Quick stop in Innsbruck, while traveling to Switzerland
by Jodeci527 on December 27, 2011
Jennifer and I got stranded at Ambras Castle after we missed our Sightseer bus. We had a choice of waiting an hour for the next bus to arrive and pay another 3 euro for the ride, or we could walk back into town, taking in gorgeous views and landscape on the way. Needless to say, we opted for the latter, and we walked out of the castle gate, and started down the hill.After only a few steps, a lovely view came into sight. From our vantage point at the top of a hill, we could see the Austrian Alps in the distance, towering over the town of Innsbruck. They surrounded the town as silent and enormous sentinels, providing a stark contrast from the phenomenal blue sky. The town of Innsbruk looked magnificent at the bottom of the Alps, with its lovely Tyrolean architecture, reminding me that I was thousands of miles from home.We continued down the hill, and following the map from the city guide in my pocket, we headed in the general direction of downtown. We were quite a way out however, and this was made evident by the natural scenery all around us. Ther was a lovely flowing river weaving it's way through a flourishing green ravine, with tall alpine trees standing tall at it's banks. We got a great view of the river while we crossed a large bridge, and the photos came out great, with the Austrian Alps visible in the distance.We soon arrived at the fringe of the town, and the first large building we came about, was the large stadium which is to be the home of the Youth Olympic Games in January 2012. Innsbruck is not new to the Olympics, as they hosted the winter games before in the Austrian Alps. It was great to see that sports are promoted in the town, as it gives the youths something to stay busy with, rather than getting into trouble.Speaking about sports, there were many cyclists in the streets as traffic was almost nonexistent. They were of all ages and sizes, and while some appeared to be professionals, most of the cyclists were simply families going out for a ride together. If my backyard was as beautiful as theirs, I would be cycling every chance I had too!We got deeper and deeper into the town, using the map as our guide, and we started seeing lots of churches. They were absolutely beautiful, and all were built in Tyrolean style with rounded walls and pointed roof tops. The colours were bright and attractive, and the churches had dark tiled roofs and towers topped with spires. Along the streets, there were trams transporting locals to different sections of Innsbruck. At this point, we could have cut our walk short, and hopped on a tram to complete our journey to the train station. However, we were having a great time getting by on our own two feet, so we continued on. We passed hotels, guesthouses, stores, restuarants and cafes, until we came to a supermarket. We were pretty thirsty at this point, so we bought a couple of snacks and two large bottles of water. Our bill came up to less than 5 euros, once again proving Innsbruck to be relatively easy on the wallet. Before we knew it, we had arrived in the train station area. We went back to our hotel, Pension Stoi to grab our bags and headed to the train station. Our walk from Ambras Castle to the Innsbruck train station took us over an hour, but it was worth it! Innsbruck is a charming town, set amidst breaktaking terrain, and as my train pulled out of the station heading towards Switzerland, I knew that I would return one day.
After a pleasant night's rest at Pension Stoi, Jennifer and I woke the next morning ready to see whatever we could see of Innsbruck before our train to Switzerland at 1pm. By 7:30 we dropped off our luggage in the manager's office for safe keeping until we were ready to head to the station. We asked the manager for ideas on how to spend our morning in the city, and he told us about the Sightseer Bus.The Sightseer runs two types of tours every other hour from the Innsbruck Hauptbanhoff (main train station). There is the hop on, hop off tour where visitors can spend the entire day exploring one place after a next on their own, while simply using the bus to get from one tourist site to another. Long term visitors or even people on a weekend break can snag an awesome deal on this transfer service for 7 euros. The Express Tour was my choice, as it's geared towards people who need a quick overview of the city. Seeing that I was simply in Innsbruck for a stopover of less than 24 hours, touring the town from a heated bus sounded like a great idea. The Express Tour lasts for about an hour, and would only put me out of 3 euros.We stepped out of the guesthouse, and walked out to the main street. After turning the corner, the views of the mountains stopped us in our track. Innsbruck is surrounded by all sides by the massive Austrian Alps, and the views were awe inspiring, with the white snowy peaks towering over us. After a brisk three minute walk, we arrived at the train station, where the Sightseer would depart from.We found the bus stop, and waited around for a little while, taking pictures to pass the time. The Sightseer showed up soon enough, and after buying our tickets from the driver, we boarded and were lucky enough the grab the seats in the front. There was a decent mix of folks on our bus, from other Europeans, to Americans and even Japanese. Everyone said hello to one another, and we were off!The bus weaved through the streets, passing gorgeous tyrol homes and other architecutural wonders such as large churches with beautiful paintings on the outside. Locals carried out their everyday activities such as walking their dogs and raking their lawns, oblivious to our peering eyes from within the bus.There were headsets at every seat, and when a light flickered in the bus, we would place them over our ears to hear the annoucements from the driver. Sometimes he would be identifying a particular monument, complete with a brief history or he may just be pointing out simple things such as bridges which may have gone unnoticed by our untrained eyes.He then informed us that we would be pulling up to the local City Hall, and that we were allowed off the bus for five minutes. As soon as the bus stopped, there was a mad rush to get off, as everyone wanted to get the most out of the short amount of time. The City Hall was pretty normal looking, so I wasn't really impressed. However something else grabbed my attention.There was a horse and carriage at the side of the street, and the driver was feeding the horse. The horse was beautiful and well groomed, and it made a great photo op. I snapped a few photos, and wandered around the nearby park which was flooded with fall colours. Absolutely lovely.Five minutes was soon up, and we hopped back unto the bus, and the driver continued with our tour. We passed their massive gymnasium, the site for the 2012 Olympic games and we received some information about the plans which Innsbruck is making for the event. I've never seen an Olympic site before, so this was an unexpected treat.The last site we visited was a park/garden at the top of a hill. We were given another five minutes to look around, but there was just too much to see! We saw lovely buildings, small streams with wooden bridges, tree houses and even peacocks! Needless to say, we ended up missing our bus! We weren't too disappointed or worried, since it was only 9:30 am, and our train didn't leave until 1pm. We continued our photo snapping of the goregous nature scenes in Austria. It was a great feeling not being rushed to hop back unto the bus, and after we were done, we looked at the map and decided it would be a great experience to walk back to the city. The walk would take over an hour, but with all the great views, we were looking forward to it.The Sightseer is a great way to get your bearings during a short visit to Innsbruck. The cost is beyond efficient, and the bus is extremely comfortable and modern. The only negative factor of the tour is the short amount of time which you are given to explore the tourist sites. Keep this in mind, and you will have a great time!
On a hillside, a short distance away from downtown Innsbruck is a large building called Abras Castle. Jennifer and I visited it as the last stop on our Sightseer bus tour, and we were happy that they left the best for last. The first thing that I noticed after alighting from the bus, was the large and perfectly even gravel path that appeared to wind through the entire castle grounds. Along the gravel path were green shrubs, cut into ball like shapes and the total effect was picturesque.The Ambras Castle was a very interesting looking building. The size and the steeple at the top were the only thing that would inidicate to visitors that they were actually looking at a castle. I had no idea, until our bus guide told us, but it was magnificent to behold. It was constructed in typical Tyrolean fashion, with several smaller buildings positioned nearby. The castle was of an off white colour, with a green and black roof, a small steeple and red and white window shutters.This particular castle was built in the 16th century by the Archduke Ferdinand II, and it serves as a museum of sorts, containing art, books, weapons and armour. These collections can be seen up to this day, drawing many visitors from all over the world. Tickets are 10 euros for adults and children enter for free. Opening hours are from 10am to 5pm.The castle grounds were nothing short of immaculate. The gardener was really talented, as I've never seen shrubbery shaped into so many interesting forms before. There were short walls of shrubs running in different directions, creating a maze on the brilliant green front lawn. The entire thing was rather bizarre, but then again, that's what made Abras Castle memorable in my opninion.After weaving your way through the maze, you would find yourself at a tiny pavilion, with small concrete seats built in. The top was dome shaped and made of wrought iron twisted into a fascinating lattice design. In the middle of the pavilion was a small fountain. Jen and I sat here for a little while, taking in the stunning views all around us. There were many trees all around, and due to the season, their leaves were in brilliant shades of gold and red. We then got the idea to take photos amidst the trees, so we left the pavilion and walked along the grave path to the tree line. We noticed a small path leading through the trees, so we decided to follow it, and imagine our surprise when it led to a small stream and a tiny waterfall! There was even a small wooden bridge to cross the stream, and it was the perfect scene to photograph. The area was beyond tranquil, with the only sounds being those of birds high in the trees.Touring Ambras Castle proved to be a lovely experience. The area was quiet and the location allowed for awesome views of the Austrian Alps. If you're in the area and you are wondering how to spend a few free hours, take a trip to the castle. You won't regret it.
Der Backer Ruetz is a great little bakery and deli restaurant located near the exit of the Innsbruck Hauptbanhauf (train station). During my quick stopover in the town, I visited the bakery for breakfast, as the smells which wafted through the doorway were basically calling my name. I could smell the freshly baked bread, the strong scent of coffee and a lighter and sweeter fragrance which I later associated with the powdered sugar on most of the fresh pastries.The shop itself is quite cosy, with a small space for standing near to the counter. I'm guessing that on very busy days, the line easily extends outside of the bakery itself. Luckily for me, I must have missed the morning rush, because there wasn't much of a crowd to contend with. The bakery was quite warm inside, probably due to the hot ovens nearby and the warm lights which shone from the roof. Either way, I felt very warm and toasty, an awesome combination given the cold weather outside.It was now time to attempt to decipher the menu which was written in what I assumed to be German. The coffees were easy enough to guess, so I ordered what appeared to be a latte, and I looked into the display counter at the deli area, trying to find the most familiar looking sandwich to choose via the point and nod method.Thankfully, the sandwiches were open to an extent that allowed me to see the contents. One thing which I noticed immediately, was the fact that Austrians seemed to eat a lot of vegetables at breakfast time, because all of the sandwiches were simply overflowing with chopped lettuce and sliced tomatoes and cucumbers.I eventually settled on what looked like a cold tuna sandwich, filled with the afore mentioned veggies. At this point, the guy at the counter probably realized that I was a tourist who didnt speak the language, so he pointed at the menu on the wall to what I assumed was my order. He did this to let me know what the cost of my order was, and I truly appreciated the kind gesture. My sandwich and latte came up to just over 6 euros, which was very affordable compared to the other European cities which I visited before arriving in Austria. Europe was happily mudering my budget, so it was a relief to arrive in a country where the costs were easier to swallow. It was a bit weird to find such a drop in costs by simply crossing the border from Italy.The guy at the counter inidicated that I should grab a seat against the wall of the bakery, while he prepared my breakfast. There were a few stools infront of the glass wall, with a long rectangular table placed before them. Several were unoccupied, so I hopped unto one, and after a couple of seconds, my order arrived on a small black tray, along with a shot glass of water! I smiled at that one.I enjoyed the meal, and the coffee was pretty good. Customers filed in and out while I munched, and I noticed that most locals seemed to grab a small pastry and an expresso shot. While I don't believe it's exactly filling, I guess they just needed a wake up boost. After eating, I ordered a large pretzel to go, paid my bill and left. Der Backer Ruetz is a great little place to have a freshly made breakfast that is big on taste, and small on cost!
Literally a few steps away from the Innsbruck Hauptbanhoff (Main train station) is a budget hotel for travellers called Penion Stoi. My friend Jennifer and I ended up in Innsbruck, Austria without previous intentions. We wanted to take a train from Venice to Lucerne in Switzerland, however all the trains to Switzerland were completely sold out when we arrived at the station in Venice. The next best option was to head to Innsbruck, then take a train over to Switzerland the day after.The train ride from Milan to Innsbruck was beyond beautiful. The trees were in their full autumn colours, lakes and streams trickled beneath the many bridges we zoomed across and the Dolmites was a maginificent mountain range to behold. It was nightfall when we finally arrived in Innsbruck, and after questioning a local in the train station about a good place to stay, we headed off to find Pension Stoi.The guesthouse had a number of signs posted up around the main streets, which helped to direct us to where they were located. Outside was cold, and we were relieved when we found the premises after only four minutes of walking with our luggage. I pressed the buzzer at the door, and we were allowed inside almost immediately. We climbed a flight of stairs which led to the main lobby where the manager was in his office.They were not expecting us, as our trip to Austria was an unexpected detour. They were actually booked up for the night, but a couple failed to show up for a room which they had reserved for the weekend, so he told us that we could take the room instead. Extremely grateful, we accepted the room, and paid a total of 50 euros for the night. We were given our receipt, and the owner took a key from the wall and told us to follow him.We went back down to the first floor, and he opened a door and showed us our room for the night. From the first glance, I could tell that we were going to be very comfortable there, and that we got a pretty good deal given the price that we paid. There were two full sized beds, a few chairs, bedside tables and a small face basin.He then showed us the shared bathroom which served for the three rooms on our floor. This was fine with us, as we were informed before we paid for the room. The bathroom was spacious and very clean, featuring a large tub and a shower with incredible water pressure. Pension Stoi is located near to the main street in Innsbruck where most of the stores, restuarants and historical sites are located. In the morning, as soon as you leave the hotel, you are treated with views of the surrounding mountain ranges, and due to the fact that we visited in mid October, there was a fresh dusting on snow on the Austrian Alps. It was definitely a view that I could get used to!In the morning, we checked out, but wanted to explore a bit of the city before our train to Switzerland at 1pm. The manager allowed us to store our luggage in his office free of charge, while we wandered around in Innsbruck. Seeing that we had already checked out, this was purely kindness on his part, and it was much appreciated.Pension Stoi is a great accommodation option for anyone who is traveling to Innsbruck on a Budget. The room was nice, the bed was comfortable and it's located in a great part of town. I'm definitely glad I stayed there!
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