Mountains and Lakes: A Daytrip to Innsbruck
July 22, 2015
Even in early summer, the weather in Bavaria can be cool as it is influenced by the surrounding Alps and sure enough it was overcast and drizzly when the four of us stepped out the door and into the car. The night before we (my husband Nathanael, our friends Rita and Bernhard, and I) had decided to take a roadtrip to Innsbruck and we set out shortly after lunch the next day. Being able to leave on a daytrip relatively late and still travel leisurely is something of a novelty, coming from Canada where the distances are much greater between places.
Winding roads led us from Bad Tölz through the countryside which turned into forests as we moved into the Karwendel mountains in the northern Limestone Alps. Our first stop was a lookout alongside Sylvensteinsee, which is a water reservoir.
Back on the road, if Rita hadn't pointed out the blue Eurozone sign indicating that we'd crossed into Austria, we certainly would have missed it. A few moments later Bernhard was showing us where the border crossing had temporarily been reinstated as part of the G7 security, but on this cool summer Sunday, all was quiet.
Before long we reached another lookout, this one above the turquoise waters of Achensee. The small town on the shores of the lake is surrounded by mountains and emerald green pastures, making it picturesque. We saw a ferry sailing across the length of the lake and a few sailboats were moored directly beneath us. We all sighed and daydreamed of living in such a picturesque town...or at least vacationing there!
Our reverie was soon interrupted when a giant tour bus pulled into the same stop, and narrowly missing the other cars stopped there, blocked most of the entrance and exit (it was a really big bus). We quickly wrapped up our photos and started towards the car, eager to get back on the road before dozens of tourists inevitably descended the bus steps. As we climbed back into the car, we became aware that the bus was still completely full. That's right - here was a full tour bus idling at an incredibly scenic viewpoint, and yet for some reason, nobody was disembarking! Anxious that it would now be returning onto the road, and not wanting to be stuck behind it, Rita maneuvered the Golf around the awkwardly parked bus and back onto the highway.
Our next stop on the edge of a mountain looked over a small town nestled deep into a valley. This lookout actually had a small cafe with a large patio in case you needed refreshments en route. A few people sat here enjoying the view, and on a warmer day I probably would have joined them!
The first city we stopped in was Schwaz. It was already getting to be late afternoon by the time we arrived, and on a Sunday the town was quiet. We wandered along the main street to the church grounds, explored the grounds, and went inside the church itself before returning to the car where we had the snacks of champions (or roadtrippers anyways) - chocolates, biscuits, peanuts, water - and carried on our way.
Arriving in Innsbruck, we parked near the Tiergarten and wandered through it towards the city centre while enjoying the greenery. It was now early evening and the park was full of people enjoying a leisurely end to the weekend. There were people strolling through the grounds, picnicking on blankets on the grass, and even playing games such as chess.
We made our way out of the Tiergarten and walked through the city towards the old town. As we were coming down a side street, between the Cathedral of St. James and construction next door, several young men marched by in uniforms and with flags. They approached a side door of the cathedral and disappeared inside. Moments later, as we rounded the front of the building, the church bells started ringing and all around us people started gravitating towards the cathedral. A few had cameras and were taking photos, but most were headed into the building. I had the distinct impression of the sound of the bells actually drawing people inside the cathedral.
As people disappeared inside the cathedral, we continued along the cobble-stoned streets, admiring the neatly kept buildings around us. Eventually we happened across a street vendor selling assorted sausages. Rita, Bernhard and I each ordered a spicy Hungarian sausage, while Nathanael went for currywurst. Now we have both had currywurst before, and like spicy food which was fortunate because this version had the most curry powder we've ever seen on this dish! Maybe they just make it differently in Austria, or maybe our vendor got a little carried away...or maybe the cap simply fell off, but in any case Nathanael maintains it was the best currywurst he's had to date.
Photo by Nathanael Kuipers.
Afterwards, we continued strolling through the city, simultaneously marveling at its location below the mountains which were lit up with that perfect golden hour light and stopping to look at some of the shop window displays. We made a quick stop for gelato which we enjoyed on our way back to the car. One more stop for pictures of Innsbruck on our way out of town and then it was time to depart back into the mountains towards Germany.
Have you taken a road trip through Bavaria and Tyrol? Where were your favourite places to visit? Share in the comments below!