Vacation & Travel:  Austria
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A Magical Christmas In Austria: By Jeff Lovett
For our daughter’s first Christmas we really wanted it to be magical. Amanda and I had been to the Tyrol region of Austria during the summer of 2014 and had a great time in Seefeld (read more about that trip in a future post). We had talked about going back some time in the winter, so we started kicking around the idea of that being our Christmas trip. We had built up a large amount of Avios points, as members of British Airways Executive club, (BA’s version of frequent flyer miles), and when we checked we had enough points to fly to Munich with their codeshare partner, Qatar Airways. From Munich, it was a quick train ride and we were in the capital of the Tyrol region, Innsbruck.

We stayed at the Hilton, in Innsbruck, which I thought was a great location. It was a couple of blocks straight up the street from the Train station. We didn’t realize quite how close it was at first. Considering we had a stroller, multiple suitcases and an 8 month old we got a taxi to the hotel. The taxi driver asked if we were sure we needed him because it was so close. We said yes and he was nice enough to not charge us very much because it truly was within walking distance, and we walked to the station when we left Austria.

The Christmas market from the hotel was also only a couple of blocks away and it was amazing. There are all kinds of great homemade arts and crafts, Christmas ornaments and live music from a traditional Austrian brass group. We also got to experience the wonderful mulled wine and chestnuts actually roasted on an open fire! We were wanting “magical” and we truly got it!

If anyone out there has food allergies, they know how hard it can be to eat while traveling. We found Innsbruck restaurants, by and large, were very good about being able to meet our dietary needs. In particular, there were plenty of great gluten free options; especially, great for us was Vapianno’s right next to our hotel. Vapianno’s is a pasta and pizza casual style restaurant chain based out of Germany. They have a huge selection of wonderful gluten free pastas and pizzas. All I can say is that I am glad we were doing a lot of walking and learning to ski because we loved the food so much we ate there quite a bit. Another place we went numerous times was Café Munding. Café Munding is a bakery and restaurant, which does various gluten free baked goods; in particular, their macaroons are amazing. However, the best thing there has to be their hot chocolate. It is served to you, with each piece separate and you put the ingredients together yourself. The hot chocolate comes with a steaming hot cup of milk, an in-house made ball of chocolate and homemade whip cream. I am salivating just thinking about it!

I mentioned skiing, and neither Amanda nor I have ever skied before. While we went up to several of the mountain top ski slopes and enjoyed the amazing views and piping hot cider and mulled wine at the tops of the mountains, we took our lessons a little lower at INTERSPORT Patscherkofel in Igls. The instructor was really patient with us, and since we had a young child they basically let us buy a two hour training session and then we took turns with the instructor. When we weren’t skiing we were able to enjoy the café and watch all the lessons. We later found out they had a rental place in town right next to our hotel and we could have rented our equipment there and taken a complimentary shuttle to the slope but we didn’t mind taking the public bus either, that way we could hop off when we wanted and explore other areas along the way. Next time we go back, I want to try the bobsled runs they have there, they looked like a lot of fun!

There is so much to see and do in Innsbruck that I could probably write a small book but some of the other highlights we took part in were a Christmas Day horse and carriage ride around the town, a day trip via train to Seefeld, ice skating at an outdoor skating rink and the fireworks at New Years. Next time we go I would like to go to the Alpine zoo, go to some of the museums and attend a ski jumping competition. We are already looking forward to our next trip!

Austria: By Amanda Lovett
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