…..they’ve all been smuggled down those blokes’ trunks.”
An insightful statement made by my husband as we enjoyed a bit of people-watching by the lake. Although we were aware that most European men seem to have eschewed the British male’s predilection for surf shorts, the appearance of these Budgie Smugglers was quite alarming. One or two specimens parading on the wooden jetty and plunging into the warm waters of Lake Ossiach were passable, being of the Daniel Craig ‘short’ design, keeping everything nice and tidy in discreet navy blue lycra. But there can be no possible reason for choosing a bright red shiny ‘pouch’ or a skimpy yellow pair decorated with large red stars?
The red pouch belonged to a chap we nicknamed Sylvester The Cat as he appeared to have successfully captured Tweetie Pie. The Daniel Craig undies belonged to one half of the ‘loved-up couple’ who smooched and petted on the decking so much that I had to turn the other way. It was either that or shout “Get a room!’ which I decided would be of little help as it was obvious they had only just left said room to cool off in the water.
I was rather fond of Ageing Rocker, partly because he wore sensible knee-flapping shorts and partly because he sported a rather fine mullet. A charming family man, he was also the owner of a beautiful dog, some kind of Alsatian/Collie/Husky cross (an Alcohollie perhaps?), which pined whenever anyone in the family disappeared for a quick dip.
The apartments were very dog-friendly, which worried me a little before we arrived as I imagined being over-run by lolloping, barking, slavering mutts. I was pleasantly surprised to note that all the dogs behaved extremely well, either because they were well trained or suffering from heat exhaustion. Interestingly, we came across many dog-friendly attractions during our stay: some places allowed dogs to stay in a little canine crèche where they were looked after and given water and toys to play with.
People-watching became a highlight of our ‘languishing by the lake days’ which accounted for about half of our holiday. We decided we had no wish to sightsee all the time and, quite frankly, the oppressive heat made us alter some of our choices in any case. Our lake days were therefore very relaxed and gained us brownie points with Rory who was allowed to sleep until lunchtime. This was made much easier by the system in the apart-hotel by which they delivered breakfast to all apartments every day. There was no restaurant, so residents in each apartment could state a time when their breakfast tray would be delivered. We chose an early 7.45 slot so we could enjoy the most pleasant part of the day, sitting on the balcony, overlooking the fields and the lake whilst watching the trains clickety-clack by; an unexpected pleasure rather than a noise nuisance. Our breakfast, as you can see below, consisted of yoghurts, juice, muesli, meats, cheese, jam, fresh eggs (to cook as you wish), bread, cake, tea and Nespresso capsules. There was always enough to allow us to create lunch too. No need to steal from the buffet this year. However we did have a tendency to keep all that we were given so, by the end of the holiday, our fridge was groaning with stockpiled yoghurts and my case was slightly fuller because of our stash of excess Nespresso capsules to take home.
Dougie’s Holiday Tips #No 1 : If your apartment has no ice cube tray, empty the small Nutella/honey/pate pots, clean thoroughly and fill with water. Please note that yoghurt pots are too large and resulting ice requires much hammering which can be lethal.
|Breakfast at Apart Hotel Legendaer
Our lunch coincided with Rory’s breakfast after which, another few hours by the lake, this time admiring the elderly Austrian couple who were so strikingly handsome I felt they must have been the Brad and Angelina of their day. They were owners of one of the apartments and, while the rest of us competed in the unseemly European Bed and Brolly steeplechase, they shimmied down to the water’s edge, swam for twenty minutes then stretched themselves out on the jetty before returning to their apartment, a beatific smile and a greeting for everyone.
In the evening we were too hot to drive into town – and in any case we weren’t keen to repeat our first night experience of turning up uninvited to a hotel’s All Inclusive buffet. It was the most dire food and, although we stayed (Why? The staff were so kind and hospitable to this odd British family desperate for food) Dougie warned us to keep away from the creamy desserts which had melted into the thick sludge of, what he termed, Salmonella Surprise.
Instead we either catered for ourselves, courtesy of a most excellent Spar shop in Bodensdorf, or walked to a local restaurant, The SeeRestaurant Steindorf, a few hundred meters away which, although part of a campsite, had a great reputation, serving great meat and fish dishes and where I became acquainted with the Hugo and Aperol spritz. Hugo is an elderflower, mint and Prosecco cocktail and Aperol, a gaudy Irn Bru coloured drink which you mix with Prosecco and soda. I have to thank Emma from A Bavarian Sojourn for introducing me to both!
Back at the apartment we had three TVs to choose from and only one English-speaking channel, CNN, so we took turns in jabbing the remote to find something entertaining to watch. Found some shockingly bad programmes, such as the Schlager Party. Apparently there is a real interest in Eurovision style pop in this part of Europe. A succession of boom-bang-a-bang pop songs and power ballads filled the screen. I will never forget You Raise Me Up accompanied by a man making bubbles, his hands plunging intermittently into a washing up bowl . Another night we discovered a choir programme where delights such as Yellow Submarine and Yes, We Have No Bananas were systematically murdered in four-part harmony.
Rory took advantage of the free WiFi and extra iPad which was provided for each apartment, to Skype his girlfriend back home. He was a contented lad. I spent a fruitful hour planning the trips for the following days and writing out routes from Google Maps. Dougie, on our nights in, became the head chef, cooking up some fabulous meals with steaks or chops from the butcher, artfully arranged on a bed of Uncle Ben’s microwave Mexican or Mediterranean rice.
Dougie’s Holiday Tips #No 2 – Sauce for pork chops can be created by adding jam from breakfast to the pan with a glug of wine.
As soon as the lights were off and bedtime beckoned, we could open up the shutters to let the breeze in but keep the bugs out. It worked a treat with regard to the insects but for a whole fortnight there was hardly a breath of air to waft the net curtain. The sound of an Oompah band drifted in from time to time and once, very loudly at 2am one morning, sirens began wailing across the lake to summon the firemen to duty………another budgie to rescue?