Welcome to Innsbruck

The deliberations and discussions went on for weeks back home last holiday season. With our National Geographic Adventure map and Eurail map sprawled out on the kitchen table for nights on end we got to decide where this trip was going to take us. With the tickets purchased to Zurich, that began to narrow things down a bit. Do we go north to Bavaria? South to the Italian Alps? I believe France was mentioned. Maybe east to Austria? We ultimately decided on Innsbruck, Austria for the next 3 days of our trip.

Olde Towne, Innsbruck
Our trip from Konstanz to Innsbruck would take us back thru Zurich. We arrived in Innsbruck on a cool, damp winter evening. Any stereotypes of of getting off the train in a quaint little town with the Alps hovering above were erased immediately. Upon exiting the station we only had the map in our heads to lead us to the Olde Towne where we would be staying. I was a bit surprised by all the rush hour traffic. Commuters, students, buses, and taxis all lined up outside the station. We quickly had to get out bearings, so we wouldn’t look like tourists.

Like the experienced travelers we were we found the Brixner Strabe took it to Marie Theresa Strabe right into the Olde Towne. The idea of getting off a train in the middle of the night (it was like 7:00pm) in a new place and having pretty much no idea where to go was exhilarating. Yes it was Austria. Not Mongolia or Moroccan. But still, it was new. It was foreign. It was exotic. We were on our own in Europe. Only the maps and tour books in our bags, that we dare not expose on the streets. Those were reserved for the privacy of the room or maybe on the train when no one was looking.

We had booked a room for four nights at the Hotel Weisses Kreuss in the heart of Olde Towne in Innsbruck. Opened in 1465, yes 1465, it once lodged a young Mozart. This rustic, quaint, quiet, affordable, well-located hotel was a highlight of our time in Austria. The atmosphere and ambience of the place was enough to almost want you to stay there. The staff was extremely friendly and helpful. The room was basic, as expected, but clean and very comfortable. A hardy breakfast buffet greeted us every morning. Breakfast was an event all to itself. Guests had the option to eat in different themed rooms. We stuck with the Mozart dining hall, because it offered the best views of the Nord Kette, which overlooks the Olde Towne. 

View of the Nord Kette and the Golden Roof, Innsbruck
The Olde Towne as we would eventually figure out is very compact. But with its labyrinth-like maze of streets, it seemed much larger. It didn’t take long for us to get turned around (not lost) in the back cobblestone alley ways. The streets we very charming and entrancing. One could wander for hours, getting lost. Taking in the feel of the town. It’s an intangible thing that can’t be put into words. It cannot be described. Perhaps not even seen.

Wandering the back street of Olde Towne, Innsbruck
Once we had checked into the hotel, we immediately left to begin exploring and find some dinner. We immediately found ourselves down this back alley, lined with lanterns to lead our way. This was going to be an amazing city! Over the next few days we would aimlessly wander the city. Touring museums and church’s. We would take the gondola to the top of the Nord Kette. Traverse the city to the Olympic ski jump. And take the short train ride to southern Bavaria in Germany. We would treat ourselves to some local delicacies and decadent treats. Drink way too much coffee, discover the Caffe Latte, and drink beer with almost every meal. Welcome to Innsbruck!

Konstanz, Germany

So we had obtained our plane tickets to Zurich, one of the most expensive cities in the world, for under $500, from Orlando, which is about eight hours from home. I’m still a big supporter of this. Even after the drive, gas, parking, and extra hotel the savings from flying from our local airport was well over a thousand dollars. But now we were flying to Switzerland, where a hotel after an evening arrival was looking to be in excess of $300! No way! We had to get out of Switzerland that night in order continue the savings. We had landed around 8:00pm and didn’t want to travel that far. Our research had taken us about an hour north of the Zurich airport to the border town of Konstanz, Germany. Immediately we were finding quaint, cozy, historic hotels in the Olde Towne for less than $100.

  Old Towne of Konstanz, Germany

So if you’re noticing a pattern of taking more time to get somewhere in order to save money you’re right. We could of set our heads down after nearly 24 hours of traveling near the Zurich airport in some non descriptive chain hotel for $300 a night. It would of served the purpose, but it would not of created much on memories. That is why we jumped on the train to Konstanz. Upon our late night arrival in the German/Swiss town on the shore of Lake Constance (the lake and town are spelled differently) we were suddenly immersed in our first European town. It was exciting, exhilarating, a little nerve racking. Would we find the hotel ok? Would we be able to communicate? Would we stick out?

We found our hotel very easily. We always new it was right across from the train station. For our first nights lodging we had reserved a room at the Hotel Halm. As we wearily stumbled into the hotel lobby I thought we were on some movie set. None of this seemed real. The lobby was lit by large pillar candles throughout. The front desk was adorned by candles as well. Once again this wasn’t real! We were greeted by a very polite front desk clerk who spoke excellent English, a bit relief this was, even though we knew basic greetings and phrases. When the gentlemen saw our address he told us he just returned from his own holiday from our area! Really?! We checked in and made our way thru the lobby to notice the spiral staircase was, yes, more candles. Candles were placed on the steps to light your way to the the rooms.
Our room at the Hotel Halm was very nice. Nothing out of the ordinary. Not fancy. Practical and clean. And all of this for under $100! We had been traveling for nearly 24 hours, my luggage was lost (a topic for another blog), we were exhausted, but so excited to be starting this adventure. It should be noted that our stay at the Hotel Halm was just an overnighter. This was just to escape the prices of Switzerland and experience a little bit of Germany right off the bat.
Dining Room of the Hotel Halm, Konstanz, Germany

The next morning we ventured down to the Moroccan themed restaurant attached to the hotel for breakfast. The best we could figure is that the original owner of the hotel had an interest in Moroccan architecture and culture. It was a quiet, delicious breakfast in the large sparsely populated dining room. It would be great start to our day before we explored the city for a bit before hopping on the train, heading to Innsbruck, Austria. For the next few hours we would explore the streets and lakefront of the city. It was a grey, cool Monday morning in February but the streets we quickly filling up with shopkeepers placing there merchandise on the streets. We wandered (secretly wandered) the alley ways, back streets, and pedestrian zones all morning. We found the local mall, which apparently along with the rest of Konstanz was a very popular with Swiss residents looking to escape their own high prices and taxes. It was a typical mall, but none the less another experience. The Olde Towne is very close to lake, which I’m sure in the warm season is very popular with locals and tourists. Several restaurants and bars appeared to have outdoor seating, but on this cold February day that wasn’t happening. The town docks offer ferry service to nearby German and Swiss town across the lake. But once again all was quiet on this winters morning.
Lake Constance, Konstanz, Germany

Our quick money savings stop over in Konstanz had come to an end. We returned to the hotel to pick up our bags from storage and headed over to the train station. The days journey would take us to the main Zurich station and then to Innsbruck. Our home for the next few days.