23.07.2017 - 23.07.2017
Day 60 Sunday July 23 2017
Innsbruck to Bad Herrenalb / 396 km
- Early morning light in Innsbruck is gorgeous.
- Known by the Romans as Oenipons ( bridge over the river Oen ) Innsbruck in German also means bridge over the River Inn. It rose to prominence from the 13C when its proximity to the Brenner Pass ( the easiest route across the Alps ) made it strategic for transport & communication between northern and Southern Europe. Then with the Hapsburg & Austrian Empires dominating European politics between 16 - 19C, it remained an important place on the historical map.
- We return to the old town through Innsbruck's famous Triumphforte. A sort of Austrian version of the Arc de Triomphe ( or was it the other way round?). It was built in 1765 by Empress Maria Tesesa to celebrate the wedding of her son, the Duke of Tuscany, to a Spanish princess. With clear Roman Empire aesthetics & perhaps aspirations, it sits rather incongruously in the midst of more conventional central European architecture. But if that's what an Emperess, wants, that's what she gets.
- Sadly it turned out that the Triumphforte was not only a celebration of happy & auspicious nuptials but also a commemoration of the death of Maria Teresa's husband, Kaiser Franz Stehan 1. He died during the wedding celebrations! Whilst the south facade is celebratory, the northern facade is a sombre tribute to the late Emperor.
- Looking north through the archway, you can see the great ski jump construction. We are both snow sport lovers. Innsbruck has obvious scenic appeal to us. We recall that the city hosted the Winter Olympics in 1976. It was the era of a famous Austrian skier called Franz Klammer. If that doesn't ring a bell, then maybe the names Robin Cousins and John Curry do! John did GB proud and won a gold medal.
- We have an early breakfast at a place called the Breakfast Club, located between the arch and the old town area. Our hotel, the Nala is famous for its Sunday brunches but service only starts at 10 a.m. That's too late for us.
- There are beggars on the streets of Innsbruck, admittedly much fewer than in London. They too have dogs.
- Today's drive is another hard slog. Particularly for AG of course. It is made worse by the volume of traffic. Today's journey takes us across into SW Germany where we will inevitably encounter Germans returning from their holidays in the sun.
- Caravans and campervans have become too numerous to mention.
- Constant sunshine & blue skies are no longer a given.
- Temperatures struggle to reach the mid 20's.
- We are spending more money in the last 3 days than we have during the previous 30. AG possibly exaggerates but you get the gist.
- Last night's wonderful meal hit London price levels, due in part to the poor value of sterling.
- Today's traffic is indeed awful. A painful acclimatisation for the M25 on Tuesday evening.
- Yes we're headed home & don't we know it.
- Our journey takes 7.5 hours with only a short ‘comfort' stop. AG is an endurance driver but even he is exhausted and fractious.
- We're staying in a spa resort in the Black Forest. Bad Herrenalb. A very genteel type of domestic tourist comes here to take the waters and breathe the fresh air. But expensive spa treatments are the last thing on our mind - as usual we arrive hungry and finding somewhere to eat is our main focus. A 10 minute walk into town helps rejuvenate. As does a glass of German beer and a meal of Wiener Schnitizel and for SG, Käsespaetzle. We both resist the temptation of local gateau.
- Bad Herrenalb has several churches that chime beautifully on the quater hour and go to even more trouble on the hour. This is after all a region famed for its cuckoo clocks. We just hope that mullahs, minarets and dawn calls to prayer are not replaced by the Christian equivalent - the church bell!
- Now where are those ear plugs?