Since the last entry in Ravenna, your faithful correspondent has been moving around at a pace that even she is finding a challenge. But since I am fortunate enough to be in phase where this is not only allowed but even demanded, I am just hanging on to the magic carpet for all it’s worth and being grateful for the ride. Just recently, I returned to Berlin from my shared “country estate” in Abruzzo, treating myself to one of what must be the most beautiful train rides around – that from Bologna to Munich through the Tyrolean Alps. Now, since the closest I’m ever going to get to those peaks is probably through a train window (what? me hike?), I try to stay somewhere nearby just to enjoy them with my eyes. Last October I visited Bolzano; this time the stop was Innsbruck, Austria, a city I had last visited in 1974. On the way, I was treated to stops in unpronounceable villages like this:
But before too long (four hours from Bologna), we pulled into Innsbruck on a beautiful warm spring afternoon. (Dear readers, I’ll spare you the long history this time; I’ll just remind you that it was the site of the 1964 and 1976 Olympics, the 1984 and 1988 Paralympics and the first Winter Youth Olympics in 2012). After dropping my bags at my hotel, I hastened out to enjoy the passing scene, heading straight for the scenic-beyond-belief Altstadt (Old Town):
Frankly, I don’t think I’ll ever tire of seeing scenes like this and poking around them like a visiting field anthropologist. And not surprisingly it seems a few hundred others share my passion. Nearby a local member of the chamber of commerce, I believe, was handing out brochures inviting one and all to an upcoming late shopping night. She was hard to miss, and was particularly kind to submit to my photographic impulses:
As I strolled through the Altstadt, I was pleasantly astonished to see how the locals had dealt with the vexing problem of how to include global franchises with the toothsome local ambiance. Here are a couple examples:
There was even Innsbruck’s own special variety of locavore – a “Speckeria,” mashing the German/Italian word for bacon or (probably here prosciutto) “Speck” with, obviously, the name for a place where such a product can be obtained and consumed. T, this one’s for you, my favorite gourmet:
I was totally amused by the sight of a group of Indian tourists, following their guide (and flag) with the same duckling-like attention that characterizes the Tilley-hatted clusters of paler complexioned tourists in Florence and elsewhere. Incongruity reigns, cultures clash, and we all become richer for the mix:
So by now you may be lulled into thinking that Innsbruck is all Imperial architecture and La Dolce Vita, and that is certainly in the case in this neighborhood. But on the way to the train station the next day (far too short a stay – looking forward to a repeat visit), I was reminded of another side of Innsbruck and Austria itself – a region and a country that still holds to long-held social traditions as well as a significant history of military and political might. I passed the Liberation Memorial at Landhausplatz, a commemoration to all those who died in the “battle for freedom 1939-45,” intriguingly (as far as I can tell) paid for by the French occupying forces of the time. The memorial itself is the thing with the eagle on top of it – it’s not part of the building behind, and it has, in many languages, sentiments for those who gave their lives for the country:
Further on, just because I chose to leave the hotel at the right moment, I encountered a parade in honor of Corpus Christi, the national holiday celebrating the body and blood of Jesus Christ. Newly baptized children, folks in national dress, loads of ecclesiastical types, some olde-style military marchers – this was a celebration of Austria’s deep religious and community roots:
and the featured guest Himself:
So with that I finished my own march to Innsbruck’s cheery newish train station and found my way onto my ICE to Berlin. It was a pleasant trip, if longish, spent in the cafe car for easy access to local cuisine and beverages as the perfect accompaniment to the rolling countryside beyond the window and the good book on my Kindle. I could get used to this….so until next time, “Ciao,” as they say in Austria…
Carla, I love diving into these moments with you. Thank you so much for sharing!
Well, my friend, that is exactly why I do it…in addition to helping me remember things that I experienced fresh in the moment.
Wonderful, thank you! I’ve been to Vienna and Klagenfurt, but not Innsbruck and would also love to go to Salzburg. I’ll be in DC for the pen show Thur and Fri only. Are you coming? Meanwhile, as they say in Austria, Ciao…. ah, really?
Ciao, really. I was surprised, hence inclusion in the post. DC, sadly, keeps falling during the final week of my Japanese contract. Considering SF, but not sure about that either. Madrid for you? You could add any number of stops to it, including some lovely ones in Italy….. 😉
Makes me want to go, though we have just been, with you, vicariously.
I swear you can notice more wonderful things in 24 hours than anyone else I know. Keep up the wonderful posts.
Look who’s talking! I’m so loving your reports from your rambles.
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