Why Innsbruck? Well I had it in my head that I wanted to travel through some snowy alps in winter so when we looked at Venice and London and train trips and biggish airports, Innsbruck seemed to fit the picture. Whilst it didn’t really end up being lots of surround-view snow-capped mountains, it ended up being quite a picturesque train ride (and the train rides are always so comfortable and easy) and Innsbruck itself was a very pretty destination.
The fast train from Venice to Innsbruck
This fare was very reasonable. Trains in Italy (and I realise now, Austria) are much cheaper than travelling on trains in Switzerland (they can be prohibitive – but it is cheaper if you book second class in Switzerland and they are still quite roomy seats).
First snow-capped mountains from the train from Venice to Innsbruck
There are lots of amazing engineering feats on this trip with giant suspended roadways everywhere. Europe really does have their infrastructure well organised.
Some of the amazing engineering feats on the trip to Innsbruck
We chose the aDLER Hotel (their branding, their way of writing it) because of its close proximity to the train station carting luggage and the panoramic view from every room – and it didn’t disappoint on both counts. It was a fantastic hotel and I would definitely return to Innsbruck and have another stay there again (but longer this time).
That was our complimentary welcome drink in the bar with the panoramic view in the background. We settled in the room after another reflection on how amazing the view was and then headed out to walk Innsbruck. I know I say it a lot, but truly it is so easy to get your steps up in Europe/UK. The transport system is so well set up and the expectation is there for everyone to get around by walking, cycling, bus, light rail/trams, train or even water or aerial gondolas. This trip has been extraordinary for step accumulation – I am now averaging 25000 steps every day and falling into bed completely exhausted and sleeping like a log every night. I also know the troops (Alexandra, Megan, Martine, Jane, Jose, Roxie, Suse and Ally) are all holding the fort back at work which definitely does help with promoting good sleep also.
The weather (averaging 4 to 8 degrees centigrade) is also much more conducive to walking everywhere also. With our heat wave in Queensland, Australia which I have heard about from those still at home and the dreadful bushfires which have come with it – the intensity of the sun really saps your energy to walk too far and you have to lather up with the sunscreen before poking your nose out the door. Mind you it is actually difficult to warm up when it is as cold as it is over here. We are walking very briskly, long distances and it is still very cold once you have reached your destination and dive into the intensely heated venue. I have invested in yet another essential cold weather apparatus – the neck warmer. I bought it in Bath yesterday and it is my most favourite acquisition over here. It literally blocks out that whistling wind and you heard it here: a warm neck is a happy traveller (my saying, I’m patenting it).
Back to Innsbruck and they really have Christmas Markets nailed – there are plenty of twinkling lights, real Christmas trees, Singing Santas, gluwein everywhere and beautiful Christmas presents and trinkets for sale. I know my grandies would love it here but the thought of rugging them up to combat the cold is very off-putting.
Wonderful Christmas markets in Innsbruck
One of the other reasons for heading to Innsbruck was to see the Zaha Hadid Architect designed gondola and railway funicular service. For nearly a century, a funicular system offered passage around the hills of Innsbruck. In 2007, the system was retired and replaced with something so architecturally stunning that it became a tourist destination in its own right. The journey is what matters on the Hungerburgbahn, and it happens in futuristic style. Travelers from around the world come not just to travel between four stations – Congress, Löwenhaus, Alpenzoo and Hungerburg – but to marvel at the sheer wildness of the design. Designed by the late Zaha Hadid and built in 2007, the system replaced the previous funicular service in operation between 1906 and 2005. In a country renown for its architectural daring, this new collection of structures seemingly hails from another galaxy. With biomorphic undulations and futuristic curves, they celebrate the gorgeous landscape – while ferrying you over it. Each train carries just 130 people, and the ride lasts less than ten minutes; the physical scale is small, but the artistic vision connects with a great tradition of architectural innovation throughout Austria. (1)
The tragic part about coming to Innsbruck to see the work of Zaha was the fact that it was closed for maintenance and was due to re-open the day we left Innsbruck. Oh well a reason to come back!
The futuristic design of the first entry to the railway tunnel by Zaha Hadid in 2007
We packed up our bags and jetted across the Alps to London to catch up with our children and some WH colleagues – we knew we had arrived in the UK as a dense grey sky greeted us at Dover.
The alps from our plane
(1) Taken directly from https://www.austria.info/us/austria/stunning-and-surprising-art-architecture/traverse-innsbruck-in-style