Paige and I hit up Graz for 24 hours a couple of weekends back.
Why did we choose it? Well Paige was keen to see the modern art museum and we found some guy on carpooling who was driving. So whyever not!
€16 each person each way wasn’t a bargain, especially as we got stuck in heavy post-ski-jump-tournament traffic on the way (damn scenic route), but Emir’s car was pretty comfy, plus he didn’t speak English so we could discuss all manner of things in the back seats. At least I hope he didn’t speak English…
Accommodation, of course, was found through the means of couchsurfing, albeit super last minute. Jonathan (23, Graz native, student) offered us a lovely patch of floor and some sleeping bags and we weren’t in a position to say no. He was an interesting guy, with a TV as big as his bed and clearly no hoover or cleaning equipment.
Arriving late, our first move was to order a pizza and crack open some beers, and before long we found ourselves at a student party. The music was good, and we made the most of the cake-and-Salzstangen spread, but after seeing an extremely attractive man wearing Crocs, we realised we had to get out of there. Plus, I was convinced I was coming down with the vomiting bug my 6-year old had been suffering from. Turns out I was just drunk.
Next stop: the club, where we discovered that our host was quite the dancer! The DJ was awful and the crowd were particularly plain, but we partied until late and sobered up on a long walk home.
After the best sleep of my life (not), Jonathan took us for
breakfast lunch at some sort of Harvester restaurant and told us how he once got food poisoning there. Lovely. Having lived in Austria for a good few months, you’d think we’d have learnt that Sunday is not the day for city touring. Alas we hit the strange blubber-shaped Kunsthaus (no more suitable more intellectual description comes to mind) and fobbed our way in with expired student IDs (as rebellious as an au pair can be). I found the exhibitions very interesting and would definitely visit again, though it takes little more than an hour to navigate.
Another must-do is a walk up the Schloßberg, from where we got a better impression of the size and landscape of the city. Needless to say it’s a very different experience at 4am than it is on a sunny afternoon, though I’d recommend both nonetheless. Also worth a look is the Murinsel, a floating platform in the middle of the river which, as with the Kunsthaus, was built as part of the celebrations of Graz being named a 2003 European Capital of Culture. It’s free to have a stroll across, though definitely seems like more of a summer place.
I wasn’t captivated by Graz as much as I was by Innsbruck, and I was definitely happy to return to cosy Salzburg, but I feel like the city has a lot to offer. The extensive and reliable tram network makes it easy to navigate, the cultural additions from 2003 add variety, and escaping the city by heading up the Schloßberg allow for a different view of the city.
How valid can your judgement be after only 24 hours though?