Life in the Austrian Alps

Some people are more patriotic than others. Americans obviously are right up there. Irish people can vary hugely. But some of the proudest I’ve met have been Austrians. It’s nothing to do with the Austro-Hungarian Empire, but more to do with the amazing landscape and countryside they have.

Can you name a famous Austrian? Well there’s Hermann Maier, Gerhard Berger (my favourite), Mozart, Strauss, Sigmund Freud, Klimt and of course Arnie.

I’ve a good friend, Jopo, who lives in Bregenz, west Austria. I’ve been to visit him several times, but he’s never come to Ireland, despite repeated invites. His logic is simple. There’s something to do in Austria 12 months of the year. Could he come in winter? No, it’s skiing season in the mountains. Could he come in summer? No, it’s time for watersports on the lake, mountain climbing and enjoying the sun. So what’s wrong with the autumn?? Oh he’s getting ready for winter again.

So earlier this month we went to Ischgl, in Tirol for 4 days’ skiing. It’s known as the Ibiza of the Alps and it certainly lived up to that. Apres-ski starts to peak around 4pm and continues all evening. The biggest bar, Kuhstall, is a heaving mass of people in ski boots and ski pants, all drinking Weisse beer and dancing to cheesy German pop (and DJ Otzi). But the skiing was also class. Over 235km of slopes and you can even ski down into Switzerland on the “duty free run”. So many slopes that you’d never get bored. The mountain is huge.

In May, Ischgl has an end of season party, at the top of the mountain. This features a world class singer or band, which plays to 20,000 people relaxing on the side of the mountain. This year Alicia Keys is the headliner, but they’ve had everyone from Tina Turner to Bob Dylan before. This place knows how to party.

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