The majestic mountainous backdrop of Innsbruck (pictured above, photo courtesy INNSBRUCK TOURIMUS), capital of Tirol, left me speechless as my train slowly approached the main railway station. Just across the street from the station is the historic and conveniently located Grand Hotel Europa – my home for the next four days. Last year, this property signed on as one of the JSH Hotels Collections’ newest additions under their JLUX umbrella offering breathtaking views of the Tyrolean Alps.
Founded in 1869 and the only five-star hotel in Innsbruck, this property boasts visits from prestigious dignitaries and celebrities over the years offering a calibre of service with attention to detail to all patrons during their stay. The rooms are nicely appointed with all the modern conveniences, and, if you’re lucky, you’ll get a room with a view of the Tyrolean Alps. I’m a breakfast person and the hotel scores big in my books with the variety of choices included in their buffet table and/or
à la carte menu options.
Also, on the top of my preferred list when selecting where to stay is location, location, location… the Grand Hotel Europa is within walking distance to key points of interests, the old town and the Nordkette Funicular & Gondola.
Luckily, the day we planned to visit the top of the mountain was a beautiful clear day without a cloud in sight. The 20-minute ride up the mountain to reach 2,000 metres took no time at all, and nothing prepares you for the panoramic views – absolutely breathtaking! The crème de la crème is lunch at the Restaurant Seegrube for some Tyrolean cuisine (www.nordkette.com/en/restaurant-seegrube.html), while taking in the beauty of the mountains and Innsbruck down below.
The old town is as charming as it gets with cobblestone pedestrian zones lined with cafés, restaurants, shops and quaint boutique hotels. There’s always that one place you go for dinner that sticks out, and it’s a combination of the warmth that you get with the staff, cool décor and great food – that would be www.diepizzerei.at and for local fare for authentic Tyrolean cuisine, I highly recommend www.cafekatzburg.at and lastly, on the top of my list for a cocktail with a view, ambience and the place to mix and mingle with the locals is www.360-grad.at .
A world of crystals awaits, Swarovski Kristallwelten, located in Wattens, just outside of Innsbruck is home to one of the world’s most celebrated jewellery stores, Swarovski, and only a 20-minute bus ride from Innsbruck’s main railway station.
Upon arrival, I’m met by the lovely Nicole Lindner, channel marketing tourism & sales senior professional lead, for lunch at Daniels Kristallwelten Café & Restaurant to nourish the mind and spirit (as they put it), which overlooks the well-manicured grounds and various attractions/installations.
After a delicious lunch, we are off to tour the many sights,such as the Crystal Cloud & Mirror Pool, Roman Excavations, Playtower, Playground and Labyrinth great for kids of ALL ages (minimum age four years old), and much, much more.
The Chamber of Wonder is spectacular offering an array of art installations by world-renowned artists bringing fantasy and imagination to life.
Again, there is that one piece of art installation that leaves you inspired and that for me is “Reflections,” a truly magnificent work of art. Like the Tyrolean Alps, another truly majestic encounter spending time at Swarovski Crystal Worlds!
If you go to https://kristallwelten.swarovski.com/Content.Node/wattens/checkpointmedia_Exhibition.en.html, the explanation there will tell you that in “Reflections,” the most diverse aspects of the history of mankind and culture are presented on 300 facets and 48 polygons made of crystal. The spiral-shaped layout of the space is designed after the building blocks of life, such as the double helix or yin yang. The topics of humans and history are followed by the sciences: chemistry, physics, astronomy, mathematics.
In the centre are religion, faith, and magic, followed by the microcosm of the homeland interplaying with the macrocosm of the universe, and finally nature with its flora and fauna. There are repeated references to the importance and use of crystal and reflections about the world that serves as a cradle for nascent crystals, on the one hand, and which is itself built of crystalline structures on the other.
Innsbruck is a very inclusive place to visit with a few LGBT hot spots to consider, such as, M+M Cocktail Bar (www.mmbar.at), Dom Café (www.domcafe.at) and Bacchus (www.bacchus-tirol.at) and a few others. There isn’t a village or strip, but all are within walking distance and very safe to be yourself. As I wandered through the street it’s very noticeable the diversity in visiting tourists that flock this charming ski town.
For more information on Innsbruck visit: www.innsbruck.info and www.austria.info/us/where-to-go/cities/innsbruck .
Armando Mendonça is a tourism entrepreneur, philanthropist supporting HIV/AIDS charities and LGBT travel expert. He can be reached at: email@example.com .
IGLTA & TGC: TOGETHER
For TOGETHER, our 35th anniversary Annual Global Convention in Toronto (May 9 to May 12, 2018), IGLTA has created a special co-hosting agreement with Travel Gay Canada that is designed to increase engagement with tourism professionals across Canada.
TGC is Canada’s LGBT tourism industry association and works with its members to promote travel to and within Canada and to make Canada a favorite LGBT destination. For more information, visit: www.iglta.org and www.travelgaycanada.com .