We arose at 5 o’clock, as we had ordered “our gondelier” for 6:30 and, after a good breakfast and a very affectionate farewell from our host, we departed with regret. We found a good home at Rev. Conte’s, and he and his wife and four daughters certainly understood how to make strangers feel at home.
We had no difficulty with our gondolier, he took us by way of the Grand Canal and through many small ones to the depot, and we had an opportunity to look once more at the old palaces and churches, which we passed on our way. At 8 o’clock, our train started and, at about ten, we arrived at Verona, where we changed cars without difficulty. We now became aware of the fact that this is the route for the German Tourist, for all around us we heard nothing but German, and it certainly sounded good to us to hear the RR officials address us in German.
At Ala [sic], a custom house officer passed through asking whether we had anything to pay duty on and, upon our saying no, he passed right on without looking at any of our suitcases.
We passed through Trent, an old town founded by the Etruscans and, once upon a time, the wealthiest town in Tyrol. From here we passed through some very picturesque scenes. At Salurn, our attention was called to an old Burg situated above the little city on an apparently inaccessible pinnacle.
We enjoyed our lunch, and as we passed along we were treated to fresh surprises at every turn of the road. At Botzen 87 steer [sic], we entered what is known as the Brenner Pass, the lowest pass over the Alps (5,000 feet above sea level) and one of the oldest Alpine Routes, once used by the Romans and rendered practicable for wagons in 1772. The RR opened in 1867 and is one of the grandest works of its kind. It has 30 tunnels and 60 bridges.
We ought to have stopped at Betzern for a few days, as we have been assured since we are here, by fellow travelers, that it is still grander than Innsbruck. We now passed many old and new Burgs and an old Benedictine Nunnery (235 feet) high on the cliffs, once upon a time (in 1685) a baronial castle. We passed through a narrow defile, called the Sachsen Klemme, where the Saxon Troops under the French General Lefebore were defeated by the Tyrolese in 1809.
At Stertzing we saw a genuine Tyrolean town with picturesque old buildings, arcades, balconies and turrets along the back of a swift mountain stream. The grand old snow covered mountain, some 1,000 feet high and more, seemed quite close to us, and, in some places, we could have played snow ball if our train had stopped long enough.
At one place, we ascended on the north slope of a mountain by a curved tunnel 840 yards long and gradually rising some 600 feet, we emerged in an opposite direction and could see the track which we had passed and the town of Gossensass far below us. We had by this time crept up to a height of 4500 feet and, at Brenner, which is the watershed between the Black Sea and the Adriatic, we saw at the RR station a Memorial to K.V. Etzel, the builder of the Brenner RR.
Not far from this station we passed a lake of deep green color and, after this, we felt that we were descending, passing through many tunnels, and we could several times see the mouth of the tunnel above us out of which we had just come. The Muhlbach Tunnel, 2900 feet long, having been passed, we emerged into a beautiful valley with a brawling river far below us.
At about 8:30 p.m., we reached Innsbruck and found the hotel carriage waiting for us at the depot. This town, 1880 feet above the sea line, is the capital of Tyrol and has about 4500 inhabitants. It is charmingly situated on the Inn [river] and is said to be the most picturesque town among the German Alps. In every direction the eye is set by striking groups of bold and fissured limestone mountains towering above the cultivated slopes of the valley.
We had a delightful ride through the old town and, gradually climbing up the mountain, we reached our hotel, which is certainly one of the prettiest spots I have ever been in. While writing this in our room (with a fire in the tiling covered stove), I look out upon the hotel garden with its fruit trees in full bloom and the grass in its virgin green, the Inn about 50 feet below us, the city with its church steeples, the cultivated mountain slopes beyond it, and the tree-covered mountain with their peaks of snow. We wonder that the Tyroler likes his country. An excellent supper with a pot full of good tea (extra) and to bed in good time.