The town in Germany that I live is in the southern tip of the country just a hop, skip, and a jump away from both Austria and Switzerland. I’ve been in Germany for two weeks as of today, and I didn’t hesitate to start my travels. My first day off was last Wednesday, and I made plans with a few of the other newbies here to take the FlixBus to Innsbruck. The bus ticket was $14 round trip, and took about an hour each way.
We arrived in Innsbruck around 930 am, and the only “plans” we had were to see the river with the colorful houses, and I really wanted to visit Ambras Castle. The rest of the day was free to roam and soak up as much of the city as we could. We started at the first cafe we could find for some espresso and a treat.
This was the first of many encounters with locals that didn’t speak English, but we made it work eventually.
After our pick me up we wandered into the Old Town area. These medieval buildings are paired with contemporary architecture, all surrounded by the Alps. There was a City Tower we stumbled upon that provided a panoramic view of the city, and was well worth the 3 euro to climb the stairs. The Old Town is also home to the Golden Roof, which is the cities most famous symbol. The roof is made of copper tiles and was for Emperor Maximillian I to mark his wedding.
I love history.
After being awed by the view from City Tower, we wandered around Old Town a bit, and I ended up buying a souvenir. I never buy souvenirs because I don’t like to accumulate “things,” but this one spoke to me. My room in Germany is very empty, to the point where the housing manager thought I had moved out when he came to do a room inspection.
What can I say, I’m tidy and I’m a minimalist.
From the Old Town area, we migrated towards the river. When Googling Innsbruck the river houses were one of the first images that caught my eye. These colorful buildings are a must see, and a perfect spot for a tourist to take a photo. We walked the river for a while, wandered down random roads, stopped into open cathedrals, and then made our way outside of the city center towards Ambras Castle.
Ambras Castle is about a 2 mile walk from the city center, and Google Maps was the real MVP on this trip. I just learned that I can download maps of any city to use offline, which will be such a life changer while I explore without data for my cell phone. We stopped in to use the toilet at a gas station along the way, which was stop number two where no one spoke English. We were beginning to stick out like sore thumbs, but everyone was kind.
I’m a sucker for a good castle tour, so when I saw Ambras Castle pop up as one of the must see places in Innsbruck I knew it needed to be one of the main stops for the day. Archduke Ferdinand II rebuilt the castle using part of it to display his collections of armor, weapons, oddities, rarities, and precious items, making this the oldest museum in the world dating back to 1570.
The exterior of the castle alone is enough to summon a visit, but my favorite room on the inside was The Spanish Hall. This room was used for balls and special occasions, and upon entry you can immediately see why. Some of the portraits that line the walls are comical, and I can’t help but wonder if the men actually posed the way they were portrayed.
The castle has a cafe where we ate lunch, and this was the third and most difficult encounter with a woman that didn’t speak English. She was sweet as candy, but my goodness did I wish I knew Google Translate allows language downloads to use offline before I visited this cafe. I learned this life hack as well as the Google Maps offline hack AFTER this trip. I tried to order a chicken salad, and I don’t know what she was saying, but I ended up guessing she was telling me they didn’t have anymore. Instead I ordered a tuna salad, which was delicious.
We were all given coupons to get a free espresso, so I also ordered an espresso. When it came time to pay I presented my coupon, and she became confused. I had no idea what she was saying, but I kept presenting the coupon hoping something would happen. I’m still unsure, but I think perhaps she thought I was trying to use the coupon for my entire meal. Eventually she said “OHH Espresso” and it was taken care of.
We all laughed, and did the best we could.
The castle grounds had three peacocks roaming around, which was random as hell, but also fun. After we finished with the castle we took a bus back into the city, and my copilots stopped for a warm drink and some cake to kill time before our bus disembarked back to Garmisch-Partenkirchen. We also stopped at a place called Mamma Mia where I ate the biggest slice of pizza I’ve ever seen.
I payed for it later, but when in Austria.
Our bus left Innsbruck at 735p, giving us ten hours in the city. I couldn’t have asked for a better day, my company was perfect (we all got along great and were happy to go with the flow) the sights were beautiful, and the food was delicious. We walked a total of 12 miles – a perfect first trip while living abroad.
Q: What are your favorite things to do while traveling? For me I like to try new food, coffee, museums, and anything outdoors.