Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Johann Straus Ball (Feb. ’13)

Attending a traditional ball in one of the grand venues in Vienna is something one should do at least once in their life. If you are interested in the heritage and culture of imperial Europe, an event like this will transform you to a completely different time and place. The Viennese annual ball calendar is pretty full, with several balls happening at several beautiful locations, and the Johann Strauss ball is one of the truly legendary balls that take place in the city. 

The ball happens at an historic building, the Kursalon Wien, where Johann, Eduard and Josef Strauss actually happened to enjoy and celebrate their dance compositions and operettas. The annual ball is held to continue and celebrate this legacy. The experience of spending an evening in this fabled building is truly something else. 

If, like most of the population, you are not an expert ball room dancer, there is no cause to worry. The ball is an event open to all, and is meant for us to enjoy the atmosphere and have a good time. One doesn’t necessarily have to dance at the ball, although then, the question of why one would attend a ball without any desire to dance does arise! Anyway, the night includes an expert led ball room dance workshop, for those who want to have a go at learning from a professional. Some other attractions include a midnight quadrille, and a midnight spectacle to end this magical night. 

The ball is set to take place on Saturday the 9th of February this year, and if past events are anything to go by, will start with an absolute bang! The night usually starts at 6 pm, and of course it’s important to show up on time. Not least because of how amazing the opening show usually is. There is live orchestra music, which includes contemporary pieces as well as iconic and older compositions. There are different ticket tiers that include different things. You can find more information and even the menu at: http://www.soundofvienna.at/sound/48.0.html?&L=2

Friday, January 25, 2013

The Swarovski Crystal Worlds

Most people have heard of Swarovski. Some know the company hails from Austria. But few realize the company has also developed the Swarovski Crystal Worlds, an underground experience that’s second to none. Think chambers of crystals and an experience you’ll never forget, and you’ll get just a rough idea of what the Swarovski Crystal Worlds is all about.

So what can you expect here? Well, the experience starts in the entrance hall and from there you’ll go through such areas as the Crystal Dome, the Ice Passage and the Reflections area. They say the experience is never the same, so even if you’ve been before it’s worth going again.

There’s also a huge outdoor space where you can see a face carved into a hillside and enjoy Art in the Park, as it’s known. And of course once you’ve done all that, you can go shopping too. The shop, Crystal Stage, is an experience in itself so be prepared to part with some cash if you love crystal jewellery (and since this day out is all about crystal I’m guessing that’s a distinct possibility). You’ll also find home and interior items and accessories here, so it could be an expensive day out (or not, depending on how restrained you can be!).

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Exploring the Botanical Garden in Innsbruck

Botanical Garden of Innsbruck
Botanical Garden of Innsbruck

While some places in Innsbruck are expensive to visit, the Botanical Garden of Innsbruck is not one of them. Indeed the park surrounding the huge greenhouses, the signature features of the gardens, is open all year round at no charge. If you visit on a Tuesday or Thursday afternoon between 1pm and 5pm you can pay just a couple of Euros to gain access to the tropical greenhouses. It’s worth doing, because it completes the experience the Botanical Garden has to share with you.

It’s hard to believe the history of the Botanical Garden goes as far back as 1793, although you’d have to go back a little over a century to 1906 to find it situated where it is now. There are several garden areas to visit while you’re there, but make sure you don’t miss the fragrance and touch garden. This really is an assault on the senses, and while everyone can appreciate it, it’s particularly suitable for disabled visitors.

Elsewhere you’ll find the cactus house, the succulent house and even an orchid house, so if you’ve never had much luck growing orchids you can see what they’re supposed to look like here. For anyone with an appreciation of the plant world, the Botanical Garden in Innsbruck is definitely the place to be.

Learn more on the Botanical Garden of Innsbruck here.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Try the Nordkettenbahnen – the Cable Railway


One of the most captivating things about Innsbruck is the contrasts that make it what it is today. There are sweepingly dramatic mountain landscapes, coupled with appealing shopping areas, classic history and a delectable range of coffee shops and restaurants to welcome you in. There is little not to love about it, for sure.

But now there is one additional thing to love, thanks to the Nordkettenbahnen, otherwise known as the cable railway. The railway operates every fifteen minutes, and whatever you may be doing in Innsbruck you should make the time to catch a cable car from there to be taken up the mountain. You’ll travel nearby 1700 metres upwards en route to your mountainous destination, giving you plenty of opportunity to get the camera out to mark the moment.

If you thought there were plenty of photo opportunities in Innsbruck itself, you’ll be met with plenty more as you head up the mountain and rise above the city. Regardless of the time of year you choose to make this journey, you’ll be amazed at the views that unfold above and below you as you creep up the mountain.

The views are stunning when there are blankets of snow settling down below and all around you, but even when the blanket is green with foliage during the summer, it looks quite remarkable. If you are lucky enough to visit during both seasons, you’ve a real treat in store as you witness both landscapes.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Exploring the Kaufhaus Tyrol shopping mall in Innsbruck

Kaufhaus Tyrol is a new modern shopping mall in Innsbruck Austria

There are many reasons to visit Innsbruck, so you don’t really need another one. But just in case you’re not quite sold on the idea of heading to the most charming and vibrant part of the Tyrol, here’s one that might tip the odds.

The Kaufhaus Tyrol is a huge shopping space that is simultaneously appealing, enthralling and very welcoming indeed. Austria in general is known for its coffee shops, resplendent as they are not just with coffee but with traditional Austrian treats and sweets. If you’re likely to shop until you drop, there are plenty of well situated venues to sit down in for a drink and a bite to eat until you get the feeling back in your feet!

One of the best things about Kaufhaus Tyrol is the incredibly welcoming feeling you get as soon as you walk along its streets. The downtown area offers a whole range of shops to cater for every need, all the while sharing space with those delectable cafes and establishments offering parasols, comfy chairs and tables to relax at. If you love nothing better than to watch the world go by, you can watch this particular part of the Tyrol more closely than ever thanks to the well planned area that is the Kaufhaus Tyrol in Innsbruck.

There are many reasons to love Innsbruck, not just to visit it. The newly reopened Kaufhaus Tyrol represents just another reason why this should be added to your (long) list of things to do in the area. 

See some pictures on their Facebook page here or contact each shop individually here .