Start: Brenner, Italy
Finish: Innsbruck, Austria
Today was a milestone day in several respects. First, today marked the halfway point based on walking days for this walk across Europe. Likewise, I have reached the halfway point in miles as well. And finally, immediately upon beginning today’s walk in Brenner, Italy, I passed the Italy-Austria border and now have both Greece and Italy behind me.
The day began with a 4:45 AM wake up this morning so I could catch the 5:52 train back to Brenner where I stopped walking yesterday. I needed to get started early to try and beat the rain that was suppose to begin around lunchtime in Innsbruck. After a quick stop in the train station for some breakfast to go, I was on the train headed uphill to the Italian border. When the train got to Brenner at 6:30, it was in the upper 30s and foggy. Brenner sits 3200 feet higher in elevation than Innsbruck so the cold wasn’t surprising. It’s a very small railroad town and is at the top of Brenner pass in the Alps. I started walking out of town and before I reached the city limit, I was in Austria. There was not a sign but I could clearly recognize the building that once was the border checkpoint, which is now a pink outdoor clothing store.
Upon leaving Brenner I immediately started descending. I never saw the bike trail all day so I walked the same state highway that I’ve been on ever since I left Verona 10 days ago. Again, there was no shoulder but at 6:30 in the morning the traffic was almost nonexistent. That would change soon enough. So for the first hour I had the road pretty much to myself. The downgrade was fairly steep and the road was somewhat crooked. As I got lower in elevation, the fog dissipated and the sun came out. Also the temperature rose quickly as I went down the mountain.
At around 10:00 I reached the village of Steinach am Brenner. Like many of these villages, it has one Main Street, which happens to be the road into and out of town. As I walked into town, formed up in a parking lot was a marching band and what appeared to be the local militia, complete with rifles. They were dressed in their finest uniforms and as I passed, the troop commander called the militia to attention, the drum major blew his whistle, and right there, a parade began right down Main Street. I walked along the sidewalk beside them until they got to city hall where the local dignitaries were waiting for a ceremony to began once the troops and band arrived. I saw a local gentleman standing nearby and asked him if it was a holiday. He said “YA.” I asked what the holiday was celebrating but he didn’t understand my question. However, the fact that today was a holiday in Austria began to help explain the crazy traffic that I started to encounter on my walking route. By mid-morning I believe half the people in Innsbruck had left town, got on their motorcycles, and headed to higher elevation on this twisting, narrow road I was on. There were literally hundreds; maybe thousands of motorcycles, most riding in packs of 10 to 15, going up the mountain I was coming down. And these folks drive very aggressively, passing cars on curves, etc. I just kept an eye out and stayed out of their way.
So by about 1:00 I was on the edge of Innsbruck, looking down on the city from above, and luckily no rain in sight. I got to the hotel at 1:45, having walked 23 miles and lost 3200 feet of elevation in 7 hours, 15 minutes, without a break. My shins and feet were shot. As I mentioned earlier in this walk, it’s tough walking downhill. It puts strain on your feet and legs that’s unnatural. Give me level terrain or a little upslope any day. You can keep the downhill stuff.
As I mentioned before, today I walked across the border into Austria. It took 57 day to walk almost the full length of Italy, from Brindisi to Brenner. That’s 873 miles and if you throw out the four days off for rest, that’s averaging about 16.5 miles/day. I can’t say enough good things about Italy. The scenery, the food, the people; it was all just amazing. So now I’m in Austria, but not for long. Austria is so narrow along my route that I’ll be into Germany by this Sunday or Monday.
But for now, it’s time for one or two days off. Because I combined the last three walking days getting to Innsbruck into only two, I’m a day ahead. I’m definitely taking Friday off to recover from the last 10 days. If the weather is nice Saturday, I’ll just save the extra day off and use it on down the road. That’s all for now. Now it’s raining outside and I’m dry!!! Life is good and I am blessed. Have a great day.
P.S. I posted two new videos today. See them on YouTube or select the video tab on my website.