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.
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.
If you don't travel to Innsbruck in the middle of summer, you might risk frozen toes and icy credit cards. Thank god for the Rathausgalerien (city hall gallery). Here you can carry out your favourite hobby without shivering teeth. Plus you can really let your credit card glow in the exclusive boutique stores. Let yourself defrost here and you won't be leaving quickly. If you don't get stuck in Hugo Boss, Calzedonia or Mango, then it'll probably be in either Gant, Jones or Lacoste. And if you are still freezing, then the sporting fashion at North Face will help you bear the cold. Time for a break after so much shopping? There are great gastronomical pleasures to be found here as well. Lichtblick have a great gourmet menu, fine traditional fare at Gössers or Indonesian curry noodles at Thai-Li-Ba. With so many international offerings, it's so hard to choose. To top off a successful day, stop off at La Habana for a cuban cigar, where you can also soak up the cuban tunes and enjoy a well-deserved cocktail.
SIGHTS in Innsbruck:
The devil is awaiting you at the Volkskunstmuseum (folk art musuem). He's standing at the entrance and he greets all who dare with uncomfortable questions about their existence and attestation, art and handwork. Inside the devil is also to be seen in detail: the Volkskunstmuseum enchants its visitors with an affectionately amassed collection that puts the Tyroler tradition on display for all. Dusty and crummy? No way! Thanks to projection tricks, you will be placed right in the middle of the holy scene with Josef, Maria and little Jesus. 'Das pralle Jahr' room sheds light on Tyrolean traditions and 'Das prekäre Leben' exhibits feats of magic and superstitions, whilst 'Sein und Schein' deals with traditional Tyrolean 'Trachten' fashion which hasn't been in since 1900, but is still worn by city folk. The studied collection is the most traditional 'museum' section, which comprehensively displays everything to do with living and working back in the day. The exploration of the typical Tyrolean farming way of life throughout the gothic, renaissance and baroque periods is rounded up with audiologues which give explanation to objects and breathe life into the history on display.
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.
Seeing the sense of hearing at the Audioversum in Innsbruck. In the room of bone conduction the visitors discover how hearing-impaired people sense sounds in their heads through their bones. Over-sized headphones elucidate what noise pollution feels like. The Kritzelfon surprises the kids: they can hear their drawings. Apart from the Kritzelfon also the Soundlab is the playground of the young. Here they can experiment with sounds on tablets. And if you happen to be angry or if you want to know how voluminous your voice is you can head to the Scream Room. 1,000 square metres cover the different stations of the Audioversum. Initiators of this unusual museum which is close to Innsbruck's central station are Ingeborg Hochmair and Erwin Hochmair, director and researcher of Medical Electronics. MED-EL is a globally acting company for hearing implant systems.
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.
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 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.
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.
Once upon a time the Seegruben gondola brought skiers to the snowy slopes of the Tyroler mountain world. Nowadays she has found rest on a terrace. So what happened? Simple really. The disposed gondola was purchased by the Schwarzer Adler and promptly turned into a Tyrolean séparée. Now guests can cruise in style on the restaurant's rooftop-terrace and hold a summit meeting in a dignified space. As creative and comfortable as it is, the eyrie costs ?50 per half-day, which can be dropped once racked up a large enough bill. This is no large feat, considering the menu on offer: exclusively fresh local produce and Tyroler specialties quickly turn into a feast and will push your belt to the limits. For those who find the gondola a bit too draughty can always find respite in one of the parlours. The wood used for the ceiling panelling in the Arquin parlour come from a cottage high up in Navistal and the pictures on the walls are painted by local artists. The Adler (eagle) parlour has been preserved in its orignal condition whilst the Jäger (hunter) parlour is fitted out with modern leather. And military soldiers from the nearby barracks used to drink in the Pfiff bar, which now plays host to Innsbrucks only vodka bar.