This past week went by very fast. Liisa and I along with her mom did some additional sight-seeing and then we took her to the airport and said goodbye. The next day we drove again to the Munich Airport and picked up some friends who flew from Tampa, Florida to join us in our vacation. Mr. and Mrs. William March decided to take a European vacation to coincide with ours. Although some people may not recognize his photo, William is the senior political reporter from The Tampa Tribune newspaper.
Having guests was another opportunity to grill some steaks on the grill and drink a full-bodied Bourdeaux wine. Unlike Florida, I had to watch out for the snow blowing off the nearby trees so I wouldn’t get blanketed in snow and ruin the steaks. We wasted no
time and the next morning we crossed over the border into Austria. Our plan was to visit Swarovski’s Crystal World and then locate some 17th century churches to tour. Initially we drove on the outer ring of Innsbruck and spotted some church steeples. We would visit them on the return trip.
Our first stop was a tour of Swarovski’s Crystal World. It was a big disappointment, but we were wowed by some crystal creations. Entire walls glittered and we saw a polished and cut crystal the size of a small beach ball. Supposedly it’s the largest crystal in the world. We also looked through a microscope to view the smallest cut crystals in the world. Some of the modern art work bedazzled with crystals was rather confusing, but if someone likes abstract art, then they would probably love it.
Since it is nearing Christmas, they had a Christmas tree on display. Unlike a coniferous pine tree, this one was constructed entirely from crystal. It was pretty awesome to see. I had hoped to get a tour of the crystal manufacturing factory. I wanted to see how these crystallized stones are transformed into beautiful figurines and pieces of art. We were informed this is a trade secret and not even the employees are permitted to know the whole process. Apparently it’s a several step process and an employee is only allowed to learn one step and not the remaining ones.
I was also unaware that Swarovski manufactured jewelry among other items. But our wives seemed to be very cognizant of this fact and of course the self-guided tour ended in the jewelry and figurine retail store. Some of the crystal figurines appeared to be flawless and the strategically placed lights magnified their prism reflections. Admittedly, the wife was only eye-shopping, but I found some pieces of jewelry that were stunning, especially when she tried them on. Needless to say, she was a bit sparkly when she departed the store and my credit card is still on life-support….lol. (Gave her everything for Christmas, her birthday and our anniversary since I won’t be there for those in the coming weeks and months.)
We drank some Gluwein (hot wine) and then returned to Innsbruck in hopes of finding some of the old churches we passed on the way. Fortunately the tall steeples stood out and I would drive my car into the proximity of them. This can be rather confusing when you have to take some back roads and circle around a bit to find them. The St
Charles church was built in the 16th century. The outside colors weren’t very appealing, but the interior made up for it. I am totally fascinated with the beautiful European frescos painted on the dome ceilings. Since being here, I have learned more about the Rococo style too. When these domes were originally painted, the plaster was still wet and
the artist painted into the plaster. The plaster absorbed the paint while it dried. After the plaster dries, paint can’t be added to it. So this explains why these large dome masterpieces had to be done in segments, but the seams are virtually transparent.
We also visited a more modern early 19th century church too. The
style reflected a modernized baroque theme. Some of the other churches we visited seemed to be more Gothic in appearance and the frescos weren’t as awe-inspiring. I thought Austria (being located next to Italy) might have been greater influenced by the styles of Italy, but this really wasn’t the case. The artworks in Germany are more eye-catching and beautiful in my opinion.
While in Innsbruck, I tried to locate the site of the Olympic bob sled runs, but didn’t have any luck. The GPS didn’t recognize it either. The flyer we picked up on the street advertised bob sled runs. This would have been a true adrenalin rush had I found it and went down the course. But we did get to see a portion of the infamous Olympic cross-country ski course. Now there is sufficient snow on the ground, we have seen a lot more people cross-country skiing. This activity is our list for later this week. Tomorrow we are going to visit some world-renowned castles.