Our tour through Eastern Styria continued with a visit to Schloss Kapfenstein, another medieval fortress that has been converted into a castle and is now home to a fine restaurant and hotel.
So, on my last day in Austria, I had a delicious lunch on the outdoor terrace of the castle while admiring the distant Carinthian and Slovene mountains.
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About Schloss Kapfenstein
Schloss Kapfenstein is about 20 minutes from Riegersburg castle and located on an extinct volcano, between the Hungarian and Slovene borders. Kapfenstein castle was mentioned in historical records from as early as 1065 as one of the fortresses that defended Austria from the attacks by the Magyars and the Turks. The castle was owned by different noble families until it became the property of the Winkler-Hermaden family in 1898.
Today, Hotel Schloss Kapfenstein is a 15-room luxury hotel with a restaurant offering a large outdoor terrace with stunning views of the surrounding countryside. The spacious rooms at Schloss Kapfenstein are all individually furnished. They have wooden floors, satellite TV, a minibar, and a hairdryer in the bathroom. In addition, the Bad Gleichenberg Thermal Spa is just 4.3 mi away.
A lovely lunch at Schloss Kapfenstein
We picked a lovely spot on the terrace of Schloss Kapfenstein and started to browse the menu in search of some local delicacies. I loved my mushroom soup with roasted buckwheat, followed by a platter with a large selection of Austrian specialty cheeses!
Our late lunch at the hotel had extended to mid-afternoon, so it was time for us to return to our trip. But before we went on, we took a 15-minute walk through a forest and some family owned vineyards to a small chapel on the plateau next to Schloss Kapfenstein. From there, we could see our former destination, the volcanic cone of Riegersburg. Using binoculars, of course!
After our lunch at Schloss Kapfenstein, we could no longer delay our drive back to Weiz.
How I spent my last evening in Austria
I previously made arrangements with the neighbors, David and Emma, to have a little backyard together on my last night in Austria. Both my friends are ardent motor scooter riders, and David allowed me to ride one of their two-wheeled machines while he accompanied me on that little test drive. I had only been on a scooter once before in Ibiza, and I was very excited to try it again. After I got used to changing the gas on the handlebar grip, we finally got off to a decent start on our little adventure and enjoyed a thrilling ride on some local country roads.
Twenty minutes later, we returned and sat down in their lovely garden, admiring the large pond that they built together. We all recalled the time in 2005 when my dad, my sister-in-law, and the two of them came to Toronto for a visit. This was the first time I got to see my friends since then, only now it was on their home turf.
We also figured that one of these years we should have a joint skiing holiday in Schladming-Dachstein, in Upper Styria. This is a phenomenal skiing area that is often the site of famous ski races and a spot where my friends go practice winter sports on a regular basis.
The sun had started to set, and it was time for me to get back to my brother’s place and start packing my suitcase. I said farewell to my friends and asked them to come to Toronto for another visit.
Tobias, Anna, and I spent a few more fun hours at home as I got ready for my departure, feeling very sad about coming to the end of my journey.
A small ode to Styria as I sadly say goodbye to Austria
Without a doubt, this was my best experience since I left my home town 21 years ago. These nine days had been one of the best travel opportunities of my life. In addition to the great times I got to spend with family and friends, I also discovered over these last few days that Styria, the place where I was born, was definitely on par with many other tourist areas that I’ve toured across both North America and Europe.
With its medieval cities, majestic temples, monasteries, and fortresses, Styria has a wide variety of attractions for lovers of history and architecture. Cultural events, visual and performing arts are always available, even in small communities. Outdoor enthusiasts can find a full range of activities, from camping to mountain biking, hiking, horseback riding, rock-climbing, hang-gliding, river rafting, tobogganing, and many other diverse pastimes.
The diverse landscapes of fertile plains, rolling hills full of orchards and vineyards, high Alpine peaks and meadows, pristine rivers, and scenic lakes enchant every traveler. And food, wine, and beer lovers will definitely enjoy themselves. In addition, Styria provides competitive prices and high value to most international travelers.
This trip really opened my eyes to the amazing beauty and variety of the area where I was born, and even though Styria might not be as well known as other regions of Austria, my nine days back home were far too short, and I already have a whole list of things to do and see next time I’m in the old country!
Featured image: Steindy [CC BY-SA 2.0 DE]
Sarah Grossman was born in Austria but moved to Canada after college. She is an avid and savvy planner and organizer of worldwide travel and enjoys sharing her personal stories to encourage, inspire, and help other travelers.
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