firmly between my legs.

Having had enough of the touristy area i went in search of a little more adventure and nature and headed to the stunning Bohinj Valley in the Julian Alps of north/western slovenia. Another picturesque and much larger lake fills the valley at one end. i hooked up a place to stay at the local tourist agency, i was assigned to a little old ladys house just up the road...though a bit dingy, it was good to have my own room and even though you needed to close the door behind you to keep the chickens in, it was cheap so i didnt mind. I decided to hire a mountain bike and go in search of a big hill, and a hill i found! after about an hour of hard uphill riding to the waterfall (Slap in slovenian) i hammered down like a maniac throwing stones over the heaving unfit daytrippers on my way, great fun, but probably shouldve worn a helmet! after that little injection of adrenaline i signed up for some rafting..which as it turned out was pretty pissweak given the low water levels, but the group was fun so i didnt care...later the same day myself and some of the rafters hooked up and went to the Cow Ball, a local festival/massive outdoor piss-up that celebrates the cows coming home with the stockman from the alps and into the valley for winter..most wore very traditional costumes, there was local foods galore, plenty of kransky and sauerkraut, local beer Lasko Pivo, dancing etc we had a great afternoon, but had some catching up to do with the locals whod been drinking since 10am that morning. nevertheless, we managed to get pretty damn drunk on local vodka and danced with the locals it whatever way that looked convincing. after the sun dropped behind he mountains the temperature dropped and the crowds cleared..with no more buses we managed to hitch a ride home in the back of a removal van. the rather inebriated driver then wanted to charge us..i said i would buy him a beer, he accepted.

It was time to leave slovenia though and make my way to austria, next stop salzburg. the overnight train was memorable as not only did i not have any euros to pay the conductor and no german to explain my predicament i had the pleasure of sitting with a "dude" from venice beach LA, an absolute classic, an accent straight out of bill and teds..ive never heard such creative use of the words dude, shit, wow and like! arriving at salzburg at 4 in the morning the hostel YOHO luckily had 24 hour reception, the guy let me sleep on a bench in the dining room..which was as comfortable at that stage as normal bed..

So content with my two hours sleep i headed out to discover salzburg. its a beautiful city and although they claim mozart as their son, apparently he really couldnt wait to get out...i wondered why? naturally there are some museums dedicated to old Wolfgang and i couldnt resist..it was very interesting and the entryfee included entry into the archives where you could listen to some of his toetapping kneeslapping hits...i walked in an asked maybe if i could listen to an opera, which one she said, ummm La dolce figaro, by which composer?? errrr?? older or newer composers?? lets go with old, what language, what city?..absolutely no idea! i eventually accepted her suggestion a 1967 german language opera of La dolce in hamburg complete in movie format! and sat down with my headphones to let mozart sweep me away...this shamefully was my first opera experience, it was fantastic, especially the opening act, which incidentally was one of the few i managed to see as the comfortable chair and soothing music put me straight to sleep, awoken only by a tap on the shoulder by the librarian..not quite sure how long i was out for?

Avoiding the obvious urge to do the official sound of music tour in salzburg, i spent most of my time just wandering and sleeping under trees in parks, though beautiful you could pretty much do most of salzburg in a full day..but thats just me. the hostel kept me entertained, it was a typically loud one with a bar and lucky for me a bus load of contiki and busabout people had just arrived (oh dear). nevertheless i joined in, and like everywhere i go met some people who knew mates from back home...aussies in happy hour all warming up for oktoberfest in munich...i think there was nudity at about 9pm
heading south to the salzkammergut lakes (yes more lakes) a brief stop in Halstatt was next, a cute little town on another lake, after finally finding some accommodation, of course with a stunning view, i went to the ice caves high up in the mountain reached only be a cable car, one of the oldiest and subsequently scariest ive ever been in...they told me to rug up but all i had was a light fleece and a pair of hairy legs to keep me warm. the temp outside was around 27 and inside it got down to -3 degs, my exposed toes took a good half an hour to thaw! the caves were great, though our english tour at 3pm was replaced by a german one, so most of the explanations were obviously lost on me, i pretended that i didnt understand you couldnt take photos...ah the dumb tourist angle! whilst all these things were breathtaking, none of them compared to my exhilration when i found Lucky Grills aka Bargearse of Late Show fame, working the ferry between the train station and the town...i was gobsmacked..he didnt really understand though when i asked him for an autograph?! check out the photo attached!! am now in graz, there is not much in graz, but there are cheap flights to london, thats where im heading for a brief stop over to deliver an urgent parcel..stay tuned, as im starting up again on monday and heading to vienna...hopefully no more lakes.