Trip Start Jun 10, 2007
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Austria  ,
Thursday, September 20, 2007

Innsbruck is the capital of the Tyrol region, an area renowned for its alpine adventure opportunities.  It is only 30 miles north of the Italian border and 45 miles south of Germany.  Innsbruck is said to rival Vienna and Salzburg for Austria's most beautiful city.   It has a population of only 130,000 (all seem sooo nice as well) but a history that one would expect to be attached to a major centre.
The first thing that hit us upon our arrival was the language barrier.  In France we got along pretty well, in Italy we got along, we felt a little less confortable communicating- to put it mildly.  We know the basic yes. no, please, and thank you, but that is about it.  We quickly found out, thankfully, that most people here speak English rather well.  Which was a great relief.
The next thing that we noticed was an odd symbol on their street signs.  For instance, one of the main streets is "museumstrasse" (museum street), but on the signs it is "Museumstraße"(see picture). So you can imagine everywhere you would see strasse (street) the "ß" appears to replace the double "s".  We found out that the Austrian Government has forbidden the use of the spelling "ss" in public (think Hitler).  The rules are slowly being relaxed as time goes by however - interesting anyway.
We spent the first day wandering the straßes getting a feel for the town.  Practically anywhere you looked, you could see mountains in the background.  Considering the architecture of the old town is stunningly beautiful, taking a wonderful picture is child's play.
Thanks to the culturally advanced 15th century Emperor Maximillian, the city has a rich history of artists and craftspeople that have made Innsbruck proud.
We wanted to see what this was all about, so the next morning we toured the "Maximillianeum", which is, if you haven't guessed it, a museum dedicated to Maximillian.  The most interesting part was the 20 minute film that is sort of a " life and times" of big Max and his key role in the development of Innsbruck.  After this, we headed down the street to the "Tiroler Volkskunstmuseum" or Tyrolean Folk Art Museum.  It is full of beautifully painted furniture, everyday tools, utensils, and even whole rooms taken from the 15th century to the present (see pictures - check out the picture of the bed, can you spot the Italian influence? ;) ).  Really fabulous stuff.  For such a relatively small place, the people here have truly stood out.
As "museum legs" were starting to set in, we took the rest of the day off.  We stopped for a warm beverage and strudel, but only the tea and coffee came.  We then had to drown our struedel-less sorrows at an Irish pub (yes with a pint of cider) before calling it a day.
We loved Innsbruck and can't wait for Munich tomorrow!
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