Sunday, November 06, 2005

Graz In "Not As Nice As Linz" Shocker

My seemingly random choice of places to visit in Austria took a downward turn yesterday. It's not that Graz isn't interesting, it's just not interesting enough to warrant a 6 hour return journey on the train. It's very like Linz in style, although Linz is much cleaner, has nicer scenery and the buildings are less crowded together. Graz was a "European Capital of Culture" in 2003, and I struggled to see why - the cultural projects added to the city in order to gain this status were, erm, a bit rubbish, and seemed like an afterthough. "Oh crap, we're supposed to be Capital of Culture next year - quick, thrown some of that old metal and plastic into the river - we'll make it into a bar!"

This is the Murinsel, "The Island on the Mur". Quite what the architects were taking when they designed this I don't know, but it must have been strong and hallucinogenic. Part stage (you can barely fit a drum-kit on it) and part-bar, it ends up looking like a snail's shell submerged upside-down in the water.

And then there's the Kunsthaus, a horrific monstrosity of a building that scars the west bank of the river Mur. It's not so much a building as a giant homosexual alien condom.
The British designers must have been amazed when they took the design! "I can't believe they've accepted it! We were too busy drinking to make any proper designs or models, so we just glued some old balloons together at home this morning. Brilliant!"
Luckily, it's placed in such a way that you can never see it in it's entirety - it's squeezed in between buildings and behind trees, phew!

Doesn't it remind you of a cow that drank too much ribena and fell over onto it's back? I don't think I've ever disliked a building so much in my life. Even Nu-age in Dover was better than this.

I seem to have dwelled on the negative aspects of my trip. Despite my annoyance at the Kunsthaus and the slightly dreary weather, I managed to enjoy the view from the Uhrturm (Clock Tower) above the city. The old town was also very nice, although it was peppered with graffiti slogans such as "Smash Authority" and "Smash Racism".

(Views over the city of Graz are great, as long as you avert your eyes from the Kunsthaus and Murinsel.)

I wish we had time to stop for a drink at on of the caf├ęs overlooking the city, but alas I had to catch the train back to Linz.


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