Innsbruck

Better late than never, i.e. almost a full year after my trip, here are pics and some vague memories from Innsbruck, an Olympic city of buildings that look like the most fancily decorated cakes.

But first, breakfast. I don’t think I have ever been in a country that takes breakfast more seriously or makes it a more stunning affair than Austria. Below is a mere quarter of the all-you-can-eat buffet that greeted me upon my arrival in the hotel restaurant on my first morning in Innsbruck. Please note the meat, lox, and cheese arranged in rainbow order, and extrapolate from there.

Now on to the cake-like buildings. Note the beautiful alpine mountains surrounding the city.

The building below is the city’s most famous. Built around 1500, it is called, aptly, Golden Roof.

The Imperial Palace, below, was closed for maintenance so I missed out on touring what is surely some of the world’s finest finery.

That’s okay because Innsbruck is also home to some of the world’s most confectionary-esque cathedrals, whose gloriously ornate embellishments fairly overwhelmed me. Included below are images from the Innsbruck Cathedral (aka Cathedral of St. James), the Hofkirche, the Pfarramt Wilten Basilica, the Stift Wilten, and possibly one other.

Innsbruck is one of the most beautiful cities on earth, it’s true. But to be honest I didn’t fully think through how it would feel, as the descendant of Holocaust survivors and victims, to tour a country that seems to have little recognition of or contrition for its role in the murder of millions of people. The resentment started small in Innsbruck and became a fiery, obsessive rage by Salzburg. The moment I realized it was happening was when I read a plaque outside a beautiful monastery and church built in 1615 that said, “A bomb attack on 15 December 1943 almost completely destroyed both buildings.” I remember my immediate thought verbatim, because it stopped me in my tracks: “Well, you deserved it, motherfuckers.” Me, the person who has wept at the sight of old buildings and regularly donates to preserve them. Not to mention, me, the person who has empathy for human suffering. With that jarringly harsh reaction I knew I had a problem on my hands.

But let’s try to forget about all that and get back to the delights of Innsbruck. That’s what I did when I was there, so we may as well do the same thing now.

Innsbruck hosted the 1964 and 1976 winter Olympics, and there is a restaurant and observation deck at the top of the ski jump / panorama tower. I went up for an espresso with whipped cream and took in the view. The elevator ride to the top closely follows the skiers’ track. At one point the track is pretty much 90 degrees straight down, which I assume is when the skier is supposed to catch air and just fly-drop to the ground very, very far below. Television does not do justice to how nuts this proposition is. Seeing it up close gave me vertigo.

A beautiful row of rainbow houses on the river.

Old beauty meets new beauty.

Highlights from the Tyrolean Museum included grotesque memento mori (note worms on skeleton) and folk costumes.

It was a winter wonderland. And yet, despite the snow and the Alps, it was STILL WARMER than New York City.

The food was so, so, so, so good. Below, the Tiroler Grostl, which is something of the national dish of the region. I ate the entire thing. I have no idea how.

Next up, Salzburg, possibly the most drop-dead gorgeous city on earth.

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