Saturday, October 10, 2015

Inlaid detail

Styrian Armoury

Graz - Landeszeughaus

Wednesday, Sept 30
This morning we visit the Styrian Armoury in Graz, then head back to Vienna as we have an early flight back home to California tomorrow.

Mike had found info on this Armoury museum online and thought it sounded really interesting, so we decided to check it out.  They say it's the world's largest historic armoury with 32,000 pieces of armor, weaponry, etc. It is still housed in the original building, which was built in the 1600's. During WWII, all the pieces were moved and stored in 3 different castles in remote parts of Styria and when the war was over the pieces were returned to the building which had escaped damage in the war.

It is truly an impressive collection: armor, helmets, swords, sabers, pistols, long guns, halberds, mortars, cannons, there is even a full set of horse armor on display. One of the incredible things about this museum is the building itself, very fancy on the outside and these great wooden floors inside (third floor).  Very little of the collection is in cases or behind glass, they just politely ask you not to touch anything as you begin your tour. Another incredible thing in regards to the pistols is that 90% of them still work! Many of the pistols have beautiful handwork with inlaid design made from animal horn.  Some of the armor also has wonderful etched detailing on it.

Well worth the small entry fee and definitely worth seeing.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

We started out near that tiny village waaaay down there

Barenschutzklamm (photo)


Tuesday, 9/29
Barenschutzklamm gorge - as I write this I am so exhausted from hiking this gorge that I can barely think straight. I had heard about this hike, and the website made it sound so cool, that we just had to do it!

The Graz tourism website says "The exciting ascent involves 164 wooden bridges and ladders along 1300 meters. This involves conquering 350 meters of altitude". By the time we hit number 135, it was no longer exciting.

First, you climb pretty steeply on a hike over very rocky terrain just to reach the beginning of the gorge from the parking lot.  Stop at the little kiosk and pay your €3,50. Then another hour or so climbing all these steps and ladders. Around every corner you think "surely that must be the last one"! Only to see another set of steeply climbing stairs and ladders to conquer. And again at the next corner, and again, etc. Some parts were so narrow, we almost had to turn sideways.  Finally  you make it to top and you hike another 10-15 minutes to a small cafe/hut at the top,where you can sit and gather your wits as well as have a snack before starting down the mountain. We could not believe how high we had climbed, but it was literally from the base to the top of the mountain.

The return trip is on a different path because the ascent is basically a one-way deal as there is absolutely no room to pass people on most of the trail.  And I think it would be really scary going down some of those ladders, especially the really steep sections. The trip back down takes 1-1/2 to 2 hours and is a steep angle down almost the entire way, over uneven, very rocky ground.

We did the whole thing in 5 hours, which is about average I think. We were glad we managed to accomplish it, but it definitely was a difficult hike and my knees and my pinky toe (large blister) are definitely unhappy about it tonight. I do feel it will be one of our most-talked about days of the trip though, just because it isn't really on the American tourist radar and also because we're rather proud we managed it.

Hochosterwitz Castle. (photo)