If you had asked me last week, while I was sitting in the waiting room of the local police station, how I would describe the month of May, ‘merry’ probably wouldn’t have been top of the list. In fact, misfortunate would have more fitting. Or miserable.
I’m jumping ahead of myself: there was more to May than misadventure. We’ve got some other places to visit first.
I haven’t actually spent so much time in Innsbruck over the past few weeks. The month of May began in Paris (see my previous blog), where all the locals seemed to think that May 1st was a good reason to sleep: away from the major tourist attractions, the city was unusually quiet. Having returned to Austria, I had a few days in Innsbruck (sufficient time for a moonlit hike on a still-snowy mountainside) before heading to Salzburg to visit Marlene, a friend who did Erasmus in Durham last year. I had completely forgotten that Salzburg is famous for The Sound of Music until a nun cycled past us while we were walking the dog. Even then I didn’t recognise the city, despite having watched the film numerous times. I’d also forgotten that Salzburg is Mozart’s birthplace, but there were plenty of reminders around the city to put that to rights. It was a very pleasant weekend: we went to a birthday party on the first evening, explored the House of Nature (a fantastic interactive science and natural history museum) and went to the cinema to watch the Austrian film Seventeen (a truer depiction of Austria than the American musical). Salzburg is indeed a picturesque city, even if it was somewhat marred by torrential rain.
Back to Innsbruck for a few more days, before the next stop: Graz, to visit Sonja, one of my two fabulous roommates in Tomsk. The red roofs and Italian-style architecture of Austria’s second-largest city are nestled between gentle hills in the southeast, six hours by train from Innsbruck. Iona joined us the next day from Vienna, and we spent a very relaxed weekend in the hot sunshine. We watched Flo (another friend from Tomsk) perform at a poetry slam, enjoyed a luxury breakfast on the roof terrace of Sonja’s student accommodation, and partied late into the night. We even went bouldering. It was a really wonderful weekend.
I’d been back in Innsbruck just over a week before my next visit: this time, not quite so much fun.
I’d never been to a police station before. It might have been alright if it hadn’t been for two things: first, the waiting room felt a little too much like a prison cell, and I couldn’t help thinking there had been some kind of cruel role reversal. The second thing that somewhat spoilt the experience was my reason for being there: the beautiful racing bike that was mine for the semester had been stolen.
‘Oh, that’s bad,’ said the police officer at the desk when I told him.
No bike. No triathlon (it would have been my first one). At that point in time, ‘merry’ did not match my mood.
Still, the following day I went inline skating for the first time. I wouldn’t have done that if I’d had my bike… Every cloud has a silver lining! Possibly my time in Innsbruck would have been too perfect if my bike hadn’t been stolen.
In any case, the month of May ended well with a final visit – and this time, I played host: Mum, Dad and Granny came to Innsbruck for a long weekend. Ashwini, a lovely Indian girl travelling solo, joined us on the hike up to Hafelekar. We also met a moose, a wild boar and a roe deer* and went for our first (relatively) wild swim (it took us several attempts to find a lake that wasn’t frozen or dried up).
For the most part, May was a merry month for me.
*at the Alpenzoo: see photos below