When the term “social distancing” began floating around, Innsbruckers were confused. We weren’t sure if it meant hiking, ski-touring, biking, or climbing. You see, “social distancing” is a whole mood for people in Innsbruck, it’s ingrained in the lifestyle. Most of us spend the whole week – every week! – fantasizing about what mountain or lake we can escape to for social distancing.
The government comically referenced the size of a baby elephant to keep a safe distance, but Innsbruckers prefer the distance of a climbing route. This is a great way to spend an entire day with someone while being by yourself.
If you’re getting too close to someone, they’ll turn around and let you know to give them more space.
Innsbruckers make it a point to be the first on the trails so they don’t see anyone ahead of them for the entire hike.
Some Innsbruckers even go on sunrise hikes to get their social distancing fix before being confined to an office all day.
A “great day on the slopes” has more to do with how few people were present than the actual snow conditions.
They even try to arrive at mountain huts before or after lunchtime so they can eat in peace. Some even bring their own picnic to completely avoid any possibility of social contact. The classic social distancing meal is a “Jause” that includes Tyrolean Grey Cheese and raw onions.
Ask an Innsbrucker to meet you in the old town at midday and you’ll get a crazy look in response. They cringe at the thought of zig-zagging through crowds between the Golden Roof and Annasäule. You’re ten times more likely to get a “Berg Heil” in passing than a “Griaß Di” face to face within the city.
Look at any Innsbrucker’s Instagram account and you’ll find vast landscapes with only themselves in the frame. The city only appears in their photos from a birds-eye view.
Waiting for the next chairlift or gondola so you can ride alone is a classic Innsbrucker move.
If you’re looking for a place to social distance. Innsbruck, it is! We’ve mastered the art of social distancing long ago.
All pictures: © Carlos Melgar