|Every road trip needs snacks!|
...and admired the Tyrollean views.
Innsbruck is in wide Alpine valley in West Austria, about halfway between Munich (Germany) and Verona (Italy) so we felt like we were in the middle of Europe.
In Austrian (& German) Christmas Markets you pay a deposit charge for your mug which you get back when you return them - or not if you decide to keep as a souvenir!
We watched the sunset before heading back down to Innsbruck to explore more of it's Christmas Markets.
We started at 'The Family Christmas Market' at Marktplatz, right on the Inn River. You can't miss it's eye-catching 14 metre Swarovski crystal tree.
This traditional, cosy market is family-friendly with a petting zoo, puppet show and carousel.
For the big kids (aka me and my sister!) there were lots of handicrafts, christmas ornaments and other wintery treats.
We'd built up a hunger by now (being surrounded by delicious smells didn't help!) so we surveyed some of the food on offer...
...before settling on savoury pancakes ("Palatschinken"). Freshly made in front of us and very tasty!
We moved onto the historic 'Old Town Christmas Market'. This gorgeous part of Innsbruck is surrounded by medieval buildings and home to the famous Golden Roof.
But we started a the Brother's Grimm 'Fairytale and Giants Alley' (Märchengasse). This old town alleyway is full of life-sized characters amongst the historical building facades.
Ready for our next feeding (it's very difficult to resist when you're surrounded by heavenly looking and smelly treats!) we chose a baumkuche (literally "tree cake"!) to share. This pastry-layer cake is cooked around a cylinder before being dusted in a flavour of your choice - we went for chocolate powder. Seriously yummy!
Revived by our sweet treat we headed into the Old Town Christmas Market. This market has been running for 41 years and has over 70 stalls. It was busy - clearly the place to be on a Friday night in Innsbruck and we treated ourselves to another Glühwein to warm our hands in the freezing cold - Soph even managed to co-ordinate her mug and outfit!
We admired Innsbruck's most famous landmark - The Golden Roof ("Goldenes Dachl"). This roof was completed in 1500 and is decorated with 2,738 fire-gilded copper tiles to mark the Emperor Maximilian I's wedding.
We also gazed up at the massive Christmas tree in the middle of the courtyard...
...finding a good viewing platform to soak up the atmosphere (and fairy lights!).
We continued exploring the market, spotting more tasty treats.
Hungry again we were drawn to the kiachl (or "Knieküchle" in German) stand. This traditional fried dough pastry is made freshly for you and filled with either cherry sauce, icing sugar or (bizarrely!) sauerkraut!
We happily wandered through the stalls, pausing to gaze at more treats on offer - such as toasted almonds and chestnuts, Lebkuchen (traditional Christmas cookies made from soft gingerbread), stollen and sausages.
And also feeling festive surrounded by decorations, toys and other handmade trinkets.
The Christmas markets close around 8pm so, full of yummy food and with frozen fingers, we headed to our hotel.
We visited the Hofkirche ("Court Church")
The Imperial Palace ("Hofburg")...
And another little market, but more flea market style than the Christmas Markets.
St. Anna's column...
...and a modern nativity scene outside the art gallery.
And a treat it truly was - we had hot chocolate and coffee and a giant chocolate mouse!
It was sachertorte-style with layers of chocolate cake and apricot jam, covered in chocolate icing and marzipan ears.
We gave it a good go, but ended up with half of it in a doggy bag!
We had a final peek into the Christmas Markets - and met the four giants guarding Riesengasse (Giants Alley).
Then we bid farewell to the city centre and climbed in the car to explore some of the surrounding sights.
First up was Wilten Basilica - a historical church
and neighbouring Stift Wilten.
On our way to the Bergisel Ski Jump. Innsbruck has been the host to the Winter Olympic Games twice and also the 2012 Winter Youth Olympic Games and this Ski Jump stadium is situated above the city on a hill overlooking Innsbruck.
It is 47 metres high and the stadium can accommodate 28,000 people. The entrance fee was ridiculous though so we satisfied ourselves with a peek and then admiring the surrounding views.
Then we headed back to Munich...until we spotted a random looking sign.
We couldn't figure out what on earth this meant, so we had to follow it to investigate!
It turns out that it is a sign for Swarovski's Crystal World theme park - Wattens, just outside Innsbruck, is home to Swarovski. Unfortunately the site is ongoing a major refurbishment so peered through the fences to see the inspiration for the road sign!