We just returned home from holidays in Austria. When I last saw my family in Salzburg in May I asked them if they wanted to go on a holiday together. My office closes for two weeks in August, so I had to take the time off anyway. And I wanted to see my family, but I also wanted to do something that feels more like a holiday than hanging out at my mom’s and my sister’s place.
They agreed and so we went looking for a place to rent for a week for 6 to 8 adults and 4 small kids. I’d have loved to go to Croatia, but the triplets aren’t up for long car rides. In the end we decided on lake Neusiedl. It’s only an hour from Vienna. I didn’t find anything on Airbnb but I got some recommendations from a friend so I found apartments in Podersdorf. It’s the only beach of lake Neusiedl, all other places have the Schilfgürtel (a belt of reeds around the lake, sometimes several kilometres deep).
The apartments were in an area from Podersdorf that time forgot. Dark red curtains, weird green couches, balcony tables far to large for the balcony. My sister thinks they just put everything that’s no longer needed in the nice hotel in these apartments. It was cheap, though, and there was a Spar with excellent air conditioning only 200 metres away. And a little playground (a swing, a plastic house, and a slide) in the yard right underneath a tree. My sister had even packed an inflatable pool for the kids.
Apparently they are really proud of their heating, not that we ever needed it.
I mention the air conditioning, because it was really very hot. I’d happily run all shopping related errands just to check out the supermarket’s drinks department, separated by a door and extra cool. When I booked the apartment I was a little worried what we’d do with 3 cranky toddlers if it rained for an entire week. Summers in Austria are no guarantee for sunshine. They can go either way. But instead of rain we had a week of 32 – 35 degrees celsius. The lake had the temperature of a bathtub.
The cool thing about Podersdorf is that the lake doesn’t get much deeper than 1m there. Even I can comfortably walk all the way to the buoys. It also means that when we went into the water with the triplets my shoulders were rarely under water and despite the SPF 50 I got a sunburn on the first day.
The kids have just started to enjoy the water more – they have been visiting my dad’s partner’s family and their pool and I think their step cousins left a big impression. A. mentioned their diving several times (“auch untertauchen!”) and wanted to try as well. She only ever let the water cover her mouth, swallowing a bit of sea water, but on the last day she wanted to go without the floating tyre, to practice.
The other cool thing about lake Neusiedl is that with the apartment you get a card that lets you use the bus and the Strandbad for free. I misplaced mine about 2 days in and posed as my brother in law for the next several days. I blamed the loss of my card on the kids – they often showed up in our room before 7 am to watch youtube videos or photos. Sometimes I could keep them busy (and let their parents and sisters sleep a little longer), but sometimes the videos just didn’t cut it and they went back to their room to ask “Mama, mama, mama!” until she woke up (“Oh, she woke up!”). I still have the earworms from all the children’s songs in my head and they will never leave me (“Daddy finger, daddy finger weh a yu.”)
A few years ago I was at a friends party and somebody there kept saying “Lieb sein, nicht zwicken!” to their kid all the time. He never tried to pinch me, so I found her constant reminder more annoying than his interest in his surroundings.
With the triplets, my sister had to be more specific on occasion: Don’t pinch, scratch, bite or push your sister!” They could be extremely cute, all three of them on a tire swing on the playground, singing “happy birthday to you, marmalade im schuh” for every person they know. But they can be grumpy little beasts when they get tired and hungry and nothing is more tiring than a day at the beach.
We also went on a carriage ride in the nature reserve. Two mares pulled our carriage and impressed the kids. We got to see white donkeys, which are bred there. We saw herons and geese and cows. And we saw very little water – the summer has been so dry that a lot of the marshland that makes up the nature reserve has dried up. The coachman kept pointing out the places that are usually water.
An old drawing well and a tent like structure for sheperds
The lack of water meant that there were fewer mosquitoes than usual, but Gergö is still covered in many, many purple welts. Normally it’s me with the giant swollen mosquito bites, I don’t know why they went after him this time. I appreciate it, though. They even stung him on his ear, the soles of his feet and inside his belly button.
I’m a giant hypochondriac, so I immediately assumed Lyme disease when some of the stings developed a red circle. Then the red cross called and asked for blood donations and we found out that visits to Lower Austria get you banned from donating blood in France for 4 weeks, because there’s West Nile Virus.
It turned out to be an allergic reaction, of course, but now that I read up on West Nile Virus I have an entirely new disease with vague symptoms I can imagine having.
On Saturday my dad visited and we went on a boat ride. It was just families with little kids, a lot of “Arthur, be careful!”, “Leni, don’t lean out of the boat.” We went past Hölle, the hottest corner of Austria, apparently.
Then, in the afternoon we rented a pedal boat. We got one that looked like a beetle car and had a slide down the front of the boat. I imagined it would be dangerous, having these difficult to steer boats with kids sliding down being squished between them. But the lake is so shallow everyone but the kids could just stop the boats and even steer them from the outside while we were waiting to catch the sliding kids.
At the moment stand up paddling is all the rage and my brother in law recently got a board. I thought you just stand on a surf board, but the SUP is in fact inflatable. I tried it out as well and promptly fell on my butt. With a little instruction from the resident paddler, the second attempt went okay. It’s really not that difficult and my sense of equilibrium isn’t bad after all these years of yoga and pilates. But sports in a swimsuit on a reflecting surface must be the worst idea for someone with my skin color.
On the weekend Podersdorf had a Feuerwehrfest, the equivalent of the bal de pompiers in France. We dropped by for a cheap beer and terrible oompah music. It turns out there’s a Hungarian version of Rosamunde and my brother in law knows all the words to it.
On Sunday it finally cooled down and it was windy. The lake was covered in the sails of kite surfers.
We had to get to Vienna to catch out flight, so we packed and left by bus. Then we took a train to Vienna, and Gergö forgot his suitcase on the train. He noticed 5 minutes after leaving the train but it was already gone when he went back to check. We spent a few hours trying to get it back, but the lost & found is closed on a Sunday and all we could do was write a message to get it delivered to France.
The ÖBB will send the suitcase to France for 30 €, that’s the same price as booking an extra piece of luggage for a cheap flight by Austrian Airlines, in case you were wondering. The one thing I’m concerned about is the damp towel I wrapped my damp biknis in before packing it in Gergös suitcase. I’ll find out if polyester molds soon enough, I guess. Maybe this means Gergö will stop making fun of me for the time I forgot to pack knickers for a week in Vienna. Probably not.
Burgenland also has storks and we spotted some
The nests are very distinctive.
That’s what happens if you leave us alone with an enormous water melon
ice coffee in Austria is cold coffee with vanilla ice cream and whipped cream. Nothing like café frappé and very much recommended on hot summer days
Sunflowers grow to gigantic sizes in Burgenland, apparently