A second home, Innsbruck ...

I have spent so long bemoaning the fact it is impossible for me to live in England that I am quite exhausted with myself - and was most surprised when I discovered last weekend that there is a place that is almost a 'second home' to me: Innsbruck. It was just a weekend trip - but one that greeted me with sunshine and smiles. First glimpses of the Nordkette: crystalline against a faultless cerulean sky. It is a view that is so familiar I can look at it without noticing anything, yet be at once completely in awe. And the sight of sunshine was such a relief for my skin (after reports in Zurich's local paper that the city had only seen 126 hours of sunshine during the last three months - no wonder I was starting to go insane!).

Innsbruck, a city I have so many fond memories of - so many friendships made; the city where I fell in love - and an affinity to that is similar only to my love of Yorkshire. Tim and I stayed in the charming Hotel Weisses Roessl, a hop, skip and a jump from the famous Golden Roof. Our 'standard' double was on the top floor, with a balcony that boasted almost 360-degree views of the surrounding mountains. To the south I could just see Patscherkofel - the mountain Tim and I spent hours looking at from our amazing apartment of two years ago (much missed). And it was oh so warm in the sunshine. Below were the sloping rooftops of the old town and a cheerful hum of voices. All this was a bargain at just 130 euros for the night (including a divine breakfast of cereals, fresh and dried fruits, and a vast spread of meats and cheeses).

I really enjoyed catching up with friends - former colleagues from my time as a teaching assistant, Michaela and Petra, old university friends Daniela and Evelyn. Dinner in Piano Bar was an absolute highlight - and for tourists to Innsbruck is a restaurant not to miss. The haphazard service - waiter politely asking ten minutes after placing order what exactly it was that we ordered again - and irresistible food, served in a quirky cavern-like room lined with cruise liner posters and alpine scenes, make for the whole experience.

Saturday saw us travel up the Stubai valley to see our friends Ben and Nia, their gorgeous little daughter, and their cat Telfie. We spent the afternoon sledging old haunts at Serlesbahn (Tim and Ben left me in their wake, but as I have previously expressed, I prefer safety over speed) and went for a lovely, snowy walk on Sunday morning. Short but sweet - and Tim and I were left wondering why we ever left the Tyrol. But really, I found myself asking, is Innsbruck just a dream world, a place where you can live as if you are on holiday? Oh, and just for future reference - three slices of cake at Cafe Munding over the course of a weekend are just one too many - but that's not to say they are not irresistibly good, just like the city they are served in.
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