jn82’s Epic Adventure

Day 63 [2 Apr 09] – Innsbruck

Posted in Innsbruck by jn82 on April 3, 2009

After a very relaxing but grey nine days in Switzerland, we got on the train this morning at 9.40am and headed for the Austrian city of Innsbruck. Just under four hours away from Zurich by rail, Innsbruck is the third largest Austrian city, and is situated right beside the alps. The entire train ride was very scenic, passing many snow capped mountains and lush green fields. This was probably one of the most scenic train rides so far. As the train would only arrive in Innsbruck around 1.30pm, we brought sandwiches purchased from the supermarket earlier onboard for lunch.

Austrian Federal Railroad inter-city carriage.

Our first class private carriage with three seats on each side which was empty for half of the train ride.

The man who got on halfway and shared the cabin with us.

Upon reaching Innsbruck, we headed out of the station towards the hotel, which was around 1.4km away from the train station but just over the bridge from the old city. The first thing that strikes you is how near the mountains are to the city, much nearer than any of the cities we visited in Switzerland. It is a pretty unusual sight. The walk to the hotel went through the old city, so although it was pretty long, we did get to see some of the sights very briefly. The hotel itself is pretty standard and well priced, at 60 Euros a night for a twin room, which is pretty cheap considering that there were only a couple of very poorly rated hostels in Innsbruck. The only set back was there was no internet! After dropping the bags, we crossed the river Inn on the main brucke (bridge) to the old city.

Entrance to the old city from the bridge.

Dom Zu St. Jakob.

There were only a few main sights in the old city recommended by Frommers and Lonely Planet which could easily be covered in a couple of hours, so we walked around slowly to soak in the atmosphere. Surprisingly, there was a large number of Chinese tousists around. The first sight was the Goldenes Dachl (Golden Roof), made of 2,657 guilded copper tiles, which was built in the late 15th century by Emperor Maximilian. He used this as a royal box for watching civic events in the square below. There was also a museum for the Goldenes Dachl, but we did not bother to go in to see that, as the main attraction was the roof itself which could only been seen from the outside.

Goldenes Dachl.

Next, we headed just opposite to climb the 148 stairs of the Stadtturm (City Tower). Built in 1450 and standing at 56 metres tall, it is one of the old city’s highest structures and offers a panoramic view of the city from the top. The view from the top was indeed very good, and also because the sky was blue and pretty clear today! From the top you can really appreciate what a beautiful city this is, and set so close to the mountains you can see the houses on the mountains pretty clearly too.

Stadtturm.

The opposite bank of the Inn with the alps behind.

Dom Zu. St. Jakob.

Helblinghaus and Goldenes Dachl.

The next stop was to Hofkirche (Imperial church), which contains a memorial to Emperor Maximilian and his (empty) sarcophagus. Hofkirche also contains 28 giant bronze statues of Habsburgs which line either side of the cask.

Maximilian’s sarcophagus.

Entire statue cast out of one piece of bronze.

The ruler prior to Maximilian who allegdly had 50 illegitamate children and the ladies of Habsburg.

After we were done with Hofkirche, it was almost 5pm and most of the other sights would be closing soon. We just walked around the old city for a bit more and walked through a park (Hofgarten) where for the umpteenth time this trip some kids smoking in the corner yelled out “Konichiwa!” upon seeing me. I decided to play the “Asian man” part and reply with a big “Konbanwa!” and put my two palms together like a Thai and did a bow as well.

A short break at the hotel later and we headed over to a place which Frommers recommended for dinner, Weisses Rossl, in the old city. The Frommers recommendations for food are usually a bit pricy but good, as compared to Lonely Planet which have totally crap recommendations for food. I decided to go with the waiter’s recommendation for dinner of the pan dish of the house, which was the Hauspfandl. The Hauspfandl here was tender slices of pork fillet, broiled, well spiced with garlic and caraway, quenched with brandy and served with green beans in smoked bacon and Swabian (gnocchi) dumplings. Although more than what we usually spend for dinner at 15.60 Euros, it was all worth it!

Hauspfandl.

A very enjoyable first day in Austria, although we only got in just before 2pm.

Today’s pictures here.

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