SIGHTS in Innsbruck:
There's a whole lot of history here: Herzog Sigmund extended the grounds, Maximilian enlarged it once again, archduke Ferdinand II brought the renaissance to the castle, empress Maria Theresia built a baroque castle out of it and the crown prince Ludwig brough in bavarian furniture, which disappeared quickly again after Napoleon's defeat. Then everything was redesigned in rococo style and Sissi was even there! A visit to the Hofburg is a must for those who want to know the whole story. It is clear that you won't make your way out of here too quickly: as it takes a lot of time to cross the giant hall alone. Sporty types might even make their way to the Audienzsaal (audience chamber), the Kapitelzimmer (chapter room), Sissi's study and emperor Franz Joseph's bedroom. Once you've made it that far, we recommend that you take a break for cake at Café Sacher. You can even rent parts of the emperor's apartments for stylish occasions. It's not cheap, however, the grand rococo ambience overseen by ceiling frescoes comes at a price of ?3000 a day.
Is it a safe harbour or a stormy lake? This harbour can be anythin, but most of all a true work of art, in which many like to drop by. What was once the stomping grounds of Tyrol's autonomists is now the biggest convention centre in Innsbruck for all kinds of commerical purposes. There are exhibitions by the local advertisement school, country festivals and school parties along with death-metal events, classical rock concerts and goa dance events. It's all here at the Hafen: every creature is sure to find their little pleasure at one point in time, whether it's snowboarding films, presentations about buddhism or gangster rap. In need of a party guide? We can recommend the 'Forever Young' event, which offers people 30 years of age and over a boisterous event with others of the same age. Those who go home early are really missing out on something, as the Hafen is located directly on the Inn river and is treasured for it's idyllic early morning views.
The tourists pile into the old town and insiders make their way to the Viaduktbögen (viaduct arches). Whether it's mopeds, pots, tattoos or a wellness session you are after, it's all here and there's beer to boot. Whilst the trains are rattling overhead, the guests are drinking down below. Under the viaduct arches along the Ing.-Etzel Strasse there's a host of bars for all tastes. The Bögen (arches), as the pubs are simply called often remain open until the wee hours of the morning, which is why they are so treasure by local party-goers who expect nothing less than good beer, great cocktails and long nights on the dance floor. And for the ladies that don't want to venture home alone can call the 'Frauentaxi', which will take you home and wait until you switch the lights on. Trips cost only ?4.70 and operate within the city limits between 9am and 2am. Simply call 1711.
STAY in Innsbruck:
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.
So we've finally got proof: size does count! The Austria Trend Hotel ignores the usual lack of space experienced in most hotels and grants it guests a lot of elbow room to unfurl themselves. This hotel hasn't let itself be intimidated by the surrounding mountains - big business takes place here, which calls for a lot of room. There are no less than three conference and two meeting rooms, along with the 104 double rooms, two suites and a luxurious wellness area spread over 260sqm. And guests find themselves right in the middle of town. That means you are only five minutes away from the city centre, the conference centre, the Hofburg and Landestheater. Those who don't have any time for the culutral pleasures Innsbruck has to offer, should at least let themselves indulge in the culinary delights in the hotel restaurant. The menu sports both nouvelle cuisine and the tried and true Tyrolean cuisine. There's free space for work, free space for the palate and also free space for the soul. The Austria Hotel doesn't constrict anybody, but rather creates a great sense of space in the valley and turns its back to claustrophobia. Double rooms are available from ?114 per night.
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.
EAT in Innsbruck:
It's a situation we are all too familiar with: You've been out for the entire night, you've danced your feet off and you're mega hungry. Most doors close at midnight on the dot in a town like Innsbruck - meaning you've got little chance of finding a late-night snack or an early breakfast. But we are here to save the day. When you come out of the club with a hole in your stomach at 5am, then drop on by at Café-Bistro Tyrolis. From 5.30am onwards, they serve a killer farmer's breakfast, after which you will no doubt have to lie down anyway. If that's too much for you then you can always enjoy a champagne breakfast with salmon. The Tyrolis is there for those times where 'so late already?' and 'way too early' start to blend and feeds partied-out night owls and senile bed escapees. There's also an excellent midday menu and fantastic desserts to die for.
Always being served can become boring. Not to mention the eternal waiting! But for the control freaks amongst us, there is always the Teppan Wok. Here you know exactly what lands on your plate, because you put it on there yourself. And those who opt for the vast buffet can choose from either meat, fish or vegetables. Or all of them together. Afterwards, take it to the chef and watch as he fries it up and tops it off with a few sauces. It is so easy to get exactly what you want here and you don't have to wait around for slow service. The only question left remaining is whether everything that you put on your plate actually fit together. Those who doubt their ability to put together a winning dish should opt for the tried and tested fried chinese delicacies or simply go straight to the sushi bar. And then take a seat: the Teppan Wok offers a great ambience blends Japanese purism with the florid chinese style and modern comfort.
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.
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.
When the boys are off to the Börse, the girls flock together at Cheeky Monkey. All the hot snow and surf brands are here, just with more curvaceous cuts. Brands like Alprausch, Zimtstern and Billabong are guaranteed to make the girls look great, whether they're surfing, snowboarding or skating. You will even find the right shoewear in Cheeky Monkey. DC and Nike will lend you the sporty look, although expect to have a heavy wallet or credit card at hand! Late again, missed the household curfew? Before your parents get really angry, a Nixon watch will ensure that little miss is always home on time. And get there ahead of time with the Paul Frank Cruiser. The city bike with it's 'I love my bike' bell is an absolute must for all Paul Frank fans. Sound like monkey business? Nope, just cool fashion for sporty trendsetters!
So the words Ninja Tunes and Slow Cosmic Disco don't mean anything to you? Then you should take a look around in the Soundstation Record Store, where they serve everything that comes stamped on black gold - yes, vinyl records. The store isn't that big, but the ?1 bargain box is worth the trip alone. Here you will find the right tune for the right price. Those who are willing to dish out a little more should entrust the specialists; Klaus, the electro-junkie is behind the counter on Wednesdays and Fridays, Albi is there for all your hip hop, reggae and break beat requests on Mondays and Saturdays, on Tuesdays Stefan is your man for all things afro & cosmic and Gregor is the guy in the know for drum'n'bass music. Along with the professional advice, there's a couple of CDs available and some equipment for DJs of all levels, not to forget snazzy Pioneer cases for the trip between the bedroom and the nightclub.