SIGHTS in Innsbruck:
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 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.
EAT in Innsbruck:
When you think about Sacher cakes, then you're likely to think about Sissy, Austrian emperors and K&K moustaches. You are less likely to associate the mountains and Tyroler hats with Sacher, but it doesn't matter : the offerings at the Sacher in Innsbruck are just as good as what you will find in Vienna. That's probably because everybody endeavours to offer the orignal Sacher experience: In classic ambience, classically dressed waitresses serve the original Sacher sausage with original Sacher mustard or Eduard Sachers patented Tafelspitz (sour boiled rump), salonbeuschel and Wiener Backhendl (roast chicken). You are often seated at heavy marble tables that are too small for a roast chicken and just about always have a wobbly leg, even if you tried propping it up with numerous beer coasters. But a great alternative is the restaurant garden in the inner courtyard, where you can enjoy your Melange in peace, with a slice of Wiener Sachertorte (cake).
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.
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.
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.
Innsbruck isn't exactly the design centre of the world. In Tyrol, traditions are more important than the trappings. Those who are looking for that big city flair are really at the wrong address here. But the BinderS hotel attempts to change that. The art hotel has set a new accent in old Innsbruck and makes quite a splash with its 15 different designs. The Sleep Colour room contains twelve colours, the Sleep Loft provides an urban feeling with its water bed and bright, expansive rooms, not to mention the bathroom that simply screams lifestyle. As an added extra, the Smart car fleet provides those without a car the opportunity to explore every nook and cranny of the city with the perfect city explorer on four wheels. And after an exhausting day in the mountains you can permit yourself a beer or even a schnaps in the hotel bar. No need to do this on an empty stomach however: although BinderS doesn't offer a three course meal, the snacks on offer are enough to keep you on the safe side of tipsy. Double rooms are available from ?78 per person.
Many of the traditional hotels have some sort of colour in their name. Attentive ones may have noticed the Schwarzen Adler (Black Eagle), the Grauen Bär (Grey Bear) and the Weisse Kreuz (White Cross). But now theres the undisputed queen of all colours - the Goldenen Krone (Golden Crown). But it's not just the name that distinguishes this hotel, but also its location - right in the middle of Innsbruck's shopping strip. Don't want to carry your shopping bags halfway through the city? Just drop them off at the hotel! And the rooms are big enough for it. We recommend the family room, even if you don't have any children. The bay window alone has enough room a few pairs of traditional Tracht outfits and loden hats. If that's not enough, you can always spread your findings across the couch and the table. If you have blown your credit limit, then you can still go and blow a notch on your belt at the hotel restaurant. Double rooms are available from ?118 a night.
SHOPPING in Innsbruck:
Those who have already worn a Dirndl know that you can't just simply slip yourself in. If you've got enough time, you should definitely drop by the Tiroler Heimatwerk for a test fitting. Firstly there's a part that comes underneath, then a part over the top, which has to be fixed at the back, buttoned-up at the front and then all bound together. It seems that back in the day, people simply had a whole lot more time on their hands. What is more, the cleavage has to fit right, otherwise you can forget it. Those who still want to give it a try should drop by at the Tiroler Heimatwerk, where the selection is so great and the cuts are so varied that you are guaranteed to find something that fits just right. The Heimatwerk stays true to tradition, without ignoring the modern. Designer tracht has recently become quite fashionable amongst celebrities; in politics, sport and the media. And justifiably so, the suits and lederhosen may look a bit out of place in everyday life, but the knitted hats and jackets look quite smart at almost any party, without being too inconspicuous. The handmade glasses, tee-mixes and wooden bowls on offer also contribute to today's sense of fashionable living.
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.
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.