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clearer sound. Like most Innsbruck natives – especially because her Innsbruck roots go back 300 years – she is enthusiastic about the city: its history as a centre of European culture during the Hapsburg Dynasty; the mountains she’s hiked and skied since she was three; and, of course, her flock of children and grandchildren. “I’ve been married for 52 years and my husband has never seen me sick,” she boasted. “It’s because I always hike and bike and ski. That’s what you do in Innsbruck. It keeps us healthy.”
A traditional Tyrolean band entertains diners at a hilltop café above Innsbruck.
9 Day West Coast to California Tour Photos: Bob Cooper
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Our companion the next day in the Stubai region, Michael Grstrein, was younger and taller, but just as energetic. He first took us on an 8km hike in the foothills, a one-percent glimpse of the 800km of trails that lace the Stubai region. Public access is allowed in all forests, even on private land. The trails are a mix of dirt, gravel and grass trails, lined by thistles and berry bushes, through meadows and groves of long-needled larch trees, and past wildflowers and hay-drying huts. Cows wandered freely across the path, their clanging cowbells offering auditory amusement, but more practically, allowing their owners to easily locate them. A hawk reconnoitered overhead. The trail ended at Serles Mountain, where a traditional Tyrolean band (trumpets, trombone, tuba, accordion and harp) entertained a jovial crowd of mountaintop café visitors. We feasted on nuddelsuppe and the national dessert, apple strudel.
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