Thinking back about Tulfes, Tirol (near Innsbruck) makes me a little melancholy. I really loved it there and think it would be another place I could live for awhile. I have the same feeling about Lucerne and Lucca in Spain, so I guess that makes it in my top 3 places to return to.

Why was it so special? Well, I guess Hansjörg and his wife, Margreth were part of the main reasons. They were so enthusiastic, helpful and kind; very generous people!

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(Margreth even took our washing and brought it back clean AND ironed!) They invited us for afternoon tea one day, and served us a wonderful slice and great coffee.

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A Danube Wave Slice

We chatted for so long we ended up staying for wine, cheese, ham and bread for dinner.

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Amy, Daniel, Margreth, Christina (granddaughter) and Hansjörg

We really enjoyed their company. The next day when it was time to move on to Salzburg I felt quite sad to go.

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The other reasons we loved it was the location. Tulfes is a lovely village in nestled in the foothills near Innsbruck.

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It was a farming community. Each day we saw one farmer who hadn’t taken his cows up the mountain for the summer, moving his cows through the streets of the town. Farmers have about 20-30 cows each, and its hard for them to make a living anymore so they also do other jobs. The day we left was the last day of having the cows in the mountain pastures. Apparently that afternoon they would all return from the high pasture after having been there for 3 months. They would be decorated with flowers and bells – I wish we could have seen it!

Our apartment was another reason we loved Tulfes – it was modern and comfortable (with a great shower!).

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We found everything we needed in a stylish nearby grocery shop (except for meat, which is either non- existent in the supermarkets or super expensive!). We really enjoyed staying here, especially as there was an awesome view of the mountains. The mountains are spectacular, so beautiful to gaze at!

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In the winter they are covered with snow (as it the village). People get about on skis. Hansjörg goes every afternoon to teach the kids at school how to ski during the winter. Both Hansjörg and Margreth looked like they enjoyed the winter with its skiing, made me wish I could give it a go (and I hate the cold!)

We particularly liked taking a ride on the chair lift up the mountain. Daniel and I went up together and tried to work out at various spots if we could jump from that height to the ground and survive. Mostly we decided we’d end up dead or badly broken. The view was great from the top, a clear view of all the mountains and the villages below.

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We had a turn on the ball ramps in the forest. They were fantastic fun! We rolled these wooded balls down all these ramps and made our own ramps as well. Daniel has a blog about the ramp he made, Amy and I did a simpler one but it worked just as well and was a lot of fun.

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One day we went into Innsbruck to look around. It was a nice town, with a fun bell museum! Yes, we learnt all about how bells are made. We even got to stand inside a large upturned bell and feel the vibrations through our feet when it was hit.

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I found it fascinating that in the past there actually a law that stated a conquering army had rights to the cities bells. They would melt them down to make cannons. The kids weren’t quite so interested in the history of the bells during the war years (bells were banned during the second world war), but they loved banging them in the sound room.

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Peter attempted to show them how to tell what pitch a bell has, but they seemed more interested in putting their fingers in the water inside an upturned bell and feeling the vibrations.

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Oh well, at least they get that sound is a vibration. There are a lot of bells in Austria, the one in our village rings once at quarter past, twice at half past, three times at quarter to, then four times on the hour, and after a pause the same number of rings as is the hour. That’s a lot of rings at 6.00 in the morning!

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Also in Innsbruck we discovered a great Swarovski showroom.

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My parents use to collect Swarovski crystal when I was growing up so it was kind of special for me to see all the different designs on display, but best of all was the jewellery! For some reason that morning I’d made a joke that it was my birthday that day (it isn’t till December) so Peter joked he’d buy me a birthday present – and he did! I loved the necklace and bracelet he bought for me – something to remember my Europe trip by!

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The kids bought themselves some woollen hats at a souvenir shop in the old town, you’ll notice them in all their photos from now on because they don’t seem to come off their heads.

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We also found a McCafe at Innsbruck – finally a country with a McCafe! No muffin and coffee deal though, so not quite up to NZ standards (made us think about those Sunday afternoons of visiting McCafe after being to the library. The kids have their drink and read their books while we have our coffee and cake…sigh, feeling a little homesick..better move on..)

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They sure know how to decorate their buildings in Austria

Talking about coffee and cake, we did manage to find a great bakery the next day at a village call Hall, not far from where we were staying. The coffee was the best we’ve had, and the doughnuts and pastries were pretty good too!

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I really wanted to come back another day, but we ran out of time. We saw a wedding in Hall, where the bridal party was being transported by bus. It looked like a lot of fun and added to our festive mood.

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Great place, Tulfes! We told Hansjörg and Margreth we’ll be back to learn how to ski…I hope we will!

(Week 33B: Tuesday, 2 October 2012 – Saturday, 6 October 2012)