… more about the big trip

Boxing Day was a free day – no organised trips and no supplied meals except breakfast. Along with most of the group we took the funicular railway (stunningly designed by Zaha Hadid) up to Hungerburg and the Nordkette mountain range, but we stopped short of taking the cable car onwards and upwards. There were crowds of skiers going up into the clear blue skies and it looked like quite a squeeze! Instead we took a path that led upwards through some woods and spent a little quiet time on our own watching the local birds and squirrels (which are the same species as the UK Red Squirrel, but with much darker fur).

In the late afternoon we found a restaurant and had an enormous meal of pork schnitzel and apple strudle, before taking another wander through the night-time quiet of Innsbruck.

On the following day (27th December) we took the train from Innsbruck to Jenbach and then the narrow gauge Zillertahlbahn to the resort of Mayerhofen. There we wandered through the town, watching the skiers negotiating the pavements in their ski boots, browsing the shops (a little), admiring the chalets and finally we were treated to an amazing rainbow coloured sun halo when it went behind one of the mountains.

The next day we were up early to catch the train to Verona. We then boarded a bus for a guided bus tour followed by a guided walking tour. I think I’d like to go back to Verona, but if I do I won’t be doing the obligatory walk into the crowded courtyard to gape at Juliet’s Balcony and admire the lovesick graffiti on the walls!

… The Big Trip Part II

Our hotel in Cologne

On December 22nd we started our Great Rail Journey from St Pancras station, taking Eurostar to Brussels and then continuing on to Cologne. We were too late and it was too dark to see the town, but we were able to spot the great Cathedral from our room. Next morning (December 23rd) we were up quite early and continued on our journey to Innsbruck.

On Christmas Eve we were taken on a guided walking tour of the old part of Innsbruck. In spite of the rain, it was good to get our bearings and learn something of the history of the town. Below, are some photos taken on the tour or soon after. The rain slowly petered out and we were able to enjoy some of our walk in sunshine.

Christmas Day dawned bright and sunny. Not that we saw the dawn. The night before we were treated to a multi-course Christmas Eve dinner! Once we’d dealt with our hang-overs we took the Stubaitalbahn tram up to Fulpmes where we walked around this lovely Tyrolean village and indulged in large mugs of Gl├╝hwein. The next set of photos are from Christmas Day.

This time last week …..

This time last week we were just setting out for the final treat of our big holiday. January 4th was our 50th wedding anniversary and we were planning to spend it at Saddler’s Well Theatre enjoying Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake.

Wow – it was wonderful!!!!! What a way to end a holiday. John said it was the best ballet he’d ever seen and I agreed. It was passionate, musical, thought provoking, visually stunning and beautifully performed.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves ….

We started our trip on December 16th, taking the train to London for a few days. The 17th was my birthday so we took the tube out to Edgware to pay respects at Mum’s grave before taking the 113 bus all the way back into central London. Our American friends need to know that riding buses is free for UK pensioners. It took a long time to make the journey, but it was fun to ride on the top deck of the double decker and pass my old school, Swiss Cottage, Lord’s Cricket Ground, Regent’s Park and Sherlock Holmes’ place in Baker street<grin>.

Regent’s Street Lights

As dusk fell on central London we found ourselves walking along Oxford Street to Oxford Circus and then down Regent’s Street to Piccadilly Circus, taking side trips into Carnaby Street and dining in an old Victorian Pie Pub. The Christmas lights were fun, the dinner was delicious and our playful visit to Hamleys famous toy shop topped off a busy but exciting day.

Carnaby Street

The rest of the week continued with museum visits, exhibitions, galleries and lots of food and wine. Here are a few pictures I took in the Burlington Arcade after a visit to the Royal Academy.

Then, on the 22nd we set off on Eurostar for the continental part of our holiday. But that’s a story that will have to wait for another day!