We have put almost 2000 miles on our van since we picked it up on Sept 6. I figure that I would get a couple of speeding tickets that I would find out about when I turned in the car. (Europe and UK have insta-cameras that take pix and send you the ticket) It isn’t that I am driving fast. It’s that the speed limit laws are incredibly varied country to country, and signage is often poor or non existent. I didn’t think that I would get tagged by the Austrian Police on a “county road”. I guess I was going 70 in a 50 zone (that would be around 40mph instead of the posted 30mph, for you stateside folk) and was pulled over by a hand waving Polizei. Time for the Austrian over used saying: Gruss Gott. God’s greeting, or basically, hello in Austrian. We hear this alot and it’s funny because anyone in Austria will tell you that religion is important, but hardly anyone goes to church. Hmm. Apparently Gruss Gott doesn’t mean you’re going to get off on the speeding thing. As I pulled up, he asked if I spoke German. I said no and he asked, ‘how about French, Italian?’ I said English, and he said ok and spoke in unaccented English. Instant respect moment: in Logan, you’re lucky if they’ve graduated from HSchool, let alone able to speak 3-4 languages. This will only take a minute, and if you want the whole thing to be “overwith right now”, it will cost you 50Euro. Uh, okay. Hey, I even got a receipt. I am just not sure if he gets the dough, the policemen’s charity ball, or the captain of the police precinct. Either way, I made my donation and hit the road (we were 3 miles from our destination, after driving 5 hours!!!) I have to say, he was incredibly nice about the whole affair.
Innsbruck. A new fave for us – mid sized city in Europe. We are still in the Alps, as Innsbruck lies along the river Inn, tucked away in this narrow valley of absolute beauty. You know the history, in no particular order; war, Leopold, religion, war, Maximillian, abdication, religion, war, the Hapsburgs, war…. repeat. That said, the city is the most beautiful and clean Medieval city we have visited yet. The olympics were here in 64 and 76, so the entire area is surrounded by ski venues, trams, gondolas, ski lifts and ski jumps. And the mountains……
Let’s start with the town. The river winds like an ‘S’ through the city with both foot and driving bridges periodically crossing from one side to the other. A 13kilometer promenade along the river means walkers, bikers, joggers enjoying this lovely stretch of goodness. Old town has narrow walking streets with shops, hotels and restaurants through out. Have a look:
What you see in these pics is typical across Europe: colorful stucco buildings dating from 1300-1700. But in reality, these were ugly drab stone buildings when they were built. What is unique here is that you get to see the old stone along side the nice stucco. It creates a very cool contrast and highlights both the new and the original. Take a look at the 14C hotel that Mozart stayed in back in 1773:
The arches and corner pillar (along with the right side bottom where the people are) are in the original stone, and a facade has been applied above. What is hard to see is that the squiggly lines are paintings on the side of the building, typical of Bavarian style. Here is another busy walking street shot:
Innsbruck sits at 500 meters. A funicular heads up the mountain and meets up with a gondola. This gondola takes you to 2000 meters (about 6000 ft). Another gondola takes you up the final 1000ft to the craggy peak. Liz and I HIKED to the top of the first gondola and then rode the gondola and funicular back down to the bottom. This is the steepest and most exhausting hike I have done. I figure we hiked about 6 miles in about 4 hours with a 5500 foot elevation change.This is a shot from the bottom, in town. The glacier looking area is where the first gondola ends. Here are shots along the trail and looking down over the valley (Innsbruck):
One of the alms (house) we stopped at briefly:
Amazing, eh? We left at 11am and took lunch. We rode the gondola and funicular down at 4pm. What a day. That night, we found an early music concert (16Euro). It was held at a church in town and of course was nearly sold out. I saw only 2 empty seats.
The music was fantastic. I wished that they had CD’s available. At intermission, EVERYONE got up and went out of the hall. Hmm, what’s up with that? Free wine is what is up with that! How civilized. Concert with wine at intermission. In Logan? Never.
Ok, I am done. We walked around town again today and saw more of the city. Tomorrow we are off to Mannheim/Heidelburg, Germany. Of course, I will keep you “posted”! Auf wiedersehen!!