Bridge Trolls

We’re in the process of moving to Innsbruck, Austria, where my wife Ilenia found a job doing research at the university. It’s a beautiful city that’s not too big, and not too small, but unfortunately, “here be bridge trolls”.

To the south of town on the autobahn leading to the Italian border is what is apparently one of the highest bridges in Europe, although you wouldn’t really notice it going over it because it’s over so quickly. It’s not nearly so spectacular as the Golden Gate bridge, for instance.

However, the Austrians have created themselves a tidy little income by making people fork over 8 euros (11 dollars at today’s rates!) to cross the bridge. Each way. That turns out to be a lot of money if you want to drive down to Innsbruck and back to Italy the same day (there is also an autobahn fee of 7 euros that is good for 10 days).

Each time we go through the toll booth, I can’t help but think of the operator having crawled out from under the bridge to demand their gold.

Of further interest regarding the Austrian highway system, according to a friend here, one is required by law to carry a large amount of cash on the autobahn in order to pay fines immediately and in person, something that even in Italy would not be looked on favorably. I hope I didn’t offend my Austrian friend when I blurted out “oh, like in Mexico!” – it needed to be said, though.

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