Ultimate European Road Trip, Part Seven: Innsbruck, Austria

 

We began this adventure by purchasing a Porsche Macan S and picking the car up at the Porsche factory in Zuffenhausen Germany… the road trip is now “official”.

This segment of the series is dedicated to our adventures while touring the Innsbruck, Austria area.

 

The Drive from Salzburg to Innsbruck

We left Salzburg before noon and headed straight to the “famous” Grossglockner High Alpine Road and this time a “suggested” side trip lived up to the hype.

This panoramic drive twists and turns up 29 miles (48 km) into the heart of the Hohe Tauern National Park… breath taking views and car challenging exchanges… the weather was perfect and clear.

There is a broad, four lane road approaching the ticket toll gate where the bulk of the cars turn off and head back down to avoid paying the entrance fee.  “Yep, I drove the Alpine Road”… but they probably do not mention that they just drove the few miles of roadway leading up to the toll gate.  ­­

What a mistake…  for about $40 you get access to a meticulously maintained roadway that affords majestic views on every turn.  You leave a warm green valley floor and drive up to cold, snow covered Alps.

We even made snow balls!

 

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Car Window Decal Presented for Driving the Alpine Road

 

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 Grossglockner High Alpine Road Hochtor Pass

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Warm and Lush Valley Floor

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Snowball Making Country

 

Onward to Innsbruck

After “testing out” the suspension system, handling capabilities and getting familiar with the PDK paddles (excellent for downshifting on alpine roads) on Max, we set course for Innsbruck.

The goods news… we experienced the Grossglockner. The not so good news (a mixed blessing)… we had to take local backroads for over three hours to get into Innsbruck.

But driving through small country towns and the absolutely spectacular scenery made up for the extra drive time.

We arrived in Innsbruck at around 6:00 pm, unloaded the car and parked in an underground secure space.   After a brief introduction to the apartment we opened a bottle of wine to celebrate our day of travel and fun experiences.

 

Three Nights with Two Days in Innsbruck

Day One – The Mieders Alpine Coaster

Located a short twenty minute drive from Innsbruck is a very popular recreational area at the base of the “Serles” mountain peak which is 1.7 miles (2,717 meters) high.  At the base of this peak is the town of Mieders and the “infamous” Alpine Coaster.

The scenery is stunning as you enjoy a brief gondola ride to the top of the track.

The coaster is the steepest track in the Alps that runs about 2 miles long through the forest and down the mountain at a max speed of about 26 miles per hour.

“No big deal”, you say.  Well, when seated in a single passenger bobsled-like device with a small seat belt strap and no other protective equipment… and only a brake-stick to control your speed… it gets interesting fast.  This is a gravity driven coaster and consists of 40 hairpin turns so the driver is hands-on at the controls.

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The One Person Coasters

 

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Downhill into the forest  with a few obstacles – Note the Cows

 

What a rush of adrenaline that turned out to be.  As we got more comfortable, the braking got less and let-it-rip took over… great fun.

We returned to Innsbruck around noon and had a chance to just wander around and explore this compact town.

 

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The Sill River runs through the center of town

IMG_6704 Goldenes Dachl and Museum

 

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The Old Town Plaza

 

We selected a restaurant on the touristy plaza area and enjoyed a few pints of draft pilsner with a great Tyrolian lunch.  The setting added a perfect spot for people watching as we savored the vibe of Innsbruck on a cloudy but warm September afternoon.

IMG_6696Excellent Dining on the Plaza

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Wurst with Pan Fired Potatoes and Sauerkraut

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        Rossti topped with Grilled Chicken      

       

The weather improved a little as we strolled around peeking into various little shops and boutiques with unique items on display.

Upon returning to the apartment we were greeted by a rainbow which just added to the day.

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We asked a local about nearby restaurants that served good Tyrol food and we wound up at the Defregger Stube, which was located in a nearby unpretentious hotel.   Sometimes you just luck out and this time we did…

IMG_6754Steak Tartare

IMG_6755House Salad

IMG_6758Tyrolian Roast Beef Pan with an Egg

IMG_6760Tyrolian Stuffed Pork Tenderloin

IMG_6759Buttered Spätzle with Cheese

What a surprise and the food and service was excellent too.

Our first full day proved to be great.

 

Day Two – The Schloss Neuschwanstein Castle

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The drive from Innsbruck to the castle was about 70 miles (114 km) on a combination of highway and mountain roads so it took us over two hours to get there.

We pre-paid tickets for an English speaking guided tour (which confirmed a reservation time slot) and had to pick them up in Fussen which is a short distance (on the map) from the actual castle.

But they forget to tell us that traffic and parking are literally a nightmarish experience. We are from Los Angeles and we know traffic… this was ridiculous.

The Castle Experience

The Schloss Neuschwanstein Castle was promoted as being the model for Disneyland’s Cinderella Castle and the two have a lot in common.  Both locations are geared to get the most money out of each visitor and are the epitome of crowd control management.

Neuschwanstein is a relatively “young” castle having been partially completed around the 1860 period.  The actual castle was small in size and limited in scope… the entire tour takes only 25 minutes.

In our opinion we did not feel that dealing with the traffic, people crush, assorted expenses (admission, parking and transportation to the summit), for a brief hand-held audio device tour was worth it.

Picturesque from the outside at a distance… yes.

Worth spending a day of your vacation… no.

 

The Return to Innsbruck

The entire day was taken up by the visit to the castle but at least we saw it… check-the-box.

The drive back was effortless on the now familiar roadway and finding the apartment was easy.  That night we returned to the same nearby restaurant for another excellent authentic Tyrolian meal.

The next morning we packed up and headed out for Bolzano, Italy.

 

In Summary

This leg of the road trip was more relaxed, we started to slow down the pace and began to simplify the itinerary with a more practical use of our limited vacation time.

Side Note: If we were renting a car, and started outside of Italy we could NOT bring that rental into Italy.  But driving your own vehicle made the road trip seamless.

But don’t you wonder why rental companies restrict entry into Italy…?  Stay tuned.

 

Please follow us in the series to part eight… Bolzano.   Italy… at last.

 

After all, what is the hurry… be inspired.

 

© 2015 Inspired Travel Itineraries with Bob and Janice Kollar

© 2015 Picture Credits Bob & Janice Kollar

 

 

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