The day was shaping up to be another beauty and so I knew it was the day to go up to the top of mountain that was across town. There is the Nordkette cable car that will bring you from the main town level up past the Alpine Zoo to the Hungerburg station where it terminates.
Then, you walk across Hermann Buhl Platz past a nice cafe or two to the Innsbrucker Nordkettenbahnen gondola ticket office and then you can get in the queue for the cable up to Seegrube.
In an effort to make the most of the all-access Innsbruck Card I bought, I stopped at the Alpine Zoo and walked around. I thought I would enjoy the zoo more. Perhaps it was because I was intent and eager to get up to the top of the mountain, or maybe because I’m a young adult and young adults don’t generally go to zoos alone… I don’t really know. I probably spent 45-minutes to an hour there. I’m pretty sure I walked the entire zoo; I mean it wasn’t that big to begin with because all the animals they have are native to the Alps. But it would have helped if I had grabbed a map of the zoo before leaving the reception and ticket area. Oh well.
I hopped back on the Nordkette cable car and headed up to Hermann Buhl Platz. I already had my Innsbruck card so I basically walked past the ticket office and got in the queue to go up. It was really busy with (I’m pretty sure) mostly Austrians and some other tourists. The Austrians all had their ski gear ready to go. The mountain was quite busy with skiiers. I was surprised. The snow was quite wet and heavy but apparently they don’t care. 🙂
Once the cable car reached Seegrube, you have to transfer and get in another queue for the cable car that will bring you up to Hafelekar Station. This stretch is (apparently) quite short compared to the distance from Hermann Buhl Platz. However, it is very steep and it is highly likely that is further than it looks due to the mountain aspect ratio. I was slightly surprised to see little kids skiing down this really steep slopes but then again, they probably were on skis before they could walk so I’m sure they’re fine.
Basically all the skis that I saw people wearing were like half-skis. The skis were a bit short in front of the toe, but it terminated right behind the heel of the ski boot. I almost bought a pair at the ski shop at the Seegrube station building. But they were about 120Euros which is about $150USD. Since I’ve tightened my spending quite a bit on “accessories” and for how much and how often I go skiing/snowboarding (which is basically never the last few years) I figured I could probably find a used pair for maybe a little cheaper online and not have to carry them around with me for the rest of my trip. But from watching people skiing in them, they appear like they are much easier to control and much easier to stop in. I found that with regular skis (way back when I ski’d) that you can’t just sit down to stop. You really have to bail out in earnest if you need to stop yourself and can’t for some reason do the “snow-plow.” With these half-skis, I saw people literally just digging their heels in and would slow down immediately. Now that’s my kind of ski! I can’t seem to find a good picture of them on Google (I’m shocked – google knows everything – except for Austrian short skis apparently). Not to worry; I will ask my two Austrian friends that I met in New Zealand….they should know.
Anyway – we got up to the Hafelekar station and got off. Everyone went outside so I followed and watched some skiers hop up to the snow bank next to the building and the snow-covered cliff and just hop off and ski down. Yikes!!! So steep!
I started walking around a little bit and saw that there were a ton of footprints leading away from the building and up the hill to the right of the cable car station building. So I followed them because I like to get to the top of things and see what I can see. And wow was the view ever beautiful from up there. Really, really amazing. I probably spent a good 30 minutes up there sitting on a little rock wall that had been uncovered and dried off by the sun. It was really quiet (not completely quiet as you could hear some of the Innsbruck city noise below) but really nice. While I was up there, I again started pondering where I want to be and what I want to do “when I grow up.” I will be home in approximately three weeks now and responsible, money-making, adult life is again staring me in the face. Reality is knocking on my door and I need to figure out where I’m supposed to be.
Part of me expected to have figured this out by now; part of me thought I would have my near-future semi-planned out, a concept for what I would do next. I do think I have a “default” setting which is good, but is this default what I really want? I’ve been realizing that this is an extremely complicated question – where am I supposed to be and what am I supposed to do? So much so that I’ve been praying and asking God to guide me in my job applications and the options that come out of them. I’m also realizing that I need to be willing to accept what comes out of it.
Alright – now to pictures of Hafelekar Spitze and Seegrube. I did go up the mountain again the next day (the 15th?) but it was cloudy and a lot colder and so the views weren’t as good and I didn’t stay at the peak as long as I would have liked for the money I spent on the ticket. Oh well – can’t have everything. After the sunny day at the peak, I went back down the cable car to the main town, stopped by the grocery store, and then back to the hostel for dinner and to work on my blog.
I was so excited to go up the mountain again this morning. I was hoping and had my fingers crossed for another beautiful day but alas it was not to be. The sky was pretty overcast but fortunately the clouds were high enough not to fog up the peak of the mountains. I decided I would still go up there. On my way, I wanted to make use of my Innsbruck card one more time so I stopped in and walked through the Museum Hofburg. There were a ton of huge painted portraits. If I had stopped to read each informational plaque about who the paintings were of, it would have taken forever. So I walked through pretty quickly as I again wanted to get up to the top of the mountain. As I approached the Nordkettebahn station I was saying under my breath “please work, please work, please work.” I was referring to my 72-hour all-access Innsbruck card. I head read somewhere in the “fine print” that the card was only good for one ascent and one descent. I was thinking that just maybe that only applied to the cable car from up at the Hermann Buhl Platz. I got to the turn-style and scanned my card and heard the buzzer of rejection…NOOOOOOOO!!!! So I had to buy a ticket for up to Hermann Buhl Platz and a separate ticket to go up to Hafelekar Station… 😦 But I had resolved yesterday to go up the mountain again and then hike back down and so that’s what I did!
Up at Hafelekar Spitze, it was so windy and so cold!!! It was really cloudy and so the sun wasn’t there to sink into your bones, the wind was biting, and I was pretty aggravated. I really wanted to just sit up there at the top and contemplate my life again! But it was so cold! And the snow was pretty hard and frozen when yesterday it was nice and pliable. So I had to be a bit more careful today to keep my footing.
I took the cable car back down to Nordkette Seegrube station where there is a ski shop, a restaurant, and outdoor seating. I decided to stick around there for a bit since it wasn’t as windy or cold. I had a nice hot chocolate and took in the views; it was awesome. I visited the ski shop and bought a couple stickers – the cheapest thing in the store…oh and a (I think) titanium cup that is perfect for camping. I put one of the stickers on my big water bottle because I thought it was a water-resistant material. The first time I got the sticker wet (in Peschiera del Garda), it started getting all messed up and I was not happy… so I just took it off altogether. 😦 So my water bottle remains unscathed by stickers; however, it does have battle wounds from this whole trip. I will show you pictures later (in one of my last trip posts).
After that, I figured it was time to start hiking down the mountain as it was approximately 8kms to the bottom would take a couple of hours. It was a nice hike down. I passed a bunch of mountain bikers that were going up the hill…uggghh, I would not want to be hiking or riding up the mountain… that’s intense. I’m sure I could do it; I just might die at the top. 😀
At the bottom of the mountain, I stopped at one of the cafes and had a drink and ended up chatting with a couple that was just away for the weekend. After that I headed back to the hostel.
Didn’t have any plans for the day with the exception of figuring some travel arrangements and working on my blog. But while I was doing said things, a hostel-roommate started chatting. She’s a young lady that was in town for an interview at one of the universities here. She will be working towards her masters degree. She studied I think process engineering for her bachelors degree and is going to Canggu, Bali for an internship in renewable energy systems. Super cool!! Since I wasn’t doing anything, she invited to meet for lunch after her interview. I accepted and was happy to get out of the hostel. Her interview went well she said and I heard from her later that she has been accepted into the program and will be studying in Innsbruck for a year or two and that I could come visit if I wanted to! I seriously love networking and meeting new people! Best of luck in Bali, Annika! Hope you enjoy it a lot more than I did! 🙂
After a quick coffee, we walked to the Flixbus station; the same place I would be catching my bus to Peschiera del Garda the next day. I’m glad I went with her because it was further than I thought it would be and would have been a bit confused the day of.
Back to the hostel to again work on travel arrangements, blog, and perhaps pack some stuff because I was leaving the next day.