Becca Jane St Clair

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European Road Trip Day 3 – Kristallwelten and Innsbruck

[Finally blogging about our trip to Germany and Austria we took in September 2010!]

Tim and I decided to split our trip evenly – for every railway we visited, I got a day to pick something I wanted to see. Sometimes, things overlapped and we did both a railway and something I wanted to do because we needed the railway for transportation, but for the most part, we stuck to our plan.

Today’s trip was actually Tim’s idea for me, so kudos to him for knowing me so well! Swarovski, as many of you know, is a synthetic crystal made in Austria. They use it in all sorts of things from crystal figurines to dinnerware to jewellery…and I use Swarovski a lot in my jewellery creations. Tim spotted a brochure for Kristallwelten, and we headed out.

Kristallwelten was nothing like I had expected, but I still loved it. Kristallwelten is located directly next to Swarovski’s factory, but it is not a factory tour. Kristallwelten is more of an art museum with a twist – everything in the museum is made from Swarovski crystal or features the crystals in some way.

When you walk in, one of the first things you will get to see is the Kristalldom. You walk inside, and it’s like being in the interior of a giant Swarovski crystal. The panels reflect the room back at you, and it can get very confusing! One time I thought I was heading towards Tim, but it turned out I was walking towards one of his reflections!

Kristallwelten is based around a “giant” and his possessions – The outside of Kristallwelten is a giant head with a waterfall, complete with Swarovski crystals for eyes, and you enter the attraction through his ear. Inside, you can view his possessions, including a giant accordion, walking stick, and gloves. Outside the attraction, the grounds are an impressive garden culminating in a hedge maze in the shape of a hand. And even though it was a fairly “small” maze as far as hedge mazes go, it still freaked me out when I was in it and didn’t know where I was!

Kristallwelten is located in Wattens and is the second highest visited Austrian attraction, second to Schloss Schönbrunn in Vienna (we didn’t go there on this visit, as I was there in 1997). Kristallwelten caries a hefty admission fee. Adult admission is 9,50 Euros, but children up until the age of 12 are free, so that’s a break for parents. I’m not sure Kristallwelten is very child-appropriate, though. Some of the sections are quite dark and scary, and we witnessed children running around, not paying attention to where they were going or what they were looking at, and then getting separated from their parents.

Attached to Kristallwelten is of course, a Swarovski shop. I was really looking forward to our shop visit, because I thought I might be able to get some beads to make a bracelet as a souvenir. Unfortunately, the prices directly at Swarovski were just as expensive as ordering online from Swarovski, and my online supply company came in as less expensive even with factoring in shipping to the UK!

Kristallwelten took up our morning. We packed sandwiches and sat in the gardens to eat and took a stroll through the gardens, where we explored the hedge maze and climbed up to a lookout point where you could see the entire maze.

We headed back to the car and decided to go to Innsbruck, where we learned an important lesson: Don’t drive into a city without a map! We had our big Austrian road map, but nothing for the cities and we got lost several times trying to follow the directional signs. But we did get a spectacular view of the Bergiselschanze (ski jump) used at the Innsbruck Olympics! We planned to go to Schloss Ambras, but by the time we found it I wasn’t feeling too well and didn’t want to climb up all the steps, so we just took pictures of the castle and the gardens. Tim asked if we could instead take a ride on the trams up into the hills.

I thought this would be great fun and a great way to see some more scenery, but I was to be disappointed on the trip up. The tram was crowded and we wound up standing for most of the journey, which did not help my feeling ill. We also had to spend part of the time standing directly on the bendy part of the bendy-tram (like a bendy bus, only it was a tram), which really started to give me motion sickness.

But, the trip to the top was worth it, and we found a small cafe to get a drink and a bite to eat at. As we were the only patrons other than family at the cafe, we were treated very well and even were offered biscuits (cookies) out of their personal stash.

Fortunately, we were able to get good seats for the trip back down and were able to look out the window. Below you’ll find an edited video of our hour-long trip back!

[If you click on the photo once, it will take you to that photos page. If you click on the photo again, you will be able to view it full size. I have no idea why WordPress made it so complicated!]

[Photos taken by either myself or my husband, Tim and are all © Tim and Rebecca Lockley]

Next Up: Zillertalbahn!

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  1. SCARY MAZE March 11th, 2011 3:21

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