Innsbruck, it’s not you…it’s me

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I arrived in Innsbruck after nightfall and walking around town I couldn’t help but think it seemed like a movie set.

The cobblestones shone in the moonlight with a cleanliness I had never seen, even in the tourist areas of Latin America.

The next day I noticed all the tourists unabashedly walked around with their DSLRs as necklaces, none feared being robbed and were oblivious to the idea of pickpockets.

The town is filled with bike lanes with more bicycles than motorists, but those that do drive stop immediately for crossing pedestrians.

There is order here.

And then I realized that Innsbruck was different. It is as if we had achieved world peace, learned not to litter, to take care of ourselves.

It made me uncomfortable.

Innsbruck is a very pretty city. It’s safe and families have a wonderful time wandering the colourful streets.

It is too perfect.

But it’s a bit too sanitized for me. There’s no one yelling in the street, no couples kissing so passionately you would swear they had been separated for years.

It has no personality. Like a pretty box with nothing inside.

innsbruck austria

A friend from Buenos Aires who had been here said it had no onda.

Sure I appreciate the cleanliness, and being able to walk around with my iPod Touch to connect to the free wifi and not having to grip onto my bag with fear.

I miss the grittiness of Latin America. Even a walking tour of Innsbruck couldn’t change my mind.

And maybe others are right, maybe I am a drama queen.

But I like my cities to have a pulse, I can’t connect to Innsbruck. The heart feels nothing but apathy.

So Innsbruck, I like you, you are really nice but I don’t see any future. Let’s just be friends.

Join the Conversation

  1. I’m with you. when we lived in northern italy, we would often say the same thing when up in parts of austria, switzerland or s. germany. We’d cross the border back to our home in Italy,and immediately feel the energy (and chuckle about the unstaffed swiss barns that trusted one to fill the money jar in exchange for apples and apple juice.that would fly really well in the parts we were living) enjoy your European travels!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      It is an energy isn’t it…

  2. Look at it this way, if Innsbruck was a really scary place, imagine what the hitchhiking up there would have been like! Enjoy a couple days of peace, you’ll be clinging to your bag in a back alley somewhere soon enough.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      So true, fingers crossed I don’t get mugged in Spain

  3. Lauren Fritsky says:

    This sounds like the way I feel about Sydney compared to my last city, Philadelphia. Sydney is cleaner, safer and prettier — but it lacks that grit of which you speak. It also lacks the type of diversity I’m used to, the attitude, the assertiveness of an East Coast city like Philly. It is great, and I’m glad I’m spending time here, but it’s not “my city.”

    1. Ian [EagerExistence] says:

      Oh. Sydney is plenty gritty. Just leave downtown. Get out in the suburbs like Surrey Hills or Blacktown.

      1. Ayngelina Author says:

        Well that is a good tip.

  4. Ian [EagerExistence] says:

    Its not just Innsbruck. Most of Austria is amazingly clean, above board, and follows the rules. I noticed while in Achensee there was no Graffiti, no crime, no rubbish. Im used to the Med. and all its guts & glory. Huge contrast to places like Napoli, thats for sure πŸ™‚

  5. I hear that sistah! I had a hard time getting into Arequipa. I felt like there was a dark cloud over me the whole time I was there. Everyone said it was so beautiful and what not. I just wasn’t feeling it.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Yeah it was very…clean, wasn’t it.

  6. Ditto. (Seems we were on the same wavelength.)

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Nice to see I wasn’t the only one.

  7. Matthew Karsten says:

    You’ll just have to find a clean-cut Austrian boy and create your own passion in the streets!

    Start yelling at strangers, tag your name on some beautiful buildings, etc.

    Bring a little South America to Austria. πŸ™‚

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      They would love that!

  8. Emily in Chile says:

    I can definitely imagine how after months bumming around Latin America, a perfect European city would feel a little off.

  9. I’d feel off there too after getting so used to navigating the chaos.
    Bright side: It sounds like the perfect destination for my mom.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Definitely Mom friendly πŸ™‚

  10. Andi of My Beautiful Adventures says:

    This is EXACTLY why I’m not drawn to Europe in any kind of way.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Not even Italy or Spain?

  11. Oooh, this place sounds kind of eery to me.

    My hometown is quite rough, it’s polluted, it has steelworks which are noisy 24/7 and there’s always something to be heard. I think I’d feel really on edge with things like this – the same as I do in the countryside. When it’s that quiet and pristine, I find it really hard to relax. I feel as though someone or something’s going to jump out on me.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      There has to be a balance but it doesn’t seem that I have it in Innsbruck.

  12. Debbie Beardsley says:

    Well I guess I’m the only one that LOVED Innsbruck! Add in the rest of Austria, Switzerland and Southern Germany and you have found a place that completely has my heart! To me Innsbruck oozed personality.

    Thats why the world is a big place and there is room for everyone. I do think you all should give the area another chance.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I completely agree with you Debbie, there is something for everyone – everywhere!

  13. I had the same experience when I visited Berlin and Prague this summer after spending a month in Mexico. All of my big trips for the past 3 years have been in Latin America. I love the passion (and sometimes chaos) of life there. Berlin (graffiti and all) felt too orderly for me and Prague felt like figment of my imagination. I had a good time and I’m so glad that got to see those places, but it was definitely a “let’s just be friends” scenario by the end of my trip.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      So glad to hear others feel the same way about cities.

  14. I love the grittiness here. I have a feeling I’ll be longing for the smells of meat in the street and Spanish being yelled into my ear.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      My thoughts exactly πŸ™‚

  15. What exactly does gritty mean, and why is that appealing? Danger is only attractive until you mugged or worse. I also wonder how much authentic Innsbruck you actually saw, if the tourists with cameras were the most notable sight. Why exactly do you travel? I hope you can make some friendships with some locals and appreciate the best thing about any city – the people.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Connecting with a city isn’t a logical or practical thing, it’s often emotional or a gut feeling. I’m not attracted to places where there is danger, I’m attracted to places that have a lot of heart. I am not saying Innsbruck isn’t a nice city, I just didn’t connect with it.

  16. Fascinating!!! I like the way you describe the city; how it doesn’t seem to have a pulse. Since I was raised in Hong Kong and New York I think I too am drawn to a certain kind of grit, at the least it brings with it personality. However, I’ve never been to Austria (and am dying to!) so I will of course have to see it for myself. Romantic, the way you’ve described it… I love that the heart has a stake in it. Even if you will just be friends πŸ™‚

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      It’s hard to quantify it but sometimes you just don’t connect with a city.

  17. I’ve only ever been skiing in Austria, so I can’t really compare, but I hear Vienna is great. People do rave about it in a way they don’t about other places. I had the same vibe you have about Innsbruck in Switzerland. I kept thinking what a waste of gorgeous countryside on people who were too concentrated on creating their own sterile bubbles.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I definitely wouldn’t judge am entire country on one city, I will consider Vienna.

      1. natalia_pi says:

        please DO consider Vienna, and let me know if you drop by πŸ™‚ i totally understand what you say, tho. as an Italian living in Vienna, i sometimes miss the screaming and the loudness. which is why i escape to noisier, busier places anytime i get a chance to!

  18. Oh my God!, you just described how I felt about Salzburg!

    It was so pretty that I was afraid to touch it as I might break it or stain it…

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      So true!

  19. The Travel Chica says:

    I get it!

    I just had a conversation last night about how I love that Buenos Aires is such a grand city but it still has that Latin American grit.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Well it’s definitely gritty, that’s for sure.

  20. I donΒ΄t think I would love it either for the same reasons you said.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Oh I know you would be bored!

  21. Lusso Bags says:

    Got a similar feel when I hit Singapore after being in S Asia. Such an efficient beautiful place, but lacking the chaos and color. I’m sure I could’ve found more soul somewhere if I’d had longer to explore, though.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I’ve heard that from other people who have been to Singapore, almost a bit too clean.

  22. Natalie T. says:

    This is exactly how I felt about Brussels. I was really bored by it. It’s lovely. There’s chocolate and moules frites. But mayjah yawn.

  23. Nomadic Samuel says:

    I felt the same way you did when I went to Singapore after backpacking in SE Asia for quite some time. I guess I realize I have more of an affinity for the gritty destinations than I do for the super sanitized ones πŸ˜›

    1. Somehow, it seems more interesting, doesn’t it? πŸ™‚

  24. What a shame, that I didn’t know you were coming to Innsbruck – maybe I could have helped you to discover some onda in my hometown. Anyway I have to admit that we don’t have the vibe of Latin American cities… after one year in Argentina I still have to get used to not being told at every streetcorner that I’m the most beautiful woman in the world…
    Elfi (remember we met in Salta)

  25. A lot of Austria is like that- Salzburg too is really clean, safe and looks like a movie set. But that’s what I loved about it. A bit like relationships, it’s a good job we all like different things!!

  26. Pingback: Ayngelina Brogan: A Broad Abroad « A Travel Broad
  27. Arthur Gilles says:

    It does look like a lovely city though, I would really like to visit.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I know many people who love it even though I am not one of them.

  28. Melissa Pham says:

    beautiful post. yes, it’s you πŸ™‚

  29. I guess diversity and variety make the world go around. I have never in my life seen a column where everybody criticized peace Serenity and solitude. Unbelievable. You can take all the chaos and Latin America and certain parts of Europe Spain and Italy and keep it contained with a little far far away. I have never once in my life been drawn to those areas for many reasons. One reason is exactly that the chaos. If I wanted to be around spoiled brats and Insanity all day I’d walk into a school classroom. Besides the heat and humidity of all of Latin America combined with the drab landscape everything looks all the same. Extremely boring I’m totally not my thing. Spain and Italy have a little more variety that’s still have no culture or class in my opinion at least not as much as many other countries I’ve been in. Again it looks too much like the same everywhere. That’s some of the higher class cities in Austria Switzerland Germany and even in Scandinavia are a total different Spectrum. Variety of landscape variety of culture the scenery is complete eye candy. The cities are a work of art. Poetry in motion. Everywhere you look is a feast for the eyes. So much to take in. And no Mindless banter or idiotic immaturity to deal with in trying to do so. People there appreciate where they live and the riches they have around them everyday. What I find in other countries is almost the selfishness. The people try to compete with everything else that’s around them they need to be the center of attention. To create that spectacle somehow makes themselves feel more important. To each their own. If you need to create chaos to feel that you matter by all means do it. People who are more self-confident tend to travel the back roads in life I find. They don’t tend to need to make a scene. But we are all different people and we have different tastes and different like so to each their own. That’s why there are so many countries in so many places to go and see. This way we all have a place to go. We all have our favorites and we all have our pros and cons to everywhere. Variety is the spice of life.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      SO true. There is a place for everyone in the world.

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