Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Up Above Graz

Almost everywhere you look Graz is a strikingly beautiful city. Baroque chapels, stucco facades, a steel island in the shape of a shell right in the middle of a river.

We tramp off breakfast on the 260 steps of the Schlossberg, climbing above the red roofs of the city centre. Across the fast-moving river the Kuntshaus, built to mark Graz's year as European Capital of Culture in 2003, looks like an upturned pig with too many legs.

At the top of the mountain, above the clocktower and flower park, are the remains of a bastion that once withstood attack from Napoleon. They put up a lot less resistance to visitors nowadays: there's a biergarten, two museums, a souvenir shop selling 'No Kangaroos in Austria' t-shirts and a sign announcing you are now 475-metres above the Adriatic Sea.

We sit under a Chinese pavilion, out of the sun, scanning the horizon for football stadium floodlights.

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