Breakfast = la prima colazione
Today, we checked out of our Airbnb by 10 and headed to the train station to make use of the convenient luggage lockers – our train wasn’t till 5pm. We had breakfast at “The Breakfast Club,” which is a good movie in my opinion… and an even better restaurant! I had the so-called “Very British” breakfast which included some baked beans. I was happy to experience some British cuisine without making the trek to London from Verona. After breakfast, we walked around the historic Altstadt or “Old town,” and made a second visit to the Swarovski store... the one in town.
Most of the shops were closed on Sundays, including many of the coffee shops. We needed a place to pull out our laptops and do some homework, which is not exactly as appropriate in Europe as it is in the U.S. We found an old café from the 1800s called Café Central. It had crystal chandeliers, but ironically, was laptop and work-appropriate. We sat and I heard Italian coming from the table next to ours. I remembered on the train ride to Austria, I thought we had crossed the border earlier than we did because we crossed into the Northern region of Italy where they speak German. In fact, we had not crossed into Austria till the last stop before Innsbruck.
Austria was a wonderful trip. I don’t speak German except for a few phrases, but I could easily tell how the English language is “Germanic.” German speakers say “hallo,” almost identical to “hello,” and “danke,” which sounds like “thank you” said very fast, with a similar cadence.
Frightening = spaventoso
The highlight of today was our tour of the Swarovski crystal museum, or in German, Kristallwelten. The museum itself was kind of odd (what can I say, I prefer history or historical art) but served as a great backdrop for some cool pictures. My favorite was Yayoi Kusama's only permanent infinity mirror exhibit - Chandelier Of Grief.
The best part of the museum was the gift shop. I know, I know – pathetic. Thankfully, in Austria, Swarovski crystal jewelry is straight from the source and significantly discounted. I purchased a little red horseshoe necklace, and got my sister something, too.
Later, we had the best dinner of our trip thus far. We ate at Die Wilderen, which my boyfriend Sam found on Tripadvisor and told us to go check out. It was indeed a very good suggestion. I had goat cheese wrapped in a prosciutto-style thinly sliced meat, and some Austrian rice balls. Why the weird dishes? As it turns out, most of the main courses consisted of horse meat. I’m no vegetarian, but I grew up with horses (hence why I bought a horseshoe necklace earlier that day) and I was not about to eat this beautiful creature. I’ve heard of various cultures eating horse meat, but was surprised to find this to be the case in Europe. Sorry, Austrians, horses are for riding!
Part 2: A Scary Situation
After dinner, Juli and I had quite the scary thing happen to us. We were walking home around 8, and it hadn’t been dark for long. Our apartment had a locked door that opened to the street, which opened into a hallway lined with doors to people’s apartments… all locked. Double locks: pretty safe, right?
Well, tonight, Juli unlocked the door and I followed in behind her. The door began to shut and I turned and watched, and was going to make sure it closed completely. Not before I touched the handle did a man catch the door and say something to me in a language that didn’t sound like German or English, or anything I could recognize. I said “oh” as he opened it and turned around and followed Juli, who eyed me like, “why didn’t you close the door?” I suppose I thought he lived there and didn’t want to be rude and slam the door on his face, but right after I saw him and let him in, I knew he didn’t live there.
Making our way down our short hallway to our door, I could feel this man following us closely. I don’t know exactly how we both knew something was very wrong, but people talk about women’s intuition. We stopped at our door and Juli began to fiddle with our key. I tapped her hand and mouthed “wait,” and she thankfully took my cue and said, “let’s go to the garden.” The man was standing right behind us before we made our way out to the garden at the end of our hall. Juli thought there was an exit out there, but there wasn’t. Thankfully, the man didn’t follow us out. (Later, Juli remarked that he probably thought there was an exit out there and that we were gone.)
We stayed outside and watched the hallway. The man wasn’t there, but we hadn’t seen him leave the building. By the way this African man was dressed, and the way he inappropriately followed us into our building, I suspected he was a migrant. I don’t know what he intended to do, but in the garden I could remain calm and collected since we hadn’t been followed out there.
Germans have these eco-friendly lights that turn off after a short amount of time, so before long, the lights in the garden turned off. At this point, we walked back into the building and opened our door quickly, slamming it shut and locking it instantly when we were inside. Juli had been texting her boyfriend who told her to call the police. I thought it wasn’t at that point yet, but called my boyfriend as soon as we were inside to tell him about the creepy encounter we just had. A few minutes passed and we heard a slight knock on the door, and someone wiggling our door handle. Presumably, it was the man. Juli began to get nervous and told me to be quiet, but I thought “he’ll go away.”
He continued to shake the door handle, more violently as time went on. After two minutes of this, we called the police. We met with the Austrian police later and told them the whole story. They checked the building and assured us no one was there anymore. Before bed, Juli and I were talking about this, but I didn’t want to. I was relatively calm during, but after the fact I was grateful we were okay and did not want to imagine the man hiding in the hallway when we came back from the garden or entertain what could have happened to us tonight.
That whole ordeal put a damper on what was otherwise the most enjoyable trip I’ve been on in Europe.
Snow = la neve
We rushed out the door today to make it to our shuttle up the Nordkette mountain. At first, we were on one of those train gondolas that I’d never experienced before, but we switched to a cable-car gondola later to make our way higher up the mountain. I’ve been skiing in the states, but these gondola cars were the size of a kid’s room. We crammed into it like sardines in a can before taking off up the slopes. Already, this was a new cultural experience. Among the crowded cable car, I heard people from the UK or Australia speaking English. Hearing my own language in public was strangely comforting, and I immediately found peace and relaxation among the beautiful mountain scenery (also familiar from years of Colorado trips with my family) in Innsbruck.
At the top of the mountain, I had my first Weiner schnitzel with cranberry sauce. It was great, and I had it again for dinner, but couldn’t help wanting to try some of Juli’s local brats. Thankfully, she shared. We also ate a great sauerkraut appetizer. German food was delicious, and offered some nice variety compared to the Italian staples that I’ve been enjoying for the past few weeks. Note to self: Germans do roasted potatoes better than French fries.
I avoided skiing this trip, first because I didn’t have my gear, second because in Europe, unmarked avalanche areas and ungroomed slopes show that Europeans just expect you to be a good skier. While skiing in Colorado might be a smoother experience, the Rockies have nothing on the Alps as far as looks go. Enjoy some pictures from the beautiful Alps: