Europe 2022 – Innsbruck, Part One

June 23 – 24

Knowing we had a long day on the train ahead of us with multiple stops, we left the apartment early enough to grab a bite to eat at Café New York near the train station.  Being familiar with the town now, we opted to walk to the café instead of taking a taxi, which took us roughly fifteen minutes.  We ordered a couple of coffeelattes, a pastry, and a sandwich for the road. 

It was pleasantly warm sitting at a table just outside of the café, the train station a very short walk away and we talked about the day ahead and the remaining week or so of our journey, as with all trips, regardless of their length, what once seemed unending indeed does come to an end. 

For all of the complexity to that day’s trip, it went smoothly, with a minor delay at the end that didn’t disrupt us too much.  Our first stop of the day was in Florence where we had a 45-minute layover; as the lines were too long to attempt to get food to eat, we were glad we’d brought that sandwich with us.  It also gave me the time to reflect on the first time I came to this station; it was during my initial trip to Europe in 1977.

Lucca to Innsbruck

During the first month of that journey, I’d taken the train to Florence from my Uncle Chuck’s place in Birkenfeld, Germany.  I’d used a big chunk of my limited cash to do so, as I wasn’t quite ready to start hitch hiking and had made plans to meet an acquaintance of mine Sabra, there.  It was a long ride, over twelve hours and we didn’t get into town until around midnight, too late to try to find lodging.  I thought about hanging out at the station, but instead ventured out into the neighborhood and eventually found shelter at the top of the steps leading to the doors of a church, which in hindsight appears to be Santa Maria Novella. 

The Church I Might Have Slept at

I leaned my pack against the door and with my passport and money secured, managed to recline there and sleep.  I do recall a local policeman stopping by briefly and letting me lie, it being obvious I wasn’t a threat, and it was a gentler time then.  The next morning I awoke, gathered myself, and headed to one of the American Offices (there were two in town as I would later discover) where I was to meet Sabra, but it wasn’t the office where you could leave mail or other information. 

Santa Maria Novella – That Middle Door Looks Familiar

I left the office empty handed and not sure what to do, begin to wander around in a sleep deprived haze and in one of those serendipitous moments that makes one believe in fate, kismet, or the hand of a higher power, ran into Sabra a few blocks away.  She guided me to the inexpensive pensione she was residing in, where I rented a bed in a multi bedroom for not much money and settled in for a few days.  And that is when the trip truly started for me, where I would eventually figure out the key to hitchhiking and begin to discover exactly who I was and needed to be.  And all of that came back to me standing in the station. 

Real Deal Coffee on the Train

The journey that day would be one of spectacular vistas as we worked our way north into the Italian and Austrian Alps.  Our path took us through broad valleys framed by towering mountains, fields ripe for grazing and agriculture dotted with small villages and farmhouses.  Our last stop about 25 miles before Innsbruck was Brennero Brenner, a small station where we hopped on a modern commuter train for the scenic ride into town. 

Our lodging for the next two nights was Pension Stoi Budget Guesthouse, located a short walk from the Hauptbahnhof (train station).  A relative bargain at 101-Euros ($112) a night in such a central location, except for having to haul our bags up a couple of flights of stairs, we were pleased with our large airy room and the modern bathroom.  Not quite a hotel, a pensione is often a family home with many rooms, or one floor of a large building.  In many places they are a bargain and usually clean and accommodating.  I grabbed a couple of beers from a refrigerator in the lobby (3-euros apiece) and we relaxed a bit before making plans for dinner. 

Craving a taste of the food one associates with Austria and German, we located the Stiegl-brau pub just a few blocks away.  Still family owned, Stiegl has been brewing beer in Salzburg since 1492 and remains one of the most popular brews in Austria.  We entered the pub, a renovated fermenting cellar from the year 1937 and were seated at a table for four near the service bar.  A fairly large party, a conference or traveling group, occupied a series of tables nearby and from all appearances, were thoroughly enjoying themselves. 


We started with a round of beers, a Helles for me and a Radler Himbeere for Joanna (a radler is a low alcohol beer usually consisting of half beer (something light like a pilsner or wheat beer) and half lemonade or grapefruit juice).  Originating in Germany, radler roughly translates to cyclist. 

These would get us started as we ordered our entrees, the Alt Wiener Saftgulasch (Beef goulash with bread dumplings) for me and the Geräuchertes Forellenfilet auf Salatbouquet (Smoked trout fillet salad) for Joanna.  I also ordered another beer, the Goldbrau to finish off my meal.  The food was excellent and as I have mentioned several times during our accounting of this trip, quite reasonable with the tab coming to just 41.7-Euros ($44.24).

One of our longest days of travel had gone smoothly; there is always a little bit of anxiety when traveling but once you’ve arrived at your destination safely, perhaps had a refreshing adult beverage and if fortunate, a good meal, one is rewarded with a sense of accomplishment, the reward for a good day’s work.  We will cover our last day in Innsbruck in the next post. 

Heading to Innsbruck


Pensione Stoi:


One comment

  1. Dale Swindler · · Reply

    Nice Post. It was good you have your history story in the middle.

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