SIGHTS in Innsbruck:
Action! This international film festival in Innsbruck celebrates the smaller yet finer celluloid films and inspires its audience year after year with independent pieces from all over the world. But Austria's own film scene has gathered some more wind under its sails. It started with Haneke and reached its climax with Christopher Waltz, whose career is still on the up. So it's no wonder that film festivals in Austria are booming events: finally the alp country can celebrate Stefan Ruzowitzy's Oscar instead of mourning the loss of its former superstar Billy Wilder. In Innsbruck however, the Jury has concentrated on international films and has pulled in stories from around the world. In fact, only films from Latin America, Africa and Asia feature here. This year there are even a few films from North Korea, Brasil and Tajikistan. There are also plenty of short films, specials and panel discussion to round off the festival.
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.
The Alpenzoo is the highest situated Zoo in Europe. But don't worry - you won't need an oxygen mask here. Besides, you will find the snow grouse really cute. There's also a lynx, which you would rarely see anywhere else, that has made its home here. This zoo places special focus on animal species that are near extinction, like the fish-otter or the steinbock, which was once used by pharmacists as its blood and horns help against a number of illnesses. Thanks to modern medicine, you can see over 35,000 Steinbocks in the mountains, but those who aren't so lucky to spot them in the wild can simply sit in front of compound at the Alpenzoo. By the way, a walking tour through the park takes two hours. Those who are put off by the partly steep pathways will miss out: the wolves are a must see and the brown bear is worth the way up alone. There are over 2,000 animals to admire in the park, along with a terrarium, an aviary and a walk-through farmstead hosting endangered farm animals. This is a zoo with a difference that is well worth a visit.
EAT in Innsbruck:
The word Taminda derives from the Esperanto language and stands for Tamara Putz' high ecological and ethical values - in her ModeCafé she does not only serve coffee and healthy dishes but also fashion. In Taminda, Putz sells organic, regional and fair trade food as well as fashion to her clients. She shows limited trend pieces by national and international designers like Alexandra Jeller from Innsbruck or Rodriguez Gomez Gonzales from Columbia. Important prerequisite: the fashion is produced in the family business and made by hand. Concerning food, Taminda focusses on multiculture. On the menu, you find self-made specialties such as potato dumplings and turkey rissoles next to classics from the whole world (Jerusalem artichoke, humus crêpe). And fair trade coffee. All made of natural ingredients and in a well-balanced composition. Yin and Yang may be delighted.
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 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.
SHOPPING in Innsbruck:
Gleis 4 is the right store for everyone who likes to wear their pants low and wide. The sloppy streetwear look simply won't go out of fashion, and new brands are still coming out, offereing comfort in oversize trainers that wearers never really train in, but simply wear to look cool in. One of the latest brands is the house brand, Gleis 4, with so many casual shirts, wide jackets and caps that it is setting itself up as the big daddy of the scene. Their range spreads so wide, that there are even a few cool top for chicks, too. The first Gleis 4 shop opened in Bregenz, but the Innsbruck branch can hold its head high - with it's tunneled walls, it boasts the biggest 59fifty wall in Austria and features heaps of gear imported from the US. So come here and wear it wide with pride, baby.
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.
STAY in Innsbruck:
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.
The Grand Hotel Europa goes international and pairs Tyrolean parlour style with Italian design. The Europa suite was designed in the name of tradition, holds a very comfortable atmosphere and is completely made out of wood. Hundred-year old carvings and a corner bank around a traditional fireplace remind one of a rustic east Tyrolean farmer's room, but nobody has to go to work on the fields here. Room service and the shoeblack are here to relieve you of all the hard work. On the contrary to the Tyrolean style, the other rooms boast modern Italian style. Architect Botti went to town and impresses guests with warm colours, noble use of wood and marble stone. Those who drop in at the restaurant however, mustn't guess where they are at all. The Andreas Hofer and Max Weiler parlours again command the classic Tyrolean style. There's wood as far as the eye can see and an excellent 'Haube' honoured restaurant with a excellent international wine list to boot. And that is exactly what makes the Grand Hotel Europa what it is - the motto may scream international luxury, but scratch the surface and the Tyrolean traditions aren't hard to find. Don't forget the nostalgia that comes with it. Double rooms are available from ?149 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.