On Saturday our Erasmus Buddies at the Academie organised a group trip to Graz for the day. We met outside of Westbahnhof Station at 8am to catch a 2 1/2 hour bus ride there. Arriving at 11, we were just in time for the Farmer’s Market which had a huge array of veg, cheese and baked goods as well as what we call “lambs tails” in England, but are also known as “pussy willow” — the plant is used to decorate for Easter. Unfortunately for the vegetarians there were plenty of meat options and not much choice otherwise. Me and my friend chose to buy some bread rolls and hard cheese from a stall.
Our next stop was the Künstlerhaus, a contemporary art gallery in Stadtpark. There were two exhibitions on: Maja Vukoje, an Austrian painter exploring post-colonial themes alongside pop culture, and Monika Zawadski, a Polish installation artist who focuses on the role of the individual or group within socio-political orders. The two show rooms contrasted sharply with one another. While Vukoje’s space utilised the classic white walls of the gallery, Zawadshi’s collection of works were in a hostile uniform black. Personally, I found the painter’s work much easier to engage with. The fascinating blend of materials (sacks, sugar, coffee grounds) along with the oddly mixed together symbols and motifs, made discussion flow freely amongst our group. After this, we found the black space a little less inviting and ultimately left dissatisfied.
The gallery is definitely worth a visit with only €2 student entrance and €1 in a group.
A short walk from the gallery is the Schloßberg with amazing views over the city all the way to the snow-topped mountains in the distance. The weather was beautiful for the short walk up to the top and a street performer was playing a piano-accordion outside the clock tower in true Austrian fashion.
The way back down the other side (via the zig-zagging stairs) lead us straight to the Kunsthaus on the opposite side of the river. We had a quick look at the Grazer Murinsel on the way over. This is an architectural design that sits within the river, holding a cafe, and with bridges branching off to either side. The cafe sits on the surface of the river itself.
The Kunsthaus was really exciting for my friend who’s studying architecture. It looks a bit like an ugly slug or an alien with a straight viewing platform called “the needle”. Inside are art exhibitions, a shop and a cafe.
Although the outside of the building is very exciting, we found that the inside was a little disappointing as it’s a lot smaller than it looks. There was only one exhibition on when we visited, about “dizziness”. It had an interesting collection of video installations, sculptural structures and art objects all jumbled in together. Upstairs the viewing platform gave nice views of the city and Scholßberg.
Walking the city centre
We had some free time to explore the city a little further before meeting up for a last meal in the evening. Me and my architecture friend simply looked up over the rooftops for churches and searched them out until we found them. We found some really beautiful ones! To anyone who’s interested in churches or architecture in general, I really recommend doing a self-lead trail of the religious buildings in Graz. They are stunning on the outside and inside. The streets are also extremely cute to stroll along — much smaller than Vienna and they have a “small town” feel to them.
In particular, we happened to spot from afar an odd church-turned-art-space. It used to be a called St Andrä, but has recently been reinvented by artists as Andrä Kunst.
This is by far my favourite place in Graz! It was fun and completely unexpected. I also imagine it’s pretty controversial to do what these artists have done to a religious space: Placing political texts over the windows, and creating a disco-style ambience with the pink light shinning through a window and mosaic mirrors placed on one of the pillars, the alter table and even a disco-ball style Jesus Christ hanging from the ceiling. Light is refracted in beautiful rainbows across the entire space!
Vegan restaurant: Cafe Erde
To round up a great trip to Graz, we ended it in the vegan restaurant, Cafe Erde. With a delightfully laid-back living-room style set up, it was the perfect place to unwind (and some people even took a sneaky nap)…
The menu was super cheap, especially for vegan food! And there was something for everyone. Tofu burgers, fries, soup with a bread knödel, sandwiches and wraps.
Overall, Graz gets a thumbs up 🙂
It’s worth visiting for a day but probably no more than that as it’s small and easy to travel around.