The sky is grey. The air, chilly. I approach the water’s edge. Ferries make ripples in the waves: on board are Japanese, American, Spanish and German tourists. No one is swimming.
To my left, a small beach made of little rocks. Behind me, the town of St. Gilgen: the cemetery’s World War Two Memorial, the shops selling Austrian leather pants.
I leave my clothes on the wooden pier. The water is cold. I am the only one. A speck, floating, surrounded on all sides.
Back in the van. Crossing through green forests and little cottages. The fog from the mountains descends slowly and covers the summits. All these areas are places of fairytales: endless green lakes and lush landscapes, roads that zigzag through the wilderness.
On the way to Bad Ischl we passed next to Ebensee, a town that hosted a concentration camp. I come from a country where, every couple of days, someone finds mass graves, where people are being murdered and beheaded, their bodies hanging over bridges and plazas.
But I still feel shocked. These Nazi killing factories were set in the most idyllic of backgrounds. As if catering to my thoughts, the radio host talks about the controversial plan to take down the house where Adolf Hitler was born. It has become a site of neonazi pilgrimage.
We stop at a gas station for a pee. In the convenience store they have a wide selection of Red Bull cans (the international headquarters are nearby). In the bathroom there is a vending machine selling a portable and disposable masturbation device that, if you believe the package, “feels like a real pussy”.