24 August 2011

'Bads' Never Felt So Good

On a sweltering, mid-August day (hotter than normal, according to everyone we asked), we visited Freibad Muhleholz, the outdoor swimming pool in Vaduz. It’s an impressive public swimming space, with an Olympic sized pool, a diving pool, a tall, twisting water slide and a third pool with some sort of strange, large, rubber ball at its center. Primped teenage girls served themselves up on cement tanning platforms and their male counterparts stopped by between dives. Most of the jumpers were younger and less skilled. Some didn’t wind up jumping at all. There's a grassy lawn and beach volleyball court, but even the most intent sun-worshippers sought shade the day we were there. We're in the middle of a heat wave.
Liechtenstein is the only double-landlocked country in Europe and only one of two double-landlocked countries in the world. This means that it doesn’t border any oceans and none of the countries that border it touch any ocean either. So, basically, there’s no such thing as hitting the coast. Understandably, Liechtenstein is swimming in swimming pools or “bads.” “Freibads” are outdoor ones and “hallenbads” are indoor ones. This freibad is at our campsite and is almost consistently occupied. It’s hard to resist when your shelter (i.e. tent) sits in the sun all day. Plus, you can’t beat these views.
In the town of Schellenberg, we moved indoors – both to a bed and a ‘hallenbad.’ You can hear splashing from almost every backyard in the small, residential village. Aboveground pools, some inflatable, some more permanent, can be spotted behind most fences. Not that I’m a Peeping Tom or anything. The best part about the Hotel Krone’s indoor pool was its openness. An entire wall was windowed, which made the room brighter and prettier. Swimming noodles, water weights and boogie boards were piled up on one end, next to an exercise bicycle.
The other indoor pool we’ve utilized is in Eschen and is a lot different than we expected. The speedo-wearing lap swimmers and excited kids were predictable, but the wooden ceilings, paper lanterns and windowed walls made it feel a lot less enclosed, unnatural and gymnasium-like. The atmosphere (and less oppressive chlorine levels) made us feel a lot less guilty for being inside on a summer day. Everyone likes a good swim and double-land-locked Liechtenstein knows that sometimes you’ve just gotta do what you’ve gotta do.

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