Innsbruck and Munich
07.06.2015 - 09.06.2015 32 °C
We finally moved out of Venice and took the train north through the Brenner Pass to Austria. The train was quite effortless and it would have been quite easy to catch up on some sleep apart from the views! There was green everywhere, and then the sheer lift to the high mountains was amazing. The rivers were swiftly flowing and the greens were so green - not the faded or yellow green I'm used to, but verdant, deep emeralds, closely packed, then with almost lime greens fields occasionally breaking the view, with the mountain tops grey, rocky, snowy peaks just standing dominant!
We arrived in Innsbruck to the sight of trams rolling past the station -making us feel at home! We stayed in the old city which was full of churches, bell towers, guest hauses and expensive shops. But we'd spent enough for our whole trip while in Venice so we were just happy to wander by. We'd arrived mid afternoon but hadn't eaten, so we headed out for some lunch. We expected large serving sizes by now so just ordered salad and soup - but the salad had almost a whole chicken breast AND pork fillet, and the goulash soup was more like a full serve of stew! Both were beautiful though, with the salad dressing being the highlight for me - I had a (small) salad the next night and we asked what was in the dressing, but he said it was a secret! Seriously!
We found our way to the local railway which connected to the cable car to take us up the mountain. The mountains continue to amaze me here in that there's no gentle slopes leading into steeper ones, then into the mountain - here they're just there at the end of the street. From the train it reminded me of the Glass House mountains, and in the town it reminded me of Lhasa, although Innsbruck was lower altitude. We were lucky enough to have a beautiful, clear day to be on the mountain and after the third leg of the journey, when we were at the top (where the serious skiers start from) we could see all the peaks, most with some snow still on them. There was much activity on the mountain, with climbers, walkers, mountain bikers and wandering tourists all finding their own spaces and enjoying the clean air. It was truly awesome!
While the mountains could have held us longer, we had another train to catch. The views on the way to Munich were again great, and kept me from thoughts of sleep! Munich itself was a bit of a shock to the senses - very busy everywhere, and very much the big modern city. Our first wander took through the old town gates to a quite different place. Here new met old, churches hundreds of years old had been refurbished to sit happily beside newer buildings housing shops or restaurants, but it was all in a style that matched. We saw the Marienplatz (and then came back later to hear the carillon play and see the Glockenspeil in action), more churches including St Peters, the Viktualienmarkt where there was Bavarian music and costumed dancers, and of course we interspersed all this with drinks!
We took a whole day out from Munich itself and travelled to the "Eagles Nest" at Obersalzberg, then the village of Berchtesgarten. The Eagles Nest was amazing - both from the histories the guide revealed, and in the place itself. At the bottom of the steep ascent there was a "documentation centre" covering all the history of the place, and Hitlers atrocities through the war. It was not considered a museum as it was not something to be honoured or respected, but was provided purely as history and maybe education. Similarly, Hitler's house had been destroyed by American bombs and its site was not identified to make sure Neo nazis and the like had no place to remember or revered. We reached the top car park by special buses which could manage the twist and turns of the steep mountain, and unfortunately found the fog rolling in! But we entered the marble tunnel and walked some 100m into the mountain then took the gold elevator to the tea rooms at the top. This was where Hitler had meeting rooms and a tea room but not much else, and in fact he didn't use this palatial establishment much anyway. It seemed like an amazing feat of engineering though, considering all the marble and gold used and the altitude that had to be contended with. I had respect for the people who actually built it, but balanced that with the reason it was done, and the power, cruelty and chaos that was Hitler. It was a thought provoking place.
After the Eagles Nest we travelled to Berchtegarten, which is a picturesque village beside a river in the valley. Considerably touristy with many buildings dating back to 1200s, it was a lovely, more positive place to finish our tour! Again Trev and I just wandered around the town enjoying the peace and quiet provided.
We decided that there was enough to do in Munich to visit again for another week at least - there were at least three galleries of science, technology and modern art, and numerous standard art galleries, and of course lots more palaces and churches! Another day!