January 18, 2018

Innsbruck You Captivated Me!

In Cities that leaves you Bleh, I told you about my impression of Budapest.  I thought it was time I told you about a city that captivated me. . . Innsbruck!

What can I tell you about Innsbruck? It’s spectacularly beautiful.  It feels peaceful.  It feels comfortable.  It is surrounded by magnificent mountains.  It is full of tradition. It has culture. It has history.  It felt like home.

In short, I loved it!

Upon arriving in Innsbruck I felt like I had arrived at place I didn’t want to leave.

Mountain above Innsbruck Austria with snow

Mountains above Innsbruck

The beauty of Innsbruck starts with the mountains that ring this glorious city. Whether you are in the city or up on the mountain, every way you look is glistening with church spires, domes, beautifully painted houses and crooked narrow streets begging you to stroll.Innsbruck Austria in Altstadt

Innsbruck’s story back to medieval times and includes the dominant Hapsburg Empire. Emperor Maximillian I adored Innsbruck and it was the Hapsburg’s capital of Tirol.  Everywhere you look you can find remnants of the Hapsburgs from the Hofkirche, Goldenes Dachl, Hofberg (Imperial Palace) to Schloss Ambras.   The medieval center, the Altstadt, is perfect for strolling the winding narrow cobblestoned streets. If the boutiques don’t draw you in, the wonderful smelling bakeries or coffee shops certainly will!

Innsbruck Austria Arch

Innsbruck by Olivier Bruchez, on Flickr

This wonderful Austrian city also has its fair share of cultural activities including performing arts, orchestra, an opera house, art galleries and many museums.Innsbruck Austria view across River Inn

Innsbruck offers a city and location that is for those that enjoy the outdoors! Whether you like bike riding or mountain bike riding, walking or mountain climbing, rivers or lakes, driving trips or train trips, it is all waiting for you in Innsbruck. Oh and don’t forget about the multitude of winter activities in the area! Innsbruck did host the winter Olympics twice!  There is truly something for everyone all year round.

As I traveled around the city and to its outskirts I knew I would come back and explore in depth the city and  surroundings.  Somehow it fit like a glove.  This was a place I could stay. . . I think I could live here (as long as this California girl could get through the winter!).

 

Tell me about a city you immediately fell in love with.

Easily Save Money While Traveling

Many cities in Europe offer tourists a city card which includes discounts or free admission to many of the local museums, castles, tours and some even include transportation.

Munich has one.  London has one.  Paris has one. Prague has one.  Innsbruck and Salzburg both offer one too!Eiffel Tower Paris France

Have you ever wondered if they are worth purchasing?

During my trip this summer I purchased cards in both Innsbruck and Salzburg and I can definitely tell you that the answer to the question is a definite . . . maybe!

Let’s look at the details of what they offered.Innsbruck Card Innsbruck Austria

The Innsbruck Card says it offers “free entrance to all museums and places of interest in and around the city.  Plus free use of cable cars, local public transport services, the “Sightseer” city tour bus and the “Kristallwelten Shuttle” bus, discounts on shopping, sports and fun.”

Due to my schedule I only had about 24 hours to enjoy Innsbruck on my own so I purchased a card for 24 hours which was 29 Euros.  It is important to note, these cards are good for 24 hours from the time you start your touring and not just 1 day.Innsbruck Austria

During my 24 hours I was able to visit the Hofburg, Hofkirche, Schloss Ambras, Swarovski Kristallwelten and the Nordkettenbahnen plus the buses getting to/from both Schloss Ambras and Swarovski Kristallwelten.  If I had purchased each of these separately I would have spent 64.50 Euros.

So in Innsbruck my 29 euro expenditure was worth every penny!

 

Salzburg Card Salzburg Austria

The Salzburg Card includes “. . . free admission to Salzburg’s museums, free use of the Fortress funicular, the Untersberg cableway, Salzach ship service and public transport. Salzburg Card holders can also take advantage of a number of discounts on concerts, theater performances or excursions to destinations in the Salzburg vicinity.”

I decided to purchase a 48 hour Salzburg Card for 34 Euros.  While in Salzburg not only did I visit many of the sights included for free; Hellbrunn Palace and Trick Fountains, the Catacombs, Hohensalzburg Fortress and Cable Railway, Residenz Gallery and State Rooms and the Stiegl Brauwelt; but I also used the bus system fairly extensively getting to my hotel, Hanger 7, Stiegl Brauwelt, Hellbrunn and Augustiner Beer Gardens.  If I had not had the Salzburg Card I would have spent 58.70 Euros.Hellbrunn Palace and Trick Fountain Salzburg Austria

Again my expenditure was worth every penny!

Besides the savings both cards afforded me I enjoyed not waiting in line for tickets, not needing to carry so much cash, and the transit systems were very easy since I was able to get on the bus I wanted.

So why did I say they were maybe worth purchasing?

While in my case both cards were worth purchasing but every traveler or city may be different.  My advice is to look into the cards beforehand knowing what you would like to visit. Also make sure you temper your wants down a bit because reality can be a totally different thing! This is the only way you can see if it makes financial sense to purchase the cards.

I have heard that people don’t recommend purchasing these cards because the savings is only a few Euros.  I disagree.   Even if I had not saved any money on these cards, the ease of use at each site or transportation was well worth it, in my humble opinion!

 

Have you purchased any city cards?
Did you think they were worth it?

Cities that leave you Bleh!

This summer I visited Bamberg Germany and loved it.

Mittenwald, loved it.  Innsbruck, loved it.  Salzburg, loved it!  Budapest. . .

. . . I don’t know what to say about Budapest. 

I arrived by train expecting to find a beautiful city on the Danube that I would love.

Instead, I am ambivalent. 

Due to its place in history, I found Budapest very interesting and would love to spend more time learning about all the events and people that have shaped this city.  The WWII history alone is fascinating. I didn’t realize or had forgotten that it was Budapest where the Russians defeated the Nazi’s.  Or the history surrounding the revolt during the 1950’s.  Fascinating history!

But I was still left wondering, where is the beauty?  What is the attraction? 

I have seen the pictures of Budapest that are so beautiful they take my breath away, but it was hard to find this.Budapest and Danube River

I finally found the beauty.  It is down on the water.  From the Danube Budapest is beautiful.  From either bank looking across, Budapest is beautiful.

As I explored the Pest side of the city, I would come across an occasional architectural gem – St. Stephens Basilica, Dohany Street Synagogue, the Parliament building and Szechenyi Baths are a few.   Heroes’ Square is pretty amazing due to its size.Pariliament Building Budapest Hungary

But the real beauty is along the river. 

I was even told by tour guides that the grand boulevard, Andrássy út, looked just like the Champs Elysees because it was modeled after it.

I didn’t see it!  I don’t get it. 

I couldn’t get the feel of the city and, therefore, had trouble getting my bearings which resulted in an unsettled feeling.  I never got lost but just didn’t feel comfortable until Friday, my last day.Across the Danube with Basilica Budapest Hungary

I spent Friday exploring Castle HillNow this is beautiful! I loved it up on Castle Hill.  It had the feel of “Europe”.  The old world feel and small crooked, cobblestoned streets all combined to have a much more familiar feel to it.  Which is amazing considering it isn’t that old at all due to the carpet bombing during WWII!

I was not uncomfortable wandering the streets on the Buda side of the Danube and maybe it was this new found confidence that followed me as I returned to the Pest side of town. I was much more comfortable as I searched for the monuments I wanted to see.

Too bad it was my last day! 

I just don’t know how to describe Budapest because I don’t know how I feel about it.  Bleh, is the best I can do.

 

Have you felt this way about a city?

Cool and Relaxed in Innsbruck

While in Innsbruck Austria I decided to enjoy a trip on the Nordkettenbahn a series of cable cars that whisk you from the center of town at 1,840 feet above sea level up to a height of 7,400.

The trip to the top is completed through a series of 3 different cable cars. Along the way you will be treated to amazing views of the valley below as well as have the opportunity to visit the highest zoo in Europe, hike or bike down, enjoy some quiet time relaxing at the Alpenlounge Seegrube or simply sit and enjoy the views and quiet. Although I didn’t see any climbers this day, you can also enjoy climbing.Inn River from Hungerburg Innsbruck Austria

There are many hiking and biking trails at each level of the Nordkettenbahn.  Some are for experienced hikers but there is something for everyone.  On my trip up there was a mountain biker that looked like he was dressed more for a football game (US style) than bike riding!  Later that day, I did see him again in the old town so I know he made it down safely.View from Hungerburg Innsbruck Austria

On this day, my goal was not only the views but also to escape the heat that had settled in over the area. I was successful on both parts although my pictures show more haze than I remember seeing!  Someone later told me that haze is the moisture in the air and comes with heat.  Who knew?View from top of Nordekettenbahn Innsbruck Austria

While the pictures didn’t turn out quite like I had thought, the view from each level as you rise is stunning.  From one direction you see the Inn river as it winds it’s way through Innsbruck and once at the top you will be amazed looking at layer after layer of stark mountains.View from the Hafelekar Innsbruck Austria

My trip up the mountain was the perfect way to relax and beat the heat.

 

For more great pictures, make sure to look into Budget Travelers Sandbox.

Maybe I’ll see you there!

Gulaschsuppe, Gulyasleves or Goulash Soup

While traveling I am not a “foodie” per se. That doesn’t mean I don’t look forward to meals when traveling, I just don’t travel to locations to visit a certain chef’s restaurant nor do I even visit the “it” restaurant in town.

I do, however, love local traditional cuisine and that is what I search out.

On my first ever trip to Germany, I absolutely fell in love with Gulaschsuppe (Goulash soup) and it is something I look forward to any time I am in Germany or Austria.

On my latest trip I had Gulaschsuppe in Innsbruck . . . three times,Goulash Soup Innsbruck Austria

This one I had it with a wonderful nice green salad.More Goulash Soup Innsbruck Austria

Salzburg once. Goulash Soup Stiegl Brewery Salzburg Austria

I added an absolutely amazing potato/cabbage salad.  Oh my god, this salad was so good!  But then so was the soup and beer 🙂

And when in Budapest I just had to try the local version for a comparison.  The broth of this soup was wonderful and was extremely good for dunking the bread that came with it 🙂Goulash Soup Budapest Hungary

Goulash soup is a beef based soup with tomatoes, caraway and paprika!  In Germany and Austria the broth is a little thicker and usually contains small chunks of beef and potato in equal portions.

Gulyasleves in Budapest has a thinner broth with a little beef and TONS of potatoes and carrots!  Yah, vegetables.

I still love Gulaschsuppe, Gulyasleves or Goulash Soup even after 5 servings in 2 weeks.  They were all so good and I can’t say one was better than the other.

All I can say is the German version just holds a very special spot in my heart!

 

What type of food do you look for when traveling?  Any specialties that stick out?

Favorite European Travel Moments

I have arrived back home from Europe a little tired but none the worse for wear.  As I am attempting to re-acclimate and get caught up I have also been spending time reminiscing about the trip I have just taken.

Below are some of the experiences that stand out.

When I looked over this list I noticed that none of them are museum, tours or events but just life being experienced in a foreign land.  To me this is what travel is all about.  It is these experiences that make travel come alive.

So here are a “few of my favorite things”!

  • Heading up to a lake above Mittenwald to cool off!  Surrounded by the mountains it was a great place to relax and put my feet in the lake.

    Lautersee above Mittenwald Germany

    Lautersee above Mittenwald

  • During the first afternoon in Bamberg there was a brief rain storm.  Instead of hiding inside I decided to take refuge from the rain under an umbrella and enjoy a beer, bowl of soup and realized I’m in Germany!
  • Enjoying local music while having a traditional Bavarian meal in MittenwaldGotta love that oompah music!
  • Wandering from one platz to the next and coming across an amazing group of men playing awesome classical music in Salzburg.  This musical city did not disappoint.
  • The uncomfortable feeling in my stomach realizing that my guide at the Synagogue in Budapest was born in the Budapest ghetto.  The children of WWII are all we really have left and it is their stories that will keep the memory alive for the future.

    Soccer Fans in Budapest Hungary

    Soccer Fans in Budapest

  • Experiencing football fanaticism up close and personal in Budapest!  Not sure there was anyone left in Sweden because they all showed up to route for their team.  Although they lost the European Championship Qualifying round, I’m sure they had a good time!
  • As I watched children melt under the heat, I realized there is a universal language.  Reading their faces I could tell exactly what they were saying even though I couldn’t understand a word out of their mouths.  Body language is the universal language.

    Mountain above Innsbruck Austria with snow

    Mountains above Innsbruck

  • The mountains in Innsbruck dusted with snow the morning after a thunder storm and the views of the mountains in Mittenwald.  There is such peace in the enormity of these mountains.

These are a few of my favorite moments while I was traveling.  As the weeks go on I will be sharing with you more details of my travels experiences in Germany, Austria and Hungary.

What are your favorite memories when traveling?

5 Reasons . . . to Visit Innsbruck

Innsbruck. Tirolean Alps.  Snowcapped Mountains.  Alpine Valleys.  Yodeling.  Charming Villages.

These are all terms used to describe Innsbruck and the Tirolean Alps.  You could even add in glorious mountain rivers, Alpine lakes, houses bedecked with overflowing flower boxes, cows wearing bells and glaciers.

Innsbruck is described by many as one of the world’s most beautiful cities.  As the capital of Tirol, Innsbruck has enjoyed an important role in Austria’s history. Emperor Maximillian I lived here when Innsbruck was the seat of the Holy Roman Empire and the Empress Maria Theresa visited Innsbruck often during the Hapsburg rule.

Innsbruck Austria

Innsbruck by Leo-setä, on Flickr

There are many reasons to spend time in Innsbruck, but today I’ll tell you about 5 of them!

1.  The Aldstadt
Wander through narrow alleys, marvel at noble squares and be amazed at the ornate Baroque architecture.  Stopping to admire the Goldenes Dachl (Golden Roof) made of copper tiles and now home to the Maximilianeum, which displays paintings and artifacts from the life of Maximilian I.  Wandering further to explore the Hofburg (Imperial Palace) housing portraits of the Hapsburg’s and other historical items; continue to the Hofkirch to visit the 16th century Silver Chapel.  Don’t miss the statues which include one of King Arthur of England an ancestor of Maximilian I.

Schloss Ambra Inssbruck Austria

Schloss Ambra by anjči, on Flickr

2.  Schloss Ambra
Archduke Ferdinand II decided to marry a “commoner” and, therefore, was not allowed to live in the city.  To have a home fitting his stature, he had a 10th century medieval fortress turned into a Renaissance beauty complete with red and white shutters, which can be seen from a distance.  Today we call it Schloss Ambra.  Inside you will be amazed by the Spanish Hall which is embellished by gorgeous wood ceilings and frescoed walls.  Also be on the lookout for the Archduke’s sunken bath!  The castle is also home to collection of15th century armor and weapons as well as a portrait gallery which is home to many exquisite portraits of the Hapsburg’s and other European aristocrat’s.  The grounds offer an equally amazing display and are a great place for a picnic.

3.  Hungerburg
To soar above Innsbruck head to Hungerburg to board your cable car that will sweep you up to Hafelekar which stands at 7,500 ft.  The trip from Hungerburg to Seegrube to Hafelekar may just be the highlight of your trip!  As you are rising above Innsbruck you will be dazzled by the views.  As usual, the Alps do not disappoint.  During your journey you’ll stop 3 times and each time the views get better.  At each stop there are restaurants.  Hungry?  Might be a great place to enjoy traditional food and drink while savoring those views!

4.  Stubai Valley
The alluring Stubai valley is one of those magical places Tirol is known for.  This valley is home to over 80 glimmering glaciers and 40 plus imposing mountain peaks.  Traveling this valley you will find small quaint villages with church spires as their main attractions.  You will see blossoming wildflowers, rivers, wild life and those mountains.  The real attraction of the Stubai valley is the beauty.

Neustift in Stubai Valley near Innsbruck Austria

Neustift in Stubai Valley by cayenne2006, on Flickr

5.  Hiking or Walking

No matter what level of hiker you are, you can find it in and around Innsbruck.  With over 320 miles of marked and maintained paths and trails, hiking in Tirol is a must.  Whether you want a day or multi-day hike, you can find it in this amazing area.  The Innsbruck Hiking Program has hikes that last 3-5 hours.  Their program even includes a shuttle to the starting point, guide and equipment (if needed) for those staying at hotels in Innsbruck.  Included in their list of hikes are the sunrise walk, lantern walk, pleasure walks, peak walks and even culinary walks.  These sound like a great way to discover all that Innsbruck and Tirol has to offer!

I’d love to hear how would you spend your time in Innsbruck?

Tell me about it!

 

 

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