Golden Girl

Trip Start Apr 12, 2008
Trip End Jun 18, 2008

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Flag of Austria  , Austrian Alps,
Thursday, May 8, 2008

<Brian's brief chronological list of "highlights" (and of whinging)>
- Bought a Innsbruck card that gives you transport around Innsbruck and entry to an assortment of places like museums and the Alpenzoo... the pass cost 30 euro each, so the challenge to get some value out of it had begun...
- Due to lack of instructions, we flagged down a random "Sightseer" bus which took us to the Alpenzoo or Alpine Zoo... so since we were there, we went in since we had already paid for it. This place is like any other zoo really... especially in the way that all the animals are hiding. The main attraction had to be the brown bears which were out walking around and swimming.
- Went to see the Golden Roof (which Lang pointed out to me as I didn't even know we were looking for it)... which was strangely enough about 50m from the front door of our hotel... HAHA. To be honest, looks like someone just stuck golden alfoil on a small roof area... Also visited the Golden Roof Museum coz the Innsbruck card covered it... nothing much exciting about there... there was a video going in one room which was interesting and covered the history of the city.
- Did a city walking tour at 2pm... unfortunately there were Germans there who only spoke German, so the guide had to talk in German to the others and then in broken English to us. This tour was mildly interesting, but given the choice, I'd pass!
- Was running out of time before everything closed, so we decided to go up the Stadturm... otherwise known as the City Tower... coz the card covered it... Anyways, it was around 150 steps and we were "rewarded" by a panoramic view of the city... yeehaa.
<Lang's Extended Version>
The room was quite dark when we woke up this morning at around 8am to quite a bit of noise outside our door.. The place we're staying at claim to fame was playing host to Mozart many moons ago, so the floors and stairs are a bit old, slanted and creaky. Also, the reason why our room was dark was that we only had one small window which looked into a 2x5m space right in the middle of the whole hotel - seems to be a characteristic of the old buildings here..
Anyway, after breakfast (and of course that packed lunch), we headed to the tourist information centre to see what we could do around here for the next couple of days. On the way, we came across the Swarovski Crystal store which was about 3 buildings from where we were staying and spent some time browsing their displays.. We couldn't really decide if we wanted to get anything as it meant we'd have to carry it around - btw, if you're expecting souvenirs from us, please don't.. We've only got backpacks, so think of this blog as our gift to you.. ;)
  So we left the store with nothing but our wallets intact, and continued our journey to the Info centre. Once there, the lady convinced us to get the all inclusive (we love this word, as well as any that has 'free') Innsbruck Card that covered us for all public transport, the sightseer bus and a whole list of other attractions including a return trip up to Hafelekarspitze (one of the Alps in the area), Olympic Ski Jump Stadium, all the museums etc.. Seemed like a bargain for only 30 Euros for 48 hours as the trip up to the Alps was almost 20 Euros on its own.
Our first stop, after Brian hailed the sightseer bus from the side of the road (and he was promptly told off by the driver that he was not at the station), happened to be the Alpenzoo or Alpine Zoo..
Given that it was included in the card, we decided to go and check it out. It was comparable in size to the one in Adelaide, but of course some of the animals were different, given that this one was all about animals that live in the Alpine region, so we saw yaks, boars, moose, otters, beavers and even a couple of brown bears. The bears were incredible as one of them paced the window and you could see all its features from a few centimetres away. The other was quite lazy and slept the majority of the time we watched it, but it was just adorable.
Had we had children, we probably would have spent a lot more time looking at the animals, but since we didn't, we left after about an hour and a half. Yes, a very quick visit, but just enough to see everything a few minutes each - more for the bears, of course.. =P
Back at the old town centre, we headed to see the much overrated 'golden roof', which we missed last night as it was dark. It was built by Emperor Maximilian I and comprises of 2657 gilded copper tiles. The amazing thing was during one of the wars, they built a brick wall around it to protect it. 
In front of the Golden Roof, two human statues stood, one was a silver lady on a pedestal and the other a gold painted girl with her ladder and paint brush. The funny thing with golden girl was that we saw her get off of her ladder, stretch her arms, back and legs, went for a walk around for a few minutes, before resuming her position.. It was quite a sight to see - we thought the whole idea of a statue was that you couldn't move.. What was even more hilarious was that a couple hours later, we saw her carry her golden ladder away down the street..
At 2pm, we joined a walking tour of the old town, however, didn't get much out of it as we couldn't understand the guide fully and she also spent half the time talking German, then translating it back into English for us - so our attention went elsewhere. Therefore a 1 hour tour took 2 hours.. I think we could have spent our time doing something else..
Leaving us with only an hour until most of the attractions closed, we decided to head on top of the Stadturm, or City Tower, where we got a 360 chicken-wired view of Innsbruck. It wasn't too bad when you stuck the camera lens out of the wire though as the snow-capped Alps are beautiful and most of the houses were a nice pastel colour. Innsbruck is a cheaper alternative to Lauterbrunnen or Murren - there are views of the Alps, people speak German (and smoke) and there are many more cheap food options here.
Speaking of food, we had our first Austrian meal of Wiener schnitzel and potatoes for dinner. Unlike the ones you get back at home where the meat is beaten till a millimetre thin then fried until all the juices are sucked out of it, the meat here was tender and succulent.
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