Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Strandbad Gänsehäufel and Alte Donau Off-Season


I am not overexaggerating when I tell you looking at these photos I just uploaded almost brings tears to my eyes. The beauty of the frozen Alte Donau (that's where I use to go for an after-work swim during the summer months) and the magical atmosphere of the largest public bathing beach in Vienna during its hibernation touch me. May those photos move you, too. (You know who you are!)

But first things first! Last Saturday I had an appointment across the Danube River. The beauty of snow and ice fascinated me.
I know these waters very well from the summer months.

The very next day, Sunday, it did not take much to convince Mr Paula for a trip on the ice. He went for the onion-style (4-5 fleece sweaters and jackets), whereas I went for the fir tree-style, that never lets me down.
We planned a one-way trip, starting at the U6 Alte Donau and ending at U1 UNO City, heading south.
We took the subway (not very underground as you can see) Here the train arrives at the station Josefstädter Straße)

The weather had changed over night, blue sky accompanying the white snow perfectly.
I can only tell the best things about ice covered with snow: you don't slip and you easily can push aside all those worrying thoughts about cracking ice - because it is out of sight.
Who knew Vienna is a city for kite-surfing?
First we could not get close enough to the kites but as soon as we were surrounded by kite-surfers we hurried to get away from them. Too many strings attached!
ccchhhhhhhhhth. ccccchhhhhhhhhhhth. (I heard one in my back while I was taking this photo)
The wind had blown the snow away and around, we kept on looking out for the perfect trail.
You find a lot of cracks and there were the cracks happen, you can see how thick the ice is.
Mr Paula's shoe left gives you a clue how thick the ice was.
LinkLoyal readers might know this place from here, back then.
Cornices we usually get to see above 1500m
Humble, but nevertheless beautiful cornices
We walked down south and reached the Lower Old Danube after one hour. The man who walks his dog tried to convince his wife that the ice was safe. He had not convinced her by the time we left this spot but he took it easy.

The Old Danube is not to be confused with the Danube stream. The Old Danube is a groundwater lake, which known for perfect rowing conditions during the warmer months since there are close to no waves during the early morning hours.
A Rowing Club-House
Another Rowing Club-House

Sports in front of the Rowing Club-House. Can you see all the thermoses to the left? We did not leave the house without a proper thermos in the backbag.
Urban development close to the Old Danube, reminds me of a comic strip, somehow unreal. Unfortunately it is real ...
Bildunterschrift hinzufügen
Not far from this spot is the Strandbad Gänsehäufel.
Walking towards the lido. just like Jesus is one of the funniest things I can imagine. You approach the lido you know by heart from swimming there by walking there instead of swimming. Things like that make my day!
The Strandbad provides hundreds of cabins and lockers. The cabins in the towers are quite exclusive.

The Strandbad dates back over 100 years. The architecture you see was built after the damages that the bombardements during the last weeks of the 2nd World War had caused. The old architecture had been completely destroyed. The modern architecture from 1950 still looks so fresh. Of course after a complete renovation a few years ago it better looks fresh!
The cabanas are the de-luxe-cabins. People stay there during the day and seldom visit the beach with their beach chairs. They leave for a swim and come back after the swim. Over the years (regular customers own their cabanas over decades) people form a neighbourhood in their little community. De-luxe for the lower middle class and working class.
You need to picutre me, hopping around like a happy rabbit, drunken from all the beautiful details and sights and the scenery.
We climbed one of the cabin-towers to enjoy the view ...
It seems a bird had enjoyed the view, too.

From above the cabanas resemble a military camp!
Down there you don't realize how dense it is
my footprint
The watch-tower is the iconic building of the Gänsehäufel.
My and my parent's childhood memories date back to this wave pool. All the screaming during the short minutes where the waves were rolling through the pool and the unbelievable boo-ing and hissing when the pool attendant ended the waves. During those minutes, everyone turned into a child again. You could see people my age and above having fun just like the kids, moving up and down in the waves in the pool.
We used to rent a cabin in one of these blocks for many years.
An almost Japonesque patio with buoys waiting for the ice to melt.
A few showers that have not yet been replaced by modern stainless stell showers.
Recycling-bins (blue=metal, yellow=plastic, red=paper, brown=organic) during hibernation.
By the sheer number of bins you get the picture how large this public beach is.
This has been Mr Paula's first visit to the Gänsehäufel ever. He might have gotten a wrong impression what this place is like ;-)

This afternoon ended around 10pm, with Mr Paula and me returning from my parent's home where we enjoyed coffee and dinner. We are good in spontaneous self-inviting. Politics were not on the agenda, but Aveda shampoo and home improvement projects such as the new broom closet which is in the works. Nice!

Who would have thought that it is possible to tan during the winter months? I obviously tanned a little. And not doubt, these 2,5 hours we spent on the ice were a great anti-depressive-therapy, with all the bright light.


  1. wow, I really enjoyed this mini tour of some of your favourite places in Vienna.
    I'll definitely *hire* you when I visit :-D

  2. these are very pretty and we love all that snow, gorgeous! :)

    xx, Sabinna and David
    Broken Cookies

  3. coffeeaddict, glad you enjoyed it!
    You can bet, it would be a "crafty" tour, with you and me.

    Sabinna and David, thank you for your visit! We are lucky, it has been the second winter in a row with snow in Vienna.

  4. Yikes; I recall going iceskating on the lakes in Salzburg, when I was a child, but for some reason I'm very hesitant to go onto the "old danube". A couple of years ago we drove to lake Neusiedl - no prob there, but we did stay quite close to the shore. ;-) The Mr. and I sure enjoy the "tacky" Rathausplatz, though - including the snacks and according "equipement" ;-). It'll take (a little) more time for me to accept spontaneous invites, but I'll let you know, as soon as we're up for it. :-) Take care and have a great weekend - xox, Macs

  5. Oh, these are lovely photos, such a beautiful winter landscape.

  6. Ms Paula --

    Your last several posts have been wonderfully escapist for me (well, not the parental one, though I was fascinated throughout) but this one is truly magical. I'm totally disoriented re the lido, however -- it doesn't seem quite right without bathing suits in the frame.

    It sounds like the day was full of adventure and you're absolutely right about all that bright light reflecting off the sun being a mood booster. Or so I recall!

    Stay warm and enjoy your tea a bit more now that it's poured from such a charming new pot.

  7. What a lovely outing, the pleasure of sunshine and crisp, clean snow. I am envious that you have such lovely winters and then, at the same place, water warm enough to swim in!

  8. Macs, I definitely need to "borrow" my niece and visit the Rathausplatz.

    Lemon, my pleasure!

    Vix, you are right about the disorientation, those paths to the lido, when coming from work - in the summer months they use to be endless and exhauting, walking under the hot sun. During winter time they are nice walks.

    Share my Garden, I have not thought about it that way. I only see the effort: our climate requires two complete wardrobes, which takes up a lot of space!

  9. Deine Bilder sind herrlich. Du hast wirklich ein Auge für schöne Momente. Verfolgt!