Walking to the Internet Corner this morning, we felt sufficiently familiar with the city to make our own route. Even the few days we have been here have taught us a bit about the way the city is laid out, and where the major roads lead. We passed a couple of monuments which aren't explained in any of the tourist literature, perhaps because they commemorate much more recent history: a menorah and a pillar with crystals bears the names of Innsbruck Jews, victims of World War II monument Crystallnacht; another taller but equally stark granite and iron monument bears the Latin inscription: we have died for our country.
After completing the Internet session, Bob returned to the hotel and Elsa continued to sightsee. The ticket-taker at the Tiroler Landesmuseum Ferdinandeum seemed surprised to see a visitor; for more than an hour Elsa was the only non-employee in the museum. There are interesting religious art works, and the entire display provides an overview of art, especially church art, from paintings to altarpieces to items which had been designed for private homes. These, plus several portraits (mostly of the artists themselves) and some landscapes comprise the bulk of the main exhibit. The remainder of the museum is occupied by works from the 18th century to the present, mostly representational. The most intriguing room contained still lifes of flowers, with the floral arrangements containing tulips. The accompanying explanation told the history of Tulipmania, when collectors bid up the price of tulip bulbs beyond all reason, then eventually went bankrupt when sanity returned.
It was such a pleasant afternoon that a detour to the Hofgarten was in order. This large and pleasant public garden was created by ArchDuke Ferdinand II in the 16th century at which time it was the largest public garden north of the Alps and, for good measure, contained parrots (no parrots were visible or audible this day). Many benches placed near small floral gardens or ponds provide resting places--although today all visitors risked being bonked on the Large scale chess head by chestnuts falling from the trees, for autumn breezes came this afternoon. Two chessboards, with two-foot-tall chessmen, were in use in the garden, as were several more ordinary chessboards. Also, a children's play area and an outdoor cafe.
On the way back to the hotel, Elsa passed the Inn River, as bubbly and fast-flowing as we had seen it from the train. Unlike the Swiss towns, Innsbruck Old Town turned its back to the river (perhaps because the river is so forceful that it wasn't used for commerce?) so views from riverside are generally bland and blank building facades. However, just a block away are the cobbled twisting streets which pull the tourist back into town.
We're happy to have visited Innsbruck; getting to know the Tyrol is an essential part of getting to know Austria. We'd like to be here when there were fewer tourists; perhaps another month or so, after it turns cold but still before the winter snows.