In Innsbruck I ate vegetarian. And it was amazing. The sweet little town of Innsbruck was so much more than I had ever imagined. It was small, but full of life and true sense of community. It had that old world European charm combined with a scenic background that was to die for. Once home to the Winter Olympics, the mountain range and overall outdoor surroundings that layered the town center were unbelievable.
We arrived by train from Salzburg early Tuesday morning. Squeezed into our jam packed travel schedule to break up busy cities and long days of exploring, we looked to Innsbruck as a day of rest. Some place to go where we didn’t feel the pressures to stack our day with museum after museum or sight after sight. We were simply visiting to enjoy and relax for a much needed 24 hours of nothing but breathing in the fresh air of what I would call, one of the worlds most beautiful areas. We stayed at a gorgeous new hotel called Hotel Adlers. Just a few blocks from the train station and steps away from the center of the town. The hotel takes pride in promising a prominent view from every hotel room, so we were looking forward to seeing what it had to offer. With top story luck and floor to ceiling windows, we got a million dollar view of the mountain range and sights overlooking the town. It was exactly what we were wishing for and was absolutely stunning.
Having the urge to just relax in our hotel room all day and stare out the insanely large windows at the mountainous ski jumps and snow capped points, we forced ourselves to walk around the city a bit. We did a little research only to find that one of the best restaurants in all of Innsbruck was a vegetarian restaurant. A bit skeptical, we thought, a day of veggies was probably a very good idea! The restaurant was called Chez Nico. It was buried within a side street of a square amongst cobblestone roads and cracked cement fountains. It offered a set lunch menu paired with regional wine. Austria, much like Germany, is known for a lot of beer… but they do have a spectacular white wine scene. After drowning ourselves in red wine while we were in Italy, beer and white wine have been a nice change of pace! The owner of the restaurant, Nico, is French.. So he infuses his French background to create one of a kind vegetarian dishes using all local/organic ingredients from his very own garden. Talk about fresh!! Also, it is white asparagus season here in Europe, and the Europeans take that very seriously. Every corner you pass, every market you cross, white asparagus is literally the center of attention. It’s actually quite refreshing to see just how seasonally their eating habits are in this region. Unlike how a lot of Americans shop in the States, Europeans eat strawberry’s when it is strawberry season, and a whole lot of white asparagus when it is white asparagus season. This is something that struck me as a really cool way of life. Needless to say, our three course vegetarian lunch infused a healthy amount of asparagus. And every last bite was delicious!
After our bellies were filled with nothing but fresh veggies and a small dose of crisp white wine, we strolled through the town to see it’s history and what it was all about. The town center reminded me a lot of Salzburg, but on a much smaller scale. With old buildings holding their authenticity and pastel colored structures correlating along the river, it was marveling. Not to mention the mountains hugging the entire town! We stumbled upon an indoor market that reminded us a lot of Reading Terminal Market. Reading Terminal Market is the most amazing place in the world – located in Philadelphia, it’s a whole establishment dedicated to local vendors who sell their home grown fruits, vegetables, flowers and so much more… Including an array of different meal choices. With local food carts and cheese stands that overlap with homemade donut stands… It’s easily the best place ever. My husband and I would spend our entire weekends there when we lived just a few blocks away. At the market in Innsbruck, we roamed around reminiscing about all it’s similarities that we are used to. We went from stand to stand trying different fruits and vegetables while also looking at homemade souvenirs. We picked up a carton of the most amazingly delicious strawberries. So big and juicy and beautifully red! We then made our way to the local wine vendor and gracefully worked with the owner to pick out a perfect Austrian white wine. We took our treats from the market back to our hotel room where we relaxed over some vino and watched the sun set over the mountains…. Finally getting our much needed relaxation time with quite a view.
That night, we went to a “famous” restaurant/bar where Innsbruck folk like to hang out, watch games and converse – The place was called Rox and it had a really cool vibe. It almost had the feel of a Philadelphia sports bar combined with slightly older character (just being European gives it naturally old character). We drank big dark beers and ordered bar food that was so so good!! After our Austrian bar scene experience, we made our way up to the hotel rooftop bar where we had cocktails and enjoyed the views of the picturesque mountain range.
The next morning we sprinted to the train station to catch our train to Munich. You know in the movies sometimes there is that really awkward character sprinting to the train station, knocking everyone over, making fellow walking pedestrians feel really uncomfortable? Well that’s Mike and me. And we’re usually a little (or really) stressed out, in which case causes me to drop my bags on occasion, making everything ten times worse. Ah the joys of traveling by train for three months!
Until tales of our liter beers and castle tours from the region of Bavaria, bon voyage!