If you remember rightly, we’ve just had a very long journey from Florence. The train came via Bologna and Verona, so we’ve had the chance to get another glimpse at places we’ve already been. Then, it passed through the dramatic Dolomites, a particularly spiky and harsh part of the Alps. As the train comes to a halt in Innsbruck, the first thing that hits you is the cold – considering I was wearing shorts at the time, I was freezing! As it was getting dark, we didn’t manage to see much, but we did soak up a little bit of Innsbruck nightlife.
As well as a huge resort for skiiers, Innsbruck has a good-sized university, and if you go out at night in the summer you’ll see quite a lot of students having parties and nights out. On the high street, many bars, cafes and restaurants were open at night. We also noticed quite a bit of street food – indeed, my companion tried a currywurst on the street. It was pretty disgusting!
Innsbruck has a famous landmark, called the Golden Roof. The building used to house old, noble families of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and the shining roof is older than it first appears. It was built in 1500 by the Emperor to cover a balcony, which he built to celebrate his second marriage. The couple then used it to watch events and other things going on down in the square. You might think it looks a bit like an Asian pagoda when you first see it, but in fact it has many paintings and designs based on the Western Mediterranean. The rest of the old town (or Aldstadt, in German) is filled with flowers, and sits peacefully at the edge of the mountain river.
As pretty as the old town is, the modern town is also worth visiting. Especially as it’s just next door to the old town! Here you’ll find shopping centres, office buildings and the train station. If you’re a vegetarian, then you absolutely have to go to McDonald’s in Innsbruck. Here, I found an amazing selection of vegetarian burgers and wraps. They were so good I almost ordered two at once, but I managed to resist until the next day. Perhaps it was a good thing I was only there for one night!
Innsbruck’s most popular attraction, though, could be the Nordkette bahn. This is a funicular and cable car system that runs all the way to the top of the Hafelekarspitze Mountain. At over 7,500 metres above sea level, this peak is popular in the winter with winter sports enthusiasts. But, it still attracts people in the summer because it offers fantastic, panoramic views of Innsbruck and the Tyrol region. It’s a bit expensive, as it costs almost 30 Euros for a return journey from Innsbruck town centre. That said, there are many things to see on the journey – it stops at the Alpenzoo, a wildlife park with many endangered animals that can only be found in the Alps.
Even if you only stay for a couple of nights, Innsbruck is worth seeing. Because it’s halfway between Verona and Munich, it could be a good stopover from Venice, or even Bologna. Besides, if you go in the winter, you’ll be entertained for weeks by all the winter sports facilities the city has to offer. The next leg of our tour takes us to the German city of Munich, and a dream comes true for your humble writer. But what can this dream possibly be? Find out next time!