The Best of Holiday Travel- European Christmas Markets and Austrian Delicatessen

We landed at the Munich Airport on a cold and gray day and took a transport (a bus) 2 hours to Innsbruck. As soon as we dropped off our luggage at the hotel, we headed to the Old Town area - a five minute walk - and stumbled upon one of the most beautiful streets I've ever seen. If I hadn't been so jet lagged, I would have appreciated it more!

This is the ugliest street in Innsbruck. Only kidding! There is a commercial side to Innsbruck but the old town area is what everyone comes for. It is uniquely beautiful with a mix of architectural styles and the stunning background. We hired a private guide who showed us many hidden gems in Innsbruck, shared restaurant choices and the best bars to go to. She even showed us where one of the Von Trapp descendants lives.

The Austrian cuisine is both simple and complex! There is A LOT of pork and veal, often served as Wienerschnitzel - the meat is pounded flat, breaded and fried until crisp and delicious! There is a plethora of dumplings, pretzels (both hard and soft) and what they call salad...basically cole slaw with a vinegar dressing and to complete your meal, don't forget the apple strudel (the best one we had was from one of the booths in the Christmas Market). Our favorite meal, served at the Gasthaus Goldenes Dachl, was a simple mixed grill of beef, pork, frankfurter and turkey served with fried potatoes and garlic butter slathered green beans. Believe it or not, I only gained one pound (walking!!!) during the trip!

When I was searching for a holiday trip, I considered the Caribbean, Costa Rica, Italy and Spain but none seemed "Christmasy" enough. When one of my business contacts, a ski expert, suggested Innsbruck, it just seemed right. There is nothing more Christmasy than the famous European Christmas Markets!
The Christmas Markets are vendor booths where you can buy everything from bath soaps to bratwurst! I had read about them for years and was so excited to actually experience the Innsbruck Christmas Markets. Since they are outside in the freezing cold, they serve a hot drink called Gluhwein (pronounced Glue Vine), which is hot mulled wine with brandy and juices. It is addictive and much-needed to warm up in the Alps! They also have a kid's version, Punsch - one tasty one was orange and another had hot raspberries floating in it! The best thing is drinks are served in ceramic cups. They charge you a few extra euros that you get back when you return the cup! 

The Sworovski Chrystal Museum "Giant"

A must do is going to the Sworovski Crystal Museum. What they call "The Giant" above is the entry to the museum. It is quite avant garde, so be prepared! My husband thought it was interesting but odd! The photo below of a zebra in a pink shoe is indicative of the art at the Sworovski Museum. I loved it! An easy 25 minute bus ride from the Innsbruck train station also gave us a view of the countryside outside town.

This photo is of Maria Theresien Strasse, the main street and shopping area in Innsbruck.  I accidentally had a filter on that made the photo black and white. I think it turned out great and really gives you a feel for the true beauty of this little college town (yup, of the 130,000 people who live here, 30,000 are students) in the Alps.

A must do in Innsbruck is to take one of the gondolas to the top of the mountain. We took the Nordketten Bahnen, located next to the Innsbruck Congress at the center of town. There is even a zoo at the first level! This photo was taken from the top of the mountain high above Innsbruck  As I took this photo, I was humbled and grateful for the opportunity to be in one of the most beautiful places on earth.

My daughter, "D," LOVES ham and salami, so it was no surprise that every morning she would start her day at the breakfast buffet with chocolate croissants, a pile of smoked salmon and slices of salami! Then, later in the day she would eat a Speck sandwich, which is a ham sandwich. I hope she didn't inherit the high cholesterol my husband and I both have!

This photo is of the Goldener Adler Hotel and restaurant. It is an exceptionally beautiful Best Western Hotel featuring an exceptional restaurant serving traditional foods. Famous guests include Mozart, Goethe and Emperor Joseph II. 

This is the view from our cozy hotel room at the Grand Hotel Europa which we absolutely LOVED. It is located in a more commercial area of town, directly across from the train station, but we found it and the staff to be quite charming. 

On Christmas Day we took a walk across the river to see where the townspeople live and then strolled through many of the touristy shops which were open. We ate lunch at a pizza place that was very good. Later we stopped into Elferhaus for a beer and I ordered a soup with a dumpling. It really didn't look all that appetizing but the clear broth paired with the hearty dumpling studded with pork was DELICIOUS! I could not believe how delicious a simple bowl of soup could be!

Our guide shared with us that the name Innsbruck is derived from "Brücke" which means bridge and the river is named the Inn River, hence the name Innsbruck. The water was so blue-green or green-blue, not sure which ones says it better.  

We had a spectacular time in Innsbruck. Did it replace the Christmas Party that I miss so much, no. But, it did bring our little family of three closer together as we discovered a new city in a new country. It reaffirmed my beliefs about travel; this trip helped our family create unforgettable memories that we will carry in our hearts forever.

Contact Largay Advisor, Jeaninne Bottorff, at for more information about travel to Austria and/or the rest of Europe or call her at 571-732-0998.

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