Graz 2000      Last Updated: 2-Apr-2006

Conny's Birthday (beginning of May)

The train ride through the Alps was relaxing and the scenery was wonderfully green. The clouds were fairly low in the valleys and the tops were reported to be > 15,000 feet (5 000 m). Good thing I wasn't flying, because I would have needed oxygen.

Some of these mountains reach 9000 feet (3000 m) and the cloud tops were too high to fly without oxygen  Sometimes one could just barely make it along the valley 
Other times there was no chance  What an interesting cloud pattern 

Arriving in Graz, I was in time to help celebrate my sister Cornelia's 1/3 of a century. We were quite a group, and not all were captured photographically.

Conny's birthday cake says 'For 1/3 century'  Conny gets the piece with the '1/3'  Conny and Markus are one happy couple 
Elfi, Conny, Daniela and Marianne  Monika, Rosi, and Roswitha. Unfortunately, we do not have a picture of Irmi and Frau Plösch, our neighbors in Kalsdorf 

Enjoyed visiting Birgit Maderl at her parent's home, which I still have fond memories of from my teenage years. This trip was the first time that I met Julia. Unfortunately, Philipp's leg was in a cast from a skiing accident.

Back row: Herr und Frau Volkmer with Birgit in the middle  Philipp was hiding, but we did see his leg with the cast  Julia 

 

Flying Preparations

Graz was essentially our home-base for this trip, even though it is not that easy to reach from the US and with international commercial flights. In Rosi's home we stored items we didn't need for different legs of the trip and it was the center for many a birthday celebration.

Getting ready for the trip I wanted to document what a load we carried just for flying (including lodging and basic travel/sightseeing information).

Logbook, aviation maps, flight charts, flight rules reference books, travel books, maps, software, and manuals - some more paper was added along the road  A table loaded with electronics. Some of them are: cell phone, camera, computer with CD and Floppy drive, printer and parts, calculator  Timers, batteries, floppies with airport info, three headsets, Palm Pilot, flash light, walky-talkies, GPS, binoculars, printer colors, strobe (not all the emergency pack is shown her, we also brought blankets, food, water, tent, ...)  Cables, converters, and power supplies 

 

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With Yolanda (beginning of June)

Unfortunately, Neu Schwanstein was in the shade when Yolanda and I passed it on our way from Worms. But our lunch-break in St. Johann in Tirol was wonderful. Yolanda and I were quite a surprise in this glider dominated airport at ~ 2000 feet (670m) in the middle of the European Alps. The welcome was very warm, and I got immediately renamed with "Cessna Girl" (say Che-zzn-uh Gurrl), which was our call-sign when we left; N53611 just was no good. We had a wonderful lunch with traditional Austrian food, and Yolanda was introduced to Black Currant juice, which soon became her favorite.

Our mosquito parked between high peaks on a gorgeous day  53611 is parked at the end of the row with a few powered aircraft, and may gliders  Yolanda with Gulasch Suppe and Black Currant Juice - What did we do???  Would this be a great home-base? 

Yolanda and I stayed a few days in Unterpremstätten (near Graz) with my mother, Rosi. We made several trips to family favorites and some new places. Yolanda climbed all the steps up to Schloßberg - after touring down town. AND we have proof of her actually stepping into a lake.

One day Rosi took us to her favorite fish restaurant. It is about 30 minutes south from her home, in Slovenia. Fortunately, we also ordered a huge grilled meat plate for Yoldanda. Rosi and Roswitha learned how to stack the empty shells nicely, so one small plate is enough for the waste products.

Rosi's favorite place for fish and mussels  Yolanda and Rosi looking forward to the 'Meat' course. The mussels are already gone  It doesn't get much better than this  Yolanda's first try of the local digestive 

We also toured the Klöcher wine area, where Rosi's parents came from. We visited a local wine maker for a tour. Typically, if the wine maker offers his own wine with food, he gets a good tax incentive. So there are many places named Buschenschank which are extremely busy on weekends. Drive carefully afterwards, on the small windy roads! We had to make special arrangements for the tour. The enterprises are small, much of the equipment is community owned, and much manual labor is involved. The winery was bottling wine on the day we visited. Since the equipment is there only a few days a year, every minute counted. The wine was good, and the selection quite wide, though the names were different from Napa for the same grape. The sales room and operation is MUCH smaller than what one sees in Napa.

Klöcher wine area  Rolling hills covered with vines 
This is the Buschenschank we visited.   Yolanda and Rosi tasting wine in the wine cellar 
The wine botteling machine  See the hose with the wine on the floor?  What to buy? What to buy? 

There are also many things to do in and around Unterpremstätten.

Rosi's garden was a good place to relax for Yolanda ...  ... and of course Rosi 
Yolanda's introduction to traditional Austrian food continued  Here we have Hotdogs Austrian Style (not in buns, but with horseradish and mustard 
Too Hot? Let's go for a swim at the Schwarzl 'Lake' (a former gravel mine, now filled in with ground water, was converted in a summer relaxation and year around entertainment area). In 2000 the international flower show was hosted here (Around the tower in back)  WE HAVE PROOF! Yolanda did go into the water! Woo-hoo! 

 

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Roswitha's Birthday (mid of June)

Returning from Vienna to Graz, Scott and I were delayed for my own birthday party due to heavy thunderstorms. (Thank goodness we took the car.) But the buffet at the Graz airport was still going strong, and we all had a wonderful time.

The airport restaurant has a tradition of fine dining in the area (although with some ups and downs). The buffet is renowned and very popular  Roswitha got a HUGE bucket with fruit. It was much appreciated after all the meat and potatoes in Northern Europe  

Scott met Birgit and her husband Peter.

Scott, Birgit and Peter fighting for the last piece of bread with forks(?). Scott has an unfair advantage by fighting with two forks.  

All the Costco batteries are coming in handy. They were mostly used for the GPS. I just wish they were not so heavy.

These were all the batteries we used on the first half of the trip. We have since moved to rechargeables. 

 

Rosi's garden is producing quite heavily - and she is very proud of it.

Scott admiring Rosi's garden from outside the fence  Rows and rows of flowers and vegetables (including a few rows of corn)  Rosi in between some of her beloved sunflowers 

 

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On the way home (beginning of July)

It rained most of the way on our flight back from Vrsr (Croatia), but the weather at Graz airport was gorgeous. When we checked the weather for the next day to continue on to Worms, we found that a major front had moved all over Germany and was making its way over the Alps. So we decided to leave the plane in Graz, arrange for it to be picked-up, and took the train from Graz to Zürich. It was a sad Goodbye. The plane had served us very well (even with the compass and vacuum pump failure on the way). Even though we knew the weight of all our luggage, it was amazing when we finally saw it all outside the plane again - it hardly fit into Rosi's little Toyota.

Approach into Graz after a long rainy flight and an extensive hold over Dobl Sender (close to my first rented house)  Luggage-R-Us, This was all in the airplane for the last month and we even shipped gifts home as we went  It barely fit into Rosi's car  Goodbye to our reliable mosquito 

On the last night in Austria, Scott and Roswitha showed off what they learned in the cooking schools by preparing food for the "Bon Voyage" party before returning to the US.

Well, we made the Mozzarella dish for a decade, but CHECK OUT THE CHERRY TOMATOES - that dish is really difficult to make 

 

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