SHOPPING in Innsbruck:
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!
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.
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.
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 sitzwohl didn't earn its name because its guests are so well seated, as the name would imply, but because one of the owners is called Irmgard Sitzwohl. Nonetheless, guests at this noble restaurant feel anything but unwell. Olive tones, dark wood features and tall windows create the right setting for a sophisticated culinary offering, which could only be described as mediterranean with an Austrian influence. The constantly evolving menu features such delights as mozzarella and rocket lettuce along with grilled chicken and beef broth. There is a bar which serves diverse dishes at lunch time for the hurried business people and comforting cocktails at the end of the day. And for those who can't wait around at all, the fine delicacies are also available for take-away at the Geislerei, so they can be enjoyed at the workdesk. And apropos Geislerei, it is named after the second boss, Elisabeth Geisler. All the dishes here are prepared with love, which often has a noticeable effect on the stressed work crowd who frequent this restaurant for a brief slice of heaven.
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.
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 Trolyeans love jumping. They jump at the 'Four Ski-Jump Tournament', they jump at the Air & Style event and they even jump at the Golden Roof Challenge. But at this event they don't have any board under their feet, but a pole in the hand: the best athletes in this pole vaulting competition are pitched against the golden roof. Those who make it up to the roof shingles is seen as a master. An American acheived the highest jump at 5.62m. An African by the name of Ignisious made 8.18m in the long jump and set the bar high for coming generations. And what is the prize? Winners in this event receive a golden shindle - not from the roof, but from the director Armin Margreiter. And as the theme is set by high ambitions, this year the slack lining expert Christian Waldner is coming into the programme. He will swagger on a rope between the city tower and the 'Katzung-Haus' at a height of 25m. Is it all a bit too high for you? Then sit down and have a listen to the musical offerings that are sure to increase the pulse and tone for the evening.
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.
STAY in Innsbruck:
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.
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.
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.