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Innsbruck 23rd May

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Bad bus day today. We’re on a tight schedule, trying to get through a few things. We lashed out and got an Innsbruck pass, which gives you free public transport and museum entry for 2 days. Costs a bit, but it saves having to muck around with fares and fees, and its pretty easy to recover the cost if you do enough.

I watched a little Austrian demonstration unfold. The tourist bus for the Swarovski CrystalWorld leaves at 9.00 from outside the tourist office. And the tourist office opens its serving queue not a second before 9.00. Disgruntled, morose counter staff meet agitated tourists EVERY SINGLE DAY. If the bus left at 10 past, or the counter opened 10 minutes early, how less upset the tourist would be. They wouldn’t have to watch their bus leave while the surly counter staff fiddle with the queueing ribbons, hang up t-shirts on hangers and so on.

We were on a different plan, so it didn’t really affect us. Our plan was to catch the bus or a tram out to Schloss Ambras. The local bus driver gaped out our Innsbruck pass, and claimed he had never heard of such a thing. (A lie. You couldn’t live in Innsbruck and not know about the cards – they are advertised endlessly.) He then proceeded to drive us past the bus stop. This was despite the fact we signaled, and got up and waited to get off. He couldn’t possibly have misunderstood the intention. Obviously he wasn’t going to take us back, so we got off and walked, downhill. The footpath disappeared, we had to cross country and then walk down a narrow cutting with traffic whizzing by. Very stressful. Sylvia walked through a thorny tendril which slashed at her nose and cheek.

By the time we got the Ambras we were well and truly frazzled.

But it was great. In the 1500’s, naughty Archduke Ferdinand II secretly married a commoner, disinheriting his unborn children from a shot at the throne. The marriage wasn’t recognized for some 20 years, and he spent the time turning an old fortress into an elegant palace. He was a collector of odds and ends, curiosities, but also started a portrait gallery and a collection of armour from famous people and prominent soldiers.

It is astonishing and a bit overwhelming. The portraits extend beyond just Austria, including Spanish arms of the family, British and so on, and eventually you just shutdown, overloaded. Often there will be more than one portrait of an individual, so you can see, say, a child, progress to teenager, adult, oldster, then subsequent generations.

We missed a whole hall which included Marie-Theresa and her children, but had run out of steam by then.

The military part had a different take on other places. Most places I have seen are usually happy to display the old pikes, swords and so on as it…old and dirty. Here they were burnished and sparkling, and looked ready for action.

Your opponent will be...this guy.

One suit of armour was made for a 2.6 metre giant, and it is modeled by a lifelike figurine. Just the idea of seeing that come at you is quite a show-stopper.

The artworks and curiosities were a mix of exquisitely detailed woodwork, carvings, gold and so on, and then dodgy touristy gimmicks made out of coral or mother-of-pearl. He collected people too, and there was a wolfman and hairy daughters, and other unfortunates.

The palace itself and the gardens were also equally well-managed and lovely.

We took the red tourist bus back rather than risk another run with the local service –  we were sure he would drive straight past the stop – we got on ok but the tourist bus blithely sailed past the pick-up/drop-off point!  He took us on a few more stops before the driver decided he’d had enough and deigned to let us, and other bewildered tourists, out.

Lunch, and then the plan was to take a Nordkettenbahnen cablecar/cogtrain up above the town. It all went wrong. We came round the corner to see the bus turning at the lights ahead. Off he went, so we thought “It’s only 500 metres, let’s walk.”

We walked, but it was more than 500 metres, and the height we got to was 700 metres. It was hot, and hard work. As we walked we kept trying to make sense of the map. Where was bus J? On this map it should be here, wait, that’s a tram line, and so on.

It all got too hard, and at the 700 metre mark we went to the Innsbruck Zoo. It was ok. They had just local animals, as in native to Austria. I’m not sure how many wolves roam free nowadays. Or bears. They had them in this zoo. Like every zoo bear I’ve ever seen, this bear was mad, relentlessly looping and with odd, repetitive head tics. The otters were cute enough, and they had a reasonable aquarium with local fish I keep hearing about on menus but have never seen.

When we came out of the zoo, again! the bloody bus we needed was just pulling away. With half an hour to kill we wandered 100 meters further on, and there was a station for the Nordkettenbahnen we had been looking for all along.

But it all clicked into place. We were doing it the hard way. That was no tram track, it’s the bahn we are looking for, and starts in town! Tomorrow, try again.

Back to the accommodation, move into another room, then out for dinner. This place does have some cooking facilities, but we share it with others and I was too tired and couldn’t be bothering jockeying for kitchen space.  We found a café near the river that was ok, ate, came home and flaked.

Written by wurstofvienna2011

May 23, 2011 at 3:46 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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