Thursday, March 29, 2012


Josh and I have done a fair amount of traveling during our first year in London, but apart from visiting our families at Christmas, they were all business trips for Josh, so we decided it was about time we take a real vacation.  Since Josh has always wanted to ski in the Alps, we decided on a long weekend in Innsbruck, Austria.  And what a great decision it was!  I took over 300 photos during the four days we spent there, so it's going to be a challenge to fit this all into one blog post, but I'll give it a try...
Gorgeous! We knew we chose well the minute we landed at the airport
En route to our hotel
We stayed in a historic hotel right in the center of the old city.  It has been completely modernized, but still has lots of charm and character. 
The Goldener Adler Hotel, ca 1390
The rooms were all named after famous people who had stayed there.
We were in the Mozart room
We must have been given an upgrade - our room was HUGE!
The view from our room!
Late lunch in the town square
Our hotel was right next to the Golden Roof, a balcony built in the 15th century for Emperor Maximilian to watch tournaments in the town square below.  It is one of the big tourist attractions in Innsbruck
The Golden Roof
Innsbruck is the capital of the Austrian state of Tyrol, and is named for the bridge ('bruck') over the Inn river, which flows through the middle of the city.
The Inns'bruck: Bridge over the Inn River
On our first full day, Josh took a free shuttle up into the Alps to go skiing while I toured the city.  My first stop was the Stadturm, a lookout tower just across the square from the Golden Roof.  I walked up the 150 stairs to enjoy the view.
Stadturm - the city tower
Graffiti in the stairwell
Ski jump and hot air balloon
Inn River valley
Next stop was the Hofkirche, which was built in the mid-1500s to house the tomb of Emperor Maximilian.  There was an antiques market outside, so I paused to take a look before going in.
Hofkirche plaza
Antique teacups
Maximilian designed the memorial himself, and commissioned larger-than-life bronze statues of his ancestors, immediate family, and important historical figures to form the funeral procession.  Ironically, he is not actually buried here, but it is an impressive memorial nonetheless.
Hofkirche interior
That's one fancy knight!
King Arthur
View from above
These statues were incredibly detailed!
Marble carvings on the tomb represent important events in the Emperor's life
Since I knew Josh would have no interest in this, I also took a 20-minute bus ride to Swarovski Crystal World, which is not a factory outlet, but a surreal museum of the sparkly.

giant chandelier
crystal tree
WTF?  Trapped in a Herbie Hancock video?
Taj Mahal
LED jellyfish
And, of course, the massive shop
I thought it would be fun to buy a souvenir at the shop, but everything was ridiculously expensive -- definitely NOT an outlet store -- so I just browsed until it was time to catch the bus back to the city center.  I suspect that even the Swarovski store next to our hotel had better prices than this one.
Crystal duckies
Crystal dragon, only $23,000!
The next day, we took a cable car up to the village of Hungerburg, and from there, a series of gondolas to the top of the Alps.  It was mostly sunny and in the 60's in Innsbruck, but there was still plenty of snow up in the mountains.  We picked the only hazy/cloudy day to do this, but we still enjoyed some spectacular views.
Cable car station in Hungerburg

Gondola full of skiers and sightseers
Skiers big and small
Watching planes take off & land at the airport, from above

The Alps!
On the way down, we stopped at the Alpenzoo, with 150 species of animals that are found in the Alps.  It also has a pretty spectacular view.
River otter
Bald Ibis

Bearded vulture
Feeding time: otter eating baby chicks.  Ick!
Brown Bear!
Cable car
We took the cable car back down to the city center and visited the big cathedral before heading back to the hotel.  It was much more impressive on the inside...
Cathedral interior
Ceiling detail
 What was the name of this cathedral?  Well, it depends on which language you speak:
Cathedral pamphlets
 We had dinner at the Cafe Sacher, so I'm sure you can guess what I had for dessert!
Sacher torte
The next day was another beautiful, sunny day.  We started out in the Hofburg (Imperial Palace), which was quite impressive, but does not allow photos inside.  You can take a virtual tour on the web site if you visit the Imperial Apartments (under Museum).
After touring the palace, we went across the street to the Tyrolean Folk Art Museum, which was much larger and more modern than I expected.  It had a huge collection of vernacular architecture in the form of Stuben (parlors) from a dozen different houses, all of which had been carefully reconstructed inside the museum.  Each room had elaborately hand-carved wood paneling and was dominated by a massive stove in one corner, often with a bedframe built around it.
Josh in one of the many Stuben
Carved ceiling
Another stove
Another Stuben
Because people visit Innsbruck from all over Europe -- and beyond -- they have overcome the language barrier at this museum by giving each visitor a hand-held scanner.  Each object and descriptive label has a bar code, and when you scan it, the information appears on the scanner in your language of choice.  Very cool!
More cowbell!
Carved cabinets
Elaborate clock!
Traditional costumes
Just an ordinary towel rack...
Despite the gorgeous weather, we seem to have picked a quiet time to visit Innsbruck, as we only encountered a handful of other people in most of the tourist attractions we visited.  It was a bit creepy being the only people in the Folk Art Museum, as it had an eerie soundtrack of voices, bells, and other random sounds that played as you made your way through the exhibits.  By the time we were done there, we were ready to spend some time outdoors in the sun, so we hopped on a sightseeing bus and went to the Bergisel ski jump.  It is one of relics from when Innsbruck hosted the winter Olympics in 1964 and 1976, and is still used for ski jumping competitions.  The view from the new observation tower and restaurant at the top is pretty spectacular, although I can't imagine wanting to jump off of it!  Ironically -- or perhaps fittingly -- there is a cemetery just beyond it.
Ski jumping stadium
View from the top
After taking a scenic tram ride, we visited Ambras Castle, which is now a museum.  I didn't get a lot of photos as we had to rush through before it closed, but you can visit the collections online.
Schloss Ambras
The Armory
The Spanish Hall
Inner courtyard
Trompe l'oeil window
Beautiful gardens
Peacock and harem
Did not expect to see peacocks here!
We caught a few more sights on the way back to the city center.
Triumphal Arch
Beautiful art nouveau building
Olympic Stadium
Sunset over the Inn River
We had dinner at a Thai restaurant that night, having sampled enough Austrian food to be craving something a little lighter.  My dessert -- green tea custard -- was so elaborately presented that I had to take a photo.  LOVE the footprints!
Who's been walking across my dessert?
Our last day we walked around the city center for a bit before we had to head to the airport for our flight back to London.  We came across a bookshop that sold Latin translations of popular books, and stopped at a grocery store to pick up some souvenirs (chocolate!).
Harrius Potter?
Easter candy!
Oh, Heinz, you have been holding out on us!
It was hard to leave such a beautiful place!  How often are you captivated by the view from the airport tarmac?

Auf Wiedersehen, Innsbruck!
Goodbye, Alps!

Our trip home went smoothly until we reached Gatwick airport.  As we were going through passport control, they didn't like the looks of our temporary passports, or the stamped-in visa information from our misadventures in Belgium and France back in December.  They put us in a holding pen with a snoring African man while they confirmed our details.  It was mortifying, but mercifully only took about half an hour.  Of course, by the time we reached the baggage claim, it was already disgorging bags from another flight.  I found my suitcase sitting off to one side, but Josh's was nowhere to be found.  This was particularly upsetting as he had packed all the souvenirs (chocolate) in his bag.  He filled out some paperwork at the lost luggage desk and we took the train home.

Fortunately, the bag was located and delivered to our house the next night.  We did not get any explanation as to where it had been for the previous 30 hours, but it seemed to be in good condition, and all the chocolate was still inside.  Whew!

1 comment:

  1. love, love your travel tales and pictures. Thanks for sharing!


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