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SHARKHUNTERS International
Southern Patrol - 2013!

Getting High in Austria!
On our next day, we did some sightseeing and this is the castle Hochhosterwicz, also known as the "Castle of 16 Gates" for the 16 fortified gates an enemy would have to fight through to reach the castle at the summit.  No surprise - the castle was never taken in battle.

 

Shrines like this are all over the country and well up into Germany.  During the war we were told that Germans were a Godless bunch.  Propaganda is a powerful weapon.

  Yep, we are going waaaaaaaay up there!
     
 
That is a cable car with seven people in it.   For the hardy hikers, this is the first of the fortified gates
     
 
    The courtyard below is already about 1,000 feet high
     
 

Almost to the top and the

 

family courtyard for the duke's family

     
 

Lunchtime, and we eat in the great hall where the knights

 

once ate.  Today it is schweinebraten and huge dumplings

     
 

The duke prays for good luck when he goes to kill enemies

 

while his lady waits patiently for his return

     

Most of the people depicted in the paintings in the knight's hall only lived into their thirties.  They had to pack a lot of living into a short time.

In the museum we see the armor of the castle's men-at-arms and you will note that they are all about five feet tall - except for the massive huge guy at the right.  He was the Captain of the Guard and he stood 2.25 meters tall!  That is about seven feet and four inches!  Maybe it was an accident or perhaps some of his men just didn't like him because he was shot in the back with a crossbow by one of his own men.  It could have been an accident - after all, sometimes an M-16 went off by accident in Vietnam and the platoon leader went down....

 

Enter the Dragon
Okay, cheap takeoff on the Bruce Lee film of the 1960's but we went to visit the dragon in the center of Klagenfurt, the county seat of the county of Kärnten (Carinthia) and he is right there in the town square.  According to local legend, this dragon really was alive at one time and roamed all through Europe.  Sadly, this dragon could eat only virgins and when he got here to Kärnten, the poor thing just starved to death.

 
A sad fate to be sure.   HANS SPYKER (759-1988) and his daughter Diane
     
 

In 1990 when Sharkhunters were first here, HARRY COOPER (1-LIFE-1983) was walking through this plaza with his best friend in Germany, Oberleutnant zur See der Reserve and Ritterkreuzträger HANS-GEORG HESS (125-1985), the plaza was filled with vendor stalls as ladies were selling all sorts of items.  One older lady heard them talking and realized they were speaking English and asked HESS if we were Americans.  He said that our group was mostly from the United States.

Tears were streaming down her cheeks, she yelled to some of the other ladies - they were holding COOPER's hand and thanking the USA for not allowing the victorious powers of the First World War to partition Kärnten off to be part of Croatia.  It is still a powerful and moving memory for COOPER.

     
 
Beautiful statues abound   Well, most of them are beautiful.

It was another busy day and we were glad to see our hotel rooms.  Tomorrow we roll northward - come with us.

CLICK HERE to go on to the next day of our 2013 "Southern Patrol"

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