A May 2004 trip
to Innsbruck by Re Carroll
Quote: Located in the Tyrol region of Austria, Innsbruck is one of Europe’s most popular winter ski destinations, but it is definitely worth a visit any time of the year. Its picturesque location, interesting Old Town, and plentiful attractions and sights combine to keep visitors coming back for more.
Centuries of history are evident throughout Innsbruck. Our hotel was an historic site in itself, with a plaque at the front door stating that Mozart stayed there in 1769. Even our favourite restaurant, Weisses Rossl, dated from 1590. When we finally managed to tear ourselves away from Old Town, we found a wealth of major sights to keep us busy.
We purchased an Innsbruck card which was invaluable, not only because
of money saved on attractions but for the freedom to hop on and off public transport at whim. From a funicular trip for bird’s eye views over the city to sharing space with peacocks at Ambras Castle and learning about the history of bell making, Innsbruck had
enough to keep me happily entertained and made me wish I had more time to explore this charming little city.
This traditional Tyrolean hotel has 30 guest rooms spread among four bright and cheery sunlit floors reached via spotlessly clean but creaky old wooden stairs that are a bit uneven due to their age. For those who don’t want to carry luggage up the stairs, there is a small but efficient elevator at street level. Reception is one floor up and all floors are decorated with carved wooden
furniture and Tyrolean folk art.
We arrived about two hours too early to check in and the woman at reception suggested we relax in the large lounge. When she spotted some roses we had been given in Salzburg she rushed to get a vase for them and then spent lots of time giving us dining suggestions, sightseeing tips and brochures on attractions in the area. We were very pleasantly surprised when just 20 minutes later, our room was ready far ahead of schedule.
I don’t know what the regular rooms were like but our superior triple was huge with chunky light coloured wooden furniture, beautiful wood paneled floors that were polished to a sheen and large picture windows that flooded the room with
light and opened to gorgeous views of the nearby Alps. At one end of the room was a
double bed and at the other end was a sofa that converted to another double. Comfy pale yellow duvets and pillow cases were printed with the hotel’s picture. There was also plenty of room for a table and four chairs, night tables on either side of the bed, a wardrobe and large TV. The bathroom was split into two rooms with toilet in one and tub, separate shower stall and a long vanity with two sinks in the other.
breakfast was included in the room rate and was served in the first floor breakfast room. Multiple tables seemed to groan under the weight of assorted breads, crackers, cheeses, cold sliced meats, dry cereals, fruit, juices and hard boiled eggs.
The hotel is about a 10 minute walk or €5 cab ride from the train station. Double rooms, including breakfast, are approximately €100 and our triple was €117. This hotel is only rated three stars, possibly because their restaurant is no longer in operation but its location, old world charm, and pleasant hospitality make Weisses Kreuz a top choice for a stay in Innsbruck.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on May 31, 2004
Herzog Friedrichstrasse 31
Restaurant | "Papa Joes Grill and Cantina Bar"
Our table was on the second floor and it was less than a minute after we were seated that our server was asking what we’d like to eat and drink. Bea ordered a rack of baby back ribs and Tracey and I decided to split the mixed appetizer platter and a small Caesar salad. The salad looked great with crisp romaine, large chunks of bacon and croutons but the dressing was so heavily loaded with dry mustard that it was inedible. We thought we’d have better
luck when we spotted the three-tiered tray that contained our appetizer platter, but were
disappointed to find that it consisted of 2 pieces of fresh carrot, 2 thin zucchini sticks, 4 deep fried shrimp, 4 cheese stuffed jalapeno peppers, 4 mozzarella sticks and 2 chunks of grilled corn. The selections were tasty but we felt that the small amount of food did not warrant the price of €15.
Bea’s meal was a much better choice. The ribs seemed to
cover the platter sized plate and were basted with a smoky barbecue sauce. They were served with an oversized baked potato loaded with garlic butter - too much in fact but it was easy to scrape off. The ribs were a typically messy affair and the finger bowl with lemon scented water was definitely needed for clean up.
The restaurant is open daily from 4 pm to the wee hours of the morning. I wouldn’t go back to Papa Joes for dinner but it would be a fun place to meet friends for drinks before heading out for a meal someplace else.
Member Rating 2 out of 5 on May 31, 2004
Innsbruck, Austria 6020
+43 512 583 046
We had decided on an early dinner so the large restaurant was quite quiet we arrived. The table beside ours had big towels spread along the bench seats and we wondered what their purpose was. Turned out that a local couple ate at Weisses Rossl on a very regular basis and the towels were for their two dogs who accompanied them. As North Americans it was a novel sight to see canine companions in restaurants but it is quite common in Europe. I couldn’t begin to imagine my table top high brood of pooches in a restaurant as they are not exactly gentile when it comes to their food. I was very impressed with these Austrian dogs who simply cuddled up on the towels for the duration of the meal and just kept an eye on other diners, or maybe it was other diners’ dinners.
A large basket of bread was placed on each table and was filled with different rolls, flat bread and large, soft pretzels. Except for the pretzels, all selections were flavoured with caraway. We discovered that the breads weren’t complimentary but they were so fresh and the cost was minimal (about .60 per piece) so we didn’t mind.
We’d been told that the meals here were substantial so didn’t bother with an appetizer, especially after sampling some of the breads. Tracey ordered schnitzel cordon bleu, I chose cod fillet and Bea opted for a farmer’s skillet, one of the
house specialties. Tracey’s chicken schnitzel was filled with ham and mild white cheese. It covered almost 2/3 of her plate and was served with crispy pommes frites. My fish was well cooked with a light but crunchy batter and was accompanied by a large helping of creamy potato salad. Bea’s meal was a combination of chopped beef, onions, potatoes, cabbage and spices, all cooked together in a cast iron pan. Her side dish was grated cabbage in an oil and vinegar dressing. All the meals were delicious and portions were extremely large – nobody was able to finish their main course so dessert wasn’t even a consideration.
The restaurant has many individual rooms as well as an outdoor terrace that is open in the summer. I don’t know about lunch but the restaurant is open Monday to Saturday for dinner.
43 512 58 30 57
A waitress clad in a bright yellow polo shirt happily showed us to a table in the small dining section and suggested we make ourselves at home. The walls were painted salmon and gold and offered quite a cheery respite from the cold and wet weather outside. The menu featured light meals - soups, sandwiches and salads with desserts being the main focus.
Clearly focusing on our priorities we decided on a light lunch so that we’d have room for dessert. Since asparagus season was in full swing I ordered a bowl of asparagus cream soup while
Bea chose fresh tomato soup and Tracey went with ham and cheese toast. The soups
were served in large white porcelain tureens and were piping hot. Bea’s pureed tomato
soup came with a bowl of freshly whipped cream to blend for the desired consistency.
Tracey’s toasted ham and cheese sandwich was served with a small green salad with an oil
and vinegar dressing.
Finally the time came to choose a dessert from their mouth
watering selection. In the end Bea had multi layered Schwarzwaller torte, I had a
mascarpone cream cake with a lady finger base and Tracey went with an Austrian
specialty - Mohr im Hend - warm chocolate cake served with hot chocolate sauce and
whipped cream. Naturally we had to share the desserts and my mascarpone cake was
voted best although we certainly had no trouble finishing them all.
Prices for our lunch averaged €5 and we all agreed it was a bargain worth repeating.
Murauer is open from Monday to Saturday 7 to 7 and Sunday 10:30 to 7.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on May 31, 2004
Attraction | "Schloss Ambras"
We knew that it would be an interesting visit when we saw peacocks peering inside the glass doors at the entrance. I wasn’t sure if they were goodwill ambassadors reassuring people that the 8 euro admission price was worth it or if they just wanted to check out the gift shop souvenirs.
After presenting our Innsbruck card we made our way to the Armouries where suits of armour were displayed in two large rooms. Among the highlights was a rare page’s costume from 1555 and child sized armour that had been made for Ferdinand’s sons.
Next came my favourite area of the castle, the Kunst und Wunderkammer museum where many of Ferdinand’s collection of novel, bizarre and
awesome curiosities were housed. Some of the memorable pieces included an exquisitely
detailed ivory and wood writing desk from 1592, a jewelry box made from alabaster,
wood, marble and bronze, a wide selection of clocks, giant playing cards with monkey
characters from the late 1500s, a stuffed shark carcass, busts of Roman emperors, coins
from the 15th and 16th century and many displays of coral.
From the museum we
headed to The Spanish Hall, which was built between 1569 -72. The interior is
covered with 27 full length portraits of Tyrol rulers and the smaller Emperor’s Room
featured another ten portraits. Behind the Hall was a small garden constructed to resemble a 15th century medicinal garden with such herbs as hyssop to calm coughs,
parsley to help with stomach problems and sage to reduce inflammation.
Portrait Gallery was on the other side of the inner courtyard which was painted with
the grisaille technique. This uses designs painted in shades of grey to create a 3D effect. The Gallery was spread among three floors and featured portraits of the Hapsburgs and their spouses by artists such as Rubens and Velazquez. The Chapel, consecrated in 1330, was also located here but wasn’t open to visitors due to ongoing excavations.
Ambras is open daily from 10 am to 5 pm. It is set amidst 20 hectares of parkland with walking trails, an artificial 16th century waterfall and little ponds filled with very tame ducks. The
grounds are open free of charge and would make a nice place for a picnic on a sunny day - just make sure you bring a little extra food for the ducks or peacocks who might decide to join you.
Ambras Castle (Schloss Ambras)
Innsbruck, Austria 6020
+43 512 348 446
Attraction | "Grassmayr Glockenmuseum (Bell Museum)"
The museum is well signed with information in German and English. Pictures, models and videos are used to explain how bells are made and provide history on bells and their uses. Bells were a large part of pagan rituals so needless to say, Christianity was not eager to promote them. It wasn’t until the 2nd century that they became an accepted part of the Christian religion. Irish and Scottish
monks brought bells to Europe in the 6th century and the popularity of bells increased
under Charlemagne’s promotion in the 9th century. Bells were used as a call to prayer, to announce midday breaks, and to signal events such as a death, an execution, fire and the date on which taxes were due to be paid. The largest bell in the world is located in Moscow and weighs 214 tons.
One of the most fun aspects of the museum was the opportunity to test tones of different bells and watch how water inside a large bell moves when the bell is struck. I visited too late in the day to actually watch a bell being cast however my visit to the museum was enjoyable, informative and something that I’d recommend for both children and adults.
The attached gift store sells Austrian souvenirs and bells of all sizes. Commemorative bells can also be made to order. The museum is open from 9 to 5 Monday to Friday and also on Saturday.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on May 31, 2004
Grassmayr Bell Museum and Foundry
Innsbruck, Austria 6020
+43 (512) 59416 37
We more than got our money’s worth with a 48-hour card even though we only had time to visit a small percentage of attractions covered by the card. We took a round trip on the Hungerburg funicular to enjoy panoramic views of Innsbruck’s skyline. We visited Schloss Ambras, Grassmyr Bell Museum, Golden Dachl mansion whose roof is covered with gilded copper tiles that gleam in the sun like gold, Hofburg Palace and Hofkirche where the black marble tomb of Maximilian I is guarded by 28 life size bronze statues of his ancestors, Swarovski Crystal Museum in nearby Wattens (partial bus fare from Innsbruck to Hall was included with the card so we paid only 3.80
return to Wattens rather than 6.60), the Tyrolean Folk Museum and the Creches
Unfortunately we didn’t get a chance to visit some of the other included
attractions such as the Bergisel ski jump, Ferdinandeum Museum, the Railway Museum
and the Alpenzoo to name just a few.
The card is available at hotels in town as well as the Tourist Information office and many of the major tourist sights. Although
transportation in the form of city buses and the Sightseer is unlimited, the card is only
good for one visit to each of the museums. I guess this is to ensure it can’t be shared among a number of people.
The pamphlet on the Innsbruck card lists all included attractions as well as listing their individual/non card prices. That way you can decide what you want to see and compare the cost of the specific sights vs. the card . We noted though that prices were outdated and many attractions had a higher admission than what was listed on the card which meant we saved even more money than anticipated - always a good thing when on holiday.
Abbotsford, British Columbia