The Great Lake Escape

In case you haven’t heard, it’s hot hot hot here in the Fatherland. I’m not complaining. I lived in southern Florida for a white hot second one summer and I really do love the heat, especially without air conditioning. Especially when I can spend all my time in the water.

Since I have the luxury of ditching work — which this week included rifling through pictures of babes in bikinis from Fashion Week Swim out of Miami that made me sweat more than the sun — we headed to the lake when the thermostat began to rise.

Me and another Mama packed up the kids and the sand toys in the station wagon and headed north to the Moehnesee in the Ruhrgebiet. We could’ve stayed in Cologne, where there’s a lot of lovely little beaches, both at public pools and at nearby lakes, but what’s the fun in that? I can look at shirtless tattooed meatheads at my gym (and boy do I!) and the kid can get assaulted by other rugrats over her shovel just as easily at our home playground (and boy does she!). Time for a change of scenery.

Finding a place to stay was a near-disaster because, you know, Germans. They plan their vacations at least a year in advance (seriously, a friend just asked me what I’m doing in March. March? Uh, can I get through July first?) and this equals a housing shortage for anyone not willing to take a vacation even when the weather sucks. Because really, who books a seaside vacation before they know the forecast? What’s there to do in the Ruhrgebiet if it rains? Visit the coal mining museum? No thanks.

After about a million phone calls with amazingly nice people who repeatedly told me I should’ve booked ages ago, I finally got us a little (and I mean tiny — 31 m2) holiday apartment with a swimming pool and a nice view of the lake from the balcony.

moehnenseeI’d link to the place but the owner was such a jerky perv, I don’t want to give him any more business. Initially, he didn’t want to rent to us because we had the kids with and he said it was too small, but since my bathing suit cover-up was transparent and he made no bones about staring at my chest the whole time, and he knew that we were city folk, he extorted a bit of extra money out of us (it was still a third the price of a seaside cottage (read: mobile home in a trailer park) in Holland) and that was that.

Having the pool was really nice because, despite the fact that this little old lake seems to have a no motor-boat policy and a couple of public beaches, the water was a little brown and the bottom a bit rocky for my liking. I don’t come from the land of 10,000 lakes, but I am pretty spoiled by the quantity and quality of the water I grew up near. If there’s a wake, I don’t care that I can’t see my feet, but if the water’s calm and all I can see is weeds, eek. Heaven forbid something actually brush my leg while in the water.

We paid to hit the private beach next to the Strand Hotel (where I would totally stay if I visited again) one day and though the weeds were less prevalent there, it was still a bit murky-bottomed and the water cold. The Diva didn’t care, but I guess with water wings and Crocs, you don’t much care about the goo under your feet. I really didn’t want to turn into my mother, standing on the shore grumbling about not being able to see my toes every time the kid begged me to go in, so at one point, I made it out to my waist and realized the lake is actually pretty deep for its small size. Rumor has it some people even do Scuba training there. Next time….

Monday there was a full moon so the tweenie daughter of my friend and I hit up a full moon paddleboard excursion around the lake. Neither of us had done it before and though fear is contagious and she was freaked by the idea, we both survived the trip totally dry. A woman and her teenaged daughters joined us for a birthday celebration that included a pretty awesome bridge-jumping expedition, but I stayed dry so we could get home to relieve the other Mama before Diva and Co. had a pre-bedtime breakdown. Sometimes, life in 30 m2 can be too much, even for someone under 3 feet tall.

In any case, it was a gorgeous way to spend a few days during this heat wave, even if it did mean I’ve spent the entire weekend and many a late night catching up on my work. Highly, highly recommend it. It was also really great for my body image. Although I won’t post any of the paddleboarding pictures because both tweenie and I are in our bathing suits (privacy, imagine that in today’s day and age!), we both figured out pretty early on during our visit to the beach that Fraus here are heavy into the concept that all bodies fit in bikinis. And if there’s no bikini in sight, a bra will do. What a bizarre, strange thing for us Americans to have to see. You can see now why I might actually like my adopted homeland, even if its lakes just aren’t the same. Curious to see just what the swimwear over in the States is like when we get there next week. And to do more paddleboarding. Fun fun fun in the sun!

**Once again, this is not a sponsored post. I wish.

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4 thoughts on “The Great Lake Escape

  1. Barb Taub July 29, 2013 / 8:46 am

    What’s with this heat? The week before last, I got a sunburn. In England. I sent pictures to everyone I know. Last week, got another sunburn, this time in Paris. Luckily, every restaurant in Paris has air-conditioning. (Translation: their glass fronts open to the street.)

    Sounds like you managed to have a great trip, despite the heat.

  2. Federico August 1, 2013 / 7:08 am

    Oh God, the thing about planning ages in advance is so true! I’m italian and we usually plan anything with, like, a couple of hours notice ^^ When I moved here in Berlin I was shocked to see this ueber-controlling side germans seem to have when it comes to organizing

  3. ebe August 7, 2013 / 6:34 pm

    Nice work getting out of the city! Every year about this time I start dreaming about a trip up to the coast….until I see EVERYTHING is booked out for ages. You’d think I would get smarter, but no – I am apparently sticking with my American last minute-ness.

    Sorry about the perv and interesting tidbit about lake scuba diving. Maybe there is hope for me next summer.

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