we’re happy to report that we’re still thrilled.
The ‘newness’ of being in Innsbruck has finally worn off. What a relief. We’ve succeeded in our quest to overcome the ‘tourist’ portion of our adventure. We wanted to fit in with the locals and be a part of this community. We’re regulars at our neighborhood grocery store (other shoppers have even come up to us to ask questions). We are known, along with Schatzi, at three area restaurants. We are familiar with the surrounding fields and paths all around our apartment. We’ve befriended ‘Timmy”, a 4 month old golden retriever in our neighborhood. We now know how to get around Innsbruck without having to use GPS. We have a core group of badminton buddies to play with on a regular basis. We also feel quite comfortable going to any number of ski areas. As of last count, we’ve been to 22 out of the 92 available on our pass. We understand how to drive, find the gondola stations (sometimes there’s more than one), pick out the best parking lots, and find the après ski hang outs.
So what’s not perfect?
Most of the time we’ve been here, we were happy to receive a free glass of tap water (‘Leitungswasser’) whenever we order a coffee or a glass of wine. Recently, we were alerted to the fact that some places are now changing their policies … due to the cost of having to wash the glasses, some places are opting to only sell water in glass bottles. We, as locals, disagree with this policy. Maybe they could charge .25 euro per glass. That should cover the cost for them and still offer a convenience for us. (Did you catch that ~ ‘as locals’?)
The parking garages throughout the city are not made for the feint of heart. They’re unusually narrow and are surrounded by cement posts at every turn. It takes a good number of ‘backing and forthing’ to get into many of these spaces. (It’s always so rewarding when we finally get into a spot and can still open our doors to get out of the vehicle.)
Not gonna miss the smoking. The good news is that at least it’s not allowed in most indoor places anymore. The bad news is that many people (yes, lots of young ones, too) smoke like chimneys. Really? Sad.
So what’s still magical?
We’re continually impressed by the many means of public transportation. The buses and trains here are just so reliable and ubiquitous. Since we have a car, we are also very grateful for the many parking garages dotted throughout the city of Innsbruck. It’s always easy to find a place to park and the cost for a few hours is equivalent to about $5 or $6. How convenient.
The surrounding mountains are still awe inspiring, every single day. Just like living near the ocean in Marblehead, we make sure to notice the never ending beauty in our daily lives. The stretch of the beautiful Alps envelop the valleys and create a gorgeous backdrop all around us, no matter where we go. They also provide a great way to track any impending storms as the clouds dance across the mountain peaks. Pictures (at least by our iphones) just don’t do it justice.
The meticulous care taken by municipal workers as they maintain the roads and properties in and around Innsbruck is inspirational. The Jersey barriers on the highway are power washed to clean off grime, the repair of local roads requires heavy equipment as the streets are at least 8″ thick. Any patch job is perfectly square and level with the existing road. (This is in direct opposition to the approach of ‘let’s throw a shovelful of black asphalt near a pothole and hope that takes care of it’.) We’ve seen workers carefully taping and then painting ~ by hand~ new markings on the street. Right after a snowstorm, we’ve seen workers out at 6:30 am shoveling pathways so that people can easily walk on the sidewalks to get to their trains and buses. We’ve had workers actually pay attention to traffic during a construction site, which means they are then able to direct traffic to keep things rolling. It’s just all about taking care and also taking pride in a job well done. All these examples help to create a general feeling of appreciation for those who work everyday to improve the quality of life for us all. This level of maintenance is something to aspire to.
Our friend, Heidi, a U.S. transplant who now lives near Munich, asked us what we’ll do differently when we go back … for starters, we hope to:
- be more mindful of not generating trash in the first place
- recycle more of everything we use
- give up on the regular (and unnecessary) use of paper towels
- give up paper napkins and switch to cloth
- get outside even more to enjoy the outdoors
- continue to use our electric car as much as possible; try to limit the use of the gasoline one
It’s been great to be a part of another culture. It has opened our eyes to how ‘different’ can be fantastic. We, of course, appreciate all we’ve been exposed to in the mostly wonderful world of the U.S. and are equally appreciative of broadening our horizons a bit. We feel fortunate to have had the chance to be ambassadors for those who want to learn a little about our lives back home. The world is getting smaller, one experience at a time. How wonderful. For our new friends from abroad, we have two guest rooms. We’re ready to share.