Bispingen and the Boat Lift

I had made some comments about Tropical Island some months ago, now I can compare it with Centre Parcs Bispinger Heide, the place I just spent 4 days with my family.

This is an artificial world set in the Lüneburger Heide, consisting of a slew of "cottages", a hotel, an adventure bath with surrounding restaurants and shops and all sorts of activities geared towards small children.

My sister-in-law goes there often and had organized two cottages and a hotel room for us to go, taking along a cousin and her family as thanks for taking care of my father-in-law.

I find this artifical world quite creepy - the trees are real, but kept clean of trash and animals; the water is H2O, but since kids constantly feed the geese and ducks at the encouragement of their parents, it is putrid; the cottages are nicely set so you don't really see your neighbors; the cottages have a fireplace, some have a sauna, sort of the luxury you can't have at home. And you pay for everything possible, and the prices are not cheap.

You can purchase wood (a little sack with lighter and matches for 4,95 €), food such as salt (1,95 € for a little container) and necessities such as saran wrap (5,00€ a box) at outrageous prices in the little shop. You can have rolls and newspaper (Bild-Zeitung, what else) delivered to your door in the morning and pretend to be rich, I guess. The food is expensive and bad, but you have a kitchenette so you can make your own. They even sell packets of all you need to make dish X (they call this "fun cooking").

The nice thing is no cars - so you can let your kids out to bike or skate or mess around without worrying about cars.

The "adventure" bath is the key attraction, but it does not really attract me. Masses of humanity fight for chairs and tables, the water is so thick with kids you can't actually see the water. People scream when they speak, I wonder if it is because at home the TV is always blaring or because they normally have MP3-players on. They are grossly inconsiderate, running you down, bumping into you, shaking water all over you, stepping on you, ignoring all the rules. And they let their kids run wild, after all, that's why they are here, for the kids.

The crowd is better-looking than the guys at Tropical Island, must be that the parents of young kids are in good shape. But it is so mind-numbing, no chance to relax and enjoy.

We had to check out today by 10.30 but could use the bath all day. We checked out early and got to the bath at 10.15, getting one of the three tables still left unclaimed. I really only enjoy the wild water slide, but after sliding 3-4 times with masses of unruly adults and children (sometimes even doing dangerous stuff like holding back until the press of people makes everyone take that last slide together, extremities in everyone's faces) I had had enough. The teenager had wanted to leave right after breakfast, so no fight here.

We packed up and left (our table was taken in under 6 seconds), said goodby to the rest of the family dining on Schnitzel in three variations and took off, just driving in the general direction of home.

I was hungry, and stopped off at the "Alchemist's Restaurant", but they were closed on Monday. Good thing, because shortly after I saw a sign for a Schiffshebewerk, a boat lift, in Scharnebek. Where there is a tourist attraction, there is food.

There was a lovely cafe with a great view of the lift, we had herring with fried potatos and a cream/apple/onion sauce the way you are supposed to eat it, while watching the elevator lift up with a boat in it. After lunch we walked over to admire it close up - how amazingly simple, just a lot of big wire winched up, pulling a trough up or down with a bit of water and a bit of ship with it - over almost 40 meters height difference!

Good technology beats artifical worlds any day in my book, but that might be because I am an engineer :)

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