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.
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.
With luring bakeries tempting us on every corner, we simply couldn’t resist.
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.
One of the attractions in Graz is the Landeszeughaus museum that has the world’s largest armory collection. That was pretty cool.
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:
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.