SIGHTS in Innsbruck:
The tourists pile into the old town and insiders make their way to the Viaduktbögen (viaduct arches). Whether it's mopeds, pots, tattoos or a wellness session you are after, it's all here and there's beer to boot. Whilst the trains are rattling overhead, the guests are drinking down below. Under the viaduct arches along the Ing.-Etzel Strasse there's a host of bars for all tastes. The Bögen (arches), as the pubs are simply called often remain open until the wee hours of the morning, which is why they are so treasure by local party-goers who expect nothing less than good beer, great cocktails and long nights on the dance floor. And for the ladies that don't want to venture home alone can call the 'Frauentaxi', which will take you home and wait until you switch the lights on. Trips cost only ?4.70 and operate within the city limits between 9am and 2am. Simply call 1711.
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.
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 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.
Always being served can become boring. Not to mention the eternal waiting! But for the control freaks amongst us, there is always the Teppan Wok. Here you know exactly what lands on your plate, because you put it on there yourself. And those who opt for the vast buffet can choose from either meat, fish or vegetables. Or all of them together. Afterwards, take it to the chef and watch as he fries it up and tops it off with a few sauces. It is so easy to get exactly what you want here and you don't have to wait around for slow service. The only question left remaining is whether everything that you put on your plate actually fit together. Those who doubt their ability to put together a winning dish should opt for the tried and tested fried chinese delicacies or simply go straight to the sushi bar. And then take a seat: the Teppan Wok offers a great ambience blends Japanese purism with the florid chinese style and modern comfort.
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.
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.
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.
Alp Art Hotel
The central station in Innsbruck is around ten kilometres away from the sun plateau in Götzens. The sun is shining in this area almost unconditionally; hence you don't even want to go inside the hotel. But the interior is as bright and welcoming with lots of warm wood and a cosy and elegant ambience. Contemporary art hanging at the right spots prevent the place from becoming too rustic. The perfect mixture are the superior double bedrooms equipped with design baths, glassed balconies and whirlpool. In this way you can marvel at the mountain setting for hours while sitting in the hot water. In the kitchen they cook traditionally but think modern and only use high quality ingredients that are locally grown. Especially recommendable to satisfy your thirst: the in-house bar and art lounge Binis.
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.
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.