Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Landskron Castle: Monkeys & Birds

Monday July 16th, 2012

Started out the day trying to make pancakes. However not only did I pick the wrong flour, I also couldn't find the baking powder (do Austrians not use baking powder?). My pancakes turned into thick mickey mouse shaped crepes (the mickey mouse part was done on purpose). My austrian brother liked it though (tasting like a crepe and then being covered with syrup isn't so bad I guess....). Since the weather was nice we decided to go to Landskron and our austrian father drove us to the base of the 'hill'.

Landskron Castle is a castle that sits above Villach and can be reached by several ways. You can of course drive up and park. Or you can walk a trail up to the castle from the base of the 'hill'.

The castle itself is mostly ruins but part of it has been transformed into a bird show area with different birds on display. On the other side of the parking lot near the castle is what is called a 'monkey hill' where monkeys of one breed (140 total?) are enclosed in a sanctuary of sorts where you can take a tour.

Quick wiki history on Landskron (name means "the crown of the country"):

"First signs of there being a castle is 1028. In 1355 it came to the Habsburgs and then continued to switch hands as in 1436-1447, the castle belonged to the Lords of Stubenberg . In 1511 it was donated to the St. George's Knights by the Emperor Maximilian I in 1542. In 1542 Christoph Khevenh├╝ller purchased the castle. From 1543, the family, the predicate "of Landskron", the castle was the ancestral seat of Khevenh├╝ller. Upon the seizure of the castle as part of the expropriation of the Protestant aristocracy in 1628 was the acquisition in 1639 by Count Dietrich stone .

Due to its exposed location, it came several times to fires caused by lightning strikes (early 16th century, 1542, 1585 and 1812). After the last fire, the roof was not repaired and put the abandoned buildings left to decay. In 1953 a revitalization was done by Hans Maresch. The castle is now used for tourism."

As we walked up to my castle my younger austrian brother showed off his boy scout skills by telling me (as he hacked away with his swiss army knife at the underbrush on the side of the trail) which plants were poisonous and which ones you could eat if you prepared them a certain way. The lesson only seem to underscore to me that most of the plants in the forest were inedible, and that if my austrian brother got dropped off in a forest by himself he would be able to survive. For all his boy scout skills though, my austrian brother picked poor shoes to walk the 'hill' in and wasn't even wearing socks (he ended up getting some blisters). If I remember my brother's boy scout days correctly I don't think this is an uncommon phenomenon among boy scouts.

Landskron above, me below.

Walking up the steep 'driveway' to the castle

And more walking...

And even MORE walking

The walk to the castle wasn't that long but it did require walking up some steep paths. My austrian brother and I went to go buy tickets for the bird show (bird show is the only thing that is in the ruins, the monkey place is located below the castle next to the parking lot).

The griffon vulture. Apparently indigenous to Austria

Tombstone of Klevenhuller

Austrian brother eating lunch

Unfortunately the bird shows are infrequent and we had just missed the 11 am showing and the next one wasn't until 2:30 pm. We went ahead and bought the tickets (I think 5 euros each) and walked around to the different bird cages. The bird show was still going on so we sat down and caught about the last half of it.

Isn't this just the CUTEST owl you have ever seen?

Another lonely bird

Top of Castle

Bird in Bird show

They allowed children (after the show) to come up and borrow a glove to hold a bird on their arm (for a photo). I asked my austrian brother if he wanted to do it too but he said no. Because we didn't feel like waiting 2 hours for the second bird show we left for 'monkey hill'.

Admission was five euro for child, ten euro for adult. The shows were much more frequent and happened every half hour. 

List of rules as we go in. They were quite serious about the 'do not stare the monkeys in the eyes' rule

Monkey begging for some food from the guide

Cute video of monkey reaching for some banana

Some babies. My austrian brother told me they had 10 babies this year.

Monkey on some thinking/training equipment

Monkey swimming

More monkey eating

His face is kind of cute

Mother with baby trying to enter the water

A monkey who decided to come sit on the fence of the pathway

After the monkey tour we walked down to the bottom of the 'hill' and took a side trail to the ferry terminal at the lake (there are several stations around the lake). We only had to wait about ten minutes and our tickets was about 10 euros total (to go to St. Urban) although children cost less on the ferry then adults (more like a 3/7 split). The ferry is strictly for pedestrians only although you can bring a bike on if you want to. It is two stories tall with a very small third floor that is really more of an observation deck.

Inside of ferry. View of the gate to come in and off the ferry.

View of the lake from the ferry

Once at St. Urban we walked back to the house and had some food. We then played some soccer and then worked on fixing my austrian's brother computer. He also tried to break into my iphone to play games but he hasn't figured out the password yet (same as my computer O_o). He was also severely disappointed that my kindle didn't have any games.

Till next time. Ciao!

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