Today was mostly a travel day as we moved on from Tuscany and headed for Innsbruck. It started with another phenomenal breakfast at Poggerino, but that now seems to feel like it happened like three days ago! Ever notice how while on vacation, or during special events time feels like it is going faster while things are happening, but in retrospect more time seems to have gone by? I’ve had times at work where I mistook a Tuesday lunch conversation for a Wednesday one, but the start of this trip feels like weeks ago. Maybe it is that we perceive time in the present tense based on our awareness of time’s passing (i.e. inversely related to how involved we are in what we are doing), but in the past based on the quantity of memorable experiences in our lives.
The train rides started off kind of dull. Florence to Bologna was like 80% under tunnels. Bologna to Verona, at least until you approach Verona, is flat. I saw irrigations and felt like I was in the Kansas of Italy.
After Verona things got interesting as we headed into the Italian Alps. We kind of missed the Dolomites, but the mountains were quite nice. Plus, the railroad tracks followed a river valley, so we got to see the scenery (as opposed to being under tunnels). I read up a bit on Trento and Bolzano while we passed though this area. It seems as though this is the outdoorsiest part of Italy. There were bike trails (most likely the same one) along the river valley for much of the journey, and I saw plenty of riders. Finally, we went thought the Brenner Pass, exiting Italy into Austria.
Innsbruck is exactly as I imagined it; an Austrian looking ski town. The mountains came right up to the town and watch over it in all directions. We could probably walk right up to one from the Weisses Kreuz, our hotel, which is right in the center of town. There is a shopping district that seems to cater to both skiers and Austrian type people with bars and beer gardens. Like I said, EXACTLY as I imagined.
We had a nice dinner at Ottoburg, at the recommendation of the hotel desk. There, I decided to dive right into the local culture, and got the most traditional Austrian dish that did not seem scary. It was phenomenal. While there, we encountered a group of five guys in their 20s. It was crazy because, other than speaking German, they looked and acted exactly like you’d expect a group like this in America. Oh, except they were at a fancy restaurant together. Groups of guys, for one reason or another, don’t do that in America. But, their behavior, their interaction indicates one of two things; there really is not that much different amongst different types of people, or that the German influence has manifested itself in the heavily German Midwest (especially WI and NE) in the form of drunken Friday nights. I’ll let you be the judge, but either way I had my first conversation with completely random people in Europe- awesome!