The first thing I am thinking about is the snow storm about to hit the Midwest in the US. Keeping my fingers crossed that George, Gabby and Kaylee are able to get away. Right now if I had to bet; George and Gabby will get in a day late, but Kaylee will get in on time. George has already been contacted by United saying to expect delays. That is not a good sign when it is still two days before you are supposed to fly!
We have a great apartment booked over Christmas. It is going to be bad in so many ways if it is just Julie and I. Right now the plan is to drive down to Zermatt on Friday when George and Gabby get in. One selfish reason I hope they make it as scheduled is getting things to the apartment. The apartment is “up” a ways from the downtown. I tried to order groceries online, and have them delivered, but I thought about it too late, and all the of the delivery slots are booked. That means I have to carry all the heavy stuff up the hill to get to the apartment. I was looking forward to the two 25 year olds to be able to carry the heavy stuff, and let me worry about the paper towels and toilet paper. :).
The image above is the entrance to Swarovski Museum. The Swarovski Kristallwelten is a few miles outside of Innsbruck in the town of Wattens. We visited the museum on Saturday.
I am not sure what I thought Innsbruck would be like, but on Friday and Saturday, we were not really impressed with the surroundings. The city itself was pleasant, and there was a lot to do, but we could not understand why people always commented about the beauty of the area. Of course Friday the weather was so bad, that at most we had 1/4 mile of visibility. It wasn’t much better on Saturday. We had no idea the mountains were right next to the town until we woke up Sunday morning.
This was the view from our hotel room. Friday and Saturday, you could not even see the tall building on the right. You could tell there were “hills” nearby, but it was impossible to see the top of the hills. We thought it might be like Zürich (ringed with hills, but the mountains were further away). It was good to see how wrong we were.
Innsbruck would normally be a 3 1/2 to 4 hour drive. However, on Friday, it was so bad, it took us almost 5 hours to get there. I could tell Julie was worried, because she kept trying to sleep, instead of “helping”. We got checked into the hotel, and went exploring. Our first stop was the Hofkirche. The Hofkirche was built as the burial place for Maximilian I. It was built by his grandson Ferdinand to hold the large tomb designed by Maximilian. Maximilian had left in his will that he wanted to be buried in one of the chapels of one of his castles. However, he also designed the tomb pictured below.
It was impossible to put the tomb and statues in the chapel where he was buried. So this was created as a memorial to him instead. Maximilian had some strange ideas about life and death. After his death he had all of his hair cut off, and teeth knocked out. His body was whipped and covered in ashes and lime. Apparently this was done to show his penitence.
Maximilian was arguably the most powerful and famous of the Austrian rulers. He was crowned King of the Romans in 1486 and he claimed the title Holy Roman Emperor in 1508. However he was never actually crowned by the pope. He was so powerful, though, that Pope Julius II recognized the title. One historian described Maximilian as “the first Holy Roman Emperor that ruled as well as reigned”. Many other leaders in Europe regarde him as the greatest general of the time. He lost a lot of battles, but most of those losses were caused by lack of finances not any military planning. He was one of the earliest devotees of artillery, and this adoption led to his military success.
Saturday evening we took a tour of the Lumagica Gardens before dinner.
We really liked the garden tour. It was set up as a tour around the world. There were exhibits for all the continents. We did not (of course) take pictures of every single display, but we did take our favorites. The video below, was really neat. In front of the display was a piano like in the movie Big. So when the display was not playing automatically, you could jump around on the piano and change the display. The kids were having an absolute blast!
Sunday we woke up to a perfectly clear day, so we took the train, and the gondola up to the “Top of Innsbruck”.
Just so you know, the city of Innsbruck is actually named for a bridge across the river. The name of the river is the Inn, and the german word for bridge is Brücke. The river starts in St. Moritz, Switzerland, and runs north East into Germany where it empties into the Danube.
On the way back down the mountain we stopped at the zoo. Innsbruck has a very nice, but small, zoo on the side of the mountain. The zoo is full of animals only found in the Alps. Not just the Austrian Alps, but the entire mountain chain. It was a fun visit. Unfortunately, Julie was not able to tour the entire zoo. Up at the top, she hit a patch of ice and went down right on her bad knee. So she was in a little pain trying to walk up and down the mountain.
Our last night in Innsbruck ended with the Christkind Parade. I think I have this right, but I admit I am not 100% sure. The Christmas tradition in this part of Europe, is that Santa Clause visits the Children on St Nicks which is on the 5th or 6th of December depending on where you are from. The Christkind is dressed in white robes and has a golden crown leaves gifts under the christmas tree on the 24th. I will be honest, I don’t quite understand how “Christ child” became an angel like woman with blond hair and wings. Just another example of how Christmas traditions are different around the world. In fact, in a lot of of the Germanic areas. The Weihnachten Markt are called Christkindl Markt.
Anyway, we got lucky this weekend, as Innsbruck has the Christkind Parade the weekend before Christmas! It was a fun way to top off our weekend.
As I close this issue. I wish all of you a Merry Christmas. I will try and write once while we are with the kids, but I won’t make that promise! I hope you all have safe travels, and many good memories from next week. So maybe I will write one more time this year, if not see you in 2023!