Thursday, 19 September 2013

The Dwarf Park...and other places we didn't get the chance to see in Carinthia, Austria

The Dwarf Park had been on my list of must-see attractions weeks before we went to Austria. I had been surprised to see it listed in the guidebook until I realised it was a rather unfortunate translation of Zwergenpark and was, in fact, a place for garden gnomes. 1000 of the them would be well worth seeing. Or so I thought.

"We could drive past the dwarf park on our way back from the Heinrich Harrer museum?" I tentatively suggested to my son.
"I'm not going to a kiddies' playground just so you can say you've been to a dwarf park."
"They've got a little train."
"I'm not going on a little train."
"You used to love little trains."
"Mum, I'm 17!"

Gurk Cathedral
Dom zu Gurk (Gurk Cathedral)
He had a point. In the end we pulled up in the town of Gurk where the dwarf park was located but only to visit the jaw-droppingly beautiful cathedral.

Along with taking a cable car up mountains, swimming in lakes and hiking up waterfalls, this was another ingenious way to find respite from intense heat. This 12th Century Romanic church is one of the most important buildings for European sacred works of art. Constructed as a bishop's church, it has several different architectural styles: a Romanesque crypt, Gothic vaults, Renaissance frescoes and a magnificent Baroque interior. And it was deliciously cool inside.

The other surprising thing inside was a local choir of teenagers who were being taught a song by their very enthusiastic choirmaster. The children, all dressed in black T-shirts, were making a reasonable stab at it, but they hadn't quite got to grips with Your Love is Lifting me Higher, despite Austria's version of Gareth Malone giving it large in the pulpit to encourage them. I was sorely tempted to join him and sing along myself. The acoustics were superb. However son and husband were looking daggers at me, desperately hoping my quiet humming wouldn't escalate into a full-scale warble. We shuffled back out into the sunshine, poured ourselves into the oven that was our car and set off again, sadly passing the Dwarf Park as we left town.

What else did we not see during our two weeks in Carinthia?

Bee Museum - with 'interactive exploration terminals' !
Torture Museum
Gold Digger Village
Heidi World
Fairy Tale Trail
Mushroom Museum
Puppet Museum
Exhibition Cheese Dairy
Hiking in the Empire of King Waldegeist
Roots Park - fairy tale characters and animals made out of different kinds of wood and roots
Reptile Zoo
Animal Park
World of Dolls
House of Herbs
World of Wax
Donkey Park

All these and more were available to visit using the tourist Karnten Card either free of charge or discounted entry. Carinthia, a region in Austria that is full to the brim with things to do with children, especially if they are younger than 17 and still enjoy little trains...




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23 comments:

  1. I'm surprised you didn't get nagged to go to the torture museum. That would have been first on my boys' list! They would have been keen to try out the thumb screws on each other I'm sure...

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    1. I thought he'd fancy that too but we were only near it on the way back from the gorge hiking and we were all hot and exhausted. He thought the models on the website looked decidedly dodgy too...

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  2. Gold Digger Village? An old colleague of mine hailed from there I reckon.

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    1. Ha! Wish I'd gone for a visit now...

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  3. Oh mum fail! Surely points are scored for actually singing and embarassing the heck out of him! You may point out to him that other mum's you know are not so kind lol

    any hoo all is not lost with the gnomes : take him to Gnome Magic http://www.gnomemagic.co.uk/ - THEY have a tearoom - beat that Austria!

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    1. I didn't want to upset Gunther Malone either - he seemed to be enjoying himself and I might have stolen his thunder.

      Have clicked on that site. So thrilled. Will get me to Essex ASAP.

      Ps - I was commenting on your blog post at the same time as you were over here. Spooky.

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  4. I love little trains! there's one near us that our children used to love and now flatly refuse to visit...shame! Not so keen on Garden Gnomes though, so might have to side with Rory on that one...

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    1. Teenagers are difficult. I'd have loved a little choo choo around the park - beats walking!

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  5. "Mum Hasn't Gone To..." Episode 1

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    1. That's genius. A whole new blog opportunity.

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  6. The cathedral does look beautiful, but I am very disappointed... No gnomes? How could you miss seeing 1'000 of them?
    Not too sure about the interactive Bee Museum?! As for Heidi World, forget it, Switzerland is the place to go to! ;o) xx

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    1. Yes, I know, terribly disappointing. I had been relying on my Scottish husband to insist we go as it was free!
      You're right - what are the Austrian's stealing Heidi for?!

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  7. I still can't believe you didn't get to go to the mushroom museum either... That list is hysterical! :D

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    1. But we did got to the Bonsai museum. I didn't tell you that, did I. It was very relaxing but the trees weren't big enough to provide much shade so we didn't stay long.

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    2. Hahaha... No you didn't! :D

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  8. Just to say I've moved my blog to a new address: http://charonsfare.blogspot.co.uk/ - please update your links and blog roll! Many thanks! :-)

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  9. Love this - Gold Digger village sounds like a reality TV series.

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    1. You're right. Just think of all the tasks they could be set before we vote them all out!

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  10. I just have to say that you had me at 'Dwarf museum' - the idea of a dwarf museum AS WELL AS Heidi museum, torture museum, and mushroom museum almost defies comprehension! I'm so sorry Rory didn't want to the ride the train, I can only imagine how much fun those photos would have been! I don't know when the musical interlude occurred, but if you'd played your cards right, you might have leveraged your desire to sing in a blackmail arrangement ("Either we go to the dwarf museum, or else I burst into song here and now.") It looks like an incredible holiday either way, though. And I'm really in no position to question your tour choices when I missed the opportunity to see the 'River of 1000 Lingas' while I was in Cambodia.. (Google it - reminds me of your Iceland museum.)

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    1. I really should have considered blackmail (I bow to your superior knowledge on how to manage teenage boys and their fathers) yet I had already embarrassed them with my Julie Andrews impression up on the mountain. If you don't know what I'm on about, it's mentioned in the only post that you, my dear loyal reader, didn't comment on so you may have missed it. Far be it from me to add more of my rubbish to your reading list but if you want to get the whole picture it's here:
      http://mumsgoneto.blogspot.co.uk/2013/09/climb-evry-mountain.html

      Have googled the lingas - I can't believe you didn't take a peek!

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  11. Thought you might enjoy this since you missed going to "Gnome-Man's Land". 60s David Bowie which nobody else seems to have heard of. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=htdvdm7cJnA. At the beginning it looks like the gnome might be falling down past Gurk Cathedral.
    Marion in Panama

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    1. Just realised I forgot to reply to this, Marion. I remember that song and video from years ago - showing my age now. I always thought it was such a strange one for Bowie to perform. But I loved the giggling gnomes.

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