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AUSTRIA | Saturday, 3 May 2014 | Views [734]

We landed in the capital of Tirol after a train-bus-train shuffle from Villach, but even this inconvenience was carried out super-efficiently and offered a different look at the country.  The snow-capped mountains came closer the nearer we got to Innsbruck, until they dominated the skyline in every direction you looked. This place is literally a postcard wherever you look!
Little did we know that the day was a public holiday and that our hotel was smack in the middle of the old town centre, so weaving in and out of mobs of people, tourists, locals and buskers, we made our way up the cobble-stoned mall to the White Cross. With nearly 600 years of history itself, the hotel was remarkable for mainy reasons, the most noteworthy being that Herr Mozart and junior stayed here a while in 1769! 
It wasn't long before we stumbled across a lot of the drawcard attractions as we were so close - the Goldenes Dachl, Helbling Haus, Maria-Theresien-Straße, Mariahilf, the Hofgarten (this isn't a history lesson so you can look up these places yourself, hehe). Needless to say, the old town is another beautiful example of Austrian history preserved in it's architecture, gardens and parks. The Hofgarten was a welcome escape from the crowds gathered beneath our hotel window! Later in the evening we were fortunate to also hear some live music from an oompa-loompa band in the mall. I think the smell of all that sweaty lederhosen put a skip in mum's step, or maybe it was just the music, hehe.
The next morning we decided to try the hop-on hop-off sightseer bus as they're a great way to get around the city quickly to see some of the sights. I suggested the more natural, outdoors sights in preference to the popular museums and churches, so we started at the Tirol Panorama on the southern hill slope. It lies adjacent to the Bergisel Stadium where they ran the 1964 and 1976 Winter Olympics ski jumping, but we got there too early to get inside. 
The next stop at the Schloss Ambras gave us a chance to soak in some wonderful pine forest, and walk the slopes of gushing creeks where I spied a fat squirrel half the size of my cat! The castle was built by Ferdinand II in 1565 and sits high among lovely manicured gardens, as well as a huge swathe of forest. The fresh mountain air, the smell of damp earth, the sound of babbling brooks and peacocks squawking won us over (and burnt out our leg muscles getting back up the slope!)
We also walked through the lovely Stadtpark Rapoldi on the way back, where people of all ages were enjoying the intermittent sun.  Mum wanted to take the Hungerburg Funicular and the Nordketten Cable Car to get high into the alpine ski area overlooking the town, so we packed some extra woollies, walked over to the station and took the 20 minute ride up the mountain side! The funicular takes you half way and the cable car takes you the rest. The low cloud that shrouded the mountain peaks provided an eerie façade as we ascended from the light into darkness, but we were both excited to be able to kick around in the snow! You couldn't wipe the smile off mum's face :)
Having achieved just about everything we could in our short time here, we were happy to spend a couple of quiet hours doing some shopping and relaxing back at the hotel in preparation for the next leg of this journey. Innsbruck has been fantastic, as has all our time in Austria. Tomorrow we cross the border into Deutschland! 

Tags: sightseeing

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