Innsbruck – About my home – Part 2

Innsbruck has plenty of great sites, summer as winter. It’s up to you to decide what you would like to experience. Outdoor is a great plus but the museums of the city draft in thousands of tourists as well. Have a look into this entry to find your personal and suitable experience.

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Innsbruck from Nordkette
Innsbruck from Nordkette (click to buy)

I want to start this entry with a little story about the people living here in most beautiful Tyrol, Austrias highland. The Tyroleans are a very special kind of people. If you approach them too open minded and loud, before they can flee, you can be prepared for a reply which can be harsh sometimes, or at least sarcastic. Foreigners, especially the ones living permanently in Tyrol, like Germans, are not always welcome to them – Germans in particular are a matter of a longterm love hate relationship. The term for Germans in Austria is “Piefke” which goes back to a story of two officers on the Prussian miltitary squad of the old times, before the Nazis took over Europe. They were so in shape, that they defined this term as typical German (towards the Austrian mentality). It might be due to the success of Germany in football, olympics, industry etc. while speaking the same language, it might be due to the size of Germany and amount of Germans, or because of the lively, self-confident (overexaggerating sometimes) appearance much more Germans have compared to Austrians, who are almost ever much more relaxed and laid back – even if they are equally qualified for what they do. I started to love this kind of attitude, it’s “just being relaxed” vs. being permanently stressed out and hasty in your everyday life… So this is by any means critics on the Austrian mentality. If you befriend with those guys and they go to the mountain with you, be sure you have found friends which understand this meaning from the heart.

This is the Tyrolean “National Anthem” if it comes up to the Tyroleans in Tyrol, East Tyrol and South Tyrol (Alto Adige), it should be still a united country, without Alto Adige belonging to Italy.

Sights of Innsbruck

But this entry is to bring the sights of Innsbruck to you, who are probably not living here, who are planing to do an unforgettable vacation in the Alps. Innsbruck is a tremendous base for your endeavours because you have lots of great restaurants and entertainment on the one hand and top notch skiing resorts or hiking on the other within an hour in your car or by public transportation

Rank 10: Plenty of Chinese and Japanese visitors rush in every day and it’s a main sight of the city, the Swarovski flagship store with its crystal exhibition in the center of the old-city. The company is actually a Tyrolean family owned company and does precision glassware for analytics and optics besides the jewelry. The main facility is in Wattens, just a 30 min. busride away the Swarovski Kristallwelten in Wattens. As I mentioned in my last entry about Innsbruck, this is nothing we would attend to, but I know there is big interest in these exhibitions, so it’s worth to mention them here. 

Innsbruck's colorful houses at night
Innsbruck’s colorful houses at night (click to buy)

Rank 9: The inner city of Innsbruck itself is a sight. You will have this panoramic view nowhere else while you go shopping. It includes the old-city itself, with the well known Goldenes Dachl, which I grant the Rank 5 in this listing. It includes the colorful houses along the Inn, the Dom (the main church), the Stadt-schloss, Landestheater, Hofgarten and everything related. The city shines in its beauty and this is based on the fact that it was not destroyed during WWII.

Schloss Ambras
Schloss Ambras

Rank 8Schloß Ambras and the Ferdinandeum, the lovely Tyrolean museum for history are going places when you are into history and old stuff, which is exhibited there. The castle is lovely and the garden beautiful. The Ferdinandeum is quite modern but the exhibition still has its charme.

Rank 7: Another main sight of the city is the Bergisel Schanze where the olympic wintergames took place. It’s annually used as venue in the tournament of the Vierschanzentournee, as I reported in my last entry. Another curiosity is the Wok WM, which was hosted by the German host Stefan Raab during the last years. A crazy tournament for crazy people, who enjoy a race down the bob-trail on a heated wok (yes the cooking device).

Rank 6: The zoo of Innsbruck, better known as Alpenzoo, is a nice place for families and animal enthusiasts. The inhabitants are all living in the Alps, so get a good overview which kind of animals can be found here, when you wander off the beaten tracks. Capricorn and eagle are the most prominent inhabitants, but bears, wolves and bobcats can be found there as well, and of course the otters, which have been my personal favorite! Another great sight is the botanical garden of the University of Innsbruck – small but well organized and the entry fees just apply for the tropical houses, visiting the garden with the flora of the Alps is totally free of charge!

Goldenes Dachl
Goldenes Dachl (click to buy)

Rank 5: The main sight depicted on all the postcards from Innsbruck is the Goldenes Dachl (golden roof). There is not much to say about it, it’s simply beautiful and you should stop there and take your touristic photo souvenir, when you pass it. It gets a separate rank, because it is the symbol of the city.

Obernberger See
Obernberger See (click to buy)

Rank 4: Compared to Salzburg or Kärnten there are just few lakes where you can go to dip on hot summer days. But some of them are most beautiful and I want to mention them here as one “sight” because most of them are in close range and easy to reach. The most beautiful lake around the area is Lake Obernberg, it is not allowed to swim in there, but we were never punished when we took a fast dip after we hiked the surrounding mountains. Another great lake is the Achensee, which you reach by car going via Jenbach, turning northwards up into the mountains. 

Reintalersee
Reintalersee (click to buy)

You can even sail on this lake and (kite)surf in summer, in winter you find a school for snow-kiting. The two most beautiful swimming lakes in the surrounding of Innsbruck are the Reintalersee in Kramsach and the Piburger See in the Ötztal. In the Ötztal you find the Area 47, a water themepark for your amusement and plenty of opportunity to do rafting and canyoning.

Rank 3: The endless amounts of skiing resorts in the region are a major sight for your activity and your exploration. I will just recommend the best of the best to you and not give you info on the smaller ones. Leave those to the locals and the guys who tend to be alone when they do their sports. If you are interested in touring skiing you can ask me for those via the comment section, albeit from that, stick to the ones, which offer your daily dose of convenience, apres ski and awesome. For the following list, I do not have a special ranking. Ischgl, Arlberg, Zillertal, and Serfaus are huge, the rest is smaller and some are closer to Innsbruck.

Rank 2: The Höttinger Alm is an easy to hike hut, which you should visit when you are in good shape during the summer month. You can reach it in a two hour hike via easy routes and the food is fantastic! You have a great view on Innsbruck and it is my personal favorite, when it comes up to traditional huts and the mountain flair.

Rank 1: The Nordkettenbahnen are the main sight in my opinion and they bring you up to 2300 m of elevation to the Hafelekar right over the roofs of Innsbruck. This experience is so unique, no matter if it summer or winter, it has to receive rank 1. You can jump in there, like into a metro and right from the old-city of Innsbruck, go up to Hungerburg, from there by cable car to Seegrube, and from there up to Hafelekar with just another cable car. It opens a playground for adventurers, skiing experts (yes, experts!) in winter, and mountainbike freaks (yes freaks!) in summer. You find an awesome climbing trail and plenty of opportunity to live your personal experience of wanderlust. If you are not into those sports regulary and very experienced leave this place out and just go up to enjoy the view – you can do that every Friday in summer til 11:30 p.m. and in winter til 1:30 a.m.! It’s in your own interest to not overestimate yourself because otherwise you just hurt yourself and are brought down to the valley in a helicopter. I mean it like I write it, please don’t overestimate your skills here. I have to mention the Patscher Kofel as well here – just for completeness and without taking rank 1. It’s by far not as impressive as the Nordkette, but the views on Innsbruck, the Nordkette and the Innvalley are more than beautiful as well. If you have few time, do just the Nordkette, if you have plenty do Patscher Kofel as well and hike the Zirbenweg.

Innsbruck – About my Home – Part 1

Part 1 of my introduction of my home Innsbruck is all about the lifestyle, what you can do and where you can go at night. I give you recommendation on what to obey and where to inform, when you plan to hit the mountains. In the upcoming second part I will give the more basic info like touristic sights and going-places.

The Innsbruck “skyline” with the dome and clouds from an incoming thunderstorm.

Innsbruck is quite a small city, compared to my hometown Berlin, where I was born and raised, but is still well known for its divine nature and sports opportunities all over the world. It lies at the river Inn – where the name is derived from – and has a count of about 125,000 people when all the students are present – which is not so common, especially not over the summer month where the inhabitants count around 95,000. That’s an equal count of citizens like in Berlin Charlottenburg, the district where I originally come from. With that count the city is Austrias 5th largest city. From this point of view, I did not move into a smaller place, when I came here… 😉

Most people associate Innsbruck and Tyrol with wintersports or ridiculously green meadows on the mountains during the summer time, where you can give credit to your Wanderlust.

A typical street scenery in Innsbruck’s old city – a beautiful city with colorful and old houses, since the city was not destroyed in WWII

The term cultural capital is of course not comparable with the likes as the opera in Verona (Italy), Wagner in Bayreuth (Germany), sights in Vienna (Austria), and the tons of great entertainment Berlin (Germany) has to offer, it is a small city after all – but you should not make the mistake to compare those names with each other and the main “sight” is nature and the mountains of the Alps. I will give you more information on the touristic important sights of Innsbruck and the surrounding area in my next entry – part 2. For us, who live here, those sights are playing a minor role of course, but when you are here for the first time, you should definitively check them out, since they characterize this place and give it a special character.

Events & Artists in Innsbruck

Anyways, there have been several great artists coming to Innsbruck over the last years since I live here and for some reason Innsbruck seems to be an important place for those artists on their way up to a bigger career. I was able to see the Blood Red Shoes, The Cinematics, Portugal the Man, Steaming Satellites, Blumentopf, and just last year Milky Chance live, and there are always great gigs every now and then – impressive for a city of this size – as of last with more and more popular DJ Sets like one of my favorites Worakls. A huge advantage are the relatively small stages where you get in touch with artist and mood much closer than on those huge stages, like in New York (I saw Placebo there), Berlin (Fugees, 50 cent), Munich (Lana del Rey) and other big cities. Another advantage is the relatively low entry coverage, if the concerts aren’t for free completely. The boys and girls from BONANZA do a great job as well, since they brought an open air to Innsbruck, which has always a great line-up and during the summer month they entertain us at the Inn, playing decent electronic beats for free – the place to be on Wednesdays to enjoy your well deserved after work beer, having a BBQ and chillout to Electronic music!

Nightlife in Innsbruck

The Place of the Dome
The Place in front of the Dome

For a relatively small city there are plenty opportunities for nightlife! I will just give you a selected selection of great bars and clubs. My favorite bar is by any means the Café Moustache. You can already go there in the afternoon for a very good Falafel and at night chill-out to good music, meeting friends, with a beer that is absolutely fair priced and enjoyable in the surrounding – team is cool as well! The Club Aftershave is related to the Moustache and always worth a visit in season, when the students are present. We had fun nights down there!

For live music the Weekender is the address to be. Most of the concerts I attended have been there and they offer free concerts of upcoming artists on Mondays during the semester, a great service!

Good bars to start into the evening are Innkeller, Zappa, Treibhaus – known for the big variety of cultural program – and Prometheus (Proml), when the cafés close at 2 a.m. the Limerick Bill’s Irish Pub and the Babalon. Another Irish Pub, to watch football and enjoy good German beer, is the Galway Bay.

The nightlife takes part in different locations, on one hand the “Bögen”, where you find my favorite clubs the Project, the p.m.k. – if you are interested in culture, gigs, concerts and acts, the Bäckerei with a focus on cultural program and products from the region and the Tante Emma, a classy cool nightclub which is open until sunrise. A little further off the track is the Club Cubique, where the well known DJs attend for sets in town. And last but not least there is a relatively new “underground” location Kindergarten, quite cool and in the modern style of an abondoned place – they don’t have a website, it’s “underground” and nightlife takes place to special events. A special and unique location to celebrate, aprés ski and enjoy life is Cloud9, which is nothing more than an iglu on Seegrube in winter time, where you can celebrate Wednesdays and Fridays – I say, this is the coolest (in the true meaning) location you can find!

Activity & Outdoor in Innsbruck

Nordkette at night
Nordkette at night, illuminated with snow covered mountains

Sportive events exist plentiful. The Air & Style took place every winter – but will be in Beijing in 2014, the Nordkettenquartett is a very cool event where teams of four people compete against each other and each team member has a different task: biking up the mountain, claiming the summit via touring ski, freeride it down again and come into the aim with the mountain bike downhilling the track from Seegrube – which is also called Gruabn’. The Vierschanzentournee is an annual visitor to the city, just to mention the most famous out of so many, not to start with the plentiful freeride events in Innsbrucks surrounding in winter. The sportive opportunities are endless here and Tyrol becomes more and more a paradise for alternatives from the classic wintersport. Skitours are very high on the list – but I recommend you an appropriate training in avalance awareness before you start into the freeride and skitouring adventure! Good sources to prepare your mountain experience are…

  • Bergfex for maps of skiing resorts and wander-routes and recommendations of the community
  • ZAMG to check on the weather which is inevitable before you start
  • Lawine to check the dangers and risk of avalances in certain regions – I recommend to train the awareness in the SAAC course (link above), when you have not done it before!
  • Almenrausch to plan your summer hiking tours and the stay at a hut
  • Alpenverein the official site of the community and society to worship the Alp of Austria – you can borrow equipment there
  • Alpenverein Aktiv to plan your tour based on a map, very nice if you want to browse & discover based on your location
  • Powderguide to check on the new snow and to find your pristine powder experience

You can explore everything of course without the need to visit events, museums and sights.

The Alps are THE major sight itself and you will find such a proximity to the high mountains nowhere else…

At least not with a city of this size right to its feet. And when you are in good physical condition, have respect for the mountains and want to experience a fun thing in summer, you should go hiking and check out boulder running – the fastest way to get down the mounain after you hiked it up. 

I will deliver a second report from my home and bring the main touristic sights to you and a little outlook, what you can and should do as daily tours, when you are here, stay tuned!

Latin America picture ToDo-list

This is my “ToDo-List” for Central and South America. Covered are 19 countries so far, but I am open to your suggestions! The pictures I used are all from artists of the twenty20 community and I have to thank you guys at this point for taking such great pictures! Please feel free to leave suggestions for me, what I should not miss out when I travel Latin America the next time.

Pictures tell stories better than a thousand words. This is an old wisdom and it’s actually true. You might have read my report about my relatively short travel to Panamá, Costa Rica and Nicaragua. For me this was the first contact to this beautiful and magic piece of land on our planet and it is not the last time, that I have been there, promised. Since pictures express much more, than text ever could, when it comes up to the description of the beauty of places, people, nature and everything else but the lyric itself, I started to create and build up a Twenty20 Collection. In this gallery I collect pictures I like and worship, and included are pictures of 19 countries so far, here presented from North to South.

Central America

Cancún in Mexico, by @soniamchopra
Somewhere in Guatemala, by @s_cavazos
Belize and the Maya temples, by @_melche
US Embassy in Honduras, by @cellalaaa
Surfing the Pacific in El Salvador, by @gerardoch10
Vulcano Concepción on Isla de Ometepe in Nicaragua, by @benicoma
The cloud rainforest Costa Rica’s mountains, by @benicoma
The Islands of San Blas in Panamá, by @benicoma

 

South America

Medellín in Colombia, by @vcostaphoto
Morrocoy in Venezuela, by @erickmendez9
The highlands of Ecuador, by @puapv
Machu Picchu in Peru, by @corrine_t
The death road in Bolivia, by @birgitry
Jesus statue over Rio de Janeiro, by @nanohooligan
Isla Fernando de Noronha of Brazil, by @joneliabe
Somewhere in Paraguay, by @jcibils
Surfing the beaches of Uruguay, by @marcbaechtold
The Iguazu falls of Argentina, by @kauaitraveler
Chilenian part Patagonia, by @birgitry

 

People

A vendor in Bolivia’s capital La Paz, by @raulbarnoir
The lovely people of Costa Rica celebrating their football team in the World Cup. The contribution goes to my friends in Costa Rica!
A mayan child bathing in a creek, by @andrewqholzschuh
Tango in the streets of Buenos Aires, by @mackeykatrina
Salsa and Bachata, by @hurpatty
Mother and child in Mexico, by @whiteraslion
Carneval Samba in Brazil, by @jealston
Guna Yala
The Guna Yala and me on San Blas in Panamá, by @benicoma

 

This collection features great pictures from all over Latin America, from diverse artists and is something like a ToDo list for me, when I travel to this region the next time. I will need plenty of time to do that of course, since there are already 19 countries included and by far not everything worthwhile to see…

What I have to do:

  • Surfing all along the Pacific coast, from Baja California in Mexico down to Chile, wherever I come by
  • Visit the Maya tribes of the Mexican desert for their cult, and experiencing it
  • Visit the plantations for cacao and coffee in different countries
  • Visit the places where medical plants are cultured in a fair trade principal
  • Visit the Maya Temples of Mexico and Belize
  • Exploring the Amazonas of Brazil and Bolivia
  • Sail to Cartagena via San Blas in Panamá
  • Dance Tango Argentino in Buenos Aires
  • Dance lots of Salsa
  • Snorkel and Dive in Central America and Venezuela
  • Visit the Carneval in Rio de Janeiro
  • Go diving on Coiba Island of Panamá and on Isla Fernando de Noronha of Brazil
  • Go snowboarding and hiking in Patagonia
  • Finish Pacific Coastal Highway 1 – called the Panamericana in Latin America

When you are on Twenty20 yourself, have pictures of those regions which might fit in and you are willing to get them featured in the Collection, please comment under them with the hashtag @benicoma and I will consider to take them in as well. And when you read this blog entry and want to share great places to visit, please leave a comment, it is highly appreciated!

A tribute to a local hero and prospective colleague!

In my profession I meet lots of different people, most of them students who attend courses where I have to teach them in the field of analytical chemistry…

Sometimes outstanding people cross my way – in the winter term it was Max Zipser who took part in the course I teach. I want to introduce him to you, since he is a cool and relaxed guy and on top of that a local snowboard hero of Innsbruck. I will have to practice a lot to match even half the skill he brings to broad faces… 😉  – Watch his movies to find out more about his second profession besides the studies in pharmacy. Max if you read this: I’d be glad if you would give me a copy of your movie “Soultrip Argentina”.

Some of his latest runs at the Swatch Freeride World Tour:

Well, good luck buddy for all your future runs and your studies. Take care!