Innsbruck Stories and Tips

Crystal World and The Brenner Pass.

Brenner Pass Photo, Innsbruck, Austria

All good things must end, but before we leave Austria, we visit the Swarvoski Museum in nearby Watters. The world-famous crystal is different from other crystal - it is man made.

Daniel Swarvoski started his factory in 1895 here in Watters an Industrial suburb of Innsbruck. Using a special firing process, natural and local minerals, coarse sand, and superb cutting and polishing techniques, he produced a sparkling, first-class crystal.

Some of the best known is the cute myriad of animal shapes, gorgeous chandeliers, jewellery; even top class fashion designers use them to adorn courtier gowns. Forty million stones are produced daily along with over 250,000 varying sizes, colors and shapes. I love the jewelry, so you can imagine this place was not on my husband’s "Must see list"; however, being the good sport he is, we found ourselves oohing and aahing at the dramatic entry to this iced wonderland.

The entry is a startling ivy covered hill shaped like a human face; a tinkling waterfall flows from the mouth. Inside there are huge showrooms; one has a large horse made entirely of crystal. Various sound and light themes accompanied by heavenly music plus the kaleidoscope of colours make this a magical place.

We did not linger too long; of course, I could have spent enough to ensure we could never again have a vacation, so I limited myself to a $20 stickpin. {Much to my husband’s relief}

The exhibition is open daily 9am- 6pm. The Innsbruck card allowed us to visit free, so do not recall the admission price. If you go, try to get there before the ever-eager tour groups.

Reluctantly we leave Austria, we do so by the route of the Brenner pass. Ten years ago, we traveled this route seated in the middle row of a large tour bus, definitely not the way to view it.

This time, what a treat and an eye opener. We believe Innsbruck is scenically one of the most beautiful cities in Europe; the Brenner Pass is its dessert. Magnificent scenery overwhelms the senses. Verdant forests, thick greenery broken by an occasional waterfall, hypnotizing snowcapped mountains. The ten-euro toll was well worth it - even if you are staying in Innsbruck, if you have access to a car, take the ride just for the view. {approx, one hour from Innsbruck to the Italian border.}

In Roman times it was known as the Via Claudia Augusta. It is the oldest route through the Alps and has the lowest elevation. {In no way does that detract from its beauty} There are twenty-two tunnels, sixty bridges, a monument to modern engineering. This route ends in Bolzano, Italy. As we enter Italy, we say a silent goodbye to beautiful Austria. We are filled with countless memories and a firm resolve to return.

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