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Posts Tagged ‘Innsbruck’

The thrill of victory, the agony of defeat

July 19th, 2009 Comments off

Because we love the Olympic Winter Games, it was a thrill for us to wake up Sunday morning in Innsbruck, Austria, where  our first destination was the ski-jumping stadium that was used for both the 1964 and 1976 games. “I can hear Jim McKay’s voice,” Jeanne said. “I can see him, I can hear him.”

The stadium was surprisingly close, and low, to the city, and maybe its location a bit unsettling for jumpers. If they look up during their jump, instead of focusing on the tips of their skis and their landing target, they’ll see a cemetery filled with tombstones just beyond the stadium. Lovely.

The stadium is used year-round and in the summer, jumpers fly down onto a kind of a plastic, grassy material. If you click onto the photo below to the left in order to see the enlargement, you’ll spot the cemetery in front of him.

At the top of the ski-jump tower is an observation terrace and restaurant. It’s a tad pricey but we rationalized we won’t be back for a few weeks so we’d live it up. You can imagine the view.

We left Innsbruck for Zurich in the early afternoon, knowing we were behind schedule in getting to our planned camping site in Lucerne, Switzerland. But hey, no worry, we would not let ourselves be rushed! The scenery was remarkable and now I know why ice-skating and gymnastics judges are reluctant to give 6.0′s or 10.0′s to the first competitors to perform: there is nothing better to give if better performances are turned in by later competitors.  So true with scenery, too: we were baffled by the forests, the mountains, the lakes, the Alpine villages and as we drove, we exhausted our adjectives. We didn’t grow numb, mind you, but we just had nothing more to say.

Zurich was our dinner stop. Daughter had visited it before and wanted us to have dinner at a restaurant she discovered.  The tables are shared among parties and next to us was an elderly couple from Japan. The most I could figure out from talking to them was that they were on a 19-day tour of Europe and had just spent 4 days in France. I liked them, though, because as I told a few jokes, they laughed loudly. I guess the understood English better than I had realized.

After dinner we drove for Lucerne, targeting a camp site that had good reviews.  We pulled up at 10:20. It was closed.  And it was, we think, the only campsite in town. The agony of defeat. So we did what the camping books advise: “free camp” — find a place to park where nobody will object, close the curtains and call it a night.

We found a public parking lot just down the street, where a tour bus was parked. We pulled in  behind him, hoping he would provide cover for us if police drove by.  But we wouldn’t be secret for long. By the time we were asleep, no less than nine other campers had pulled in alongside of us, all having found themselves with no where else to park.

Lucerne’s lake was just 200 yards away, with members of the Lucerne Yacht Club having access to their private docks. Us, we parked next to a weedy lot where little dinghies are stored.  Maybe I can do some Photoshopping.

The 60 degrees of Austria

July 18th, 2009 Comments off

We left sweltering Vienna Saturday morning, having learned that the temperature in the city as we walked around had topped 100 degrees, with a fair amount of humidity and at times not even a whisper of a breeze.

It is now Sunday morning, and at our campground in Innsbruck, below a snowy mountain top, it dipped into the 40s. It is wonderfully refreshing.

The trip here on Saturday was mostly through a steady rain. The skies were grey (so photos will suffer) but the scenery was nonetheless stunning as we drove up into the Alps.

I think the line in that movie soundtrack — the hills are alive with the sound of music — is a bit inaccurate, frankly, but maybe the word “hills” was necessary for the cadence.  These are not hills. These are majestic mountains in every  wonderful sense of the word, with steep sides and unmistakable peaks. And more amazing: the pastures and forests that frame the mountains are every color of rich, vibrant green.  This is quite a sight for a couple from Las Vegas whose measure of green is the fake grass in the back yard.

We spent three or four hours Saturday in Salzburg’s historic (yeah yeah, everything in Europe is historic) old town. We were almost sucked in to buying a beautiful chess board with characters representing medieval Europe, but thought better when we realized we already have two chess boards at home and we don’t play chess.

In Salzburg we lingered around a church cemetery unlike any I’ve seen: the burial plots were  individually covered with all types of flowers, versus just grass or stone work. And the headstones were not stones at all,  but custom-crafted metal works and other materials. Each burial plot was distinctive. No CC&Rs here.

Our search for authentic Austrian food took us to a hidden dinner house where, between the four of us, we had ham, sausages, pork, schnitzel, steak, mushrooms, potatoes, sauerkraut, dumplings, soups (mine had a marvelous fried-cheese dumpling floating in a clear broth with tiny pieces of carrot and chives), and dessert of warm apple strudel with vanilla sauce and whipped cream.

My health coach, Monica, is going to kill me.

The final leg of the day was to get to our campsite in Innsbruck before dark.  As we pulled up at 9 p.m. Saturday, our stomachs tightened, and I don’t think it was because of the pork, ham, sausages, sauerkraut and vanilla sauce. The campsite was under reconstruction. Three different camping and tour books had mentioned this as the only campground in Innsbruck, and it didn’t exist.

We stopped at a nice hotel 50 yards away for advice, and the desk clerk said we had two options: stay there (a double room with breakfast, 80 Euros) or she could refer us to a campsite three miles away that had not been mentioned in any of our books. I asked Daughter and Fiancé if they wanted to stay at the hotel to get away from us for a night. They asked us if we wanted to stay at the hotel and get away from them for a night. We all agreed that we were getting along grandly so we would stick together and go to the other camp site.

Well, that might have been a misnomer, calling it a camp site.  The place was a pizza house with a large swatch of grass behind it, large enough to hold maybe 50 campers and tents, and the proprietor put in electrical power outlets and a dinky small bathroom facility (one man’s shower, one woman’s shower, you get the idea).  He did have a great pizza menu, though.

So we spent the night and this morning we woke up to the sight of snow above us.

We’re not in Vienna any more.