My train this morning to Innsbruck was a rare non-stop route. We did slow down several times as we passed through towns or switching tracks, but that wasn't too bad and the total trip was under 2 hours. During the first part of the trip we headed towards Munich, staying just to north of the Alps following scenery just like that between Vienna and Salzburg. At about the halfway point we turned south and headed into the Alps for a very gradual climb to Innsbruck. Our route in the Alps followed the large River Inn valley floor crisscrossing the river a few times along the way. There were only a few very short tunnels along the way, actually they were more like underpasses, so we had a good view of the scenery the whole way. However, the trees and the speed of the train made it difficult to get any nice clear photos.
What struck me most about this journey was how the mountains kind of just appeared and how steep they were close to the tracks. It reminded me a lot of the drive into Vancouver from the east, especially the part west of Hope where the mountain kind of just come straight out of the ground.
My initial perception after arriving in Innsbruck is that the place it like Banff or Whistler, but on steroids. The higher mountain peaks in the area around Innsbruck are only around 8000 feet high, which sounds small compared to those over 9000 feet high around Banff. But, what makes the difference is that the elevation of Innsbruck is only about 1900 feet, whereas Banff is around 5000 feet. That makes the mountains around here look 6000 feet high, while those around Banff only appear to be 4000 feet. That's a substantial difference.
I like the scenery around here so much that I decided stay 3 nights instead of one. There isn't too much to do around here, so I'll likely just take is easy and soak up the scenery.
Here's a bit of the scenery approaching Innsbruck. The bike path running along the track connecting the small communities seems to be a very common thing around Austria.
A couple farmers raking up some lush green hay.
The River Inn a short ways east of Innsbruck.
Just a bit more scenery a few kilometers out of Innsbruck.
The view of the mountains just to the north of Innsbruck. This photo was taken from along the River Inn about 100 meters from my hotel (see next picture).
My hotel is located just to the left of that yellow building just to the right of center in the picture below. I started out with a room facing the mountains, although the view wasn't as good as that shown above because the yellow building blocked part of it. The problem with that room was the noise. They have a giant screen, stage, and beer gardens setup just behind the yellow building for watching the World Cup Soccer matches, so that can get a little loud. My new room is on the opposite side of the building in the courtyard. There is no view of the mountains there, but it's much quieter. The area to the left of the yellow building, and just behind my hotel, is the pedestrian only old part of town. I'm sure I'll get a picture or two of that in the next couple days.
A covered walking bridge. It's a little different than those covered bridges my sister and I saw last year out near North Hatley, Quebec, but it's a covered bridge just the same.
The view to the north of the covered bridge.
That little spec just above the mountains in the center of this picture is a hang glider.
The track for the old tram which heads up the mountain on the east end of town. It's normally open in the summer, but this year they are building a new modern tram that will head further into town. Back in the first picture taken near my hotel above, you can just barely see the new piers under construction for a bridge for the new tram.
This is a picture of a 200 year old panoramic picture of Innsbruck.
The above picture is housed up on the second floor of this building. This building was supposed to be closed, but the door was opened so I walked in. A fellow inside was just closing up the place. When he heard my English and found out I was from Canada he told me to go right in for a quick look, no charge. He told me that there is a similar modern day version of this at the sky jump on the edge of town, so I'll try and find that while I'm here.
Just a neat house. The large overhanging roof seems to be a common theme in the rural areas in Austria.
One more shot of the mountains.
Travelling by train and finding accommodations is starting to get routine. I no longer find it a big deal to pack up my gear, head off to a train station, board a train, and then start fresh at my next stop. All places are basically the same in terms of accommodations and services and it only takes a little while to figure out the local variations. Also, like many people have told me, you can get by in most places around this part of the world with just English. Although, I would like to learn some German since I will be in German speaking areas for a while.
I can figure out some things written in German, thanks to the German Lonely Planet phrasebook and dictionary I have, but understanding the spoken word and speaking it myself is another story. The young fellow from Indiana I met in Vienna waiting for the tram said he took 4 classes of German in University and still has trouble with anything other than the basics.
Until now, I've never really bothered to turn on the TV in any of the rooms that had one because I couldn't understand anything. Now, I'm thinking it might be a good idea to try watch the odd show every now and then, especially something like the Formula 1 race that's on this weekend because at least there I know what they are talking about.
Speaking of TV, my current hotel has a couple English channels like CNN and BBC. That gave me a chance to watch some news and learn more about the World Cup that started in Germany today. It looks like I may run into challenges with accommodations even if the city I go to isn't hosting a match at the time. That's because most cities are setting up large screens for watching the matches, kind of like that near my hotel, and many people are flocking to Germany even without tickets to just be part of the action, watching the games with other fans on these big screens. Any accommodations that are available will be a bit more expensive than normal, because most places have hiked their rates to take advantage of the World Cup.