Friday, October 10, 2014
After a tiring first full week of school, I was pumped to come to Innsbruck. I saw a few photos online that had me convinced that the city was stunning, and with my friend and old co-worker, Hannah, living in Innsbruck, it seemed like the perfect weekend for a reunion.
The train brought me from foggy Linz to mountainous Innsbruck in about three hours. I'm not sure what impresses me more to this point, the wonderful landscapes or the selective punctuality. In the meantime, I did my Swedish homework and my inner language nerd was in heaven. I'm definitely looking forward to next class.
In Innsbruck especially, the Föhn is an Austrian obsession. This is a weather phenomenon where the warm winds come up from Italy and warms up the autumn cooling. The Austrians believe that the Föhn carries disease, laziness, and confusion with it. In New Jersey, we'd call it humidity. Nonetheless, the Föhn yielded a lovely, warm weekend for my stay in Innsbruck.
Back up to my arrival, Hannah picked me up at the train station. My first lesson was that everything in Innsbruck is within walking distance. Thus, we strolled to her apartment, which not only included some hilarious roommates, but also boasted clear views of the mountains all around. I wasn't sure if I died and went to heaven.
We toured a bit of the compact and charming Altstadt. We stopped by an overwhelming ornate cathedral where we ran into Nadine, a teaching assistant I met from orientation a few weeks back. I didn't even know where she lived. Nadine joined us and we continued to meander the city and parks. We crossed the glacial blue Inn River. It was much hillier as we made our way to the Hötting neighborhood. There we met Gary, a second-year U.S. teaching assistant, and continued the hike up to Hungerburg - my first vantage point of the city.
View from Marktplatz
Goldenes Dachl (Golden Roof)
One of the figurines moons spectators because the artist was never paid the promised price.
Sankt Jakob Dom / Saint Jacob's Cathedral
(where Hannah and I ran into Nadine!)
Hannah and I crossing the Inn River
As newcomers to Innsbruck, Gary and Hannah encouraged Nadine and me to take the Nordkette gondola to the top, known as Hafelekar. They promised some astounding views of the city and surrounding mountains. Words cannot describe the wonders in which I was immersed. The changing autumn trees transitioned to gray, stone mountain peaks..and each view was only more impressive than the previous. Also, to make the world a tad smaller, we met another USTA at the top, from New Jersey no less!
Nadine, Gary, Hannah, and I
Hiking up to Hungerburg!
"No Trepassing" - Oops.
Taking the gondola up to Seegrube
View of Innsbruck from Seegrube
(the windy road was for mountain biking)
"In reality, every summit is just a detour to the next pub." -Hans Kammerlander
Innsbruck from Hafelekar
Nadine and I made it to the top of Hafelekar!
Hafelekar (Top the Nordkettenbahn)
Hafelekar (Top the Nordkettenbahn)
Beer available from the soda dispenser.
What a view!
Evening music on the Nordkette (at Seegrube)
The evening setting on Innsbruck
This adventure was particularly unexpected to my comrade, Nadine. As she left her apartment, she planned to buy a kettle, not make her wait to the top of the mountain in ballet flats. She definitely earned the "trooper" award. We soaked up the views for about three hours from Seegrube and Hafelekar before we caught up with Hannah, Gary, and a handful of other U.S. Teaching assistants at the French market. It was a groovy evening as we concluded the evening at a 70s concert in the Treibhaus Cultural Center and the Moustache Café. From get-go, I was having a ball in nature-enthused and laid-back Innsbruck.
Saturday, October 11, 2014
Hannah and I took it easy in the morning. The intended scrambled eggs were upgraded to deluxe omelettes as her roommates contributed a few ingredients. Avocado was the final touch to complete the breakfast. I shan't forget the stories and intercultural opinions shared from that breakfast anytime soon.
Afterwards, Hannah and I meandered a bit more of Innsbruck. First, we walked along the Inn River towards the university and then made our way through the Saggen neighborhood prior to returning to Hannah's incredible apartment.
Park signs clearly define what is and is not allowed.
Some impressive bus maneuvering.
Hannah had to help out at a hockey game, so I opted to go on a hike with Gary. First, we lunched on a Flammkuchen from the French market. Then, we wandered the town a while before heading uphill to Berg Isel, another vantage point of this city nestled in the Alps. It rained for a fair bit of the uphill hike, so we took refuge in a museum café once we reached an outlook point.
Flammkuchen - dough, cheese, bacon, and onions = ¡delicioso!
The hot chocolate and strudel were rejuvenating, but I was not ready for what I was about to see. The sun broke through the rain clouds, and the sun shower produced two full-arch rainbows that stretched the entire width of the city. My trigger finger got a small blister after all the photos I snapped. Nonetheless, that added a mystical memory to my Innsbruck experience.
View from Berg Isel
Rainbow - View from Berg Isel
View from Berg Isel
Innsbruck's airport is a 7-minute drive from the city center. It's regarded as one of the most difficult airports to land at...pilots are required to obtain an additional certification.
Saturday evening sunset
Gary and I made our way back down the hill and rejoined Hannah for a homemade pasta dish that we prepared at Gary's cozy apartment. The pink sunset skies over the glacier blue water set a picturesque scene beforehand. Following that, we all met up with Hannah's roommates for a movie, Get On Up, the life story of musician, James Brown. It was a long, yet interesting movie. After 5 years, I'm still trying to come to grips with the fact that you can have beer in a movie theater.
Sunday, October 12, 2014
Hannah taught me how to make oatmeal from scratch! I certainly have this weekend (particularly Hannah's culinary expertise) to thank for broadening my cooking abilities. Need I say that with musli (cereal), boiling water, and honey, it was a simple masterpiece.
View from Hannah's place.
It was another spectacular day, weather-wise. Hannah and I journeyed (a five-minute walk) to the Stadtturm (city tower) for yet another pristine view of Innsbruck and the Alps. We gravitated back to the Inn River to catch up and people watch. It was an excellent conclusion to my visit. We grabbed a pizza for lunch; Gary stopped by again, and then it was time for me to take the train home. I did not want to leave.
View from the Stadtturm (City Tower)
Each street sign shares a tidbit of history or is dedicated to a history event/individual.
Innsbruck and the lovely Alps!
It took 3 ticket machines before we successfully purchased my ticket. The train was packed, but I made myself comfortable on the steps and admired my final moments with the spectacular Alpine views. The ride home was a nice chance to realize that Linz is starting to feel more like home. This became even more prevalent as I skyped with friends from NJ and Germany later that day. In the days following Innsbruck, I yearned for the views and the people, but I have found that Linz has its own charm. Plus, I hope to return to Innsbruck in the winter months to enjoy some snowy fun. :-)
A special Danke to Hannah, Gary, Nadine, et al for the spectacular weekend!