The Blue Danube

Can you believe this is in Vienna? The Danube takes up a good chunk of this sleepy capital, sedately gliding past the modern ‘skyscraper’ section, nudist zones and extensive parks.

Before the multi-storey revolution happened however, the Danube decided to leave the perimeter of the city and make a run for it. Tamed back into submission soon after, any bird can see that the water now forms a distinct D. In the pregnant part this D is a slower, cleaner, blue-er version of the famed Danube. Sufficiently slow to play some competitive kayak-polo/hockey.

Safe enough for a 10 year old to take an inflatable raft out with absolutely no skill or fitness whatsoever, this lazy arm of the river and its daredevils or lack thereof, provided much comfort to my over-anxious swimming persona.

I have been trying to learn how to swim for a while now. I’ve had enough lessons to put my teacher off teaching for the rest of his life and still manage to lurch backwards every third stroke. After I managed to tear my extremely attractive bright yellow silicone swim cap earlier this summer, I decided the only way to swim was to take to the water like a true Viennese woman. Head up, or more importantly, hair up and out of the water. This is a skill I have yet to master without getting a massive crick in my neck.

If I ever tire of trying to swim, there are other ways to enjoy this natural gem within the city-limits. Armed with paddles, I could bat away at floating reeds without wondering if they were snakes encircling my legs or fish nibbling at my toes. A slime-free boarding experience wouldn’t go amiss either. The mossy sludge by the banks just as you lower yourself into the water helps you to appreciate the cold, steel step-ladders of over-chlorinated swimming pools. Then again, where would I be without the delicious thrill of doing something that slightly scares me.

Afterall, every struggle has its rewards. I ponder this as I watch the sun go down over the water, content, sunburnt and with the love of my life and a picnic.

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