Sunday, 11 December 2011

Graz, Austria

After getting off to the amazing start of missing my train to Austria by one minute, crying over my non-refundable ticket, falling flat on my face because my huge bag was slung over my shoulder in a manner totally inappropriate for its size, picking myself off the floor with whatever dignity I had left before crying some more to the woman at the ticket counter until she gave me the ticket to the next train for free (whether it was because she felt sorry for me or simply wanted to get me away, I do not know), I finally arrived in Austria, much later than planned, dumped my bags on Lily and Katie and let them carry me home.

The rest of my week was much more successful and I quickly fell in love with Austria. The entire country is full of quaint, colourful houses which line cobbled streets and rivers, stone churches and forts which sit on top of green hills, old men roasting chestnuts on every corner and trams. All of this set against the backdrop of the Alps.

We stayed with a woman named Barbara who has three older daughters and lives in a suburb just outside Graz but only 20 minutes away from the city centre by tram. We spent a lot of time cooking in her kitchen because eating out was never factored into our budget, so we made spätzle. Lots and lots of spätzle. For those of you that don´t know, spätzle are a sort of tiny dumpling/pasta which you can melt with cheese, fry with butter and breadbrumbs or put in soups. I´d post a recipe but Lily and I are renowned for throwing things together in a bowl and hoping for the best. Our spätzle are no exception. 

When we weren´t cooking, we were walking around the city, persuading shop assistants to replace our worn out boots, buying warmer clothes and seeing friends. It was our friend Kati´s birthday while we were there and she had a Turkish-themed party with lots of yummy food, cocktails and shisa. All three of which we had too much of so we ended up leaving early, doing the two hour walk home and waking up with blisters on our feet. 

Lily and I got a lift to Munich via this website which is sort of like hitchhiking minus the standing on the side of the road for hours with your thumb stuck out and a cheezy grin plastered on your face. It´s called Mitfahrgelegenheit and I highly recommend it to anyone travelling around Europe because it is 100 000 times cheaper, faster and more reliable than European trains.  

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