Best of Lakes | 2017
When Werner Koch published his smooth, relaxing, slightly melancholic ‘Seeleben Trilogie’ in the 1970s, which was so highly praised by Heinrich Böll, the author spun a tale through three thin volumes of a reality which nowadays holds promise and anticipation but at the time was utopian. Life and work in a hut rented from farmers on a little lake in the Allgau region of Germany…by a planning office in Cologne? With no Internet? Even then it was hard to imagine. Or comprehend. But enjoy? Out of the question. Wasn’t even acceptable!
As became evident in the final volume of the trilogy, a few things have changed since back then. The hut which was ‘rented from the Greiff farmers’ no longer exists. After a brief spell as an architect’s holiday refuge, it transmuted to a lakeside swimming area. The old Greiff farmhouse was turned into a bed-and-breakfast. The nascent boom of tourism, sports and leisure time amusements began to take hold, even in Koch’s novel, as the new reality in the Alps. It slowly crept and ate up even the tiniest of charming alpine lakes.
Private building lots have become highly coveted prizes in the meantime, and not only on the famous lakes. Along accessible shorelines, restaurants ranging from simple eateries to gourmet temples now sweeten the evenings at waterside and make them romantic, often by candelight. Even floating stages present top performances from the world of opera, operettas, musicals, pop, rock and techno to audiences of international theatergoers, creating stimulating, sometimes downright surreal accents deep into alpine lake districts. During the daytime, sports events challenge pros and amateurs alike, on top of, beneath and adjacent to the water.
Life at lakeside has become a bit more densely populated, a bit more colourful, loud, lively and under all circumstances international. Any yet, there are still today a few spots and a few moments when serenity returns, when the beauty can be savoured, the tempo of life slowed down. Perhaps even going so far as to tempt one to read a good book such as Koch’s ‘Seeleben’ in a relaxing spot in the sunshine along the shores of a lake where the crystal-clear alpine water softly laps at your feet.