Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Happy New Year! Celebrating in Innsbruck
After our visit to Dachau we all loaded back on the bus and began our journey through the mountains to Innsbruck, Austria. What I have failed to mention about my trip thus far is that I went on my trip just after Christmas and through the new year, so today was New Year's Eve. We were given a special treat by our tour manager and bus driver as instead of staying on the main highway to get to Innsbruck, we took some back roads that led us through some absolutely breathtaking scenery. We made several quick stops during our drive two of which were at absolutely stunning Austrian lakes- the Agensee and Tagensee. We also made another stop on our journey as we had finally found snow. Most of our tour were individuals from Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa and most of the people n the tour had never seen snow before let alone played in snow before, so we made another stop and played in the snow. It was great and incredibly entertaining watching people having snowball fights and watching their reactions as they experienced snow for the very first time. That will definitely be an experience that I will never forget.
We arrived in Innsbruck late in the afternoon and headed straight into the city. The main issue with our time in Innsbruck during the afternoon was that most everything was closed already because it was New Years. Most of the small tourists were still open, so we walked around to those and then managed to find a Swarovski that was still open where several of us decided to spend quite a lot of money. Innsbruck is an absolutely gorgeous little town as it is surrounded by snow capped mountains. I wish that we had more time in Innsbruck or had gotten there earlier when more things would have been open. Innsbruck is known as the winter sports capital and the Winter Olympics have been held in Innsbruck several times.
After visiting the town for a couple hours we headed up to our hotel which was a very nice hotel, but was located about a 15 to 20 minute walk to the town's center where all the festivities would be later that night. Many of us decided to take our time and get dolled up for the evening and after getting ready we headed down and had an absolutely delicious meal from the soup to the desert. Directly after eating, we all headed to the hotel bar to begin the celebration of the night and of course to sample some of what Austria is famous for by consuming many, many rounds of schnapps. When in Austria, make sure you try schnapps. I found a flavor I enjoyed and with the number of flavors that are offered, you will also find one that you enjoy.
Around 10pm all 51 of us headed into the town center to really celebrate New Years. You can imagine the commotion that we caused walking from the hotel bar to the town center. In the main plaza, a stage was set up with bands constantly playing (and singing in English which was great for us) and around the plaza local businesses had set up booths offering local food, drinks, and other random things for those of us celebrating to enjoy. At midnight on New Years it is traditional for the Blue Danube Waltz to be played so again, we were dancing and also running around kissing everyone on the tour celebrating the beginning of a new year. Right at midnight, Innsbruck has a spectacular fireworks display from the top of the mountain so we ran from the main plaza to the street where we could get a better view of the fireworks. It an incredible sight and a great way to bring in the New Year.
After the fireworks display we roamed around the town trying to find another bar to go hang out at, but most places were packed, so we changed our plan an headed to a free dance party that was going on. Basically a large gym like building had been rented out and people were dancing the night away in circles surrounding their coats. About ten or so of us were at the dance party and we had an amazing time. This may have been the most fun that I hate out with the group the entire tour. We were all just so happy and did not care what we looked dancing like crazy people. Around 2 in the morning we decided to finally call it a night and had one hell of a time walking back to the hotel. I can't imagine a better way that I could have spent my new year and I believe it really helped get the year off to a great start.