SHOPPING in Innsbruck:
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.
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.
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.
SIGHTS in Innsbruck:
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.
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.
You won't just find spoken word in the Tyrolean Landestheater (regional theater), but also dance and singing. The theatre offers audio plays alongside stage plays. A few snippets from the programme: the director has prescribed a lot of shakespeare and it's immediately noticeable. Hamlet has already held a skull on stage and Romeo and Juliet exercised suicide and Othello was murdered in a very lively manner. Willie is also well-loved here, but there are also other highlights aside from Shakespeare's masterpieces. For musical lovers there's 'Les Miserables', Frida Kahlo's life depicted as a dance-piece and the Magical Flute is here as a children's theatre piece. Beyond that, there are the classics like 'Mother Courage', 'A night in Venice'. In summary - there's a lot of great theatrical works here on offer!
EAT in Innsbruck:
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.
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.
It's the light at the end of the tunnel: those who take a seat here will be sated, but you could never get enough of the panorama views. The upper floor of the city hall galleries has a unique position that boasts an unbelievable view of the city, the mountains and almost the entire region of Tyrol, as it appears. It may be easy to look past your plate, but don't look too far as what is served on plates here is truly a feast for the eyes. You can expect artfully arranged buffalo mozzarella, colourful baby leaf salads and carefully decorated tomato tagliatelle. It's all mouth-watering stuff that harmonises with the view. The farmer's dumplings won 14 points whilst being tested and were one of the many reasons why this restaurant has a 'Haube' - Austria's equivalent of the Michelin Star. The noble wines from Austria and Italy put the icing on the cake, but aren't the only sources of shining light to be seen in the 360°wine bar.
STAY in Innsbruck:
It is bucketing down in the Hotel Grauer Bär. The sky may be free of clouds outside, but it's about to pour down inside. And this is done for good reason: refreshing tub showers help stressed business people cool down after heated debates. The 300m large wellness area was made as a relaxing equaliser to stressful everyday life. You can get yourself all heated up in the Finnish sauna or the Turkish steam bath and cool down in the current pool or step out onto the terrace and enjoy the panoramic views of the mountainous backdrop. And if you still haven't found your inner self after that, douse your evening with a tub shower or a glass of bubbly in the Onyx Bar. The modern conference hotel also has other delights in store: like minds can come together in one of six conference rooms equipped with high-speed internet and the ski room is there to accomodate all your skiing gear in the winter months. And those who already feel cramped up after a long day in the city can prepare him or herself for the next seminar with a well-deserved massage. Double rooms are available from ?135 a 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.
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.