Innsbruck: Palaces, winter sports and beer vending machines.

After Venice, I needed a place to spend a day before reaching Munich in time for Oktoberfest. Innsbruck was on the way, and although I knew nothing about it other than the fact people ski there, I just went.


Located in the Inn Valley, the capital of Tyrol has a population of about 125,000 people and is surrounded by the Karwendel Alps on both sides, which gives it rather spectacular urban landscapes.


For example, the evening view from my hotel room.



To me there is nothing special about this architecture, but does nature ever add to the picture.


If you want to explore the mountains, you can save yourself from a big climb and take this funicular railway, the Hungerburgbahn, which takes you up almost 300 m in about 8 minutes, straight from the centre of town. It arrives in the district of Hungerburg, from where countless hiking trails head off in all directions. Alternatively, you can then take a series of cable cars all the way to Hafelekar, at 2256 m. But I was only there for an overnight transit, so I only had the time to walk around a little.


And enjoy the views of the city.


Innsbruck is a very popular destination for winter sports, and the city hosted the Winter Olympics in 1964 and 1976. You might think the dates are unusually close, and you would be right. The 1976 games were awarded to Denver, Colorado. But, the project went over budget and residents, by referendum, denied the city the permission to use public money to salvage it. The games should then have gone to Vancouver, but there had been a change of government since the city had posed its candidacy, and the new one was not interested. So it was back to Innsbruck, even though the city was not even an official candidate. You can see the ski jumping ramp in the middle of this picture.


Although many monarchs lived in Innsbruck’s Hofburg, Empress Maria Theresa, the only female ruler of the Hapsburg Dynasty, seems to be the most central to the history of the castle. Her importance is illustrated in this picture, where her husband, the Crown Prince and his younger brother are all seen pointing towards the Queen. She had an impressive issue of 16 children. Some died at a young age, but a few had acceptable “careers”, with two of the boys becoming Holy Roman Emperor and two of the daughters becoming Queen of Naples and Sicily and Queen of France. Although in the last case, this was Marie Antoinette and as you probably know, that didn’t end very well.


The Giant’s Hall, meant to impress visitors, and which typically should contain paintings of all the former rulers of the family. Instead, Maria Theresa had all her contemporary family’s portraits displayed, including the daughters and some of the grandchildren, of which she had 24. The ladies gesticulating in my direction were doing so because it turns out photography is not allowed anywhere in the palace. Had I been aware of this idiotic rule I would not have paid to visit, of course, but either it was not mentioned or I failed to notice. In any case, this is the most impressive room, by far, and I got the picture. And that was all the “touristing” I did, but I also learned a few things about Austria.


They like meat. I already knew that, and so do you if you remember my – very decadent -story about Vienna.


My hotel had a beer vending machine. So civilized.


And in Austria, people are assumed to be able to make decisions for themselves. This poor Canadian, however, without the Government to protect me, was left at the mercy of advertisers and I immediately started smoking, in the hopes that the girl in the picture will like me.


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