One of my colleagues in Italy had told me that Innsbruck is a city surrounded by mountains and how right they were. We arrived in the evening and as it was going dark we couldn’t quite take in where we were until the next day. This photo is from outside our host, Heide’s house.
Heide lives in a small village called Sistrans, a few kilometres outside of Innsbruck and overlooking the city. We arrived to a very warm welcome from Heide, her husband Wolfgang and their 4 daughters (sorry guys but don’t want to misspell your names) as well as another couch surfer, from New Zealand. As it was quite late in the evening when we arrived we quickly unpacked and joined everybody for dinner to break the ice.
After getting some information on the local area from our hosts, we planned for Louise to take a walk down in to Innsbruck and I’d meet her later by motorcycle. That morning I had a few things to be doing on the laptop anyway so it worked out quite well.
My walk into the city was so relaxing: I passed first through farmland and fields then later I descended into thick woodland. Coming through this peaceful area was a perfect start to the day before visiting the bustle of the city.
I met Jake in the Innsbrucker Hofgarten, a large park to the north of the city and ate lunch together before heading into the city.
We lucky enough to find a spot to park the bike close to the centre, so I set myself up in a cafe whilst Louise explored.
I took a walk around the city. The central, historical area is only small but so well preserved. What I saw was a strange mix of Gothic and Baroque architecture; many of the upper parts of the older buildings are decorated with frescoes depicting the goods sold by the shop below while others are covered with elaborate floral designs.
I’d left Jake on the Herzog-Friedrich-Straße, right beneath the Goldenes Dachl (or golden roof). It was completed in the 1500’s as a royal box for Emperor Maximilian I from which he could oversee festivals and events in the square below. A bit of an anticlimax, the building is now divided into offices, the city archives and a museum. My mum came to this city when she was younger and had told me about this building so to see it myself was great.
Nearby was the Dome of St. Jakob, the cities cathedral. Overflowing with decadent baroque columns, life size statues, painted ceiling, golden organ and frescoes it was quite overpowering.
We spent the rest of the afternoon planning and blog writing with a glass of wine and a beer.
For the last few 100 km I have been worrying about my rear brake pads, they seem particularly close to the end of their life. With the help of our hosts I had found a large motorcycle shop in the city, so for day two this was my mission. I wasn’t too sure how much English the guys in the shop were going to speak so I was ready to start my charades. As it turned out their English was fantastic so communicating the problem was absolutely no issue at all. Although, they didn’t have any brake pads for my bike in stock they also have a branch in Salzburg that just so happens to be our next stop. New brake pads ordered, I just had to use only the front break for our next couple trips.
While Jake was planning his morning I took a walk down to Schloss Ambras, a castle close to the city. More like a fortified house, this palace was built in the 16th Century and was later the residence of Archduke Ferdinand II. I didn’t visit the inside but instead met Jake in the gardens on his way into the city.
As I was changing brake pads that afternoon, we took a ride through the local valleys. Louise had put a few places of interest into our map, however, we didn’t actually make it to any of them. Our first stop was a waterfall, this wasn’t possible because the road became a very steep gravel track about 1 km away – my bike isn’t made for that! Our our return we stopped at this great view point; we noticed a helicopter in the distance not really going anywhere.
The route to our next destination took us down the valley towards where the helicopter was working. As we came closer we realised what it was doing; airlifting trees a few hundred meters from the banks of the railway racks to a place where they could be collected. As the banking next to the railway was so steep this was the only was to complete the job with out disrupting the train services. It may seem a extravagant way to complete the job, but in contrast to what it would cost to close the railway it make perfect sense…and gave us something really quite fascinating to watch.
Our route had been blocked as it was directly underneath the flight path, so we watched the last 20 minutes of the helicopter operation whilst we waited for the road to be reopened.
We dropped down into the valley and back up the other side and made a slow return to our host’s house for dinner. We’d offered to cook for them that evening which tuned out to be a bit of a pain for Louise. The oven didn’t work properly so here amazing meal of roasted vegetables and rice took over 2 hours to cook and in the end wasn’t as expected. I think it was well appreciated by all but caused Louise more stress that it was worth. Ah the joys of cooking in a somebody else’s kitchen.