EAT in Innsbruck:
The great thing about small cities is that the public get together more and you often see a managing director at the bar with the local rastafari. All the big cities are full of little niches, which the people rarely come out of, but in Innsbruck the people come together. And that's how it is in Papa Jolly's, where families, business men and IT students from the Uni across the road all come together. And the furnishings are as coloured and varied as the clientele. The chairs are yellow, the walls are red, photos fill the walls and there's a plastic cow right in the middle. But from the outside there is no way of telling what lurks inside - the metal and glass fassade gives no hint to the quirky gem within. The menu is similarly colourful: pizza and chicken wings meet tzatiki and classics like schnitzel with fires or cheese noodles. From the entire culinary european tour we recommend Papa Jolly's breakfast. And those who have still got some space for dessert should go for the ice-cream pancakes.
The Tennisstüberl was a hit for all fans of the ball rally in the 80s. Nowadays, the parents have passed the ball on to their children. And rightly so, as the next generation have expanded the menu to include a great wine list that has blown the competition away. The other guests will tell you, the heady selection of wines from Austria, Italy, Spain and even Australia are on the ball. The manager is happy to answer all of your wine questions, as he is a trained Sommelier and really knows his stuff. That's why only the finest regional wines are on offer here: the Burkia brothers rely on the tried and tested mixed regionals and seasonals and serve down-to-earth, traditional dishes using fresh produce from local farmers. For example; there's pork medaillons, chicken filet and sour boiled rump. Pretty much everything what a gourmet would expect from a fine Austrian restaurant. But those who really want to get the ball rolling should order something from the house Knödelzyklus (dumpling cycle), as there is another dumpling classic on offer every wednesday. Whether you hit that perfect serve after a heavy tyrolean pumpling is however questionable. One tip: Stay where you are and instead of serving, strike at one of the delectable desserts on offer.
The wall is still standing in the Stiftskeller. But in contrast to our friends in Berlin, the Innsbrucker carefully maintain their wall, the old town wall. And guests dining in the Fischerstüberl (fisher's parlour) can admire it in all its glory. But the other rooms in the Stiftskeller also have great stories behind them; theres a fresco by Kölderer in the Rittersaal (knight's hall), the Maria-Theresia-Stube is named after the empress who built this establishment in the honour of her deceased husband and the wooden lamps in the Bürgerstube (commoner's parlour) are very old. Now that we've mentioned the empress, the Kaisersaal (emperor's parlour) has enough space for Sissi and all her servants and is often used for weddings. So what is there to eat? Schweinsbraten, Käsespätzle und Schnitzel have filled the royal guests with enthusiam throughout the ages. These long runners are sure to please today, and likely into the future. As the motto says, 'never change a winning plate'.
STAY in Innsbruck:
You can't really go wrong when you check into a Innsbruck hotel that features an animal in its name. Or a colour. Or even better, both of them together. The Adler (eagle) and Bär (bear) are particularly the most beloved in the Tyrolean hotel branch, but don't worry - you won't find any bears lurking around at the Schwarzen Bär, as the last grizzly in Tyrol was spotted in 2008 and everybody was on high alert. But let's get back to the animal names. Colours and animals often feature in the names of traditional Tyrolean parlours, hotels and restaurants. The Schwarzer Bär (Black Bear), with its ten rustic and supremely comfortable rooms, stays true to this concept. With amenities like LCD, W-LAN and safes, the hotel meets all the modern standards, yet the past is to be felt everywhere, for example in the kitchen, where traditional dishes are served in a cosy setting. Maybe it's the excellent wine, it could even be the unique ambience, but those who take a seat here won't be leaving their table too quickly. The upholstered benches are simply too comfortable, the food is great and the service is friendly. Shame that the old town is waiting just outside, along with the 'Goldene Dachl' and the mountains. Double rooms are available from ?95 per 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.
SIGHTS in Innsbruck:
Who would've guessed? It is dangerous, it looks great and in the end Austria is standing on the winnners' platform. That's right: ski-jumping at the Bergiselschanze. And this is how it goes - 50m up the tower, a 98m run-up and after the 120m trip through the air a successful landing. Or you could simply go 50m up the tower, enjoy the view and savour a piece of Apfelstrudel in the tower cafe overlooking the jump. The complex is another wonder from Zaha Hadid, which she crafted in 2001 and won the national architecture award for it in 2002. No wonder, the ski-jump represents the perfect combination of sport and architecture and boasts a great panoramic view worth the 455 steps to the top, which is not just for athletes to enjoy. Even the sport-adverse can take off here as there is also a lift that will take you up to the cafe. So just pretend: it's winter, you are sitting on the wooden bench, your feet are fixed to two skis and there is a sea of red-white-red flags below you.
The history of this church is full of contradictions: The emperor may have built the church, but he was never buried here and the bronze statues that were built for that very purpose are called 'Schwarzmander', of which a few are even women. But let's get back to the beginning: the emperor wanted 40 larger-than-life bronze statues for his tomb, but when he finally got them, he decided for something else. As he was on his deathbed he named Wiener Neustadt as his place of rest. The statues were too heavy for the chapel there, so they were left were they were, in the Innsbruck Hofkirche. So that the church was not left too empty, emperor Ferdinand II and Andreas Hofer with his comrades-in-arms were buried here. The emperor's tomb sans corpse is still worth a visit, with its marble reliefs and holy statues it is the biggest emperor's tomb in Europe. The bronzefigures are worth their own tour, as only the professionals know who is who.
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.
SHOPPING in Innsbruck:
It's time to hit the slopes - the most fun you will find in Tyrol in the colder months. But what if you don't have the necessary gear to make your way down the mountain? Before you head up the mountain, pay a visit to the Börse (stock market). They've got the stuff that powder dreams are made of. Völkl, Head, Salomon und Nitro all mean something to you? You will find all these great brands in the Börse. And for those that already have their slick boards will find Alpinestars, Billabong and Capp3L suits and jackets to cruise down the mountain in style. But the stocks are also high in summer, as downhill and BMX bikers will find the Börse as the perfect one-stop shop for all their two-wheeled desires. Another highlight is the mountain-bike rental service. If you don't want to bring it with you, then you can simply hire it out, that way you can make your way up the mountain for a sensible sum.
The Golden Path
It's all about the colour of gold in the old town. But don't go and blow your savings straight away! The products called "Schindeln vom Goldenen Dachl" or "Goldschindeln" (golden shindles) should not be taken literally when found at the Konditorei Mundig (Kiebachgasse 16) and the Konditorei Zimt & Zucker (Herzog-Friedrich-Gasse 9), as sweet nibblies lay beneath the golden beauty. If you are disappointed, then maybe Vinothek's Culinarium (Pfarrgasse 1) would be the place for you, where you can find wines, liquors, marmelades and the "Goldenes Dachl" sparkling wine, which contains golden leaves. Are you already inebriated? Then let's part ways with gold fever and go where it gleams in a much different way: at Speckschwemme (Stiftgasse 4), the fat of Tyrolean Speck (cured bacon) gleams in all it's glory and it's wonderous scent makes your mouth water. And since we are pretty much there, drop in at the Tiroler Wachszieher und Lebzelter (Pfarrgasse 3) for an equally crucial cornerstone of the Tyrolean culinary platter: the Lebkuchen. Now we've mapped it out for you, it's up to you to follow the golden path.
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.