Dear Tirol,

 Our time in Austria is approaching two and one-half years, and until this past weekend we had never taken a holiday in our adopted country, so on Friday we pointed the wagon westward toward your state, leaving behind wet and 2°C Vienna for the blue skies and 16°C temperatures of Innsbruck.
We could not have asked for more beautiful late November weather. Your Chamber of Commerce outdid itself; just look at the views we had from our guest house balcony each day. At night the cool alpine air drifted in through the open windows, too, a fresh lullaby as we fell into peaceful slumber.
Our lodging was just outside Innsbruck, in a small village that was undoubtedly filled with spectators for the 1964 and 1976 Olympics. (The tower in the middle is a leftover ski jump, now made available to fearless jumpers.) For us, though, an indulgent rather than adventurous stay: the guest house offered a 32°C indoor mineral water pool and Finnish sauna, and a five course dinner each evening. Indulgent, indeed.
We took advantage of the late afternoon light to visit the Hungerberg Christmas Market, sitting 560m above the city. One would be crazy not to visit for a mug of warm Punsch and That. View.

 

Impressive from above and at ground level, a town surrounded by mountains and capped with blue skies can not be anything but. Add beautiful painted buildings along the river; medieval lanes and an Old City filled with equally charming architecture; a Baroque cathedral; and oh, yes, even a Hofburg, because the House of Hapsburg needed an imperial palace from which to rule Tirol, and one almost wonders why Vienna is Austria’s capital.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Later in the weekend we drove to nearby Hall in Tirol, once upon a time an extremely important Hapsburg town owing to the many salt mines in the area. And most fortunate for us, this little walled village was hosting its Advent Market. As with Innsbruck, the proximity to Italy meant we were treated to (and brought home!) Süd Tirolean wines and sausages, along with hand painted holiday cards, fresh wreaths for the house, and on and on and on.

 

Tirol, you spoiled us. Your people are warm, friendly, and unpretentious; your scenery, breathtaking; your food, unparalleled. And I have not yet gushed about the Christmas Markets.

With much love, Victoria