My Travels: Ian Dempsey
Ski fan and Today FM host Ian Dempsey shares his tips on and off-piste in Bad Hofgastein.
Why Bad Hofgastein?
First of all, it's in Austria. And the Austrians love the Irish. I think they understand Ireland's way of enjoying ourselves - we're loud but not necessarily dangerous... Secondly, Bad Hofgastein is just over an hour from Salzburg so it's a quick transfer. And lastly, because we all have different needs (God help us), it's got great thermal spas too.
What should I pack?
Your ski gear - even if you aren't skiing. Comfortable boots for walking. And don't forget your togs for those great spas. Most of the good hotels actually have thermal water in their hotel pools. It's like being able to swim in your bath!
Where's best to stay?
The lovely Hotel Norica, which is connected to the Alpentherme Spa through an underground route. Robes are supplied - you really don't want to see me in my nip. This year we stayed at the Grand Hotel Park. Amazing staff, and a very friendly bar!
What's the first thing to do when you arrive?
Get your ski hire done ASAP. It's like signing in and they have it down to a fine art. Once that's out of the way you can relax. Second thing - have a glass of one of their great Austrian red wines. I love Big John! It's a bit special. And thirdly, have another one!
Where to meet friends for food and/or drinks?
Wirtshaus Tropferl is a really nice traditional restaurant. If you head up the road to Bad Gastein, there is a gorgeous place in Villa Solitude (where we stayed some years ago) called Lutter & Wegner. There are lots of great small bars around town including Salute, and also The Glocknerkellar.
Favourite ski run?
Any easy one! I'm told the ski runs in Dorf Gastein are nice easy blues, and the black runs down to Angertal are superbly challenging. I've no reason not to believe them!
What should I avoid?
Saying "Yeah I'll see you at 7am" when you leave your friends at 3.45am - you won't make it. Sharing your hilarious 'no clothes on' selfie - it won't be as funny when you get home. Oh, and drinking out of a glass that's bigger than your head...
What should I bring home?
A nice bottle of Austrian red wine (Big John or Gabarinza), some Speck (their cured ham), Mozart Balls (their famous chocolates) and a very large Chocolate Milka Ski - the kids love them.
Ian Dempsey is broadcasting live from Austria for the Topflight Today FM Ski Trip 2016 (Jan 26-29). See topflight.ie.