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.
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.
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.
STAY in Innsbruck:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
It's a situation we are all too familiar with: You've been out for the entire night, you've danced your feet off and you're mega hungry. Most doors close at midnight on the dot in a town like Innsbruck - meaning you've got little chance of finding a late-night snack or an early breakfast. But we are here to save the day. When you come out of the club with a hole in your stomach at 5am, then drop on by at Café-Bistro Tyrolis. From 5.30am onwards, they serve a killer farmer's breakfast, after which you will no doubt have to lie down anyway. If that's too much for you then you can always enjoy a champagne breakfast with salmon. The Tyrolis is there for those times where 'so late already?' and 'way too early' start to blend and feeds partied-out night owls and senile bed escapees. There's also an excellent midday menu and fantastic desserts to die for.
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.
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.
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.