We touched down in Vienna and funneled through the airport underground to the most pristine, efficient train station I’ve ever seen. The train to Graz arrived and we boarded the beautifully spacious first class carriage, cameras at the ready expectant of stunning Austrian scenery.
We weren’t disappointed. The whole journey with OEBB was spent with cameras trained on mountain-scapes, alpine rivers, meadows filled with wild flowers and cute chocolate box houses.
It was beautiful. Like a giant cinema screen along both sides of the carriage, while we sat back with cups of tea and perfect wifi to capture it all with.
We arrived in Graz. Our first stop on our Austrian adventure and a good place to start; the pace of London a distant memory as the sleepy atmosphere in Graz took over us. We headed straight to our hotel (the Wiesler) to dump our bags before heading straight back out to explore.
We had our sights set on the Schlossburg; a hill with the most picturesque clock tower at the top and stunning views of the town below, with a gorgeous bar/restaurant to take it all in from.
We spent the afternoon wandering around the top, delighting in finding so much wisteria and architecture to drool over.
Admiring the stunning clock tower in all its grand beauty.
We then settled down for a Hugo (our prosecco and elderflower-based drink of choice in Austria) on the balcony of the Skybar restaurant.
Feeling frazzled in the gorgeous sunshine, we made our way back down the hill to our hotel to change for dinner.
We were booked in at Eckstein, a recommendation from our friends at the tourist board and ordered all the most traditional Austrian dishes on the menu. One thing to note in Austria is that the portion sizes are all rather large, so after a few of the plates came out, we had to end up cancelling a few more of them for fear that we wouldn’t be able to eat it all (that or we popped!)
I would highly recommend Eckstein, sitting in the middle of the square, palm trees swaying in the breeze and birds chirping around overhead, we felt as though we could have been anywhere in Europe.
We supped on Beef Broth with dumplings and pancake strips, the most humungous steak tartare ever, along with fresh pasta ravioli. Because the region is so close to Italy, it’s absorbed some of the food habits including the alfresco dining and love of pasta!
After another drink each (and a naughty chocolate pudding), we made our way back to the hotel and drifted straight off to sleep after a hectic day travelling.
I woke to the sound of church bells summoning the congregation to join. Bird song echoed between the ringing and the melody drifted through our open window on the warm breeze followed by the smell of bacon summoning us downstairs to breakfast.
We breakfasted with Su that morning, a local resident and expert on Graz to get the lowdown on how to spend our final day in the town.
We started with the farmers market, but it was rather too sleepy, so wandered through The Murinsel – a manmade floating island in the middle of the river created by American Artist Vito Acconci in celebration of Graz becoming the 2003 European Capital of Culture.
Through the red roofed houses of the town and up through the Kastner and Ohler Shopping centre, to the roof for another Hugo in the sunshine.
One of my favourite ways to explore is just to wander down random little streets and see where they pop back out, so we did just that and really explored the city.
Stopping every so often when something caught our eye.
We stopped in the little square, where we’d had dinner the night before, for lunch at Gamlitzer Weinstube. This time we ordered slightly better known dishes like Schnitzel (sort of overrated if you ask me, it’s like a giant chicken nugget) and a meat platter. Again, over ordering – something we didn’t learn from throughout the trip!
We paid up before weaving through the beautiful chocolate box houses and shops.
We planned to find somewhere else in the sunshine to stop and immerse ourselves in the atmosphere of the town. After slightly overheating, we came across a cute little health café – Das Gramm – filled to the brim with all sorts of seeds, oats and concoctions that I thought I had heard of at some point in time.
A couple of cakes were ordered and tea brought to the table in the sunshine while we watched the birds flittering around stealing crumbs from beneath our feet. I had a popcorn tea which was quite possibly the most bizarre sounding thing I’ve ever tasted but was delicious.
We sat there for a good hour just enjoying the energy from the people around us, and dipping in and out of the parts of their conversations that we could understand.
Then it was time to jump back on the train to head to our next adventure – Salzburg!