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Weekend 2: The Capital of Kaernten
Saturday: Villach - Klagenfurt - Villach
Travelled to Klagenfurt - nearest big city and capital of the province of Carinthia (Kaernten). I brought my laundry, but didn't really find a place to do it so I locked it up in the train station.
I was excited to go on the castle tour, but from the pictures most of the "castles" were just big houses. I went to the center of town for tourist information and there was some kind of gathering with mini soccer competitions and performances by children. I bought a Kaernten Card, which offers free admission to the cable cars, museums and other attractions of the Land (as in Carinthia) then decided to head out to the nearby lake. (Worther See is probably the biggest lakes of the region, at about ten miles long.) I thought it would be a short walk from the city center, but it turned out to be a little longer than I expected - about 4.5km. On the way, I stopped by Minimundus - a park with miniature models of famous landmarks around the world - I thought it was ok, but Laura loved it!
It was really hot, and I went swimming once I got to the beach. The docks were packed with people - I found out this is what everyone does when all the shops and the city are pretty much closed, as they are every weekend after around noon Saturday. The only other thing I figured I should visit was some house that Mahler used to do his composing. The plan was to take a short boat ride out (overshooting) and walk back to see the house. Well, again underestimating the distances, I had to walk back another three or four km, but I guessed I was used to it...
So Mahler didn't just live out by the street where it would have been convenient for him to go to the store or something - he had to have a small cottage out isolated one or two miles out in the woods to do his composing. I guess it makes sense. It's up on a small hill in the forest overlooking the lake - very solitary. And I had some random desire to start humming one of his symphonies...
Finally made it back - another long walk to the Klagenfurt beach - and I took the bus back to the center. There was some footrace going on which I watched, but otherwise I ate and was ready to go home
Sunday: Villach - Ossiacher See - Klagenfurt - Villach
I got up early and biked to Ossiacher See with the intention of taking the cable car to the top of the Gerlitzen - the adjacent mountain. It was kind of weird going up the ski lift in the summer, but the view was pretty amazing. The first things I saw were RC sailplanes - apparently a club meets every weekend. The next exciting thing were paragliders. Another club, I guess. They take the lift up and soar down - or up, riding thermals.
In the afternoon I went back to Klagenfurt for the (first ever) Iron Company triathalon as part of one of the teams representing CTR. When we arrived it was extremely hot, but just before the race began it started pouring. I didn't really mind, as I was doing the swimming part - and that was only 300 meters. Not too long, but having not warmed up or practiced, I inevitably took it out too fast and got really tired half way through. Since it was short, I made it back without too much trouble. I finished 8th out of 34 swimmers in our division (earning me an invitation from some people at work to do another triathalon, more on this bad idea later), but the biker and runner dropped us to 2nd to last place. Afterwards we sat around and had beers (or coke) and talked (or listened to people talking in German) and basically celebrated not coming in last place. There was a cover band playing American songs which was nice to hear - though it was kind of weird seeing middle aged Austrian people dancing to Blink 182 (sorry, no pictures). The rain finally stopped as we were going home - giving us a rainbow and a nice sunset.