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.
It's the light at the end of the tunnel: those who take a seat here will be sated, but you could never get enough of the panorama views. The upper floor of the city hall galleries has a unique position that boasts an unbelievable view of the city, the mountains and almost the entire region of Tyrol, as it appears. It may be easy to look past your plate, but don't look too far as what is served on plates here is truly a feast for the eyes. You can expect artfully arranged buffalo mozzarella, colourful baby leaf salads and carefully decorated tomato tagliatelle. It's all mouth-watering stuff that harmonises with the view. The farmer's dumplings won 14 points whilst being tested and were one of the many reasons why this restaurant has a 'Haube' - Austria's equivalent of the Michelin Star. The noble wines from Austria and Italy put the icing on the cake, but aren't the only sources of shining light to be seen in the 360°wine bar.
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.
You will find cable cars in Tyrol like sand at the beach, the the 'Hungerburgbahn' is unique: it will take you from the Innsbruck city centre directly to the city's most beautiful lookout-point. The star architect Zaha Hadid has cast her spell yet again and shown us who's the boss. The Hungerbergbahn stations are as cool as ice and are so futuristic that they look like they're going to take off. The cable car will comfortably carry you up to the top of the Hungerburg and at 850m the air is clear, the view is captivating and the architecture shows no restraints. And were not just talking about Zaha Hadid's work - the 3000m high mountains behind Innsbruck remind us that nature commands the most beautiful design. By the way, it's called Hungerburg because there used to be a snack-bar up here that was meagerly stocked. Today you will be sated by the panorama views alone.
Schloss Ambras has everything that you would expect to find in a museum: portraits, suits of armour, godly sculptures and... a shark! Archduke Ferdinand is the one to thank for the museum's extensive and somewhat bizarre collection. Next to pieces of armour, there's also lifesize artworks by Tizian, chapel treasures and the duke's own chest of goodies: little gems such as money boxes, centrepieces, stationery and a shark that hangs from the ceiling. And those who aren't yet surprised may like to know that next to the shark is a portrait of a human being covered in hair. And he was no fictional character: the scraggly contemporary was a favoured piece of research for doctors in the 16th century. Those who cry out something blasphemous when viewing the haired beast should confess their sins in the St. Nikolaus chapel, You can still celebrate a christening, partake in mass or light a candle for the hairy one in the museum for letters of indulgences and Augsburger church silver .
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.
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!
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.
STAY in Innsbruck:
Alp Art Hotel
The central station in Innsbruck is around ten kilometres away from the sun plateau in Götzens. The sun is shining in this area almost unconditionally; hence you don't even want to go inside the hotel. But the interior is as bright and welcoming with lots of warm wood and a cosy and elegant ambience. Contemporary art hanging at the right spots prevent the place from becoming too rustic. The perfect mixture are the superior double bedrooms equipped with design baths, glassed balconies and whirlpool. In this way you can marvel at the mountain setting for hours while sitting in the hot water. In the kitchen they cook traditionally but think modern and only use high quality ingredients that are locally grown. Especially recommendable to satisfy your thirst: the in-house bar and art lounge Binis.
The basic hotel is very modest: the website touts things that the hotel simply cannot offer. The modesty is however not necessary, as the central location is worth the trip alone. Of course there are other hotels that share the same central location, but the Basic Hotel sets itself apart with its modern design and unbeatable price. Whereas other hotels boast with their minimalism, which in turns leads to horrendous prices, the Basic Hotel remains very matter of fact. It is self-assured and doesn't ask much for the rest. And it still has a lot to offer - wireless internet, flatscreen TVs, comfortable beds coupled with warm, rich colours. This neat little package is sure to answer the wishes of every business client and backpacker that wants to treat themselves to a night of comfort. However you will not find a star restaurant at the Basic. The continental breakfast from Stefan's bakery does however covers all bases, there's pasta for lunch and even prosecco with proscuitto in the evening. The Basic Hotel apologises for the abscence of super-plush beds, mini-bars and expansive baths. But does anybody really need all that? The Basic Hotel has more charm in its little palm than the larger hotels with their jewellery-laden hands. And the price is quite acceptable: from ?80 per night.
So what is romantic? A walk along the beach for many. For others it's the tale of Romeo and Juliet. For the Japanese it is Sissi and Franzl. But for the couples staying at the romantic hotel Schwarzer Adler, the Swarovski crystals really get the sparks flying. It's not just the bride that is radiating here, but also the bathroom. It is a world of crystals. The precious stones laid into the black tiles twinkle in the light, and the crystals next to the basin glitter and the double-headed eagle laid into the flooring shines in brilliance. Whatever you didn't see in the Swarovski World of Crystals is sure to be seen here in this crystal dream. There's also a whirlpool grotto and massage shower too. Those who can't really warm up to Swarovski could however get in the right mood with Versace. The Versace Deluxe Suite attracts it's guests with piano black and gold, with a fitting bathroom decked out in red lava rock. And the Empress Maria Theresia Suite has it all: Sissi plus versace and Swarovski. Those who are a bit overwhelmed by so much romance didn't understand the film. Double rooms can be yours from ?150 per night.