Innsbruck, Austria

September 3-5, 2000

Nestled comfortably in the Alps alongside the pastel green river lives Innsbruck. Through a web of electric tram wired streets, is a view of the soaring mountains with clouds swirling around the tops from nearly every angle. When I arrived they were rocky peaks, but after some drizzly rain in the valley came and went, they were more than capped in snow. Walla, ski season is about to begin!

The drizzle daunted my mountain climb plans to a walk to the Alpine Zoo. The astonishing creatures for me were the Alpine ibex. Their breath steaming out above their small beards give dramatic look to the large beasts with horns curling high and back half their body length. The big guys butt heads and they all munch away and climb on the fresh logs and trees lowered in by crane.

The Zoo isn't that far away from the center of town, but it is on the slope of the mountain. That in itself was most unique: in a few blocks you're out of the city and find yourself hiking up a steep mountain side!

Before heading out in February, I built up an extensive list of friendly people to stay with while backpacking through the different countries. In a way, these people serve not only as potential new friends, but also ambassadors to their country for the backpackers who take in native life. This is part of the "traveler vs. the tourist" philosophy.

While building up these lists, I had one special e-pen pal. We wrote so frequently and extensively that when launching this travelogue journal, I considered calling it 'Dear Elizabeth.' A few weeks after I left for Europe, she left for the USA and we've both been on the road, so to speak, since then. She was going to return to her hometown in Austria in September (it's now the 3rd)... I'm logging in to send her an e-mail and what's waiting for me? A message: "When will you be in Austria… my family is expecting you!" "I'm in Innsbruck now!" I replied. Plans were made, although she would be staying in the USA, I called and was to meet her brother, Clemens, the next night under the famed golden roof of Innsbruck. More unknown adventure to come?!

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