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April 16
Written April 17 & 18
Dear Friends and Family,

This is day three.  The plan was for a city day in Klagenfurt, a community of 100,000 people, about 20 minutes away we had been told.  First, however, I tried to stick with my photography routine and take some pictures in morning light.  Pretty plain, but it's all practice.
d120416_02_lake.jpg d120416_01_MorningAbstract.jpg

We left for Klagenfurt at about 10:30. From our location in the Rosental Valley, we twisted up onto the higher plateau where the city sits.  Nice drive, but more than the 20 minute hop we'd been told.  Navigating to the city center was easy enough and we booked into the centrally-located "New Square" (Neuer Platz) underground parking garage.  Outside of villages, European parking is always in organized garages, usually costing a few euros an hour, but clean and convenient.

Up on the surface, Marianne studied the city map and I took pictures of the "worm".  The Klagenfurt heraldic animal is a serpent, called "der Lindwurm", and it has a 16th Century statue in the center of  Neuer Platz.  "New" is 16th Century.  The Old Square is several hundred years older, but the buildings in town were generally 18th Century and newer, some of the nicest being contemporary with our turn-of-the-century apartment in Kiev.  A nice period.

We started our tour with lunch, always a good idea.  We ate at the Hofbräu zum Lindwurm and enjoyed typical Bavarian lunch.  Oops, I thought we were in Austria.  Hard to tell sometimes. 

Fortified, we left for our street wandering.  Mostly we just looked at buildings and shops.  I took pictures and Marianne sketched.  We were interviewed by some school girls from Italy, part of their Austrian field trip.  I'm not sure they could tell we were sometimes answering in English instead of German.  I think in this part of the world, languages are all a mix anyway and movies, music, and school have made English just part of the mix.

My highlight was a climb up the tower of St. Egyd's church , the oldest church in Klagenfurt (and, no, I do NOT know how this saint's name is pronounced, in any language).  I happened to arrive at the tower door, just as the tour guide was scheduled to start his tour, and I was the only customer.  We climbed the 22 stone steps and the 185 wooden spiral steps to the rooms near the top where watchmen had looked out over the city for hundreds of years.(see more below)

In the pre-digital age, large roman numerals were hung from the tower to provide the townsfolk with temperature readings.  After World War II, the last person providing the service was a widow who managed to raise six kids in the four small rooms 200+ steps in the air.  Reportedly, the kids all grew up in good health, with strong legs for sure.

By now, we had spent several hours wandering around and we had earned another meal.  We went into a non-descript hotel bar & restaurant and first enjoyed a glass of red wine and then a simple dinner.  Austria is about the only place left in the European Union where smoking is allowed in bars and some restaurants, so our pleasant environment was a bit disturbed by this ancient custom.  Reminded me of growing up in a home of smokers.

So, eight hours after we arrived, we went back to the New Square parking garage and ransomed our car.  Ransom indeed, since the charge was 27 euros ($32), far more than we had been expecting.  I think the Wurm above our heads was extracting a toll.

On the way home, we seemed lost since we were on different roads than what we came in on, but in the end Gertrude, our faithful GPS navigator, directed us along an even nicer route, down into the Rosental Valley, the Wahaha Paradise resort, and home.

A successful excursion.  We learned a little, ate a little, and exercised a little.  Our pictures are below.  See if you can match them with the story.


John and Marianne

d120416_10_M_lost.jpg d120416_11_J_gearedUp.jpg d120416_12_worm.jpg d120416_28_turnedWorm.jpg d120416_20_street.jpg
d120416_14_HofBrauW_M.jpg d120416_15_soup.jpg d120416_16_scene.jpg d120416_22_ItalianGirls.jpg d120416_21_street2.jpg
d120416_23_Theater.jpg d120416_24_SateHouse.jpg d120416_26_churchUnder.jpg d120416_27_towerTops.jpg d120416_25_My_tower.jpg

St. Egyd
The tower excursion involved a walk up 200+ stairs before arriving at the small "museum" near the top.  The guide showed me the picture of the lady (name?) who, when widowed, took over her husband's job of hanging roman numerals from the balcony, showing locals the temperature.  The tower was also used by fire watchmen who would fire a "blunderbuss" into a megaphone to indicate which direction the smoke was coming from.

After the inside tour, we took a turn around the outside walkway.  This offered a wonderful view of all of Klagenfurt, and an opportunity to try my hand again at panoramas.  At least it gives a sense of how high we had climbed.

Here is today's track, to and from Klagenfurt and wandering around.  Red pins indicate pictures -- lots of pictures!:


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