Part of: UK and Western Europe
Lots going on lately and hard to keep up on the blog! I was planning to post last night but I came down with a bad cold as the day progressed and all I could manage to do after dinner was watch some TV (Bridget Jones dubbed into German) and go to bed.
This morning in St Gallen, Switzerland, David heroically took over my photo duties while I tried to get more sleep and stay out of the cold. He got some great photos of a big abbey church in the morning sunlight. Husband of the year!
Today my nose hasn't stopped running all day (thank goodness for 10-packs of pocket tissues) and I would really prefer to detach my head from my body, but I'm a little more functional so I'm going to try to get caught up on the blog. It's 9pm now and I've given myself until 11:30 to work on it - let's see how I do! (Blogging takes longer than you'd think, mainly for dealing with the photos.)
We ended up staying in Innsbruck for three nights (Oct 23-26) instead of two, because our hotel was comfortable, there were some good things to see and it was a nice place to get some travel planning and shopping done. With regard to the latter, I got a nice-ish sweater so I don't have to wear a long-sleeved T-shirt to dinner anymore, a thermal shirt that makes the Alpine weather a whole lot more bearable, and a seriously cool spork from the North Face store.
A further incentive to stay longer in Innsbruck was the free breakfast at our hotel rate. It is provided in the "American Bar" on the top floor of the hotel, from which there are beautiful views, and it was absolutely amazing. There were only a few hot items - scrambled eggs, bacon, sausages, shrimp wrapped in potato strings - but those were done well and the cold selections were seriously impressive. There was a huge array of fruit, including some of the most delicious mango we've ever had and several kinds of exotic fruit we've never even seen. The breads were delicious and there were at least two dozen types of preserves and honey to choose from. I'm sorry to say I never got around to taking a picture up there; too busy enjoying it! Also, the manager looked just like Alan Rickman.
Innsbruck is a good city - a nice mix of preserved historical stuff and new modern stuff. We weren't terribly lucky with the weather - it rained throughout the first day and snowed the second! Brrr. That also meant we couldn't see the surrounding mountains most of the time due to low clouds. But waking up to snow was a fun surprise, and the sun was shining on the evening we arrived and the morning we departed.
Another surprise was that absolutely every store in the city was closed for two of the days we were there! The first full day of our visit was a Sunday, on which all stores are closed by law in both Germany and Austria. We were used to that. But on Tuesday, the day we left, everything was closed again! It turned out to be a national holiday celebrating Austria's declaration of neutrality in 1955. Hmpf. I was going to go back and get more sporks that morning.
The most interesting church in Innsbruck is the Hofkirche (Court Church), which was built as a mausoleum for Emperor Maximilian in the 1550s. The tomb of Maximilian takes up the entire nave of the church and is really something - it is surrounded by 28 larger-than-life bronze statues of past emperors, kings and queens in Renaissance clothes. The statues are so impressive - each one has unique and realistic features (some of them were looking at us...) and the clothes and armor are amazingly detailed. After checking it out, I made David come back with me to see it later, and he really liked it, too.
Just before we left the city, David waited with a cappuccino while I made my second ascent to the tower (he joined me briefly up there first). You can see him in the top photo if you squint!
Unfortunately I don't have any other food photos to share from Innsbruck, as it was usually so wet out that I didn't want to carry my camera, but I would like to record for later reference a few of the good places we ate. For one of our lunches we returned to the place we had our first dinner (see photos in last post), and it was just as good. This time David had spaghetti bolognese and I had "Shepherd's Macaroni", which was penne pasta with a creamy tomato sauce, bacon, and several kinds of wild mushrooms.
Sidenote: The weird thing we've noticed about just about every meal we had in Germany in Austria is that they were way over-salted. I wonder if they think all other food is bland when they travel!
Another lunch was at an Italian place in the Old Town called Mamma Mia, where I had spaghetti bolognese and David had a pizza. Quite good. Innsbruck is actually only 30 minutes from the Italian border (but also 45 minutes from Germany) and there was a definite Italian influence there.
For a break from Austrian and Italian food, on our last night we had a Thai dinner at Thai-Li-Ba in the Galleria near our hotel. It was so very good! I had thin rice noodles with chicken and vegetables and David had what was basically cashew chicken, but probably the best example of it we've ever had. We both had mango and sticky rice for dessert, which was not only to die for, but beautifully presented - the mound of rice was nestled in a big half-tent made of a single exotic green leaf, and the mango was accompanied by a beautiful purple Thai flower. I really was mad I didn't have my camera for that one!