Friday, May 22, 2009

Tirol in the Spring

A little sun, a little rain, some leftover snow.... We experienced all of it in Innsbruck and surrounds. The city's Nordpark system encourages you to get our of the city and hit the slopes--winter and summer. The funicular/cable car system takes you from downtown to the top at Hafelekarspitze (2334m) in about 35 minutes. In fact, Kari came up with a new slogan for Innsbruck: "It's like Utah without the Mormons, and better beer."

The tourist portion of Innsbruck itself is rather small and is already starting to receive the first wave of fair weather tourists. We stayed on the outskirts in a youth hostel/student housing building. It wasn't much on personality, but did keep us away from the crowds. It was just off the river Inn, right on Innsbruck's well developed biking/jogging trail system. A trail system that would have led us right to the old town--if Tim hadn't followed the Sill River instead of the Inn into town.

Stop eight on the Zoo Tour brought us to the Innsbruck Alpenzoo. The zoo is very compact, with well designed enclosures and ample viewing areas. It has several very interesting aquariums populated with local fresh water fish species. The diversity among the species was incredible. The color, however, was not: grey is the color of choice for the alpine fish. The collection proved much more interesting and informative the having jsut another room of tropical fish. Much praise in general to the Innsbruck zoo and its designers and management.

Continuing up the mountainside from the zoo, we rode all the way too the top of Hafelekarspitze on the cable cars. It is a fantastic view to the other side of the valley, encompasing the city of Innsbruck, the Bergisel Stadium ski jump, and Patscherkofel. Spring has sprung in the Alps. The trek down led us through flowered meadows and snowfield, sun and rain. About all you can ask for in a hike.

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