In Graz, between the hours of 18:00 – 23:00 hrs and on any day of the week, it’s a prosecutable offence to be seen on the streets if you’re not in visible possession of either an oversize ice-cream cornet or a bicycle.
Thankfully, the offence is very rarely enforced so we felt confident enough to break this particular European Union Directive as we wandered around Austria’s second largest city in excited and wondrous amazement. What a delightful place. And if we had to recommend a motorhome-friendly campsite to facilitate such a visit, then Reisemobil-Stellplatz Graz has to be at the top of our list!
As highly-qualified (but obviously not fully paid-up) cheapskates, we’d originally planned to stopover in an ‘aire’ catalogued as being close to Graz city centre. Our plans were thwarted when this turned out to be a down-at-heel industrial estate better suited as a TV location for a Scandi-noir gangland showdown. Onward then to our fall-back selection, this time a little way out of town, but when we reached it, we were suitably wowed!
This beautiful, well-established, tree-shaded site was adjoined by a huge, attractive-looking outdoor swimming pool – to which we would be granted free admission once we signed in for our one-night stopover. Access to the City centre? Yes, a bus ride away, from a stop within a short walk of the site. Just pick your spot, park up and let me know which one you’ve chosen, our genial gentleman receptionist informed us, in clipped but otherwise perfectly colloquial English.
So we did. Due to our newly adopted regime of travelling during the mornings, we’d arrived as the sun was casting welcome shadows into the early afternoon’s heat and our selected herb-fringed pitch provided both welcome shade and a view of the gently bustling swimming pool. With little hesitation we collected swimming gear and set off through the site towards the pool, grappling with both a keen sense of anticipation and our cumbersome sun-loungers.
Lawned surrounds, a poolside café; ice-cream pavilion; toddlers pool and a liberal scattering of sun-tanning bodies distracted us momentarily from the artificial islands, the wooden walkways and the distant diving platform all set in the informal, infinity-edged clear-water pool. What amazed us even more was the bottom of the pool itself, which was completely pebbled to provide a delightful finishing touch to this very stylish lido.
As if to further endorse its naturalised appearance, we realised that the indistinct trail of specks we could see in the middle-distance of the main pool were actually newly post-natal mallards, navigating their broods of bumble-bee costumed ducklings between the earnest, rubber-capped lengthers and the eagerly-thrashing schools-out pubescents, besporting themselves for the benefit of laughing companions.
The sun shone. We harvested envious glances as we gracefully reclined in our sun-loungers, our toned* bodies glistening with sun-lotion. We swam (yes, even your esteemed author deigned to enter the water – I’ve never swum with ducklings before); we lazed; we read our books and generally unwound (although from what, I’ve really no idea, as we’d been far too relaxed for the past three weeks, but it does sound busily impressive, does it not?)
And in between hazed bouts of dozing through the glorious weekday afternoon, we sketchily planned an evening bus ride into the lawless centre of Graz, where the cyclists and ice-cream shops were assumedly already doing their bit to challenge wholly fictional EU law-enforcement.