Monday, November 28, 2005

Innsbruck, Austria – Time for Christmas Shopping!

Wow, I’ve been traveling so much that I can’t keep track of where I’m going! I have really enjoyed being able to see so many wonderful things during my time in Europe, but I have also started to get a little tired of always being on the move. So, my weekend in Innsbruck was the perfect opportunity to relax.

I left Vienna at 6.00 on Friday (25.11.2005) and took a train to Innsbruck. On the way to Innsbruck, I worked on some homework for my International Corporate Finance class. It was due the day after I got back, so I wanted to get it done quickly so that I could have some fun during the weekend. After working on homework for a couple of hours, I started reading Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. I had brought it with me to Vienna, and it was fun to reread a book that I enjoyed when I was younger. The train arrived in Innsbruck at 10.45, and I immediately bought a bus ticket to head to Wattens, Austria. The Swarovski Kristall Welten (Crystal World) is headquartered in Wattens and I was very excited to be able to visit it. The bus ride to Wattens took about half and hour and it was very pretty. The mountains around Innsbruck were covered with snow, which makes for some beautiful pictures.

Once I got there, I was able to go right into the Kristall Welten. I was amazed by all of the different things that they are able to cover in the crystals. There were so many different pieces of art and they were all very unique. After my visit, I stopped by the gift shop – I couldn’t leave the home of Swarovski Crystals without buying something! I finished my shopping and had a cappuccino in the café before catching the bus back to Innsbruck.

When I got back to Innsbruck, I headed to my hotel to put away my luggage. I was staying at the Hotel Wiesses Kreuz. The hotel is over 500 years old, and Mozart stayed there with his father on their first journey to Italy in 1769. It was a beautiful hotel, and it reminds me of the hotel that my family stayed in during our trip to Fuessen, Germany in October. The hotel is located on Herzog-Friedrich-Strasse, which is the pedestrian town square in Innsbruck. The Goldenes Dachl (Golden Roof), one of the biggest tourist attractions in Innsbruck, is located at the end of the square. The Innsbruck Christkindlmarkt and the largest Swarovski Gallery in the world were also located on the same street, so I was feeling pretty happy with the location of my hotel.

After checking into my hotel, my first stop was the Swarovski Crystal Gallery (conveniently located next door to my hotel) – are you starting to notice a trend here? It had a lot of interesting displays, including Elton John’s Red Piano from his Las Vegas show, and a bicycle and lawnmower that were covered in crystals. After spending a bit more money (another trend that started in Innsbruck), I left the store and headed down the street to the Christkindlmarkt. It was a nice little market, but not as nice as the ones that I have seen in Vienna. I am really enjoying all of the different Christmas markets that I have seen in Austria, and I will definitely miss this during the next holiday season. I ate dinner in a little Italian restaurant, and then I walked around town watching the snow fall. It had been snowing all afternoon, and there were 3-4 inches on the ground by the time I finished my dinner.

On Saturday morning (26.11.2005), I took the train to Garmisch, Germany. My uncle Hubert had told me that I should visit the town if I got a chance, because it was so pretty. It took me about an hour to get to Mittenwald, and then another half hour by bus to reach Garmisch. The train ride was beautiful, and there was snow everywhere. I am constantly being reminded of the “Courier and Ives” Christmas scenes when I look out over the landscapes. When I arrived in Garmisch, I wandered around the town for a couple of hours before catching the bus/train back to Innsbruck. It is a beautiful little town and it looked so pretty with all of the snow. Garmisch is a big ski resort town, and I can see why since they had a foot of snow already in November. A lady that I talked to said that there is a big international ski jump competition on New Year’s Day. I enjoyed my time in the town, and I was really glad that I had the opportunity to go there.

When I got back to Innsbruck, I decided to go shopping. Innsbruck is very well known for its shopping opportunities and its ski resorts – since I wasn’t going to ski, I decided to take full advantage of the shopping. I bought a few Christmas presents and a warm hat that afternoon. I headed over to the Christmas market for a mug of Gluhwein and some people-watching. I wandered over to the river, and then walked through the Old Town. Along the way, I started to notice that different shops had put fairy tales characters above their doorways. I walked down the streets taking photos of the different characters, and I got a pretty good collection of different fairy tales.

On Sunday morning (27.11.2005), I got up and enjoyed a leisurely breakfast before heading to the train station. The train ride back went very well, until the train broke down. We had a 40 minute delay while the crew worked to fix the problem. But, I eventually made it home.

I truly enjoyed my trip to Innsbruck, even though I did not do much sightseeing. If you would like to see additional pictures of my trip, click on “Andria’s Travel Photos” and look in the folder labeled Innsbruck.