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Posts tagged ‘Zentrale Ostalpen’

My Tirol: Stubai alpine valley


(Spring 2018.)

After the morning to and from Scharnitz, I returned to Innsbruck, and immediately headed south into the Stubai valley for the afternoon and early-evening. I had enough time to make a short walk in each of the towns Neustift and Fulpmes, but truth told, I would’ve preferred a minimum of one full day to appreciate more fully the spring-summer rhythms in the river valley and ascend the cable cars up both Kreuzjoch and Elfer, plus another day to the very end of the Stubai valley to Mutterbergalm, and up Schaufelspitze for views of the Stubaier Gletscher (Stubai Glacier) at “the top of Tirol.”


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My Tirol: Brenner Pass

After a mid-May morning in the Alpbach alpine valley, I spent the afternoon on rail to Brenner via Innsbruck, with both legs of the Innsbruck-Brenner stretch on the S-Bahn Tirol S4* train. I used my Eurail Pass the entire day.

Squeezed between the Stubai- and Zillertal-Alps in the Wipptal (Wipp valley), Brenner Pass stands at an elevation of 1370 metres (4495 feet) above sea level and is one of the lowest mountain passes in the Alps. The low mountain pass meant that humans have known about, climbed, and traversed this area for thousands of years. It’s also why the Romans incorporated this pass from the 2nd century AD/CE as a part of a critical north-south trade and security link between the heart of the empire to the south and the frontier provinces to the north.

By the Middle Ages, the pass was a part of the Holy Roman Empire on the “Via Imperii”; this imperial road stretched from Rome to Stettin via Florenz, Verona, Innsbruck, Augsburg, Nürnburg, Leipzig, and Cölln (Berlin). In the mid 15th-century, most long-distance trade between Augsburg and Venice was transported through Brenner Pass; by the early 16th-century, a north-south postal route was founded.

Empress Maria Theresa of the Habsburg Empire ordered in 1777 an upgrade and development of the road through the pass to mitigate the dangers of summer landslides and winter avalanches on the important trade route. Recognizing good timing and an opportunity, German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe travelled through Italy between 1786 and 1788, fulfilling a lifelong dream. Goethe would have started from Munich and travelled on the road for two days with a stop in Innsbruck before entering Italy. From his notes, he published in 1816 “Italian Journey” which became a best-selling book of its time and paved the way for Germans to satisfy their romantic dreams by travelling to Italy. The Brenner Railway line was inaugurated in 1867, heralding a faster connection between Innsbruck and Bolzano and the first rail line through the Alps. Construction of the 38-kilometre Brenner Autobahn between Innsbruck and Brenner Pass began in 1959 and by April 1971, drivers got to experience the full width of a speedy highway, now known as the A13 in Austria and E45 in Europe.

From its origins, the road today is a vital link between northern and southern Europe, providing trade shipments by truck and rail transports. Concern about environmental impact by record numbers of trucks (about 2 million every year#) is also why the European Union initiated construction of the Brenner Base Tunnel to divert more freight onto rail and further cut rail journey times between Austria and Italy by about an hour.

It’s difficult to imagine a time in the recent past where this border was heavily guarded and all traffic was stopped and checked, with stories of smugglers secretly climbing over the border mountains in the dark and stories of death from exposure and misadventure. With Austria’s formal acceptance of the Schengen Agreement and entry into the Schengen Area, all border controls here were abolished on 1 April 1998.

Separate European nations with unguarded borders was once thought impossible. It’s a modern idea that cannot be underestimated and for which I’m thankful: I arrived by plane in Frankfurt, Germany where I entered the European Union. Because Germany, Austria, and Italy are within the Schengen area, I was able to travel freely among these nations. From Stazione Brennero, I walked out into town and across the border from Italy to Austria and back again, without checks or controls.

* S4 in May 2018; renumbered to S3 as of Oct 2020.
# 2 million trucks per year, 5500 per day, or about 230 per hour. Delivering goods is an important economic engine, but that’s a lot of trucks, noise, and exhaust.


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Neustift im Stubaital, Stubaital, Stubai valley, Tirol, Tyrol, Austria, Oesterreich, fotoeins.com

Fotoeins Friday in the Alps: Neustift im Stubaital

You can’t escape the mountains in Austria’s Tirol: not that I would, because why would anyone want to miss out on any of this natural beauty. An easy trip by bus or tram (Stubaitalbahn STB) from Innsbruck takes visitors into various towns in the Stubai valley including Neustift im Stubaital. Reaching deeper into the valley gets you to Mutterbergalm and up into the Alps near the Austro-Italian frontier. Spring activities in the area include hiking, climbing, and paragliding. This view faces southeast into town with the Catholic parish church (Pfarre Neustift at lower-centre); in the background at left-centre and upper-right are Kesselspitze (2720 metres) and Elferhütte (2080 metres), respectively.

I made the photo above on 12 May 2018 with a Canon 6D mark 1 and the following settings: 1/400-sec, f/16, ISO1000, and 24mm focal length. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotografie at fotoeins DOT com as https://wp.me/p1BIdT-glY.

My Tirol: Alpbach

On a beautiful spring morning, I set out from Innsbruck in a search for physicist Erwin Schrödinger. What Isaac Newton is to classical physics; Erwin Schrödinger is to quantum physics. In a modest church cemetery in the centre of Alpbach lie the graves for Erwin and Annemarie Schrödinger.

At an elevation of 974 metres (3196 feet), Alpbach is situated along the Alpbach river and nestled among the surrounding Kitzbühel Alps (Kitzbüheler Alpen). Many of the town’s buildings have traditional architecture with wood moulded and ornamented balconies. With population about 2600, key activities consist of summer hiking and winter skiing via a number of cable cars to the surrounding mountains including Wiedersberger Horn. Known also as “the town of thinkers” (Das Dorf der Denker), the 21st-century glass-and-wood construction of the Congress Centre was designed for the purpose of fostering and strengthening intra-European communication and cooperation. In the aftermath of the Second World War, Alpbach has hosted since 1945 the European Forum Alpbach, held annually in August with more than 5-thousand people in attendance.

This for me is classic Tirolean alpine idyll. Next time, I’d like to come back and stay awhile.


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Vals, Brennerbahn, S-Bahn Tirol, St. Jodok am Brenner, Brenner Pass, Tirol, Tyrol, Austria, Oesterreich, fotoeins.com

Fotoeins Friday in the Alps: St. Jodok am Brenner

On board the S-Bahn Tirol S4 train south to Brenner, I’m bouncing from one side of the car to the other; the valley views open up one instant and another set of views open up on the opposite side. Just after departing St. Jodok, the track makes a tight turn in the small Wipptal valley. In doing so, the train slows down, and I luck out with this west-facing view; I can make out the town’s distinctive Pfarrkirche zum heiligen Jodok Catholic parish church (1427) and in the background mountains Kesselspitze (2720 metres) and Serles (2717 metres).

I made the photo above on 14 May 2018 with a Fujifilm X70 fixed-lens prime and the following settings: 1/250-sec, f/11, ISO1000, and 18.5mm focal length (28mm full-frame equivalent). This post appears on Fotoeins Fotografie at fotoeins DOT com as https://wp.me/p1BIdT-glp.

Nordkette, Seegrube, Hafelekar, Nordkettenbahn, Innsbruck, Tirol, Tyrol, Austria, Oesterreich, fotoeins.com

Fotoeins Friday in the Alps: Serles (Innsbruck)

From the centre of Innsbruck, visitors who want to go up the vertical stone wall of the Nordkette mountains ascend first to Seegrube, followed by the final “step” towards Hafelekar. The views under clear skies open up north and south. The image here faces south over the city of Innsbruck and across the Inn river valley to the Tux Alps at left and the Stubai Alps at right, with the latter’s presence prominent with Serles (‎2718 metres / 8917 feet) at upper-right.

I made the photo above on 10 May 2018 with a Canon 6D mark 1 and the following settings: 1/320-sec, f/18, ISO500, 70mm focal length. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotografie at fotoeins DOT com as https://wp.me/p1BIdT-h1L.

Vals, Brennerbahn, S-Bahn Tirol, St. Jodok am Brenner, Brenner Pass, Tirol, Tyrol, Austria, Oesterreich, fotoeins.com

Fotoeins Friday: S-Bahn Tirol from Innsbruck to Brennero

I’m on board a S4 S-Bahn Tirol train from Innsbruck southbound to Brennero in Italy. I took this picture as the train departed St. Jodok station and rounded the “bend” in the valley. The train is on a gradual ascent, the valley narrows, and the mountains grow taller. The landscape seems to expand, even as hamlets and houses dotting the valley floor look tiny. That’s the unfolding present as the train crosses the border from Austria into Italy, and we pull slowly into the train station at Brennero for S4’s final stop.

I made the picture above on 14 May 2018 with an Fujifilm X70 mirrorless fixed-prime and the following settings: 1/250-sec, f/11, ISO1000, and 18.5mm focal length (28mm full-frame equivalent). This post appears on Fotoeins Fotografie at fotoeins DOT com as https://wp.me/p1BIdT-d00.


Paraglider, Neustift im Stubaital, Stubaital, Stubaier Alpen, Stubai Alps, Tirol, Tyrol, Austria, Oesterreich, fotoeins.com

Fotoeins Friday: Paragliders over Neustift in Stubaital

With my base established in Innsbruck, I already spent the morning exploring a little bit of Scharnitz at the Austria-German border. I’m on the 590 bus from Innsbruck to Neustift im Stubaital, and I catch sight of paragliders in the foreground, as well as the dot-silhouettes of several others riding the thermals high up in the distance. Late-spring and summer provides a wealth of ground-, alpine- and aerial-based activities in the Stubaital (Stubai valley).

I made the picture above on 12 May 2018 with a Fujifilm X70 and the following settings: 1/250-sec, f/16, ISO1000, and 18.5mm focal length (28mm full-frame equivalent). This post appears on Fotoeins Fotografie at fotoeins.com as https://wp.me/p1BIdT-cXl.


Hafelekar, Nordkette, Nordkette cable car, Nordkettenbahn, Hungerburg funicular, Hungerburgbahn, Innsbruck, Tirol, Tyrol, Oesterreich, Austria, fotoeins.com

My Tirol: day trips from Innsbruck

As one of nine states within the federal republic of Austria, Tirol is well known not only for all-season access to the Alps, but also for a variety of other attractions.

With transport authorities IVB Innsbruck, VVT Tirol, and ÖBB Austria, Tirol state capital Innsbruck was the base from which I travelled to Alpbach (half-day), Brenner (half-day), Hall in Tirol (half-day), Nordkette (half-day), Scharnitz (half-day), Stubaital (half-day), and Wilder Kaiser (full day).


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Wiedersberger Horn, Alpbach, Alpbachtal, Alpbach Seenland, Tirol, Tyrol, Austria, Oesterreich, fotoeins.com

Fotoeins Friday: spring alpine morning in Tirol’s Alpbach

Spring’s at hand, and summer’s around the corner: among mountains, meadows, and buttercups, under a deep ocean of blue sky. This view faces south, across the Alpbach valley to the Wiedersberger Horn mountain at top-right (peak elevation: 2127 metres / 6978 feet).

I made the photo above at 840am CEDT on 14 May 2018 with a Fujifilm X70 fixed-lens 18.5mm prime (28mm full-frame equivalent), and settings: 1/500-sec, f/11, and ISO1000. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotografie at fotoeins.com as https://wp.me/p1BIdT-bIb.

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