Friday, August 17, 2007

Graz: Zentral Friedhof

First, Greg made this observation, on returning from the grocery store recently:

"If you are shopping for groceries in Austria, and the cashier can smell coins on you, you have given tacit permission for that person to physically rummage your person for exact-or-nearly-exact-change."

... and that's true. It's very common to see cashiers demanding that people hand over the coins they KNOW the customer has on them. We have both seen cashiers take coins from people's coin purses, hands, bags, and possibly pockets. If you hand them a bill, and they think you have coins, they will demand that you give them the coins. You can't just ... not. It's a hell of a thing.

Our field trip this past weekend took us to the Zentral Friedhof, the main cemetery here in Graz. There's another that's almost as large, but we haven't gotten out there yet. This was so large that we really didn't see even half of it, but it was impressive nonetheless.

The main gateway entrance. Yes: That is a McDonald's you can see across the intersection, through the gate.

We took the tram there; there are bus and tram stops directly in front of main gate. There is no parking lot, that we could see. We did see this, though: This picture was taken from the tram stop. Directly in front of the main gate of the central cemetery: An ice cream shop! Because you can't go ANYWHERE in Graz without having ice cream!
This is a small corner of the section for foreign soldiers. There were a lot of Russian and Italian soldiers here, mostly from WWI, but also from many other places and wars.

€1 to buy a grave candle...

€1 to borrow a watering can. The cans are chained up in exactly the same manner as carts at the grocery store--you must put a €1 coin to get the thing off the chain, and you get your coin back when you put it back on the chain. You will not be surprised to learn that it's VERY rare to find shopping carts loose in the parking lots here....

These were the most fun engravings we saw. Guessing the Puppitz and Mandl families are not somber people.

This is the main building. It's WAY fancy. And, apparently, getting new entrance steps. Pretty much all the major structures of the Zentralfriedhof were in this style.
Curiously, the stained glass on the ground floor of the main building did NOT match the building style. All the way around, it was this modern scenery style of glass design. Probably looks cool from the inside (we didn't go in).
Our other field trip this week was the Schloßbergbahn, a tram that goes up the side of the Schloßberg. We've been meaning to do this for a while, and we finaly did. It was pretty cool, and we will probably be doing this again in the future.
This is the tram track going up to the top of the Schloßberg. Well, almost the top. It is necessary to ascend a bit further to the very peak.
The two tram cars, passing in the middle of the hill. Counterweighted like an elevator; very efficient.

The tram was eerily silent, aside from all the other tourists. There are places where the footpath crosses the bahn rails, so we hung out on the bridge and waited for the trams to go by.

We also got a little video of the tram passing by, but we have to figure out how to edit it before we can post it anyway, it's sideways, which is less impressive. A shot of the Rathaus, from up on the hill. The Rathaus looks over the central plaza (Hauptplatz) where pretty much everything interesting happens in Graz.

A billion year old grape vine that lives up on the Schloßberg. The grapes are mild and pleasant.

We're not going to tell you which one of us stole a grape.

That's about it for this week. As usual, there are more pictures in the PhotoBucket: (password: graz)

-Holly & Greg

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