…so we avoided the strange man in the Charlie Chaplin outfit and the squeaky voice…
Oops. I’ve started the story midway.
Must be because I am tired, confused and still recovering from the wild New Year’s Eve party three days ago. But by damn that was a great party. It was at a local club. The band played mostly 80s classics. There was a lot of dancing. And we had a prime table because we are lifetime friends with the wife of one of the band members. Here is a picture of me that night:
OK – hope I haven’t lost my credibility with that photo.
Anyway, my last travel post saw me at the Wilten Basilica, Innsbruck, Austria. And fine it was too. I also mentioned that wonderful hotel – the Bon Alpina. Actually I should have said more about the latter. The room was one of the biggest that we experienced on this tour. The furnishings were everything that you would expect from a better hotel. It has to be in my top 3 hotels provided during the European Cavalcade tour (wait till I tell you about the hotels we were assigned in Rome and Sorrento!).
The following morning we packed and boarded the coach, noticing as we did the low hanging grey clouds. The plan was to travel down into Innsbruck, have a few free hours there, and then travel onwards into Italy. We were dropped off in what seemed to be a minor side street and then instructed to follow the guide.
To be honest it felt Austrian. I say this because I had visited Austria once before, in about 1998. The grand cream coloured buildings with their green coppery roofs were very familiar. Then we rounded a corner and entered an archway, the entrance to the old town.
And the vibe changed again. It was more old German than Imperial Austrian (yep, as if I really know the difference!).
The first place that we were taken to was Innsbruck’s most famous attraction – the so-called Golden Roof (Goldenes Dachl.)
Um… yep, it was nice. Actually, I wondered whether I was suffering from travel overload because my response was fairly muted. I had seen so many marvellous things that this was just another less-awe inspiring marvel. Well, I did not even feel that it was a marvel. This said, it did have historic value and I should have been thrilled. To quote all-knowing Wikipedia:
Completed in 1500, the roof was decorated with 2,738 fire-gilded copper tiles for Emperor Maximilian I to mark his wedding to Bianca Maria Sforza. The Emperor and his wife used the balcony to observe festivals, tournaments, and other events that took place in the square below.
And then we had free time. We wandered a bit. And I took photos.
Now on our journeys we passed a particular corner where the strangest of sounds seemed to be emanating behind a small crowd. It sounded like a talking canary that had inhaled helium. The crowded parted as we approached and we beheld a weird little man in a Charlie Chaplin outfit whose face was made up with black and white make up. Obviously the idea was to create a look like Charlie Chaplin had just leapt out of a film. He opened his mouth and out came that irritating sound.
Rhiannon was creeped out and clung to me. I think that this upset the street performer because he tried harder to make her like him. Alas it had the opposite effect.
And then we were past him, his twittering passing back into the general din of the place.
The thing is, he had chosen his corner well. Somehow the configuration of the Old Town kept bringing us back there. Rhiannon cringed each time we passed him, and he tried harder and harder to get her attention. In the end, with time passing and our tummies grumbling we stopped wandering and chose a café. It was a nice seeming place and once I had read the menu I decided upon strudel – it seemed geographically appropriate. The waiter asked me whether I wanted custard, and this is where I made my big mistake: I said yes.
Why was that a mistake?
Because the strudel arrived floating in a bowl of custard that inundated the strudel’s own flavour. Given that I love Australian made strudel I really regretted not getting to experience a proper comparison. I really just thought that they would pour a little custard over it. Nevertheless we were happy. :)
With full stomachs we once more braved the streets of Innsbruck, this time venturing beyond the Old Town. It was there we found a lovely park.
And the park made me realise that Innsbruck was not just a tourist destination but the home town of many people. We watched families with children playing in the park. And I took this shot because it summed up the idea of Innsbruck as both Imperial City and home.
But time ticked away and soon we had to return to the meeting point. For me Innsbruck was a nice place to visit, but not much more. It was not the highlight of the European Cavalcade, but neither was it a waste of time.
Oh – and that Charlie Chaplin guy… Turned out that this get-up is a favourite one of street performers in Italy too. We saw the same thing there, and always with the same make up and same squeaky voice. My response remains the same: “Huh????”
Once again, thanks for reading and I wish you all a brilliant 2016.