Thursday, August 06, 2009

Swimming in the Neusiedlersee

From Esterhaza in Fertod we drove back into Austria and followed the Souceks to Illmitz, a favorite swimming spot on an interesting lake. The Neusiedlersee is basically Europe’s largest rainpuddle, known for its birds (it is a protected refuge) and for its reeds (thatched roofs and basket-making are common here). It also disappears occasionally, last noted in 1866. I guess it is regulated now with a sluice (I don’t know what that is, but perhaps you do). Rob says it is the closest thing they have to Utah Lake, only with no carp or I-15, and castles and vineyards instead.
[click to enlarge]
Illmitz was a great place to swim, with all of the concessions, showers, cabanas, playgrounds and restaurants that we’ve come to expect from the Europeans. There were plenty of Europeans, too – playing cards, taking the waters and wearing a lot less than we do. I have felt so overdressed in my bathing suit here!
We just couldn’t leave, and then we had dinner and it continued to get prettier and prettier.

So we stayed.

We stayed a little longer and liked it even more.
The bugs started to come out, and the birds came out and had a buffet.
We finally left at nine when it was getting dark, and brought four very tired kids home by ten.
The kaputniks were having a big party when we pulled up, and one of them came up to the car as Rob was parking. Rob knew he was going to ask for money. When the kids brought up the bags, they told me "Papa told him he wouldn't give him any money because he'd pinkled in the spielplatz!" It was true. He had. But I couldn't believe Rob had said that to him! I asked Rob later what his reaction had been. He'd said "Yes, some of them do that, and I tell them 'why use the playground for a bathroom? there are perfectly good bushes right here!'"
It has turned out to be a dramatic lesson for the kids. Sebi says he's never touching alcohol, and now all three of them have seen what happens when you drop out of school and don't have a job. I think knowing what that looks like is going to help us to motivate them when it is time to do homework. Nevertheless, I'll be happy to send them out to the backyard again.

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