Amsterdam dancing with my soul
I wandered around the old streets alone
For a few centuries, charming, angry, relatable, mesmerizing, or larger-than-life leaders have come to power with bad intentions. They manipulate the people who find out later that it was all for personal gain. The thing is, it's a recent phenomenon. Before the rise of democracy, there may have been tyrants, but none that had to manipulate citizens to gain their power. There's Napoleon in the early 19th century, who took France from revolutionary turmoil to nearly taking over Europe by becoming a charismatic, trustworthy tyrant hellbent on raising French nationalism and seizing all kinds of power. Then you have the rise of fascism with Hitler, Mussolini, Franco, and Imperial Japan, and arguably the rise of the Soviet Union, with controversial figures like Lenin and homicidal figures like Stalin. Of course, there have also been demagogue dictators in other areas of the world—Mao Zedong, Kim Jong Il, Robert Mugabe, Sadam Hussein, Fidel Castro, Hugo Chavez, Idi Amin, and Muammar al-Gaddafi.
Austria is a country that attracts millions of tourists each year. For a country its size, it consistently attracts relatively high numbers of visitors who take in the Alps or make a possible city trip to the capital of Vienna or backdrop of the Sound of Music, Salzburg (Austrians have likely never seen this movie and are annoyed with its popularity). However, Austria has another hidden gem of a city outside the Alps and Vienna, nestled into the rolling green hills of Styria, Austria’s southwestern province. In 2018 I studied German in Graz, Austria’s second-largest city and capital of Styria. During this time, I traveled to 21 countries throughout Europe, but my heart remained in Graz. I’ll tell you what’s so special and enthralling about this Austrian city obscured by the crown jewel of Vienna to the north and the looming shadows of Alps in the west.