Off to Europe :: Graz, Austria

After three fleeting days in Trier, Germany, we took a 12-hour train ride to Graz, Austria. I had always dreamed of embarking on a rail ride in Europe, and it was finally happening! We had some pleasant encounters and conversations throughout our ride.

We talked to a woman in her mid-thirties and learned about the current relationship between the government and the church in Germany. It was heartbreaking to hear that much of the religious vigor has been lost through the involvement of the government in religion. Many of the Catholic cathedrals are funded by the registered, tax-paying members, and growing number of people criticize the church for its extravagance and superficiality. The woman told me that she has hope for the younger generation since some independent churches free of government affiliation have started to form.

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Another family we met was a mother with two of the most adorable kids I had ever seen. All through the ride, they were laughing, hugging, and kissing each other. Such precious kids ❤Train

On our guided tour of Graz, we got to learn about the history and visit several notable locations within the city. Graz, the second largest city in Austria after Vienna, was once a town surrounding a hilltop castle called Schlossberg. In fact, the name “Graz” literally means small castle. Although the walls have been dismantled and the entire city has been transformed, Schlossberg in the heart of the town still remains well-preserved and it is beloved by the residents and tourists as a romantic park.

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Beautiful view overlooking the city from Schlossberg.11934505_10207692707818906_7892289340281578146_o11903951_10207692707618901_7685995622869242352_n

With luring bakeries tempting us on every corner, we simply couldn’t resist.

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The best part for me was just strolling around the city’s main square (Heutplatz), wandering through the boutiques, drinking coffee, and listening to street musicians.
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About 15 minutes outside of the main square was a beautiful palace called Eggenberg Schloss. Within the short 50-minute guided tour, we got to see all of the 24 staterooms and saw over 500 wall/ceiling paintings, precious sculptures, and antique furniture. The art gallery on the first floor exhibited paintings and sculptures from the Middle Ages to the Baroque period.

SchlossEggenbergEnfilade SchlossEggenbergR1 5089629_webSeven Baroque-styled gardens surrounding the palace is now home to the wild peacocks.
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One of the attractions in Graz is the Landeszeughaus museum that has the world’s largest armory collection. That was pretty cool.

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Thanks to my dad, we got to have dinner with the conference attendants (CEO’s of leading transportation corporations and professors & researchers from world-renowned universities), and these dinners were held at the most historical and interesting places in town – the dining room of the town’s very first school, the underground wine cellar, and the restaurant at the top of the city in Schlossberg. Like Germany, Austria’s cuisine mainly consisted of meat, potatoes, bread, and lots of wine and beer. The highlight from the night at the Schlossberg restaurant for moi:

Official IAVSD-2015 Banquet at the Schlossberg Graz, 20.8.2015 - The 24th International Symposium on Dynamics of Vehicles on Roads and Tracks from August 17-21, 2015 in Graz / Austria (IAVSD) is the leading international conference bringing together scientists and engineers from academia and industry in the field of ground vehicle dynamics to present and exchange their latest ideas and breakthroughs. The biennial IAVSD symposia have been held in internationally renowned locations and this year‘s event for the first time takes place in Graz, Austria. IAVSD 2015 is organised by VIRTUAL VEHICLE Research Center in cooperation with Graz University of Technology, Vienna University of Technology and the industrial partners AVL, MAGNA STEYR and SIEMENS. More information: www.IAVSD2015.org

The seven precious days I spent in Austria were incomparable to anything I had experienced. I am very thankful to have gotten a chance to visit Europe for the first time this summer, and it definitely will not be the last time.

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