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Chapter Twelve

Day 31

Innsbruck

We head into Innsruck early as there is so much to see and do. We purchase a two day city card from the Tourist Information Office at the tower next to the Golden Roof. One day and Three day cards are also available. One Day is €29, 2 day €34 and Three day is €39. The cards allow you to enter Museums, get the Nordketten Railway, cable cars, Museums, Towers, the Golden Roof, Buses, as well as the sight seeing buses. They really do give real value if you want to see everything, (the cable cars are around €20 on their own). Today we have decided to get the Nordketten. It is only a short walk and we are there pretty quick. We walk down the stairs to the train and board as it is already there waiting for us. The ride is very enjoyable and passing over the river and up the mountain, it gives great views around the city. It passes through a tunnel and the ride becomes steep as it takes us higher and higher, though the train stays straight due to its design. At the top of the track we disembark and after a short two minute walk past a few bars we find the cable car which will take us to our next destination further up the mountain again. We are joined by a few skiiers, all heading up the mountain to the snowy peaks for a bit of adventure. The cable car ride brings more spectacular views as it climbs upwards into the snow and we spot two Deer and wild pigs in the forest below. We arrive at the top just as it starts to snow, making the whole place more magical for us. We decide while we are there we might as well hire some boots and skiis and try our hand at this skiing, after all, how hard can it be???

We pay our rental and head out of the shop onto the slopes. We start on the beginners as we dont want to show off to early. Staying up is not too hard, but stopping is another matter, we find the best way is to head to the deepest snow and throw ourselves down, it works a treat! After a couple of hours of lying in the snow…I mean skiing, we decide to give our boots back. An igloo sells beer from its cold shelves but also hot tea and wine. It houses a disco, chairs and tables and colourful lights, a wonderful sight to see. Another ski slope is busy taking skiiers and snowboarders up to even higher slopes, so we decide to join them for the ride and view. After taking in the sights we head back down the two cable cars and back down the rail track. The whole experience was extremely enjoyable and we would really recommend this trip, in summer or winter. Back down on the ground and in the streets of Innsbruck we decide to have a walk around the shops. We enter the Swarovski shop and notice if we show our card we get a free gift. We do and recieve a lovely necklace. An extremey generous gift. A few more shops and buying of souviners and we head back to the van to rest our weary legs.

Day 32

Woke up in a good mood thinking of where we are. We have decided to look around the city and make full use of our city card. After a small morning breakfast we head out with huge expectations. We head into the city centre, still slightly stiff from our skiing exploits yesterday but in the hope we will walk them off pretty quick.

We enter the old city Hall and City Tower, built in the middle of the 15th century. Show our tickets and start the climb up the stairs to gain its views from the 56m tower. Once up, we step out onto the walkable platform which with iron railings make you feel quiet safe. The views around the old town are lovely and 360 degrees which make it excellent for photos. We head back down and across the square to the Golden Roof building, but not before taking in the beauty from the “Helbling House”. This is a late Gothic House which you can tell by its Vaulted gallery and oriel windows. It has been decorated with colourful rococo stucco, the building was built in 1420 and has beome the emblem of Innsbruck. It was commisioned for the wedding of Emporer Maximilian to Maria Bianca Sforza of Milan in 1494 and is considered to be one of the crowning achievments of late Neo-Gothic secular architecture in Europe. We walk through to the balcony, (you can not enter onto the balcony) and see the artistic reliefs of the ballustrade depicting Emperor Maximillian with his wives Mary of Burgundy and Maria Bianca Sforza in one: and Maximillian with his chancellor and court fools in the other. The remainining reliefs depict dancers, dancing to the so called Moorish dance. We walk on and into the museum listening to our tour guide which is on a hand held speaker. It is all very interesting but from a personnal point of view, I found it more of a history lesson than an enjoyable building to see, and the fact I could not go on the balcony disapointed me further (Maybe just me).
After lunch we head to the Imperial Palace (Hofburg), built in 1460 when it become clear the “Neue Hof” would not suffice any longer. The buildings have a long history of being revamped over time. The main facade is pretty plain, yet remains impressive through its size. The palace has one large courtyard and two small inner courtyards, all available to see. Once inside you are shown around on a tour. The building is very well preserved and I’m sure you will be especially pleased by the Hall of Giants (Riesensaal) covering two floors with its late Rococo ornamentation. The ceiling fresco was created in 1775-76, and the walls are lined with pictures of the imperial family, worth the visit for this room alone! We leave the palace very happy and head to the Imperial Church (Hofkirche). This inconspicuous plain facaded church was built in 1553-63, though the interior reveals one of the most important artistic monuments in the whole of the Tirol. As you enter you are greeted by the famous bronze statues (known locally as the “Black Fellows”). They surround the tomb where Emperor Maximillian was to be buried, though this never happened. The idea of the statues and sheer size, reminiscent of Burgundian pallbearers and the burial pomp of Imperial Rome, was to memorialize the fame and dynasty line of Maximillian. He now lies at St Georges Chapel at the castle at Wiener Neustadt.

We walk out and are met by the Landestheatre. Built in 1844-46, the exterior has been expanded and the inside has been completly modernized. Next to the theatre lies the largest gardens in Innsbruck. Opened to the public in 1809, the english style park is home to Ancient trees, rare shubs and bushes and lovely flower beds, all filling the 18.5 acre site. From the front you can take horse drawn carriage trips around the city, a nice relaxing way to get around.

The next place on our itinery is the Triumphant Arch at the southern end of Maria-Theresien-Strasse. Built on the orders of Maria Therresia for the wedding of her son Leopold and Maria Ludovica of Spain in 1765 in honour of the imperial family. The south side of the monument is in memorial to this happy event. However this was over shadowed by the emperors sudden death, and the north side pays tribute to this. The arch now also makes the perfect backdrop to another Innsbruck icon, the famous Bergisel (Ski Jump). Our poor weary feet are now ready for a rest so we head for a nice meal at one of the local restaurants. There is so much more to see, unfortunately we do not have the time and tomorrow we must leave. We are all impressed with the beauty of this town and as we have not seen it all, it gives us the perfect excuse to come back in the future.

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