I had visited Innsbruck once before as a teenager and remembered very little about the trip apart from a very long car journey and the feeling of being perpetually bored. It was just as well as I had the chance to return last month, when I attended the Travel Bloggers Unite Conference, as it totally transformed my immature perception. For Innsbruck is by no means boring, and this time around I was mesmorised by the city before I even landed.
Nestled deep in the Alps, the runway at Innsbruck airport is bordered by striking mountains on both sides, even the captain sounded excited to land there. I never got used to catching a glimpse of those mountains throughout my stay – peeking out from behind church spires, forming a dramatic backdrop at the end of a cobbled street – it took my breath away every time.
If you agree the Innsbruck backdrop is spectacular, you should see the buildings. The intricate Austrian architecture made me want to study every construction in the Old Town, my particular favourite reminded me of a wedding cake and sold delicious gelato to boot! One building which everyone flocks to study is the little Golden Roof. Dating from the 15th century it was commissioned by Emperor Maximilian I and includes dedications to both his first and second wives. It is the centre piece of Innsbruck Old Town and you can’t help but gravitate towards it.
Not far from the Golden Roof is the Imperial Palace which has over 500 ornately decorated rooms. I didn’t have time to see them all but marvelled at the frescoes on the ceiling in the grand ballroom and admired the matching upholstery, curtains and carpet in some of the salons. One thing that kept catching my eye were these rectangular, porcelain dishes which would sit on the floor next to every doorway in every room. The tour guide confirmed my worst suspicions – it was a spittoon! They were huge and there were so many throughout the Palace, you couldn’t help but wonder how much phlegm the royals produced in previous centuries!
If you are in Austria you will need to consume schnitzel, strudel and the local beer at some point. In Innsbruck Stiftskeller is the cavernous bar/restaurant with a generous beer garden that we found ourselves doing this in often. The beer is served in generous portions too – by the litre!
In contrast to all the pastel coloured, wooden shuttered buildings I so admired was my modern, glass box of a hotel – The Penz – the only boutique hotel in town. I had chosen to stay in this hotel for one reason alone – the rooftop terrace. The terrace did not disappoint, in fact it far exceeded my expectations. When I arrived on a clammy 40 degrees afternoon the breeze on the rooftop and shade from the cabana seating was more than a little welcome. And then I was served breakfast up there the next morning and OH MY. The breakfast buffet was a spread like none other I have seen in Europe – literally 20 different jams, 20 varieties of fruits (some I could not even name), champagne included as standard (yes really!) and OMG that view. A single room is priced from 140 – 220 Euros per night including breakfast and breakfast is served until midday everyday, so there is plenty of time for you to eat your monies worth! In the evening the rooftop turns into a trendy bar, outdoor heaters at the ready for the cooler months. It’s perfect for a prosecco at sunset; pretty view, relaxed atmosphere and a rather friendly bar manager from Melbourne.
Somewhere in-between staying at the modern Penz Hotel, studying the ornate old buildings and staring at the dramatic mountain backdrop I fell in love with Innsbruck, and, I have to admit, boring is not a word I shall associate with it ever again.