Both quaint and modern
Top of the mountain
Parasailers, awesome views,
High altitude lunch
Swarovski crystals –
Basis for a surreal world
Like Disney on drugs
It would be easy to summarize this visit by saying “Innsbruck is scenic! Go look at the photos!”. However, I guess I have a certain obligation to give it a proper summarization.
It was interesting to see the transition from Italy to Austria. The first thing I noticed was the dining selection on our Austrian train to Innsbruck: sausages, various schnitzels and beer! This would turn into a culinary theme. Also, heading up into the Alps resulted in a much more scenic backdrop than the already impressive Italian hills.
We couldn’t make an AirBnB reservation, so we ended up in a very comfortable hotel slightly on the outskirts of Innsbruck. As an unexpected bonus, there seemed to be some mixed agricultural zoning on an otherwise residential/commercial street. For example, just across the street from us was a small dairy with its own self-serve milk dispenser!
Our first major outing was to take a series of funiculars and trams up the mountains above town. The views were spectacular, especially once we got to the top (~2000 meters). There was also a lot of sporting activity going on, ranging from some kind of crazy skiing on short skis down the sparse remaining snow to parasailers launching themselves off the mountain directly into the sky.
The next day, we headed in the opposite direction and went up the slope to check out the Tirol Panorama as well as the the Olympic ski jump. The panorama and associated museum provided some interesting historical context from the 19th century and onward (the Tyrolean people are badasses, despite the liederhosen!). Our visit to the ski jump was also impressive – it was designed by London-based architect Zaha Hadid (who also designed the funicular stations going up the mountain) and provided another nice viewpoint of Innsbruck.
On our final day, we took a trip to the nearby town of Wattens, location of the Swarovski factory. More importantly, we were there to see the Swarovski Kristallwelten (“Crystal World”). We expected a certain amount of spectacle, but I’m happy to say our expectations were exceeded. Not only was it less corporate than it otherwise might have been, it was as if Walt Disney had designed an experiential theme park while on acid, while snorting Swarovski crystal dust as some sort of catalyst! The place was a truly freaky collection of installation art. Our photos don’t really capture it, so feel free to ask us about it sometime. Recommended!