Austria

After leaving Germany, we briefly ventured to three Austrian cities: Innsbruck, Graz, and Vienna via the ever reliable train system. 

Innsbruck is situated along the Alps and used this advantage to host both the ’64 and ’76 winter Olympics.  The ski jump built for the occasion, Bergisel, is now used as a tourist attraction (trap) where if you’re too lazy to hike up the mountain, you can pay to visit the tower and peer out over the city.  It is a pretty crazy looking contraption.  Even though I used to be pretty good at the ski jump on the Winter Olympics game on a commodore computer like 15 years ago, I can’t imagine how you begin training in real life to voluntarily jump off that thing on skis.  Matt and I are too poor to take the easy route, so we did a short hike up on our own, but still got a panoramic view above the impressive city of a mere 110,000 people. 

Graz has a unique sense of architecture.  A renowned architectural “gem” of the city, known to locals as ‘the friendly alien’, reminds me more of a giant cow udder.  Lonely Planet compares it to a “mutant bladder”.  Another structure, an artificial island in the River Mur in the center of the city holds an amphitheater and café, and is shaped like a giant seashell…  There is little in the city to denote Arnold Schwarzenegger’s origins. 

The next stop of Vienna provided a much more classic dose of architecture, even though a lot of palaces, museums, etc. are starting to look very similar.  There are only so many buildings of comparable styles that I can see in a short time span and still be amused.  The same goes for art and natural history museums.  They did have this pretty cool program set up though, similar to Ann Arbor’s Top of the Park, which they play movies on a giant screen in front of their (beautiful) parliament building and numerous restaurants set up temporary tents and peddle their food.  Unfortunately, for yours truly, not being culturally sophisticated enough to appreciate classical music movies about Mozart, etc. I wasn’t really keen on the schedule.

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