First trip outside of Italy- Check! Innsbruck, Austria was lucky enough to host us for a few days before Christmas.
We skied for two days, which was a first for RW and basically a first for me too. I had gone skiing once at some point in Vermont and I just remember the ice and sliding down the mountain at full speed and crashing into the ground and it sucked. Austrian Alpine skiing was far superior in case you were wondering. Our splurge this trip was private ski instruction, which was worth every penny. I did really well on the first day and Hannes (our instructor) was appropriately impressed with my innate athletic ability and intrinsic talent on the powder. RW did pretty well but was slightly less graceful. The only time I regretted not having my camera was when I looked up the slope and saw only his head and both skis poking out of the side of the hill. Our second day on the slopes RW had a much better time and had more control, but I was slightly less nimble. I fell getting off of the lift a couple of times, which was better than the other option which was tumble off the non-slope side of the mountain. Overall, we had a blast and will definitely ski again. We only ski in the Alps though, ok people?
Innsbruck is full of history and we visited the Imperial Palace. I sneakily took some pictures so you could appreciate the Palace.
The Alpenzoo is located 750 meters up a hill overlooking Innsbruck. It is the highest altitude zoo in Europe and is home to many species of alpine wildlife in mostly natural type enclosures. The highlights were the golden eagle (totally badass), the wolves and the bears. It was a nice little zoo and I would recommend walking there from downtown Innsbruck. It was about a mile uphill but provided nice views and felt good to get moving after all of the eating you will do in Austria.
Ahhh, the eating. When you live in a freezing cold place it is imperative to have cuisine that warms you and fills you up, and this corner of Austria has that down for sure. Lots of soup (tomato cream, yum!) and potatoes. RW’s favorite meal will now be known as “potato smash.” Consisting of potatoes, assorted meat, and a fried egg in a skillet, it will fill you up and keep you warm for hours. For dessert- STRUDEL. Yum. Obviously. As far as wine, Austria makes some really nice wines. My favorite was veltliner, which is a dry white that is grown almost exclusively in Austria. RW found Guinness one night, and then drank dunkel, which is a German dark lager.
Christmas Markets are a a distinctly European tradition, complete with carolers, hot mulled wine, authentic food, gifts, crafts, and general merriment. Several musical groups scattered about the Old Town playing carols, including a French Horn band on the Golden Roof Balcony. For this year’s market, Innsbruck constructed a “fairy tale” theme and decorated the streets of Old Town with fairy tale characters. Some were cool, some were creepy, but it added to the festive feel.
RW has decided that he prefers places with Germanic roots, due to the industrious, courteous, and organized manner in which the people and the day proceed. Everyone in Austria spoke English, and even more people smoked than in Italy. Innsbruck appeared wealthy based on the type of automobiles (all BMW and Audis in good condition) as well as the cleanliness of the city. Also, no one got clipped by a vehicle while walking on the sidewalk (which has happened twice in Italy).
Austria, we love you. See you again!