We happily gave up the Swiss franc and Swiss prices and drove back to the land of euros and affordable petrol. There was only one thing between us and Austria, and that was one giant mountain. As stunning as the Alps are, they are a nightmare to drive over. It was steep, it was raining, and snow surrounded us at every turn. Our heart rates were as high as those of the people skiing down the slopes. We could not have been more relieved to arrive at our destination.
Innsbruck was a beautiful town, set in a valley surrounded by the peaks that had tormented us all morning. The touristy old town was a series of alleyways with pastel coloured buildings, many with pictures painted on the exterior walls. The "golden roof" was supposedly the main attraction, but after seeing many golden roofs in Asia, this was nothing special. I lost count of how many souvenir shops we passed selling t-shirts that read, "No kangaroos in Austria" (there was also a sharks version). I don't think I have ever met someone who thought Australia was in Europe, but I guess it's not the same the other way around.
One of my first priorities was to sample the national dessert: strudel. I was prepared to just order a standard strudel but there ended up being about 20 different varieties. After a long debate with myself I settled for plum and walnut, which was a fantastic choice. Danny found Austrian beer and speck rolls (which I had never heard of), so he was satisfied too. We also stumbled upon flavoured brandy tastings, which made Danny's day.
A brochure advertising bobsledding caught our eye, and we knew we had to try it. After driving up yet another the mountain we discovered it was closed, not open until July. That was a bit of a let down. We needed something to fill in the day so we drove to the Swarovski Kristallwelten (Crystal World), one of the weirdest and coolest places we had ever experienced. There were roughly 15 rooms, each created by a different designer with "crystals" being the central theme. I couldn't even begin to describe what we saw but it included static and moving displays, lights, sounds, plus things that were so bizarre I'm sure they gave people nightmares. At the end we were guided into a huge souvenir shop selling all the usual things you would find in any Swarovski store, although the €15000 crystal dragon seemed a little excessive. Coming to Innsbruck, Crystal World was definitely not on my "must see" list but we were glad we had made the effort. I think I would have preferred bobsledding though.
As we were filling our van with the reasonably priced petrol an Austrian woman approached us and asked why we weren't watching the wedding. Ummm, what wedding? Was there some famous wedding in Innsbruck today that the whole city was supposed to attend? It turned out she meant the royal wedding, Prince William and Kate. We had no idea. The woman had seen our GB licence plates and presumed that this event would be the highlight our of year. We mumbled some excuse about being Australian and quickly walked away. Maybe we should read the news more often.
I attempted to go for a run, taking advantage of the fact that we were at a caravan park and I could shower afterwards. I couldn't get my running shoes out (or, more likely, I couldn't be bothered digging them out) so I ran in my everyday sneakers instead. Big mistake. I only lasted 20 minutes before my feet were killing me and I was cursing every step I took. Last time I run in street shoes.