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Published: November 25th 2016
Old Town & Mountains
Looking northwards towards the Nordkette mountain range from Maria-Theresien-Strasse.
I didn't want a thirty minute walk to the hostel after yet another unexpected hike at Neuschwanstein
but that is exactly what I got. My hostel in Innsbruck wasn't the most conveniently located and it is on long, tiring walks like this at night, when you're tired, hungry, dirty and cold, that you really wish you were home.
Archaic Sunday trading laws have to change too; there was no place still open and selling food at 8pm - hardly past anyone's bedtime. Luckily I still had a massive loaf of sweet raisin bread that I had bought in Fussen.
To top things off, I had managed to pick up a cold too; I would normally have jumped at the free breakfast included in the price of my stay but I was just too tired to get up before 9am.
I eventually got going at midday and baulked at how expensive this place is. 2.30€ for a bus ride? I walked and as a result saw the rather drab, square apartment blocks - and you know, they weren't a million miles away from the ol' Communist ones I saw in Eastern Europe - but the uninspring architecture was redeemed by the constant backdrop of
Famous bay window in the old town that glitters with a golden roof (it is actually copper).
the mountain ranges either side of Innsbruck. I also noticed how deathly quiet, inner-suburban Innsbruck is.
Things got more busy once I got into the old town which is surprisingly pretty. It is medieval as opposed to Salzburg's slightly pretentious Baroque
and I think I prefer Innsbruck's more colourful Aldstadt. I didn't go into any of the attractions though; 7€ to go into a church? I've seen enough churches not to part with that amount of money, I think. Another 8€ to go into the Imperial Palace? Ditto.
What unexpectedly broke the bank however - painfully so - was the 29€ I parted with to take the Nordkettenbahn, a futuristic funicular that takes you from downtown Innsbruck up into the mountains in no time. F*ck me, why is it so expensive? The painful part was that I had
to go into the mountains - it's what people go to Innsbruck for.
The views from almost 2,000m high were pretty spectacular though. I also did some hiking for a couple of hours and I had sweeping views across Innsbruck the whole time. It reminded me of when I went up to Floyen in Bergen
. The hike I did there was probably more exciting
Colourful Riverside Houses
On the River Inn with the Nordkette mountain range in the background.
though - the only real adventure I had on this hike were the steep slopes I had to negotiate as the trails wrapped around the mountain - I probably wouldn't be keen on snowboarding down them, which you can do in the winter here - and some loose stones. It was nice having my 'proper' hiking shoes on too, which made things much easier than the previous day. Otherwise the terrain was pretty monotonous. I indulged in my penchant to go off the beaten path - but luckily the unofficial path I took reconnected with the official path as I had hoped it would, some thirty minutes later, allowing a nice loop back to the cable car station. Was it worth 29€? Probably not. Maybe about half the price. I'm writing it off as a one-off extraordinary expense...
My financial luck didn't improve that evening.
I didn't know that my rather large hostel actually had a kitchen - I certainly wasn't told by the lady who checked me in - and so I bought bread, ham and cheese for dinner. The ready meals would have been cheaper but I thought I had no microwave. It all cost me a
View From The Top
Looking across the Nordkette mountain range at Seegrube.
bit more than I was expecting too - a couple of items weren't sold to me at the price I thought they were; 1.60€ isn't much but I'm scrounging for every euro here. Then on return to the hostel I found out there was
a kitchen and that I could've had a ready meal after all. Grrrr.
I've noticed that there were a few immigrants around and that Austria is slowly but surely becoming more multicultural although not yet to the extent that Germany and the UK already are. Not sure I'd immigrate to Innsbruck - certainly at this time of year, as there didn't seem to be much going on. Salzburg seems much more lively.
A couple of these immigrants were at my hostel, which included the Egyptian and the Spaniard in my dorm. I have to say that the last two weeks haven't felt like backpacking at all - mainly because I haven't actually met any backpackers. It feels like I'm just travelling. And to be honest it hasn't been overly enjoyable, like other parts of my trip. The cold hasn't helped and it has felt like a cost-minimising and box-ticking exercise more than anything.
One of the main pedestrian drags in the old town.
like my hostel here in Innsbruck either. I'm just a bit over the inconveniences of not having your own personal space. If I get on with my dorm-mates then I can overlook them but it wasn't the case here. Therefore I just watched Liverpool vs Man United on my computer and enjoyed it. I watched the sports documentary straight after the game too. I just want to do normal things like this again.
This sense was reinforced the next day when walking through the city, seeing kids play football. I wanna play football again! I haven't done that since Buenos Aires
almost a year ago. For the first time I really questioned whether this was really what I wanted I do. Innsbruck is a fairly normal town with normal people doing normal things in a well-planned place...and from a traveller's perspective, it's fairly boring and there is no sense of being on an adventure at all - which just made me crave normal things.
My walk through the city was part of a 13km walking circuit I did, taking in the Schloss Ambras and the Bergisel.
The Schloss Ambras is a 16th century Renaissance castle that was once the
Olympic-sized ski jump.
residence of Archduke Ferdinand II, the ruler of the Tyrol region. Like the castle in Cesky Krumlov
, it seems that its bricks and details has been painted on and isn't really that special from the outside; I wasn't willing to part with 10€ to see what it looked like on the inside, especially considering that for just 2€ more, you can visit Neuschwanstein.
Bergisel is a massive, Olympic-standard ski jump designed by famous Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid. I've never seen a ski jump before so this was a first. There are supposed to be stunning views over the city and of the Nordkette mountain range from the top of it but I wasn't willing to part with another 10€ to see it. There were clouds covering the Nordkette today anyway and having been ripped off a couple of times yesterday in this city, I wasn't about to go and do it again.
If you've made it this far, I guess you're wondering if I have anything to good to say about Innsbruck. Well, it has a pretty old town, it is a well-planned city, it's great for cyclists, it's close to the mountains and it's stunningly set - it's just
Flanked by beautiful autumn colours, the River Sill flows towards the mountains south of the city.
a shame it's so expensive.
It has to be said that my state-of-mind - so important when it comes to forming impressions of a city - and my circumstances at the time did not help me to enjoy the place as much as I might have. Nevertheless, it was time to move on.
I thought that two days in Innsbruck might be a bit of a squeeze to see and do everything but in the end, it was more than enough.
I will now allude to box-ticking I mentioned earlier - my next destination definitely falls into this category!
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