Rick … Have you BEEN to Innsbruck?

Innsbruck, Austria


On Sunday morning two tired women got on the train after only four hours sleep for our trip from Salzburg to Innsbruck. I don’t think there were more than a few words exchanged between Cheryl and me. We literally slept the whole way to Innsbruck.

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View to the Alps from old town Innsbruck

Once we arrived in Innsbruck at 10:00 we made the quick 5 minute trip from the train station to our hotel in the old quarter of Innsbruck. Our hotel, the Goldener Adler, was in a building dating to 1390. The interior was magnificent full of old art and frescos. Unfortunatley, our room was not ready, so Cheryl and I dropped our luggage off and got directions from the front desk to the Nordketten Bahn, which was the tram that would take us from Innsbruck up 2,256 metres above Innsbruck.

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Goldenes Dachl

We walked through the old town (which is VERY tiny) and stopped at the Goldenes Dachl (Golden Roof), which is Innsbruck’s most famous symbol. The roof was decorated with 2,738 fire-gilded copper tiles for Emperor Maximilian to commemorate his marriage. The Emperor and his wife used the balcony to observe festivals, tournaments, and other events that took place in the square below. After the requisite pictures, we walked through the arch at the end of the old town and 10 minutes later we were boarding the tram to Hungerburg 860 metres above Innsbruck. At this location, we changed to the next tram up to Seegrube 1,905 metres above Insbruck. As we traveled between Hungerburg and Seegrube we could see the hikers and mountain bikers down below us. Thanks but no thanks. It was straight up the hillside. No idea how they did it.

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The Alps

At Seegrube we changed trams again for the quick 300 metre trip up to Hafelekar high above the tree line (and the fog line). Fortunately for us, the clouds cleared somewhat and we were left with a magnificent view of Innsbruck far below. We had to hike another 10 minutes up hill to reach the peak of Hafelekarspitze at 2,334 metres marked by a cross.

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View to Innsbruck from the Alps

We walked back down the hiking trail and then hiked a separate trail past an old cabin to a slightly lower peak. In the distance we watched some professional hikers climb down from Klettern auf der Nordkette, a high rocky peak that went straight up. Now while there were professionals on the peak, there were also some idiot students from China who decided it would be a good idea to climb the peak as well … in keds. It looked like they got a short way up the rocks and realized they were in over their heads. When last we saw them, they were scootching back down the rocks on their backsides.

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In the Alps overlooking Innsbruck

Anyway, after hiking around for an hour or so, Cheryl and I took the series of trams back down the hill, walked back to old town and had a late lunch at the restaurant adjoining our hotel. Unfortunately, the lunch was the worst meal we had the entire trip. The mushroom soup was good, but the main course took forever to come out and when it did, it was tasteless. Oh well.

At this point, our room was available so Cheryl and I went upstairs and crashed for a couple hours. By the time we woke up it was late in the afteroon, and we decided we need to figure out a game plan for dinner. We wandered around the old town in dusk, found a standard Tyrolean restaurant and got a table. Dinner was mediocre again, although I had the best caesar salad with huge strips of baon. It was delicious, but the rest of the meal was tasteless. So far, we were o’fer in the meal category in Innsbruck.

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Old town Innsbruck where we shopped

We called it an early night and were looking forward to Monday because we really had no plans other than to do a little shopping in old town the next day, which was a rare “day off” on this tour of Austria. The shopping expedition turned into a bunch of fun as we wandered around the narrow alleys and visited a variety of local snapps stores where we did a number of taste testings, tried on a number of furry animal hats, and looked at more owl statutes and owl art than we could count. (Cheryl was convinced that Austria has some secret owl society that they are not telling anyone about because no one could answer why there was so much damn owl art everywhere.)

By mid day we decided to go rent bicycles and take the “easy 1/2 hour trip following the Inn River” to Hall of Tyrol …. or at least that is what the Rick Steves Guide to Austria advised. (And why I listened to this advice at this point I have no idea. This was the first time I used a Rick Steves guidebook and to say I was unimpressed was an understatement. I was convinced Rick Steves hadn’t been to half the places he discussed in his book and our bike ride was absolute proof of this. In addition, the guide book made Hall of Tyrol sound like a wonderful busy little town …. more about all of this later.)

Once we rented our bikes we rode to the Inn River on the other side of old town and followed the path along the river to Hall of Tyrol … or at least that is what Rick Steves told us to do. After pedalling for almost an hour we reached the end of the path and found ourselves in the middle of an industrial park with no indication where we were to ride or how we were to get to Hall of Tyrol. We retraced the path for about ten minutes and asked a local if he knew where to reach Hall of Tyrol. He spoke no English, but pointed across a corn field to a road. Huh?? Not sure how to get there so we followed a path through the fields. Once across the fields we found a McDonalds by the VERY busy road and stopped to read our map. We finally concluded that we had not ridden far enoough so at this point we followed the bike path beside the road and eventually reached a sign with an arrow for Hall of Tryol straight ahead. We road another 5 minutes and still didn’t see the town. We road up and down some side streets, looked at signs and finally found a young woman who spoke English and told us we needed to continue riding for a few more minutes straight ahead.

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Building in old town Tyrol

We finally found the little town at 3 o’clock almost 2 hours after we had set out. Half hour easy ride by the river my butt! Anyway, we locked our bikes, crossed the busy road via the underground tunnel and hiked up the narrow cobblestone road to the old town square. There were no tourists around and very few shops or cafes. I have no idea why Rick Steves said Hall of Tyrol was such a wonderful little town to visit, although I will say the old town was full of beautiful buildings and an amazing church. We stopped in one of the few cafes for a very late lunch. The cafe was very cute and had been in business since the 1860s. We had a meal of buns stuffed with meat and vegetables (tasted like a pizza), a banana stuffed doughnut and water (very good) and were back on our bikes by 4.

We found a fellow who directed us to a path by the river and we followed the path until it ended in the industrial park. At this point, we knew where to go so we followed the road for about a 1/2 mile until we picked up the path again. Thanks Rick Steves for telling us that the path ended and we had to follow a road. Oh that’s right … you didn’t. And also thanks for misleading us about the path following the river all the way to Hall of Tyrol. (I’m not sure he has even been to Hall of Tyrol by the bike path.)

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Old town in Tyrol

We reached Innsbruck shortly before 6 and by now the clouds had formed and it looked like it was going to rain. We walked back to the hotel, changed our clothes and wandered around looking for a restaurant. By this time it begun to rain so we finally just walked into a restaurant called FloJos. It turned out to be the best restaurant in Innsbruck. We each had a baked potato. And this was no ordinary baked potato. The potato was huge, served in a large black skillet and covered in various toppings you selected. I had the broccoli and cheese with a bit of bacon (as provided by Cheryl who had the bacon, sour cream and onions). It was superb and coupled with the beer was the best meal we had in Innsbruck.

After dinner, we made the mad dash back to the hotel through the rain. We had a cup of tea, packed our bags and got ready for our trip to Munich the next day. We were going to need some sleep if we were going to make through Octoberfest!

Author: lawyerchick92

I am a lawyer by trade, but long to be a full time traveller. My life changed for the better when my brother donated a kidney to me on October 14, 2002.

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