Sunday, June 4, 2017

Central Europe Days 4-5: Innsbruck & Venice

Continuing our European trip...

Friday was a unique day. We had breakfast, lunch, and dinner each in a different country...not sure we will ever be able to pull that off again! So we left Germany & went on to Italy via Austria.

Day 4
We had breakfast at our hotel in Munich (croissant with Nutella, of course!) then headed south. We stopped in Innsbruck, Austria for lunch. It wasn't Salzburg, but I still felt like singing like I was a von Trapp.

We walked through the park and on through the Altstadt, the old part of town. We first went to Dom zu St. Jakob (Cathedral of St. James in English), also known as Innsbruck Cathedral.


It was very baroque! The church is dedicated to the apostle James, son of Zebedee. It houses the tomb of Maximilian III, Archduke of Austria.

 The Goldenes Dachl (Golden Roof) is the symbol of the city of Innsbruck. This building was built in the 1400's for the rulers of Tyrol, and then the roof decoration was commissioned by Emperor Maximilian I to commemorate his wedding to Bianca Maria Sforza, Queen of the Romans.

The City Tower was also built in the 1400's. I climbed over 130 steps to the top for a gorgeous panoramic view.




Looking out over the medieval town and the Nordkette mountain range.


In case you didn't know, Swarovski is an Austrian company. Their headquarters is right outside of Innsbruck. We went inside their Kristallwelten (Crystal World) store right down from the Tower.  Everything was so pretty and glamorous!


Then we had pizza that was probably bigger than the pretzel I had in Munich. It was nice to have a cold Coke...just still missing ice!

After leaving Innsbruck, we drove along the Brenner Autobahn to northern Italy...we crossed over one of the tallest bridges on the continent...the Europabrücke (Bridge of Europe) is over 600 feet tall. The view was incredible. It's also worth noting...even though it probably goes without saying...the Italian countryside is gorgeous! Pictures don't do the scenery justice. The mountain landscape with vineyard-dotted valleys is just something else. 

Finally we arrived in Padua & had a yummy gnocchi dinner complete with tiramisu.


Three meals in three countries! It was like a tour de taste buds.


Then we headed to walk around the Prato della Valle (the square in Padua). It's the largest square in Italy and one of the largest city squares in Europe. We made a quick loop and then walked back to our hotel for the night.

Day 5
This day was all about Venice! I didn't really know what to expect of the city...but it's everything you would imagine it to be...canals, canals, and more canals!


We went in a Venetian glass store and watched a guy make this horse in about 2.5 seconds. It was pretty fascinating to watch.


We then did a little walking tour...in the rain...and saw a few prominent Venetian places, including the supposed home of Marco Polo.


We then went to a local restaurant away from the square. It was authentic & delicious. Best steak I've ever had! We also sampled a seafood appetizer and tried pasta covered in squid ink...it tasted about like it sounds. Worth the try, I guess? :)


Post-meal limoncello with our friend, Alex...he was our wonderful guide. The tradition in Italy is to serve this chilled after dinner & dessert.  


After lunch we took a gondola ride...honestly, it was just a basic boat ride that went around one little square. It was probably a waste of money, but I'm glad we did it for the experience. 

We didn't go inside the Basilica di San Marco (St. Mark's Basilica), but instead we toured the adjacent Palazzo Ducale (Doge's Palace) to get out of the rain. I was over reading all the signs, so I walked through and looked at all the gothic designs and chambers pretty fast. But it was still worth the seeing! 


Looking out from the Ponte dei Sospiri (Bridge of Sighs). This bridge connected the new prison with the interrogation rooms in the Doge's Palace. Named by Lord Byron, supposedly this was the last view of Venice that criminals would see before their imprisonment...so they would sigh as they crossed.

After the palace, we headed back to our hotel. Venice wasn't my favorite city...but I'm glad I saw it & can say I've been. Maybe it was just the weather that day. Maybe it's that you have to depend on boat for transportation. I don't know. It's definitely unique and fascinating and pretty. It's one of those places you should at least go see once...so you can say that you got lost in Venice...but I wouldn't necessarily plan to go back.

Next up...we head to Lake Como and then onto Switzerland (probably the two prettiest places we visited!).

To see Days 1-3 in Munich, click here.

To see Days 6-8: Como, Lucerne, & Heidelberg, click here.

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