SHOPPING in Innsbruck:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
Those who want to try out their luck should drop by the Casino Innsbruck. You can watch the ball at the roulette table, slip out a few aces out of your sleeves at the Poker table and shake hands with the one-armed bandits. See if the bank really always wins and go for broke in a game of Black Jack. There are also heaps of events which assist with the big wins; You can earn your 13th month's wage on the 13th of every month, ladies are spoilt with a free drink every wednesday on ladies' day and you can get a four-course meal together with a glass of champagne and complimentary playing chips for only ?57 when the 'Dinner & Casino' promotion is in effect. So you're scared of losing? Those who don't want to blow their holiday budget can simply relax in the dining lounge and watch they others win and lose. By the way, the men's dresscode asks for sports coats.
Schloss Ambras has everything that you would expect to find in a museum: portraits, suits of armour, godly sculptures and... a shark! Archduke Ferdinand is the one to thank for the museum's extensive and somewhat bizarre collection. Next to pieces of armour, there's also lifesize artworks by Tizian, chapel treasures and the duke's own chest of goodies: little gems such as money boxes, centrepieces, stationery and a shark that hangs from the ceiling. And those who aren't yet surprised may like to know that next to the shark is a portrait of a human being covered in hair. And he was no fictional character: the scraggly contemporary was a favoured piece of research for doctors in the 16th century. Those who cry out something blasphemous when viewing the haired beast should confess their sins in the St. Nikolaus chapel, You can still celebrate a christening, partake in mass or light a candle for the hairy one in the museum for letters of indulgences and Augsburger church silver .
EAT in Innsbruck:
This rustic inn is hidden right on the edge of the forest and is known for its unusual menu - the 'Eiterbeule' (pus-welt) isn't some kind of halloween joke, but a filled schnitzel. The other dishes are a bit more well-known: the Zigeunerschnitzel, Wiener Schnitzel and Naturschnitzel make up the rest of the breaded team, while Käsespätzle (cheese noodles) und Schweinsbraten (roast pig) finish off the regional specialities. For dessert there's only the beloved 'Schmarren' (sweet dishes with stripes of thin pancakes) of a few varieties. There's a real South-Tyrol specialty which you will only get in autumn - that's the 'Törggelemenü', which consists of bread and dripping, cheese noodles and cherry donuts followed by a much-needed apricot schnaps. The cottage was supposedly built in the 10th century by the Buzi brothers. Martin Sauerwein was here with his accordion at a much later date and even later still a duelling fraternity unceremoniously dubbed it 'Wallhall'. In 1959 the cottage was transformed into its current state: a beautiful destination for day-trippers with a great view of Innsbruck, a fitting portion of tradition enriched with Tyrolean hospitality.
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.
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.