Friday, January 09, 2009


09:10 Sitting in the "Avant" train, due to leave for Toledo in 10 minutes. The last 2 days have been so busy I have hardly had time to write. As we pull out of the station there is snow. Even more than we saw in Austria, the train display shows an outside air temperature of 1C.When we came out of the hotel this morning the air was cold and the ground wet with a few flakes drifting in the air, but melting when they settled. Now, about an hour later, after coming out of the underground and Atoche, the ground is covered in white and there are serious flurries of snow in the air. We walked the last two days, about 12 hours on Wednesday and 10 on Thursday. Thursday morning I was feeling very drained and we didn't really get going till midday. I think I was dehydrated somewhat.[Now the snowflakes are melting on the train windows leaving little water droplets]

09:40 Lots of HV lines in this part of Spain, we are now approaching Toledo. There is not so much snow.

10:45 We are having a breakfast/lunch in the square near the tourist info office in Toledo. We bought our own bread, cheese and sausage (Salchicha) from Madrid. It is very lightly snowing.

12:20 We are in the Cathedral, I got chatted for headware as I entered. I was wearing my earmuff headband, apparently that counts. Quite an expensive entry fee, no photos are allowed. It seems that some churches in Spain jealously guard their right to allow people to see and record their artworks. Others don't, there is no consistency and no relationship to the quality of the actual site. However, plenty of images are available on the internet.Uschi has just shown me the sculpture behind the altar, Jesus disappearing into the clouds. Only his feet are visible(!) As I write this we are between the Altar enclosure and the Coro (the choristers enclosure). A layout only found in Spanish churches, according to Uschi. The clock over the entrance door is a single handed type. In the chapter house (Sala Capitular) are the portraits of the Toledo archbishops, going back many centuries. Odd to think that these emminent holy men were intimately tied up with the inquisition, expulsion of people around 1500 and latterly the Franco side in the civil war, trying to prevent ordinary people have a say in their own country.

Posted by Picasa

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Museum of the Americas

In the "Cafe & Te" near the Puerta del Sol for the second time, we had breakfast here yesterday too. Unfortuneately then I ordered a choritzo and cheese roll. The choritzo turned out to be bacon like, not sausage like as I imagined it would be. Today I had Spanish Tortilla in a small crunchy roll. This was really much more delicious.

After our breakfast we wandered out to Plaza Major, ate chips and watched the people and the pigeons. We visited the tourist info office in the plaza to work out what to do for the rest of the day. Uschi wanted to go to the Museum of the Americas. Much of the day had already slipped past when we got to the correct Metro station, but we left on the wrong side of the road and couldn't get across the highway when we finally got to the museum. So we had to back track all the way to the Metro station again and walk along the same road but on the other side.Time was running out and we only had less than 2 hours before closing. Lots of interesting ceramic-ware and gold. I just got to the mummies and real gold exhibits in the last room when the guards came and kicked me out!After we left the Museum of the Americas we looked at a tower restaurant, but it had been closed for a couple of years.

In the evening we went to another museum, Museo Arqueológico Nacional, the National Archaeological Museum. We saw the Lady of Elche and a few other things but the museum was undergooing renovations and a large part of it was closed. We stayed there till it closed at 20:00 and walked back in the direction of the Puerta del Sol looking for a good place to have tea. We didn't find anything we could all agree on until we got back to "Las Bravas", so we had tea there a second night running.After that we went to "Corte Ingles" where I had a look at the sporting goods (pretty ordinary department store stuff) and Uschi looked at the shoes. About 21:45 we got back to the hotel very tired and slept quickly. Even with the shutters open the noise of the city didn't disturb us.
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Prado and Sophia

7/1/09Finally got to go to the Prado, liked these:
Durer - Self Portrait 1498
Moro - Mary Tudor 1554
van Hemessen - The Surgeon 1550-55
van Reymerswaele - St Jerome 1547
De Lucca - Hermaphrodite - 1652 Bronze

Later in the evening we went to Reina Sophia.

Afterwards we walked from the "el Galleria del Arte Moderno Reina Sophia" to "Las Bravas" to get a Potata Bravas which we had been longing for all day. Uschi ordered a calamari sandwich which was huge. I had a Tortilla Bravas, just the normal tortilla in a bravas sauce. I also ordered "Pincho marujo", spicy meat on skewers which I shared with Christine. The special potatas bravas, which we went there for, the waitress forgot to serve us! We had to go back and get it for desert. Even after all that food and in 2C temperatures Uschi still wanted an icecream.
[Uschi in Reina Sophia inside the light from an exhibition]
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

First Day in Spain

6/1/0913:00 at the Cafeteria del Prado, Paseo del Prado 16.

At the cafe across the road from the Prado. Today is "El Día de los Reyes". Day of the Kings, Epiphany I think. Because of the holiday the Prado is only open till 14:00 and we decided it wasn't long enough for us to see enough. So Prado tomorrow.

The cafe is a Tapas bar and we tried a few things between us. A quarter of a tortilla, a thick potato and onion omelette eaten cold, not like the flat flour things in the shops in Australia.There was also a fried fish shaped pastry thing and gluey potatoes (empinada). The main dish was 6 meat balls in yellow sauce, "albondigas". Uschi wants to have more of the food on display but is struggling to decide what. Partly due to being a bit ill, maybe because we stayed up till after 01:00 this morning after arriving. She seems to want everything to go perfectly and gets a little high strung when it doesn't.

Now she just forced me to eat "al meja" (clams in a yellow sauce). They looked a lot like cockles. While not as horrible as I imagined they would be, three was enough for me. The sauce (without the clams) on bread was OK though.To finish off we had "Three Kings" cake in honour of the day. It is a yeast bun like a South Australian "torpedo" but with a lemon glaze.We walked through the Retiro Gardens after we had been past the second hand book stalls.

Posted by Picasa

Monday, January 05, 2009

143 steps up the Mausoleum Bell Tower.

16:00 in the Graz airport, waiting for our plane to Spain. Today we got up at the Ibis and went for breakfast (which they charges us for and 3 hot drinks, which we never had).

Then went into Graz Hauptplatz on the trams again. We first went to Glockenspiel Platz and watched the clock play its three tunes at 11:00. After that we went to the Dom and the nearby mausoleum of Frederick 2nd. After that we went back to the Trachten shop that Ursula saw last night.

Uschi bought herself a coat but took some time to talk herself into it. She also bought some nice green boots earlier in the morning. We jumped back onto a tram near the Kunsthaus and headed back to the hotel by 13:30 and thence a taxi to the airport. We taxiied out at 16:16 and touched down in Munich at 17:09.

We had to get out of the plane here and were intercepted by the "mobility services" who took Christine's wheelchair out of the cargo and told us to use it in the airport. We walked around and looked at the shops for the best part of an hour. Same as all airports.At around 19:10 we got on an A321 helped by a large lady (out of breath from running, I think) from "Mobility Services".

She took Christine's chair to put back in the baggage (we hope).19:30, just waiting for the last few connecting passengers to arrive. Push back at 19:33.
Posted by Picasa

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Graz Again

Graz Kunst Museem
We returned to Graz again with the intention of staying for a couple of days and then we'll be off to Spain. The weather is clearer, if not warmer, than last time we were here.

[Photo in the Kunsthaus Graz]

18:00 in the Palais-Hotel Erzherzog Johann (in the cafe)
It has been a long day. We left the art museum around 17:15 and were told there was an annex building "just behind the sports store" (across the river). We looked for more than half an hour but couldn't find it and went into this cafe.

Uschi and Christine have ordered fruit tea But I didn't really want any. Christine also ordered Knoedel und Ei. Uschi has asked for Kalbs Brust Gulasch (mit Servietenknoedel). I picked the house special chicken with mustard and salad. After tea we went for a little further walk and Uschi saw a Trachten shop near the Kunsthaus.

It was getting cold so we went back to the hotel around 20:30 and all got ready for bed. I was fairly tired but still dragged myself out at 22:00 for some pictures of the Bahnhoff clock.
Posted by Picasa

Saturday, January 03, 2009


Today we decided to head for the old market town of Froehnleiten. This town has a market tradition dating back to about 1280 AD. We walked around the town and along the river bank. We visited the obligatory church and visited the Pest Saule. Like Kapfenburg yeaterday the town was very quiet.
Posted by Picasa

Friday, January 02, 2009

St Illgen and Kapfenberg

We went to St Illgen and the Aflenz war memorial.

We lit candles for both of Christine's brothers. Both brothers were named Francis. The first one died in 1918 due to the flu epidemic and the second one was a pilot killed on the Russian front.

Now in the centre of the old town of Kapfenberg. It isn't very much compared to some of the others old towns in Europe. We are in Cafe Europa ready for a little food before exploring the area and maybe later going to the more modern centre. We all had a goulash soup. The Menu is limited, the cafe is a bit of a greasy spoon. The soup was OK, but I tried an extra serve of lasagne, which was really a bit too much to have.

The old town was actually deserted [see the picture for a mid-day view!] but we walked around it for a bit. Most of the shops shut for about 3 hours in the middle of the day. We then went to the C&C (?) shopping centre, which was busier than the old town, but not a great inspiration.

After that we went back to Bruck to look at some green boots Uschi had taken a liking to. Unfortunately there were none in her size, so she got the shoe name to chase up later. We then went for a gentle walk around before returning to Thoerl.

More visitors have arrived. Louis and ? to visit Christine. The house is in a bit of a turmoil as one of Franziska's friends arrived simultaneously. I expect the conversation will go on for 3 hours or so. Uschi wants me to go out and buy some more fireworks. Mitzi made a big fuss when I helped her cut some firewood.

Some images that have stuck with me from the last few days:
-Washing the car with hot water at the Thoerl service station. The ice and salt, which is caked on from travelling the highways, washes off very easily but the hot water freezes within a minute or so. The dirty icy car becomes a clean icy car!
- Getting softdrink out of the shop fridge, it's warmer than most other things. All the fridge does at this temperature is keep the dust off.
- The evening temperatures are down between -5 and -10. Now 0C is the default “warm”
Posted by Picasa

Thursday, January 01, 2009

New Years Day

We got up and went across to the church of Aflenz.
This was Uschi's baptismal church. We spent nearly one and a half hours there, including a sneaky climb up the bell tower.

Then we went back to the Hotel for a snooze. Due to a lack of sleep the previous evening we actually slept more than 2 hours and the afternoon light was nearly gone.

Uschi and I then went to the ruin on the hill. It is now locked up and people can't enter it like Uschi did in years gone by.

A mild disappointment.
Posted by Picasa