My first home abroad was an one bedroom flat at the end of a dead end in Innsbruck. At Löfflerweg str.! When I arrived at the lovely cute Austrian city and saw the apartment, it was late at night and dark. I became seriously worried due to the distance from the center, the steepness of the road and its remote position. In the morning, everything seemed much better, as it often happens. The distance was not so big after all. Just a 15 minute walk through an aristocratic neighbourhood. The abrupt street to the house was just a nice way to keep fit. The position was quiet and offered an amazing view.
As my first residence outside Greece, Innsbruck deserves the first list of a few of my favourite things :
1. The locals are always up for sports. The Austrians ski literally like pros from age four to eighty four. Skiing is as natural to them as walking or breathing. I was particularly excited to see handicapped people enjoying the fun of winter sports, as well, using special equipment.
2. The main means of transportation are bicycles. The bike roads run through the whole city and are very picturesque. Twice a day I was cycling along the Inn river to arrive at home, gazing at the impeccable beauty. Longboards, skates, inline skates were also very popular. Some young parents used to have trolleys dragged by their bicycles, were the babies were sleeping comfortably. It should be noted that the regulations about the lights are strict and are actually implemented. I once saw an officer giving a ticket to a rider that had no lights, while the snow height was over a meter. I reckon that it was not a delightful task for the officer and certainly not for the offender, who had to pay 20 euros for each nonexistent light.
3. Leberkäse was my favourite treat. I used to buy it during the uni intervals, from the nearby supermarket or bakery. It costs close to two euros and is warm and tasty. A Semmel, Leberkäse, ketchup and mustard. Yummy!
4. The dress code was always sporty. Even at the clubs, people put on a snowboarding jacket, beanies and sneakers. Only at the Uni’s oral exams everyone revealed a smart attire under the usual snowboarding jacket. Boys wore a suit and girls heels and pencil skirts. Unaware of the custom, I showed up in jeans at my Philosophy of Law exams. When I realised that the smartly dressed students were waiting outside the same door as me, felt I wanted my fairy. Where is she really every time I need her?
5. The big, modern Universitäts- Landesbibliothek had always the latest international newspapers hanging on one wall. As a student I enjoyed the privilege to borrow books through a self check out machine using my own student card. A Criminology book about Serial Killers had given me a neck pain because of the many times I looked behind me in the dark deserted Löfflerweg.
6. At Christmas, the city looks like a fairytale scenery. Christmas Markets offer the traditional Wurst, hot chocolate, Glühwein, crepes, Christmas events, rides with horses, but mostly they create that magical atmosphere. You feel that there is no better place to be in Christmas than just there.
7. Pets are also enjoying quality life in Innsbruck. For instance, taking out the dog on roller-skates is undeniably a mutual fun!
8. Treibhaus was my favourite venue. It has two stages for live music and a cafe bar. The atmosphere is cheerful and the customers pleasantly alternative.
9. For those who won’t fly unless they hide a Masticha drink, a Lexotanil and various herbal anti-stress remedies in their cabin bag, Innsbruck is an amazing start point for their Europe trips by train! Its strategic geographic position favours trips not only inside Austria, but also Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Lichtenstein and Czech Republic. For young travellers (-26 yr), there is a discounted Vorteilscard, that offers multiple benefits.
10. Once I overheard a man on the next table to talk about Zivildienst, an alternative civilian service to the compulsory military service. After I received that information, I started observing more closely some unusual for a Greek incidents. At supermarkets, people on wheelchairs were often escorted and assisted by younger men. Maybe they were serving their Zivildienst, I thought. How much does that alternative change the lives of both parts!