As lifelong residents of Alberta, Canada, my husband and I were raised on family vacations to Banff and Jasper National Parks. There, we camped among the Rocky Mountains, one of Canada’s truly stunning natural wonders. As an adult, no matter how many times I visit, the alpine grandeur of both places still takes my breath away.
But our trip today to the Nordkette, the mountain range that towers above Innsbruck, was a jaw-dropping experience of a different sort, accented by the bluest skies we’ve seen since we arrived in Austria ten days ago. A ten-minute walk from our hotel took us to the funicular station in the middle of Innsbruck. There, we joined skiers, hikers, snowboarders and other tourists for the 8-minute lift up to the cable car.
Our first cable car stop was at the Seegrube, situated at an altitude of 6250 feet.We shed our hats and mitts and squinted out at the sun-dazzled view: the snow-dusted evergreens of Karwendel Nature Park, the largest nature preserve in Austria, and tranquil Innsbruck far below. Meanwhile, on another part of the mountain, daredevil skiers and snowboarders took on the steepest slope in Europe, which boasts a thrillseeker’s grade of 70%.
After we’d appreciated these views, another cable car took us up to the Hafelekar, which commands an altitude of 7401 feet. Here, the 360° view kept us snapping pictures everywhere we turned.
When we’d filled up on mountain air and photos, the cable car whisked us through the clouds and back down the mountain in under ten minutes, where we were embraced once again by Innsbruck’s Christmas bustle. Hard to believe the rapid transition between alpine and urban, just one more of Innsbruck’s charms.