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!”
|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’ !
Gold Digger Village
Fairy Tale Trail
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
World of Dolls
House of Herbs
World of Wax
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…