Innsbruck: second visit

We had a lovely day meeting up with my nephew and his family.  I looked this up; apparently the children of your first cousin are also called your nephews and nieces, I didn’t know that.  So now I have two grown up nephews and I’m a great aunt four times over! 

Anyhow, back to our second tourist visit to Innsbruck.  We had a little difference in what we wanted to do.  The key places of interest were the Tiroler Volkskunst Museum and the botanical gardens.  I wanted to see both, Eric didn’t want too another museum.

We decided to ‘do’ one thing each, I visited the museum (no great surprises there) and Eric the botanical gardens.  Me first!

The Tiroler Volkskunst Museum.  This is a Regional Heritage Museum, its aim to preserve aspects of Tyrolean culture.  There was a marked Catholic and religious and pagan looking theme to the museum, which was of less interest to me.  Looking around it reminded me of how superstitious people were in the past.  Then I got to thinking that actually people haven’t changed at all, just the things they are superstitious about.

These costumes were worn for spring/fertility festivals….


There was an interesting collection of traditional clothing which I always like….


Interestingly, like the Scottish tartan, traditional costumes were not that widely worn until a revival of interest in the early 20th century….

…. and a couple of hats….


The museum has also been collecting entire rooms for preservation, the traditional ‘Stube’ or parlour which was in essence the heart of the home.  I’ve only taken a couple of pictures as they were quite dark and the carving detail was difficult to capture, but you’ll get the idea…


The museum also houses the Tyrolean Trades Museum founded in 1888.  It is a huge collection of arts and crafts thought (correctly) to be threatened by industrialisation. Items were selected for their high standards of craftsmanship.  Here are only a very few examples of a really interesting collection:


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Next to the museum is the Hofkirche or Court Church which houses the tomb of Emperor Maximilian I.  The cenotaph is ringed by 28 large bronze statues that represent the Emperor’s ancestors (real and imagined) as well as heroes of antiquity. It is beautiful….


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And at the end of the museum visit, somewhere peaceful to sit and contemplate…


While Rose was traipsing round the museum I took a hike to the edge of town to visit the botanical gardens.  Unsurprisingly, as they’re on the edge of the Alps, they have a good collection of alpine plants; not just from Europe but from around the world.  I thought this was great – loads of things that you’d see in a garden but in miniature: tiny geraniums, tiny penestemons, tiny this and tiny that.  The problem with tiny plants is that my phone wouldn’t focus on them so all the photos came out with the subject blurred and the background in focus.  So what you see below is a few of the bigger specimens.


The botanical gardens are a working part of the local university so the hot houses and cactus collections were off limits, which was a shame.

Next stop Bodensee, also known as Lake Konstanz……


We stayed in Salzburg for 6 days, and spent most of the time with relatives catching up on life in general and trying to answer puzzled enquiries about Brexit 😳

Whilst staying with my cousin who lives outside Salzburg we witnessed the emergence of a dragonfly!  I say ‘we’, it was Eric that had that pleasure.  We took these pictures as the newly hatched dragonfly was drying out its wings, and the ‘skin’ it left behind….

So last Tuesday we left Salzburg to travel to Innsbruck.  In the rain you will be surprised to hear.  It rained the whole journey and for the next 36 hours.  The campsite is about 7kms from the city centre and has a regular bus service into town, free of charge.  So on our first full day we hopped on the bus to take a look around and get our bearings.  Here is what we saw on that first trip:


Some of you may have noticed the Bergisel ski jump through the arch.  Bergisel has had a ski jump since the 1920’s, the current jump was built in 2003, so much safer than the original wooden one!

Yes, in the first picture those low lying clouds in the background were completely covering the Nordkette mountain, ‘in the heart of Innsbruck’.  This would be a must see as you can travel to the mountain top which is over 7000 ft high for some amazing views if a) it wasn’t covered in clouds and b) you can afford €46 per person for the experience.  Plus €15 if you want to take in the alpine zoo on the way….. We didn’t go.

We popped into the Spittalskirche which was the city hospital way back in 1320, and consecrated as a church in 1381.  Its current Baroque style resulted from a reconstruction in 1700/01.


We also admire some lovely painted houses, the gold in many made the dull day feel much brighter…

Innsbruck is the capital of the Tyrol and was, during the reign of Maximilian I, the political and cultural centre of the Hapsburgs during the 1490’s.  Part of this heritage is left in the landmark of the Goldenes Dachl.  This was built to commemorate the marriage of Maximilian to his third wife, it is a beautiful covered balcony with a roof decorated in fire-guided copper tiles.

With our backs to the Golden Dachl, you see the old city hall which was originally built in 1358.


We also looked at the Deutschordenshaus which is decorated with oriel window reliefs by Gregor Türning in around 1532.


I couldn’t resist taking pictures of some interesting details we saw as walking around…

The view of the city houses from the river Inn…..


The river was quite swollen from the rain and flows very fast, even when it’s not so full in the summer.

And down the little back alleys you will also find lots of tourist ‘tat’ shops

So this was our first trip to the city.  The following day we met up with my nephew and his family who moved to Innsbruck about 18 months ago, so we’ll get a nice view of the city from someone who lives there.  Then we’ll do some more touristy stuff which you’ll hear about soon…..

Cycling around Krems

Grüß Gott!! (An Austrian greeting)

Today is our last day here in Krems.  Last weekend the weather was very kind so we took advantage and went for a couple of walks and cycle rides, enjoying the countryside.  Here are a couple of views overlooking Krems from a walk in the hills behind the town.

One of our cycle rides took us back to Dürnstein from the other side of the Danube. You can get an idea of the climb we had visiting the castle earlier in the week…


This particular cycle ride took us through some beautiful countryside filled with vineyards and orchards for which this area, the Wachau, is well known.


We also came across this strange statue of an enormous nose at a place called Sankt Lorenz as we cycled further upstream. 

This was our entertainment as we waited for a ferry to take us back across the river. As we were waiting we saw a huge barge transporting new cars.  One thing we can’t capture on camera is the speed and strength of the current as the river rushes downstream, and the fact that the river is immense.  The effort it takes to force any boat upstream is enormous.  The amount of diesel (and subsequent pollution) used against the sheer force of water must be huge.  But this boat is doing the job of (I reckon) at least 25 lorries.


By way of contrast, the ferry itself was interesting in that it was drawn across the river by the force of the current alone.  It’s attached to a cable that’s strung across the river between two towers.  To cross the river you simply angle the ferry (a kind of floating pontoon) away from the shore and the current pushes it across to the other shore.  The ferry is a fair size with space for about 10 cars.  Unfortunately it was something that was impossible to take a clear picture of.  It was great though to use some nifty engineering to get across, no fuel used and very quiet. 

Across the river was a small town called Weißenkirchen which is dominated by a huge church built within the old medieval town walls.

On Sunday we were amused by a new arrival at the campsite of a couple of tractor drawn home made mobile homes.  They are touring from Bad Berka in Germany to just south west of Vienna.  There’s a map on the back of one of the wagons of the route in the photo.  I don’t know the top speed of a tractor, maybe 40mph max, it must be taking them some time….

Tomorrow we leave for Salzburg to catch up with family.  We’ll be there until Monday when we move on to near Innsbruck in the Tyrol.  I won’t be posting anything until then.  Auf wiedersehen! 


Hurray!!  By 12 yesterday (Thursday) it stopped raining!  We were suffering with cabin fever and were very keen to get outside.  Although it was still cold and very damp we could go for a bike ride to get some fresh air.  We decided that Dürnstein would be a great place to visit being only 5 miles from the campsite, with a cycle track running alongside the Danube.

Now, Dürnstein is an interesting place as it has an historical link to England.  In 1192 King Richard I otherwise known as Richard the Lionheart was held captive here by Leopold, Duke of Austria.  (Richard was on his way home after crusading in the holy land).  This was the same Leopold we learned about in Klosterneuburg, who was eventually canonised in the 14th century.  Nowadays, Dürnstein is one of the most visited tourist destinations in the Wachau region, firstly for its wine, and second for its castle which is now a ruin.

We can attest to its popularity because not only were we there, we saw groups of people disembarking from cruise ships that sail down the Danube.  As a result the little village is very ‘touristy’ and has a range of what Eric and I refer to as ‘tat’ shops selling (expensive) trinkets, apricot themed food and drink, and wine associated with the region. 


It is very pretty though in a traditional Austrian way, and we were happy to park our bikes and take a look around.


The village also has a striking landmark, the blue bell tower of the Abbey church….


Of course we had to climb the rocky outcrop that had the ruins of the castle perched on top.  There are two routes, the 20 minute one and the 25 minute one. We took the quicker route going up which consisted of a 20 minute (with no rest stops) seriously steep and uneven steps that were in a poor state of repair.  It was very hard work and we soon felt seriously overdressed.  The views from the top were fantastic.  I should say Eric found the views fantastic, I bottled out of the last bit.  My excuse, if I needed one, was that the steps had a sheer drop on one side, and heights are not my thing.


Castle views from the top!


The weekend promises to be kind so we’ll be out and about.  Making hay whilst the sun shines!


Krems an der Donau

What?  I bet you thought we were to visit St. Pölten next.  Well we were but changed our minds and are now in Krems which is 42 miles up the Danube river from Klosterneuburg.  We decided to avoid the expensive motorway so it took us a just over an hour to get here and the roads were good. 

Krems is a relatively small town (population around 25,000) but is a lively place due to its University specialising in postgraduate education. We’ll probably stay here a week and keeping fingers and toes crossed, we should have enough dry days to go cycling as well as exploring.  To say we’ve not been lucky with the weather since we’ve been in Austria is an understatement, and the forecast until Thursday is wet, cold and windy 😢

I wrote the introductory paragraph when we arrived at our Krems campsite.  It wasn’t raining (yet) so we  strolled into town for a quick look around and get our bearings.  Our initial thoughts were (and still are by the way) that it is a nice, interesting looking town.

The town park. I always think a town with a park in its centre is a nice place…

The general feel of the place is of good solid Austrian prosperity, with a number of dirndl and lederhosen shops, more jewellery and ladies underwear shops than a population of 25,000 could possibly need unless there is a bejewelled/lingerie fetish going on that we hadn’t noticed….

On Tuesday it was threatening rain and we needed to do some food shopping so we wandered into town again.  And Wednesday (today) was even wetter and more cold, so we didn’t add much to our knowledge of the town either!

However we have learned something, and this is what we have learned so far.  The city gates (Steiner Tor) as you enter the older part of the town are imposing.  The towers either side are originally much older, what you see are the restored version dated 1480!


We also learned that Krems is a primary producer of Marillenschnaps or Apricot Brandy so we had to try some.  We popped into a shop of a local producer and got down to some serious schnapps tasting.  We eventually bought some liqueur instead which had a more apricot flavour, one each as we both liked a different sort ☺️


And that’s about it for now! The rain is supposed to lighten up/stop from tomorrow so we hope to get out and explore a bit more.  See you then.

Klosterneuburg, Volume 2

So whilst I was browsing through the Monastery museum, Eric decided he would rather go for a bike ride.  I think he had had enough of culture for a while!  His trip was eventful in that he saw a beaver in a small channel of the Danube.


It was probably at this point that it became clear some trees were suffering from a bit of beaver damage….

Once widespread in Austria they were hunted to extinction by the middle of the 19th century.  Truly the greatest threat to wildlife is human, whether to satisfy bizarre medicinal beliefs, considered pests to be eradicated or controlled, or simply for fashion.  So in the case of beavers, they have been gradually reintroduced in and around Vienna since the 1970’s and there are now 250 in the city environs alone.

Just to make Eric’s day even better, he also came across a snake making its way across the cycle path…


Personally, I’m pretty glad I wasn’t with him, snakes aren’t my most favourite species….

I also just wanted to say here that we did have a look around the town of Klosterneuburg, and it’s pretty ordinary so I won’t be boring you with loads of pictures you’ll be glad to know.  I will show you this one though, it’s probably the nicest bit of the town we came across…


We couldn’t resist this either.


It doesn’t translate that well….

We decided not to visit Vienna again.  Two reasons really, the first was because I seemingly hadn’t fully recovered from a very nasty head cold I had when in Italy; it decided to make a slight comeback.  I needed to take things easy.  The second was Eric. I think he has had enough of traipsing around looking at buildings and churches.  We also, as hinted in my last post, think it’s just too expensive to visit lots of museums here.

So on Monday, we plan to move on to Sankt Polten.  Hopefully we’ll see you there.






After our first trip to Vienna, the following day we decided to stay close to home and walk up to the Klosterneuburg Monastery.  What a huge place this is!  Large impressive buildings certainly seem to be a theme in these here parts.

We walked around the Monastery complex to get our bearings.  These pictures are the main buildings, there are many more.  It’s a huge site..

The entrance to the museum….

The Monastery has been one of Austria’s most important religious and cultural centres for over 900 years.  It was founded by Leopold III in 1136 who later became the patron saint of Austria.  It has been the occasional residence of the Babenberg and Hapsburg dynasties.  The current buildings are of the 17th century.

How the Monastery was founded is an interesting story.  Apparently whilst out hunting, Leopold found his wife’s missing veil – 9 years after it had been lost – apparently as good as new.  On top of that, yes you guessed it, he had a vision of the Virgin Mary.  Legend has it that the church and later the Monastery was built at the place the veil was found.  The following painted panels depict the story, the first panel ‘going out to hunt’ the second ‘the hunt’ the third ‘finding the veil and the vision’ and fourth ‘building the church’

There were two parts to the museum that I could see with my €9 fee, the rest was extra which I didn’t pay.  The extra would have given me exclusive access inside the Abbey Church with a guide droning on for an hour, and another extra fee to see the wine cellars.  So far, we have found visiting museums seems to be prohibitively expensive, €9 per person seems to be the basic entry fee everywhere we have visited so far.  Anyhow, back to the point, the first part of the museum was the treasury with some amazing bejewelled chalices and other alter pieces.

Fabulous intricate works in ivory.


A beautiful Nativity scene and a symbolic Elderflower Tree…


The Austrian Archducal Coronet.  Endowed in 1616 by Archduke Maximilian III, it was transferred to Klosterneuburg and has been kept there to this day. 


And two examples of vestments that I thought interesting.  The first are fragments of a vestment worn in the 17th century, though the fabric has been found to be of the 14th century.  Given their age, the pieces are in excellent condition.  The motives of parrots/griffins and fish apparently evolved into the eagle motive on the Austrian coat of arms.  The 14th century silk cloth is thought to originate from either eastern Iran or Central Asia.

And a more modern example from the early 19th century designed by an art student and made by needlecraft students in what is now known as the Academy of fine Arts Vienna


And another excellent example of embroidery.  The detail is exquisite.


The second part of the museum was an exhibition called The Emperor’s New Saint, about Leopold III (the one that found the veil) and Maximilian I who saw through the final papal paperwork to get Leopold canonised. PS. It cost vast sums of money mostly at the expense of the poor….. Some things never change it seems.

What I found interesting here were the books.  The library at Klosterneuburg has books from the 12th century, though these weren’t on display.  These books were:


So that’s my take on the Museum.  I didn’t mention earlier but I went to the Museum alone a couple of days after we both took a look around the general complex. On the day of my visit, Eric decided to go on a bike ride instead.  I’ll tell you about that in my next much shorter posting.