Monday, February 17, 2020

Innsbruck, Austria


The Goldenes Dachl (Golden Roof) built in 1500.

     The drive from Hallstatt to Innsbruck was a rainy 3 hour drive. Typical of all our travel days, the days where we relocate for the week. We stayed in a cute Airbnb apartment just outside the city. I could not have asked for a better spot. We had great parking, a fenced yard where the kids could run around and be kids, and it was full of character. Did I mention the master bedroom had a waterbed?! But not like our old American 1980s waterbeds, no like this one was full of foam and barely had any wave to it. It was like the perfect memory foam bed, I called it floam (float and foam combined.)


The kids beds

The neighborhood was gorgeous, gentle climate with the mountains in the background. We noticed an unusual sign posted showing what appears to be a frog being ran over. We laughed and thought it was a joke....until we got out of our car and saw.....a smashed frog! Imagine how many frogs have to be in this area to have a sign posted haha.
                                               

A house next to where we were staying had this crazy roomba looking thing going around their lawn! Is it a vacuum? A lawn mower? An insect remover? A dog poop picker-upper?



     The earliest traces suggest initial inhabitation of Innsbruck, Austria is in the early Stone Age-2000 BC. Surviving pre-Roman place names show that the area has been populated continuously. In the 4th century the Romans established an army station. Nestled amidst majestic peaks, this breathtaking city offers a unique combination of nature, history, and culture. You can stroll its streets full of Baroque and Gothic architecture in the Old Town, or discover one of the hip districts such as Mariahilf or St. Nikolaus where Innsbruck’s university students like to meet for a drink. After, you can take a cable car from the city center, and in just 20 minutes, reach the Seegrube at 2,000 m (6,562 ft). Here you can take in spectacular views of the Inn valley and the surrounding mountains. Innsbruck, host of the Olympic Winter Games in 1964 and 1976, is of course a major winter sports center as well. Popular activities include skiing, snowboarding, ski mountaineering, snowshoeing, and skating. Austria and Innsbruck was taken over by Nazi Germany in 1938. From 1943 to 1945, the city was bombed around 21 times by the Allies in World War II and suffered heavy damage.
In 1964, the city hosted the Winter Olympics and regained its popularity. In 1976, Innsbruck again served as the host for the Winter Olympics. Today, it has become a famous winter sport destination for athletes and recreational skiers.

     Arriving in the evening, we had to hurry back to the grocery store after checking in because the next day is Sunday and we know the drill in Austria on Sundays, no place is open. I was excited to have found a rather large grocery store so I went a little overboard buying all the meals to make. I should have checked because we had a stove and oven only, no microwave and later found out when pre-heating for a frozen pizza that it hadn't been cleaned and it caused way too much smoke for us to use it. We wasted so much of the food we bought, but learned not to over buy again. We spent Sunday being lazy on a rainy day.

     Monday we were all rested and excited to venture out. We had no real plans other than wandering, so we started downtown. We found an indoor shopping mall that had a colorful, clear paneled roof. We bought Aub some shirts at HandM, I know, pretty adventurous shopping. It was pretty busy. We all agreed on a food court place and ate sandwiches there while listening to live music. My sandwich was on a pretzel bun with tomato, mozzarella, cucumber and egg. Pretty good!

     Do you remember the store from the 90s called 5*7*9? Remember how they had live models in their windows showing off their fashions? Well this mall had an Espirit with a male and female dancers! Aub and I stood and watched for awhile. Interesting. When we left the mall, the city had rolled out the red carpet for us. Okay, maybe not just us, but the city was getting ready for some sort of city wide event as decorations were just being set up everywhere. Stages and signs, I bet it was a good time later that night. I was still "new" into the trip and afraid to be around large crowds in fear of terrorism. Hey, it's not a fear I am excited about, but it was my real worry for new locations that I didn't know a lot about. The only thing I knew about Innsbruck ahead of time is that it was once home to the Olympics. We walked around awhile before heading out of the city. Almost home, we saw a TJ Maxx store, but it was called TK Maxx! Same logo and everything! The company modified the name in Europe to TK Maxx to avoid confusion with the established British retail chain T. J. Hughes. Aubrey and I made a huge dramatic plea for Brian to stop and let us run out in the pouring rain and look through it for just a second. We did make pretty good timing! Later this evening, Aubrey had an awesome melt down because I had another #momfail. While running her Instagram, I added her actual birthday and IG took her account down because she was not 13 yet. All of her pictures and likes and hashtags we had worked so hard on were gone. And my preteen was crushed. I will give you that it was pretty bad timing. She had just ended a year of private school and was switching schools the next year, so she also lost a way to stay in contact with old classmates, since I do not allow the kids to have phones yet (They are both micro-chipped.) Hahahahaha, jk, or am I???





     Y'all know Swarovski Crystals right? Well guess who is so excited to take her family to the headquarters here in Innsbruck? Yep, but not just because it's the headquarters. Because it's a really cool family interactive park! Park doesn't even sum it up. This was my favorite thing to see in Innsbruck! There are no limits to imagination in Swarovski Crystal Worlds – today’s children are tomorrow’s artists and visionaries, dreamers and researchers. So for the brand's 100th anniversary, they opened this Swarovski Kristallwelton (crystal worlds) park. I like to think that because it is their headquarters, they designed this large head in the middle of the mountains, but that is not the case. It is a real Green Giant with flowing water out of its mouth. The story goes that the Giant set out to experience the world and all of its treasures and wonders. With all his knowledge, the Giant returned to Innsbruck, where he has watched over his Chambers of Wonder ever since. Inside his head is this amazing cave with 17 Chambers of Wonder. Each chamber had a different artist and it is seriously the neatest place for all ages! After taking a bunch of funny pictures of us drinking the water from the Giant, we went inside to discover the highly rated family attraction. This was the first time I felt like I actually realized the girls were changing due to the trip. I watched my shy, won't look anyone directly in the eye, 5 year old, go to the center of the crystal wall inside the 1st chamber, and begin singing a Disney song in front of the crowd. I could not believe what I was witnessing. She realized the crowd started to be quiet and was gathering around her and she started adding in sass and body movements with the singing- Briella was PERFORMING! I cannot begin to tell you how watching this child blossom into her own person makes me feel. Many tourists had obviously very little interaction with people with blonde hair and were already drawn to Brie. Now they were filming her, AND she let them! So incredible. Again, these are the moments we travel for. Travelling has an unspoken affect on everyone. It pushes you to grow and to learn in ways a book could never teach. I really wish we would travel full time.


                            

                                       

     The Ready to Love chamber was so visually appealing. "You will be sworn in to the magical realm as you are ushered along a scintillating stairway beaming messages d’amour. Lovestruck, you are now attuned to the bewitching sight: a technicolor utopia with an array of elaborately crafted, jewel-adorned heart-fairies, blissfully soaring, tumbling, and freewheeling in the sumptuous fluorescence of an exalted Indian mansion, glistening under dazzling neon lights."  It was a neon light room full of color that fills your heart. These chambers have messages that you can only learn from experiencing first hand. I love the photos I took of my kids in this room. Sadly, there are little minded people who try to use these photos to bring down Aubrey. I do not understand how we are well into the 2000s and there are people who judge others over love. There are many other issues to focus your attention on other than who someone else loves. Because of the many colors in this room as well as the word Love used, some children, I assume that come from small minded homes, give Aubrey a hard time assuming she is gay because she believes in love for all. What you children do not get is that Aubrey does not care that you may think she is gay, how would that make her different than the Aubrey she already is to you? Guess what, she would still be the same person. She is not however, but the point we are trying to make is SO WHAT! Every single human on this planet is a different person, which means we all love to do different things and have different interests, were raised different due to our varying cultures, believe in different things...that is what makes things interesting! I personally love traveling to see these different cultures! I want to meet others different than me and I want to learn from them. How boring would your life be if you only ever were surrounded by those exactly like yourself?.....getting off my middle school drama soapbox now...



     The Mechanical Theater was so out of the norm of the art our family is used to. I absolutely loved it! We stayed in the room and watched it multiple times to try and grasp all the unique things. This may be the most amazing live piece of art I have ever seen.


     The Heroes of Peace chamber was awe inspiring. Again it is another one that we sat through multiple times of just so we could take everything in. It definitely makes you pause and remember everything that has been done so you can be doing whatever you are doing, right now and how we can make our own contribution to peace.  We filmed here and I cannot wait to show you this in our web series! There are life-sized holograms of Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Albert Einstein, Rigoberta MenchĂș, Bertha von Suttner, Pablo Picasso, Nelson Mandela, John Lennon, Yoko Ono, each sharing their amazing message.



     Feeling inspired and uplifted, we left the cave and made our way to the gorgeous outdoor gardens. The first thing you hear walking up is crystals being chimed in the wind, rain drops and just all around mesmerizing sounds. Imagine a luxurious spa, that is how it felt in this garden! Feeling all kinds of happy ways, the kids and I gallivanted around taking quirky photos. There was a random small hill and as soon as I saw it I ran to it, hiding my body on the other side so only my head was sitting on top, in the view of Brian and the camera. Soon I start to realize that I am in stinging pain. I jump up and try to figure out where the pain is coming from but my whole body is stinging. Brian comes to the conclusion that I have laid on a bees nest or wasps nest. I am stung all over the front side of my body that I was laying on! I feel an awful stinging sensation everywhere, I am starting to panic, the kids did not have it. I yell at Aub to run and find someone who speaks English and ask them what I could have been stung bu here. She can only find one lady who speaks little English. Apparently Aubrey was pretty much playing charades with her, saying "Bzzzzz" and flapping her arms trying to ask if there are bees here....I just can't with the thought of this. Oh how I wish we got this on camera!!! So Aubrey comes back with zero info and I am still frantic and have her go back to get me a bottle of water. I ask how would I know if I was having an allergic reaction?! Aubrey says my tongue would be swollen and asks if mine is. Okay pause. Put your tongue to the roof of your mouth right now. Lay it flat and leave it there. Do you feel how your tongue is draping over your teeth? How does that tongue fit in your mouth normally? I start to freak out because the tongue feels too big for the mouth. How much time have we ever given to our tongue before anyways? I am sure that I must be allergic to Austrian bees and am dying. I can no longer speak correctly and have my tongue sticking out. Poor Brian is just trying to calm everyone down as usual. He gets us to walk a little further into the garden to where there are chairs that recline and more peaceful sounds. I lay down in a chair with my feet up in the middle of this peaceful garden, just sure I am dying, while my family is playing around in the light pool. Miraculous things happen and I am able to eventually get up and finish the garden and live to tell about it.

"Bee Hill"




The girls got to shop at the exclusive headquarters boutique and picked out a present for their Grandmother. Their Great Grandmother collected Swarovski Crystals and when she passed they were dispersed throughout the family, so they picked out one that was similar to one that was in their Great Grandma's original collection to gift to Grandma.  


We ended the day with an old fashioned American outing to McDon. Oh, and the McDonald's in Innsbruck serves beer! It was cheaper to get a beer than a coke!!




     Funny family story, during spring break we took a family vacation out to Arizona. While there, we visited the town of Tombstone, the scene of some pretty famous rowdy cowboy events. Anyways, while there we learned the term Soiled Doves. It is what they called prostitutes back in the day. Anyways, like any good family vacation, we used this naughty term to became a fun memory between my brother and I. On the way home from that roadtrip, we actually went out of our way to drive to a club in Denver called "The Soiled Dove" so I could take a selfie there and send it to my brother. My brother in turn, gave me a book titled "The Soiled Dove" for my birthday. I brought that book all the way to Europe just so I could take a selfie reading it in EU and send it to my brother on his birthday. So after my near death bee sting, I settled for a selfie back at our AirBnb with the book. That has been one of my favorite inside jokes in a long time.



Queen Mary's bridge over the gorge
     We also took a day trip from Innsbruck to visit the Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany. We got a later start than we wanted to get, so we were extra short on time when we ran into slow traffic the entire drive to the castle. Apparently everyone takes weekend day trips to visit amazing places. This castle was a finalist for the New 7 Wonders of the World. It is the most scenic castle we have seen by far, up on a ridge in a magnificent setting high above the PollĂ€t Gorge with the mountains as a backdrop. Walt Disney used it as his muse for Sleeping Beauty's castle in Disney Land and Cinderella's castle at Disney World!  It was late afternoon before we arrived to the castle so we had to make some hard decisions on what we wanted out of this visit. Time did not allow for us to come back another day. We originally had it on the itinerary for a day trip from Riquewihr, France, but ran out of time there so figured we could add it to Innsbruck week just as easy.  I decided that based on my research, the photos that I needed were the iconic view ones from the bridge looking back at the castle. This meant we would not actually be going inside the castle to tour it. I decided against that because you could only go inside on a guided tour which was only 30 minutes and you were not permitted to take any photos or video. So off to Queen Mary's Bridge (Marienbrucke) it was, right after a quick lunch at Imbiss. The girls had became found of Germany's apple cider that is bottled. We decided once we got there to take a bus from outside the parking area to the bridge. It was only a couple Euros and worth it to save time. Only downside is everyone gets off the bus at once which means the bridge is very crowded with everyone else you shared the bus with. I am not a fan of heights so this was going to prove difficult for me as it is a narrow, bridge, busting at the seams with tourists, directly over a gorge with a rocky waterfall. I took several "sting ray shuffle" type steps onto the bridge to make sure it was steady. Then I pretty much hustled across the bridge weaving in and out of people (and their photos) until we got to the other side. The castle looked alot prettier from this side of the bridge, and the far side of the bridge was less crowded, apparently many people have my same fear of old fairy tale bridges. I wasn't exactly sure where I was going to get this certain photo I envisioned, I just knew it was up on the other side of the bridge. I decided to just follow the traffic and went ahead hiking a path up a mountain. It wasn't long at all, maybe 5-10 minutes before we got to a clearing overlooking the castle. You could frame the picture with a nearby tree and it was just perfection.

Next thing I know I am locker-room style changing from a turquoise dress to a long red gown. I wait my turn for the spot, and once I take a seat on the edge of the cliff, it felt like cameras from every tourist up there came out. One tourist managed to say that I was dangerous in broken English. I kind of laughed it off. Looking back I realize how freaking dangerous this was! My foot at one point actually started to loose traction while I was seated taking pictures, but luckily got stopped by a root of an old tree. I could have easily tumbled down that gorge in front of my kids. I am the first to admit what a horrible idea this was. I seem to have a false sense of safety when traveling. Like we are living on a fluffy vacation cloud to get magical pictures and nothing can happen. I feel like there should be an actual term for this. I cannot be the only one this happens to. I can recall way too many times where this "we are on vacation; it can't happen to us" type of feeling or ignorance crept into my mind, causing me to make poor decisions. Someday I will write a post on all of our traveling tragedies haha. Anyways, I got the stupid picture I wanted. I love the picture, I just hate that feeling I have when looking at it, kind of like the same feeling you get on the walk of shame, I'd guess.




Neuchwanstein Castle, Germany

 On our travel day, we wanted to get in one last sight so we visited The Hofburg, an Imperial Palace. It has a room called The Giants Hall that when researching I became obsessed with. I bought a dress specifically to visit this room in.  I love being able to go into historic castles (like Versailles) and seeing the rooms as they were. I loved the green fabric wallpaper room which is the Emperor's bedroom and the pink fabric wallpaper room, a dressing room, as well. It just has so much character and is a ghost town compared to Versailles. The Hofburg in Innsbruck and the Schonbrunn Palace in Vienna are two of the most cultural importance buildings, as Versailles is to France.

Me playing a Queen when I really am a King



Perhaps these Kings are related?


Brie in the Chinese Room

The Blue Salon, aka the Crafts Room

Princess Aubrey

This is just a drawing that looks 3d!

The Palace courtyard

Dancing on stage

                         
Crystal World
                         
                           

                           

                          


                         

                                         
                       

                      

the maze at Swarovski Crystal World
                   
                            

                            

                            

The Goldenes Dachl (Golden Roof) built in 1500

The girls shopping