In Terminal 5 just after 0730, as we walk along to the First Wing I am delighted to read the specific baggage instructions for Christmas paraphernalia. NO BIG SNOW GLOBES.
First Wing security is busy but efficient enough. Neither of us have our bags called out for extra inspection and soon enough we’re in the lounge. That’s also busy, but not so bad that we can’t easily find a seat near the food. Helen goes and fills a plate full of buffet breakfast while I wait to see someone who’ll take an order from the menu. By the time Helen’s back no-one has been past, so I go fill up my own plate of fry up awesomeness.
Cloud starts to properly clear and hurrah! The alps! The best descent I’ve ever experienced is paying dividends again.
We circle a bit. The drop-down screens update our arrival time to half hour later than what they said a minute ago. Helen’s not relishing this, despite the view, because as we went through those clouds it was a bit turbulent.
But then the view goes into full “holy shit!” mode, and perhaps circling wouldn’t be so bad after all?
It’s great, as always. I feel privileged to have flown over this landscape with a great view 3 times in the last 24 months. One of the loud girls behind us is saying how she’s flown this, like, a thousand times, yeah?
Sadly, Innsbruck starts to appear beneath us. Innsbruck with its shitty boring surrounding landscape.
We haven’t circled for half an hour at all. In fact, we’ve touched down not too far behind schedule. Two sets of doors have stairs attached to them and soon enough we’re walking across the tarmac, marvelling at the fucking fantastic views in every direction. Seriously, I said this in December 2016 and I’m saying it two years on: fly to Innsbruck! It’s amazing!
Passport control is not amazing. It’s immediately inside the door and few enough desks are open that queues form back into the open air. Some people are getting their passports stamped. How do I get a stamp? It takes quite a while to get through the border but once we’re done it’s straight past the carousels and outside to the bus stop, where a machine to buy tickets proves so difficult to use that my struggle almost causes us, and two other folk behind us, to miss the bus that’s leaving, like, any minute.
But we all make it, and a scenic ride into Innsbruck takes not much longer than about 15 minutes. Getting off one stop beyond the train station, we’re next to an ice rink full of kids holding onto stabiliser-penguins. Doubling back on ourselves a bit I request around 5 minutes grace to try and walk us to the hotel before consulting a map, and take us exactly the right way. Boom!
Behind them is a gluhwein stall. Actually gluhwein and beer and raclette. With some discussion we eventually decide that fuck it, I’ll try some gluhwein as well – because they’re selling a white variant. I find the first sip to be absolutely disgusting, but from then on it’s actually not so bad. I think, in my mid-40s, I’m coming to some understanding about what my taste in wine is:
- Warm or fizzy
It comes in a nice Innsbruck branded mug, which explains the expense: part of the cost is a deposit, and later we return these mugs to get €6,00 back.
The bridge here goes over the river Inn, which makes it the Inn’s Bruck. Midway along it is a large Jesus. The sun is behind him and I’m a bit drunk and not a good photographer. So, you can have moody silhouette or detail surrounded by horrifyingly over-exposed sky. Take yer pick.
There’s also this giant smurf/elf thing, which is par for the course I guess.
Each street is a kind of mini-Christmas-market in its own right, with entry and exit archways and some small attempts to project some kind of individuality but it doesn’t really work IMO.
But we are having a blast. The cuteness of a street performer’s two resting dogs is almost unbearable, which makes it hard to believe that some even cuter dogs are round the corner, in a bloke’s pram(!) at a bus stop.
Honestly the views are properly relentless and I couldn’t be happier about it, taking a series of awful pictures to demonstrate the “look, a mountain!” aspect of our walk.
By now it’s about 3.50pm, and we’ve done perhaps 1.5 circuits of the main city centre. Think our bearings are well and truly got, it’s time to go have a sit down and a drink, perhaps with some food. Before sitting down Helen pops back to a shop she’d earmarked earlier in order to buy this shawl/scarf thing. Inside at the till – where the lady attempts to hand Helen change from the credit card transaction – we notice the shop also specialises in cuckoo clocks. One of them is discounted to only €1800. Eighteen hundred euros for a discount cuckoo clock!
Even now, 6 and a bit hours later, I can’t decide if I’m happy or not that we weren’t in a cuckoo clock shop on the hour. But we weren’t, because after the purchase we went off piste up a side road we’d yet to explore, to a square in front of a church. The new hour is heralded with a bit of bell ringing that sounds so creepy it wouldn’t be out of place in a horror movie soundtrack like Phantasm or something.
Back to where we first entered the Altstadt we go into the cavernous Augustiner Stifftskeller. It takes a while for one of the waiters to serve us but once he does he’s friendly and attentive, and we get two beers and a bunch of fantastically dirty local food.