Travel

Visiting Innsbruck

Imperial Palace and a fake tree

Of all the places we visited or stopped in during our weeklong tour, Innsbruck was my favorite. We arrived in the early afternoon so there was plenty of time to take in the sights even though we were only staying for the night. Our hotel was very, very conveniently located and after checking in, we headed for the Old Town, just a few minutes’ walk away. One interesting attraction was the fake cherry blossom tree that “grew” outside of the Imperial Palace. It looked real from afar but then one has to realize, a tree would not be blooming outdoors in the middle of December in alpine country.

Old Town Christmas Market and the Golden Roof

As the name implies, Old Town is filled with rather old and very charming buildings and streets. One of the most famous attractions is the Goldenes Dachl (Golden Roof), a balcony with roof tiles made of gold-plated copper. It was cloudy that day but the roof still glittered though not as brightly as on a sunny day.

St. Anne's Column

Continuing on, we walked through the old town, crossed a busy street and then we were in the city center. On Maria-Theresien Straße, the main shopping street, there was a Christmas Market but we ignored it for the moment. Instead, we took our guide’s suggestion and headed straight for the shopping mall. We weren’t there to shop at all but to go to the rooftop lounge where one could get a 360° view of the city and the surrounding mountains. The views were spectacular:

Innsbruck panorama

After admiring the scenery, we returned to the Old Town for a bit of shopping and browsing. One of the more interesting sights to see were these huge medieval or fairytale figures on display standing in between buildings, on top of entryways or just sitting on windowsills. You can get a sense of their size when you see how tall I am standing next to a knight in shining armor.

Fairytale and medieval figures

Eventually, we made our way towards the Inn River. The river itself is a beautiful aquamarine color and it makes for a very pretty postcard with the brightly painted buildings that stood on the other side.

Buildings along the Inn River

On our side of the river was another Christmas market and as we strolled through the stalls along the riverbank, dusk was settling in. In the middle of this Christmas Bazaar was a carousel for the kids to ride, and a tree decorated and topped with Swarovski crystals. I admired some of the ornaments for sale but didn’t buy anything; by this point, I was definitely more interested in other sights besides holiday markets.

Swarovski Christmas Tree at Marktplatz

I admit to being much more engaged in wandering through the local supermarkets and bakeries. Our guide told us that we should pick up something for lunch for our journey the following day. We picked up a few items at a supermarket and later on, we stopped at a small bakery where I bought a glazed croissant (which ended up being part of my lunch) and a box of cookies for home (they were a bit banged up by the time they arrived in New York but still tasty). And oh, there were some very interesting pastries on display in some other shops but we were on our way back to the hotel for dinner and who knew how much food we would eat that night.

That evening, we were on a tight schedule: M and I chose to join in one of the optional tour excursions that would take place after dinner. We went to see Tiroler Abend, a family-run show that highlights Tyrolean music, dancing, and singing (i.e. yodelling that isn’t quite what we see in The Sound of Music). Two of the performer came to pick us up from the hotel and drove us to the restaurant/theater.

Tiroler Abend

Tiroler Abend

There were other tourists there and overall, everyone enjoyed the show. I think a lot of the women in our tour group that came (it was mostly the women, too) enjoyed watching the men dance in traditional Tyrolean folk costumes, which of course included lederhosen. You can actually watch a show in its entirety here (which I think contained everything we saw, though not in the same order). One nice thing was that they would find out from what countries their audience was from, and give a little speech in their native tongues and as an encore, there is a sing-a-long with at least one song from every country.