We started this day with arguably the best breakfast we’d had, thanks again to the wonderful hotel buffet. Although, what the hotel had for food and other amenities (gorgeous pool complex, etc.) they lacked in comfortable bedding. The bed was a rock and we’re pretty sure the pillow had maybe two feathers in it. So we were all a little tired on the bus.
We had a short ride on the bus, less than an hour or so, and soon we arrived in the tiny town of Vaduz, Liechtenstein! Yep, I can now say that I’ve been to Liechtenstein. We celebrated by buying mini flags. Also in the gift shop, they had a selection of Switzerland merchandise. Having been unable to find a Switzerland sweatshirt in the past, I bought one there. I can’t wait to ask my kids, “Hey, where do you think I got this sweatshirt?” to hear them say “Uh Switzerland, duh,” and then be like, “No, Liechtenstein.”
So we sat for a little while at a café with a coffee and then soon we were back on the road on route to Innsbruck. We made another stop for lunch at an autogrill. This one was themed like a German chalet with wood paneling and painted beams and all kinds of cool stuff. Also they had German food, which I ran to with excitement. I love German food. I got a big piece of schnitzel and fries with a bottle of Almdudler, this weird Austrian soda that’s basically fizzy apple juice. It didn’t disappoint.
We got to the hotel and settled in for a moment. This was one of our nicer hotels. It was a little far out from the city center, but the room was clean, the shower was quality, and the bed was nice and fluffy. The pillows even had multiple feathers in them!
Soon after settling in, we were off on our walking tour with the phenomenal Christian. Jeurgen had originally sung the praises of this guide, saying he was really good. And then he came onto the bus and was very soft spoken and factual, so aft first we were like “Hm…” But then once he started going, we realized he had this really dry, quiet sense of humor. He was really funny. For instance he pointed out a tower and was telling us, “Oh, this tower was constantly manned for hundreds of years by a watchman to look out for sinister things like invading armies, bandits, American tourists, that kind of thing,” without skipping a beat.
He also took us by the Golden Roof, which is Lucerne’s main landmark. It’s literally like a shop awning made out of gilded tiles with some paintings around it. It’s like if the Eiffel Tower is a gold bar, the Golden Roof is like those little worthless flecks you see when people pan for gold in the river. But anyway, Christian was showing us all the details of the roof, and in one particular spot, they had some coats of arms. And he was explaining to us that one particular coat of arms belonged to the wife of King Maximilian I of the Austrian Empire. Her coat of arms belonged to the region of Bohemia, which is also the logo of the car brand Alfa Romeo. In his bag, he pulled out the hood ornament of Alfa Romeo. So then he asked us, “What would be there if he had married an American princess?” he reached into his bag again and pulled out a Ford hood ornament. He was good.
He’d also asked early in the tour if anyone had been to Innsbruck, so I just raised my hand. Turns out I was the only one who had been there before (even thought it had just been for a two-hour lunch stop). Well, that put a target on my back. So the whole tour he kept asking me, “Ah, do you remember this place?” And I was like “UH…”
When he showed us the famous ski jump that was used in the Innsbruck Olympics, he asked me, “Ah, when you were here last, how far did you jump when you slid down the ski jump?” I just said, “A mile. I slid down and then landed on the Golden Roof.” He laughed.
At the end of the tour we popped into the Swarovski flagship store to see some outrageously blingy crystals. I’m proud to say that this was the first time in one of these stores that I didn’t impulse buy anything stupid. In fact, it was really crowded, so we were in-and-out pretty quickly.
Really all I wanted was strudel, so we stopped by a café, which I’m pretty sure was the same one I’d visited two years ago, so Jen and I could split a pre-dinner strudel and a drink. It was just as good as I remember. Ugh I dream of that strudel. Afterwards we took a little walk along the main streets in the old city, where we met up with Stephanie and Marcel again and popped into a couple souvenir shops. Jen also bought street art from the same artist I bought from two years ago! He was still painting pretty things. It was delightful.
Soon after it was time to meet for dinner. On our way to our meeting stop we got surprised by a marching Austrian band. Jeurgen referred to it as “Hoompapa music.” They reminded me of like the OTHER acts that played at the festival at the end of the Sound of Music. All dressed in Austrian skirts and hats and leiderhosen. Super fun.
Then we boarded the bus and went to dinner in the basement of this traditional Austrian restaurant. We got to have schnitzel cordon bleu, so like, schnitzel filled with cheese and ham and served with a side of current jam. Oh my god. This was one of our best meals. Everything was balanced so perfectly. It was absolutely delicious. And then for dessert, we had yet another strudel. Yep, I’d just had strudel like three hours earlier, but I didn’t care, I still scarfed that bad boy down. Ugh heaven is filled with Austrian strudel, I swear.
We got back to the hotel and did some sink laundry and decorated our hotel room with drippy pants and underwear. As we were milling about, we were watching the semifinal of the World Cup featuring France vs. Belgium. We were rooting for France, since we’d been in Annecy when they’d advanced to the Semifinal. Then they won! So we got excited. They’ll be in the World Cup final on the last day of our tour, so now we’re all planning on watching the game as a group in a pub somewhere in Salzburg.