Note: When Sharon adds comments, they will be in {curly brackets}. [When I add a comment AFTER the event is over, it will be in square brackets]


Trip Log 3. Day 3. First Full Day in Italy.

Fri, October 15, 2010. Our Mountain Apartment - Finally. Innsbruck.

6:45 am. Jerry knocks on our door and says we didn’t agree on a time to get up. He says Shirley usually gets up at 8. We say that’s fine. Sharon goes down to have coffee and read her book – her regular pattern at home, only substitute newspaper for book, there.

I continue on the internet setting up my fantasy football team for the weekend.

The way the elevator works is cool. First you push a button and the elevator comes. You hold your plastic room key card up against a sensor and only then will it let you get onto the elevator. We are on Level 1. There is a floor zero, -1 and -2. Last night Shirley allowed as how she doesn’t like this negative numbering system, she and numbers having never gotten along.

Sharon comes back up, puts on her new shoe laces {It pays off to carry extra boot laces for at least three years as now the lace breaks on my right boot and we would have had to find a store that sold boot laces here in Italy. Fat chance!} and says she is seeing birds, likely Great Tits, if you’ll pardon the actually true expression. Most like chickadees of the US.

She wonders why our European shutters are closed, over our doorway to our balcony, when nobody else’s is. It turns out that last night I was trying to turn the fan off, and I pushed a number of buttons, one of which to our this morning’s surprise, was the shutters. Sharon discovers this by pushing all the buttons and sending the shutters back up, and holy cow, it’s a great big beautiful day, with the sun just starting to hit the tops of the mountains.

We have our free breakfast, and it’s help yourself sumptuous. Lots of breads, rolls, cereal, coffee, tea, peaches, yogurt, olives and more. We eat till we’re fueled up for the first flight of the day, pack up, load up and check out.

We take some photos from the parking lot of the Brunner-Hof Hotel Restaurant, and are off. It’s 9:40 am.

Last night I again located the road to our accommodations, but this time made snapshots of maps and have them loaded on my laptop, which I keep open as Jerry drives. We really liked the hotel, and there is a rumbling that maybe we should call Herr Trocker (horse whinnies – ok, that was the last time), and see if he’ll let us off the hook for the remaining two nights to stay with him, and just stay at the comfy hotel here.

But I won’t hear of it. WE’RE GOING THERE, I say, even though there is some doubt that I can get us there. I’m a hunnert percent confident.

It turns out that I’m way off in my estimate of distances, and we make it down the far side of the river to the next bridge PAST THE LAST ONE WE TRIED LAST NIGHT. This is the one we needed. We cross the river, take the road which winds down parallel with the river, and actually winds back and forth UNDER the autostrada, which is a raised expressway. Then it meanders a while up a steep slope, looping left and right, then coming to a major intersection, where we turn left.

Castle on way to the crossing bridge.

In no time, we are entering Castlerotto. We are there! Well, we are in the town, now to find the country road to our apartment. We zip through the attractive little town, noting the wonderful tower, and drive up the mountain till we get to a little town called St. Michael’s. A frau is sweeping the deck in front of her restaurant or coffee house, and she speaks enough English to help us.

Ah, now I know where we are.

We retrace our steps a bit, then take a right for a very short distance, come to a Y branch, take the left one, and shortly come to Buhlweg 43. Down a short lane, and we’re in the gravel yard of Herr and Frau Trocker.

We ring the doorbell, and I introduce us to her, and ask if we can get out of our contract. At first she doesn’t understand, but when she does, her face goes from “I don’t understand” to terrible disappointment. I ask for a moment, and recommend that we DO stay here. We decide to look at it first. Frau Trocker has a certain charisma. I ask if we can see the apartment. We look at it, and our wives love it. We retract our stupid “can we leave?” mode, and tell her we love it. She gives us the key, and we move in. She's very happy. It’s a two bedroom, one bath, combined kitchen/dining area, balcony unit. We are on the first floor European/second floor American. The Trockers live below us.

We unload our gear, and soon Frau Trocker knocks on the door asking for our passports. She writes our name down in her book and returns the passports.

Shirley and Sharon try out the balcony.

The bank barn

They are on a farm. They have a solidly-built out-building where you can park two or three cars. It’s not totally enclosed, but is open on three ends. There are hay bales and rolls under here next to a horse trailer, with pictures of their two llamas in the shelter and fenced field where the llamas live. They have a couple of small bunny houses, occupied by cute little rabbits. They also have cattle and woods and fields around them.

We decide to drive north, across the border into Austria, and on to Innsbruck, where we will have lunch and just nose around a bit. Then we’ll come back to Castlerotto, hit the local supermarket, buy groceries, and come back to our apartment, where we’ll fix dinner for ourselves.

As we’re driving by the sign documenting their residence, Sharon gives a horse whinny. {Have you figured out by now that we are spoofing the "Young Frankenstein" movie where Cloris Leachman played "Frau Brocker" and every time they said her name, a horse would whinny. Don't know why but it was funny so we have run the joke into the ground here with the Trockers.}

Sharon also saw a magpie fly over earlier, and I did the same several hours before.

Sharon says she sees a buzzard, but I miss it. In Europe, the name for what we call a hawk in America, is a buzzard. It’s highly probable a Common Buzzard, but there are some other possibilities.

Our mom, born Winifred Hilty, had seven brothers and sisters: Carl, Esther, Hiram, Paul, Calvin, Dorothy and Peter. Shirley, spontaneously out of the blue says, “I wonder if Aunt Dorothy ever robbed Peter to pay Paul.” My sister.

Our destination is made clear by a big yellow sign just before a tunnel. Great views of the autostrada after the tunnel.

We drive by a severe looking building with parking in front, but a sign says Achtung plus some other stuff, seeming to say not to park there. Shirley says, “That means attention,” and I claim that the building proclaims its medicinal purpose, as it must say “Achtung Deficit Disorder.”

We find a Media Mart store (like a Best Buy or an Office Depot), and pick up another adapter (US to European geometry plug) for me [which turns out not to work] and a spare card for Jerry. We also get a little more cash from an ATM machine. I ask for 400 euros on one of my ATM cards, and the screen pops through several pages of Italian, then spits my card out, but gives me no money. I get the attention of a worker, but she says I have to talk to my bank. She gives me a number, and I call it, but they can’t help me, but I don’t even know who I’m talking to, so then I have the thought that one of the screens probably said, “That’s too much. We give you nothing.” And then gives my card back. I’ll remember to check my account tonight or tomorrow to make sure I wasn’t charged [it turns out that I wasn’t charged].

We are hungry, so we walk around the area, locating a restaurant across the street. We go over there, but can’t find the entrance. But people are inside, enjoying a meal. It’s very unusual, trapping hostages inside a restaurant with no way out, making them have lunch against their will. I guess.

Nevertheless, we walk completely around the building, and incredibly, find the entrance. We go in, and it’s three minutes past two. Mr. “Sorry, we only serve lunch to hotel guests,” greets us. So it’s back out, and to another, smaller one we saw earlier.

We are becoming expert in speaking the common language of the area. Shirley asks if I took a shower last night in the rather unusual shower enclosure, and I say no but I’m gonna take one this evening. To which she says, “Danke Gott!”

We finish our dinner, and take two cane (KAH-neh) bags (that’s doggie bags). Sharon goes to the rest room, Shirley sets off to get some cards, and Jerry sets off to get a hat, leaving me to pay the bill. I hate my vacation (that sentence was for son-in-law Cihan, who enjoys our game of opposite day).

We put our things in the van and take off, stopping and parking near, well, a park. There is what looks like a shared garden area, and a couple of churches, but great views of the surrounding mountains here.

We spend an hour or so walking around, taking photos, and enjoying being in Innsbruck.

I spot a Blackbird in the gardens, but that’s completely different from an American blackbird. This one acts more like a robin.

We get what we think is a Northern Wheatear on top of a church, but then decide that it’s likely a White Wagtail based on its roller coaster flight away. Then, walking up towards a second church we want to see, we hear this chipping, sort of like a chickadee.

It is another Great Tit, black and white on the face and neck, overall olive green, with a black streak running from chin to belly.

We stroll along a sidewalk beside the Inn River, thus the name Innsbruck, and have wonderful sights. We come to a bridge, and walk partway across. We see another White Wagtail, and then a beautiful Yellow Wagtail, popping his tail up and down as he chases bugs down by the waterline.

As we turn around, heading back to the car, a scooter gang is gathered at the other side of the road, waiting for the ROLL light, but then they decide the WALK light is good enough. It is a nice looking bunch of college guys, I make it out to be.

We walk back to the van, load up and head out, with Jerry driving. Sharon uses the Innsbruck map I purchased at a service station just before we dropped down into the city to lay out a path to get out and back on the southbound autostrada (autostrasse in German, which is what Austria speaks).

Jerry drives the first leg, and as we sweep by the Innsbruck Ski Jump Facility, I get a nice sunlit photo.

Shirley has brought a small dictionary with her, and she tries to solve the mystery of the word Brennaro, or Brenner, in German. It seems to indicate a town by that name, but we can’t find it. It is mentioned all over the highway signs, and we finally decide that it may mean border or pass. Sharon finds that there is indeed a Brenner pass, so maybe that’s it. We have more fun, posing possible meanings of the word.

As we hit the autostrada, Shirley begins talking about our fabulous trip to Yellowstone last year. Her neighbors loved the photos they brought. Shirley says she remembers the little animal we saw near a high pass. Sharon asks, “You mean that Pica?” And Shirley says, “Yes, and wasn’t he elite?” That’s a good one, so I say, “And wasn’t he bold?” I know, I know, you have to be sittin’ down sometimes. {And then I wondered if "Italic" comes form "Italy" and if so,why? Do Italians all lean one way? I know they have that tower that we are going to see but everything else seems pretty straight.}

Shirley pointed out something we all do, and that is to ask directions of an Italian who speaks bad English, very fast.

We listen carefully to their cascade of instructions, absolutely none of which we can decipher, though we nod our heads as we listen in puzzlement. Then they say a word we finally know for 100% sure. Then we vigorously nod our head, “Yes, yes. Yes,” we say. They finish and we thank them profusely, coming back to the car. “What’d he say?” the rest of the group asks. “I don’t know,” says the asker. What we really want to say of course, interrupting as we do, “I can’t understand a word coming outa your mouth.”

We switch drivers at a refueling station, after Jerry has the car filled up.

By the time we near our little village, it is almost dark, and the moon casts a great light over the mountain from which the town is named - Castle Rock.

We make it back to Castlerotto about three minutes after the supermarket closes. What the? Main street is totally dead, so we head on back to the apartment.

But wait! There is a little bar/restaurant on the corner where we turn off the main road, and we stop in to see if they're open. They are, so we have dinner there. Jerry and Shirley have pizza, Sharon and I share a brockwurst and sauerkraut, after which we drive the short distance home.

Sharon invented the idea of playing Rummikub, with two decks of cards rather than the plastic tiles. Shirley or Jerry had picked up two decks, and we tried it. It worked fine, and we had great fun. Then it was sleepy time. And that was the end of a perfect day, Mein Herren and Meine Damen.

Achtung, I'm getting sleepy.

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