SIGHTS in Innsbruck:
World of Crystals
It may not be in the centre of Innsbruck, but all jewellery lovers should make the trip to Wattens: the Swarovski 'Kristallwelten' is a glittering world of its own. Those who have looked into the eye of the green giant that enchants visitors with its waterfall aren't likely to make a quick exit. The world of crystals is a kaleidoskope for the senses, an underground chest of treasures full of colours, light and magic. Have you ever asked yourself what it's like to look out from the inside of a crystal? Then you will be at home in the crystal cathedral: 590 mirrors disperse light and convey the feeeling that you are standing in the middle of a piece of jewellery. There are thousands of crystals hanging from the branches of a polished steel tree: boontje's artistic work accomplishes a fairytale-like winterland beautiful enough to make every christmas tree jealous. The world's biggest kaleidoskope and crystal theatre round off the world of crystals and bring us to the most crucial attraction: the biggest swarovski shop in the world. A small tip: keep a firm grip on your credit card, as you will struggle to resist the temptation brought on by the glittering and twinkling wonders around you.
It will be a park for eternity: The Hofgarten already has 600 years behind it. But where Sissi once went for a stroll, club-goers now dance around the clock. It's seen the renaissance and saw the baroque period come and go, rulers have reigned and stollers have gotten lost. Regardless of what this place has seen: strollers from all around the world come to explore the biggest parkland of all time. The pavilion was built in 1733 and some plants were personally planted by Maria Theresia herself. The tropical house was built in the '60s and boasts 1,700 plant species for visitors to explore, as well as changing exhibitions. So eveything in the Hofgarten must be antiquated, right? No way! In the evenings there's a round-the-world trip rather than a travel through time: when the turntables light up on Thursday nights, hits from Jamaica, Paris, Rio and L.A. pump the speakers and the trendy audience set the dancefloor on fire. If Sissi would've known... But perhaps the dignified restaurant might've appeal to her even more. Those who take a seat are treated with local specialties such as excellent beef broth and farmer's cheese dumplings. But it doesn't matter which scene you belong to , or if you are only interested in the culinary delights, the Hofgarten is worth the trip.
Those that want to get up there in Innsbruck don't always have to climb up to the mountain tops. The city tower will get you there too. The story behind it is just as considerable as the number of steps up here: since 1442, the tower has been ised as a watch tower, a fire department tower, a clock tower and even a prison. These days visitors come here on their own free will to enjoy the uninterrupted views of Innsbruck. It is even better to come here in the middle of summer and pant your way all the way up the 148 steps as temperatures inside the tower are much lower than those outside. And when you make your way to the top you can look out for enemies and fires, just like in the old days. You are also sure to see the onion-domed tower, the huge clock towers, the old town and the mountains in the backdrop. Don't forget to leave your fear of heights at home!
EAT in Innsbruck:
This rustic inn is hidden right on the edge of the forest and is known for its unusual menu - the 'Eiterbeule' (pus-welt) isn't some kind of halloween joke, but a filled schnitzel. The other dishes are a bit more well-known: the Zigeunerschnitzel, Wiener Schnitzel and Naturschnitzel make up the rest of the breaded team, while Käsespätzle (cheese noodles) und Schweinsbraten (roast pig) finish off the regional specialities. For dessert there's only the beloved 'Schmarren' (sweet dishes with stripes of thin pancakes) of a few varieties. There's a real South-Tyrol specialty which you will only get in autumn - that's the 'Törggelemenü', which consists of bread and dripping, cheese noodles and cherry donuts followed by a much-needed apricot schnaps. The cottage was supposedly built in the 10th century by the Buzi brothers. Martin Sauerwein was here with his accordion at a much later date and even later still a duelling fraternity unceremoniously dubbed it 'Wallhall'. In 1959 the cottage was transformed into its current state: a beautiful destination for day-trippers with a great view of Innsbruck, a fitting portion of tradition enriched with Tyrolean hospitality.
The word Taminda derives from the Esperanto language and stands for Tamara Putz' high ecological and ethical values - in her ModeCafé she does not only serve coffee and healthy dishes but also fashion. In Taminda, Putz sells organic, regional and fair trade food as well as fashion to her clients. She shows limited trend pieces by national and international designers like Alexandra Jeller from Innsbruck or Rodriguez Gomez Gonzales from Columbia. Important prerequisite: the fashion is produced in the family business and made by hand. Concerning food, Taminda focusses on multiculture. On the menu, you find self-made specialties such as potato dumplings and turkey rissoles next to classics from the whole world (Jerusalem artichoke, humus crêpe). And fair trade coffee. All made of natural ingredients and in a well-balanced composition. Yin and Yang may be delighted.
Those who experience a watery mouth as soon as they hear the words 'Amuse Bouche' und 'Petits Fours' are either French or simply like to eat good food. You wouldn't expect to see this sort of food served in Innsbruck: instead of the customary bacon dumplings, Nicolas Curtil serves light and fine Nouvelle cuisine riddled with light provencial herbs and melted brie cheese. Fans of earthy cuisine may be a bit puzzled by the rosewater mousse. You might also be surprised by the karfoil and saffran on the menu. The celery fudge with dandeloins, artichokes, herb pesto and parsnip puree may also cause you to run for the exit. But every guest here has been entralled by the offerings here, even though exotic food has its price: the dinner deluxe costs no less than ?45. By the way, Nicolas decided to change his nutrition in 2010 and changed the menu to suit: instead of scallops and duck burgers all dishes are strictly vegetarian.
STAY in Innsbruck:
It is bucketing down in the Hotel Grauer Bär. The sky may be free of clouds outside, but it's about to pour down inside. And this is done for good reason: refreshing tub showers help stressed business people cool down after heated debates. The 300m large wellness area was made as a relaxing equaliser to stressful everyday life. You can get yourself all heated up in the Finnish sauna or the Turkish steam bath and cool down in the current pool or step out onto the terrace and enjoy the panoramic views of the mountainous backdrop. And if you still haven't found your inner self after that, douse your evening with a tub shower or a glass of bubbly in the Onyx Bar. The modern conference hotel also has other delights in store: like minds can come together in one of six conference rooms equipped with high-speed internet and the ski room is there to accomodate all your skiing gear in the winter months. And those who already feel cramped up after a long day in the city can prepare him or herself for the next seminar with a well-deserved massage. Double rooms are available from ?135 a night.
The Hotel Sailer is one of those typical Innsbruck hotels. It combines skillful tradition with comfort and enchants its guests with an extra dose of Tyrolean style. Those who haven't yet bought themselves a traditional Tyrolean hat will at least put one on here, simply to soak up the ambience even more. Or even a pipe, which fits like a glove in the farmer's parlour. Wooden stools, wooden tables and embroidered cushions are the perfect ingredients for a proper feast in the hotel restaurant. Austria's best wines are also on offer and as Italy isn't that far away, the hotel has expanded its wine list across the border. But they didn't stop there - you will also find wines from Chile, California and Australia. The rooms all strictly hold to the traditional Tyrolean style and when you want to completely switch off there's always the wellness area with its sauna, steam bath and magnificent view of the Tyrolean mountainscape. Double rooms can be yours from ?110 per person.
Markus Sorg combines the knowledge of Modern Mayr Medicine which emphasises the regeneration of the digestive system with the technique of Haute Cuisine. Of course detoxication through acrid salts are on the menu for the first two days, afterwards Sorg incorporates the knowledge of the great chefs into an eight-step nutritional protocol which is determined by the house's doctors individually for every guest. His credo: living healthily means eating healthily. Fasting with relish, so to speak. Precaution, nutrition and health are the pillars of the all-inclusive health concept of the house. The Modern Mayr Medicine which is applied at Parkhotel Igls especially gives priority to the regeneration of the digestive system - but without any radical diets. Early diagnoses through academic medicine aims at the causes of complaints which oftentimes loose their elicitors through a stabilisation of the digestive system and a dietary change. Speaking of healthy nutrition: organic and regionally grown ingredients, selected herbs and spices, pure spring water, herbal tea, vegetable stock, mineral water and the nature in the mountains support the lavation from inside at Parkhotel Igls.
SHOPPING in Innsbruck:
House of Tea
The Pearl of the Nile. The Star of Africa. Desert Flowers. Sound like kitschy novel titles? Precious stones? Or types of tea? In case you are asked on Who Wants to be a Millionaire, the last answer is correct. These types, and many others, such as Elbfeuer, Schlectwetterhexe, White Monkey and the entire palette of creative names for blends are available in the House of Tea & Coffee. It doesn't matter if it's herbs or fruits, black, green or white, Indian or Tyrolean, the House of Tea & Coffee has the right blend, the right kettle and even the right fasting teas for Ayurveda fans. The store also has heaps to offer on the caffeine side of things. Next to Attibassi and Mesta you will find Helmut Sacher along with Mocca and Wiener blends. Don't forget the Jamaica Blue Mountain. This place is so rich in coffee you will get lost in the roasted aromas. Those who don't quite understand the lure of the bean just yet are sure to be converted after visiting this store.
A new book smells good, it feels good and it accompanies you throughout your entire holiday. If you read through it too quickly, you should drop by the Wagner!sche bookstore. It has been around for over 300 years and is now a part of the Thalia bookstore chain. As a rule, Thalia bookstores offers bookworms throughout the country pretty much everything available in the printed world; crime thrillers, non-fiction, historical novels, classics and the latest hits as well as the well-received audio books. Thalia also boasts an extensive stationery section, with office and school supplies in great numbers. Devoted bookworms can burn through their new purchases in the store's café or sit in on one of the many readings that take place. You, see books aren't just sold in Wagner!sche, but they are also talked about, in the form of a literary quartet where the latest books and authors are skilfully opened and inspected.
Gleis 4 is the right store for everyone who likes to wear their pants low and wide. The sloppy streetwear look simply won't go out of fashion, and new brands are still coming out, offereing comfort in oversize trainers that wearers never really train in, but simply wear to look cool in. One of the latest brands is the house brand, Gleis 4, with so many casual shirts, wide jackets and caps that it is setting itself up as the big daddy of the scene. Their range spreads so wide, that there are even a few cool top for chicks, too. The first Gleis 4 shop opened in Bregenz, but the Innsbruck branch can hold its head high - with it's tunneled walls, it boasts the biggest 59fifty wall in Austria and features heaps of gear imported from the US. So come here and wear it wide with pride, baby.