My room at Hotel Sailer in Innsbruck overlooks some green space which is surrounded by apartment buildings. If I had binoculars I think I could’ve spied James Stewart and Grace Kelly. To further enhance the Rear Window ambiance, there was a saxophone playing, and occasionally the player would break out singing. This is the dreamlike environ that drifted me to sleep.
In the middle of the night I woke to the sound of steady rain–which I love–and by morning the tops of the surrounding mountains had snow. I’m glad I packed my Sperry Topsiders!
I had the buffet breakfast (not as stellar as Kurhotel Vellererhof but fine) and caught the shuttle to the Swarovski tour.
The tour was a little weird and whacky. They have a lot of non traditional art forms celebrating crystal, such as a mechanical theatre with dancing body parts. Didn’t see the crystal connection. The entire thing had a kind of disco vib with techno music and dimly lit rooms. Of course we ended up in a posh shopping environment and I felt compelled to buy earrings.
On the return bus, I was grateful to chat with a lovely woman living in Germany. She talked about the influx of refugees in Germany and the willingness of most working Germans to render community service. She’s spending time with the Syrian refugees and said they are skilled workers anxious to learn German as quickly as possible so they can work. Her own children are volunteering to teach the language, which is a meaningful act of service because they are from Holland and had to learn the language themselves. She was frustrated by the unwillingness of some countries refusing to participate because of false assumptions about the refugees. I told her the rest of the world is applauding Germany’s efforts to assist the refugees.
The Imperial Palace, also referred to as the Hofburg Palace, was my next stop. It was highly recommended by my German friend. The palace has a current exhibition about death which is thought provoking. In previous centuries, people accepted that death meant suffering and hoped for a lengthy approach to death to make peace with the living and receive their last rites. Now, however, a mindset is evolving that favors a pain free and timely death, perhaps by choice. We are removing reminders of death that used to bring solace and promote an understanding of this transcendent experience. The exhibition had displays of funereal memorabilia made from hair or possessions of the loved one. It also had some of the decorated skulls from charnel houses! The excerpts from interviews of people discussing these subjects were especially interesting to me.
The second floor of the palace is where Maria Theresa’s husband died (the ones with 16 children!). Her husband died while they were in Innsbruck celebrating their son’s wedding. So Maria had the State Rooms reconfigured to honor her husband with a chapel and enormous paintings of their family.
The private apartment has been restored to the splendor enjoyed when Franz Josef’s wife, “Sisi”, spent time there. Brilliant red and coral silk damask covered the furniture, drapes, and even walls. And the original carpet survives. I’ve just started a book about this fascinating woman, The Accidental Empress, who was very unorthodox and obsessed with her looks. It would take three hours a day to care for her floor length hair!
Tomorrow is my most challenging travel day yet: Innsbruck to Munich, Munich to Nurnberg, Nurnberg to Prague. Wish me luck!
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