Our week of home-grown fun in Vienna continued last week with, of all things, a trip to the pool. We wanted the boys to really enjoy our stay-cation, so we asked them what they wanted to do during our collective week off. Liam’s first choice was the Riesenrad, which we visited on our first day, while B’s chose a trip to the pool, which surprised us (we’d been thinking of, and suggesting, more wintry activities, such as skiing or skating).
I thought, since we were on vacation, that maybe we could find something particularly fun, in terms of swimming, rather than just going to our usual pool where the boys took a few lessons last year. A little poking around online led me to “discover” Dianabad — a very kid-friendly resort-type set up quite close to our apartment (and only two blocks from our first home in Vienna).
It was excellent. At €23, it was a little expensive for a 2 hour visit (which included the time it took us to locate lockers and get changed — never an easy task for a family of four) but it was well worth it. I was very pleasantly surprised by how many fun areas there were, and how each area catered to a different age and swimming skill level. It was basically like a massive indoor water playground, and the kids loved it.
As the boys are not yet good swimmers (although they’d say otherwise) we started in the baby pool, for ages 6 and under. The water was warm and shallow (knee-deep on Liam) but included an easy to negotiate water slide for the little ones. The water was shallow enough that the boys were able to crawl around and splash, immediately getting them back to being comfortable in the water.
They bored of that part pretty quickly, though, so we went on to explore the other areas. In the next level up (in terms of age — for 8 and under), the boys explored a tire swing in the water, a tunnel they could crawl through, another water slide, slightly deeper and cooler water, and huge overhead fountains that sprayed water for a few minutes at a time every so often. They then moved on to the pirate ship area (for 14 and under) with even more slides — this time, the slides landed in water deep enough to be about chest-height on the boys when they were sitting, and which splashed up into their faces when they arrived at the bottom. It was *perfect* for stretching their self-imposed limits just a little at a time, while not putting them into any kind of peril.
They had a fantastic time, and so did we. The variety of activities meant that no one got bored, and each of the boys was able to choose an area that fit their comfort level. In addition to the kids-specific areas, there was also a “river” with floating inner tubes, a massive wave pool (which Liam loved wading through) and an impressively enthusiastic water slide. It was more like being at a water park than it was like “just” going to the pool.
And, because it’s Vienna, things were pretty laid back. Most of the kids over the age of about 8 were only vaguely supervised by their parents, although the behavior of all of the kids was pretty good, and the older ones did a generally good job of watching out for the little ones. Their were only 2 lifeguards on duty for the entire pool, and they were focused on the big wave pool — parents are expected to watch over their littler kids in the children’s areas . . . and they do. And there are fewer rules. Although not running around the pool is a good idea, people weren’t chastised for it. The pools were mostly too shallow for diving (there were no diving boards) and there were signs posted to that effect. I didn’t see anyone dive while we were there. So, we saw a lot of that odd dichotomy that we’ve become accustomed to here — fewer rules, but more sensible behavior; less oversight, and more individual responsibility.
In all, it was a great day. I only regret that I didn’t get a few pictures. (Although, with the European sense of acceptance towards less-clothed children, it probably would have been tough for me to get pictures that didn’t include other people’s half-dressed kids.) My only fear is that with this swimming adventure, we may have set the bar a little high for future swimming trips.