Neusiedler See -- the Biggest Wading Pool in Europe
|Reed at Neusiedler See (Lake Neusiedl)|
The lake is bound by a reed belt and fed only by precipitation and drainage (and that's why the call it endorheic, which is Greek), although there are rumors of plans to help the lake survive global warming by building a canal from the Donau (Danube) to keep water levels up.
|Woolly pig on the Greener side of life|
On our bike ride around the lake, however, we did happen upon these woolly pigs. Have you ever seen a woolly pig? Is this a pig in sheep's clothing? This little guy had managed to get out of the grand mud patch and was grazing happily and greedily when we arrived; his brethren had apparently been too big to squeeze through the fence. Don't believe what anyone tells you; it really is--as you can clearly see in the picture--greener on the other side--when your home is a mud patch. We fed the other pigs handfuls of grass through the fence and sang "Born Free", or at least the first couple of lines before we started humming and then lost interest.
The Neusiedler Bike Path is 135 kilometers long, 38 km in Hungary, 97 km in Austria. We cycled for around four hours, but you could also go sailing, windsurfing, kitesurfing; or you might choose to play beach volleyball, ride horses or go inline skating. There's no shortage of leisure/sport activities. Before, during and after or bike ride, we mostly sat in cafés and ate ice cream. Because balance is important.
|The Local Stork -- He's famous!|
What is implausible is that Neusiedler See will still exist in 2050. If global warming has its way, this lake--which is only about a meter deep right now--will dry up before I do. That's worrying. The villages around the lake depend on it for tourism and some industry. I'm not sure what the people do with the reed here, but they do harvest it. A delicate yet varied ecosystem depends on the lake. A community of non-humans--amphibians, reptiles, birds and 40 types of mammals--would also be homeless without Neusiedler See.
The Hungarian name for the lake, which is about an hour south of Vienna, is Fertő tó, which means swamp. And this could very well be a self-fulfilling prophecy if something isn't done soon.
Have you been to Neusiedler See, or Lake Neusiedl as we call it in English apparently? Have you been to another endorheic lake? Seen a woolly pig?
I must be off,
PS: Have you started writing your entry for the Second Annual I Must Be Off! Travel Essay Contest? Check out the guidelines HERE.
Christopher Allen is the author of Conversations with S. Teri O'Type (a Satire), an episodic adult cartoon about a man struggling with expectations. Allen's award-winning fiction and non-fiction have appeared or are forthcoming in Indiana Review, Quiddity, SmokeLong Quarterly's Best of the First Ten Years anthology, Prime Number Magazine, The Best of Every Day Ficton, PANK, Word Riot, Bootsnall Travel and Chicken Soup for the Soul. A finalist at Glimmer Train in 2011, Allen has been nominated for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize twice.