SYMPA2006, a symposium of molecular diagnostics was the reason I ended up in an Austrian town named Graz. All I had heard of the city before, was that they had found three cats infected with avian flue couple months ago.
I had it all planned out perfectly – I would arrive at Graz on Wednesday afternoon, check in to the hotel, and go to explore and enjoy the city and parks and of course take a lot of photos and have coffee in cozy outdoor cafes, maybe even have a coffee date and just have a beautiful day. But as has been said, if You want to make Gods laugh, tell them about your plans, so here is the reality: … It was raining really bad from the moment I landed in Graz.
Actually there was one exciting thing about the arrival – it was the first time I had a driver meeting me at the airport, holding up a paper with my name on it. Well, even though the name was ‘Hr. Rötsep’ and written with green text marker, making it impossible to read from a distant longer than one meter, I was still excited andbumptiouss and was rather tempted to pose next to the taxi driver and point to the name so everyone would see that I am the one who is being greeted with the sign :-D
Back to the depressing day. Taxi took me to my hotel, and with the drive taking longer than half an hour, I was really pleased I had decided I had ordered the taxi. My initial plan had been that, young and adventurous as I am, I will try to figure out my way to hotel on public transportation. So that was another moment that brought a slight smile on my face. I am sure it would have taken me over 2 hours to wonder and soak in the rain with my luggage, while doing my best to ask directions from locals who don’t speak much English.
As I had no intention to soak myself in the rain, the whole day passed with sleeping ..watching CNN .. getting depressed .. sleeping .. CNN .. sleeping ..
The weather through the next days, the days I was indoors on a conference from 9 am and ended with some social events by midnight, the days I had up to half an hour during lunch to get out of the conference for fresh air – Sun glaring down the whole day! Shucks, where was the Sun on the first day when I needed it?
I did get a moment for myself to get lost in the city and to enjoy some parks and the mountain, but as it was only an hour I had for myself before a dinner appointment, I had to be rather quick.
The first park I found myself, had some nice fountain on which I spent a lot of time photographing the butts of the statues, ..hiding them behind the water drops of course :-)
Margus had asked me to bring him some pumpkin seed oil from Graz. I had no idea what it was or why it was so special, but as much as I have learned by now, it seems that it is a particular oil produced in Graz, or mainly in Graz. Despite my wish to please my man with all in my power, this time by obtaining the oil for him, I had no idea where to get it. So on a dinner partywhoe I suddenly remembered about he oil, I asked around whether someone could guide me to where it could be found. I did get some guidance and was told there is a market on some square on some days, on which the oil can be found. I was actually about to loose hope as I had experienced how complicated it can be to get answer to any request for directions in Graz, in English. But suddenly I picked up someone mentioning pumpkin seed oil and then Reinhard coming next to me asking whether I was the one who wanted the oil. And as he shortly explained, it is his family who is producing the oil so it was no problem for him to arrange some oil for me by next day. Thank You Reinhard!
As I mentioned, I knew nothing about the oil before, but by now I did experiment pouring a bit of it on my salad, and it does taste great!
After couple drinks and few dance moves, I fled the dinner/disco and went to shoot some night pics in the city. I was loving it until I felt seriously needed to take a leak. Dear Graz, I am very sorry but I was desperate enough to almost lighten myself into your beautiful river, but as a last chance, I went to check whether there is anything on the interesting creation in the middle of the river. I was most grateful to find a bar on it and where there is a bar, there has to be a toilet, although I seriously doubted such thing could be found in the middle of a river. The toilet sure was a sight itself – walls covered with distorting mirrors. I did manage finishing my things in there, but I did also get rather dizzy. I can only imagine what it must be like for a fellow who was to use the toilet after having few times more drinks than I had had.
With the midnight bells most of the city lights went off, so I had had my fun and headed to bed. Never saw any cats in Graz, a lot of nice birds though.