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Lake Constance – 12th to 16th September

Monday 12th September

Lindau to Rohrspitz,  Rhine Delta

Distance: 21.66 km

Average Speed: 9.99 kmh

Top Speed: 21.83 kmh

 

Total Distance: 7622.21 km

 

Daz wakes up early!  Last night we didn’t get the tent up and into bed until gone 1130pm. And now he proceeds to keep me awake by fidgeting and wandering to the shop and back. But at least we have milk for breakfast now, even though I wasn’t planning on breakfast for at least another 2 hours!!!

So I admit defeat and get up.  We sneak out of the campsite ( very naughty I know) and head to Bregenz which is in Austria, but only 4km away. Along the way we stop for cereal and then coffee in Bregenz.  

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Daz has a flat again.  How bizarre it’s stayed inflated from 1030pm last night to 11am this morning.  We need an admin day.  We need to do laundry and publish the blog, and we need power because our phone and notepad are nearly flat.  And we’ve only got mapping on the Notepad for Constance, none on the phone because it hasn’t been downloaded from MapsMe (school boy error).  So we spend the next 20km looking for a suitable campsite.    They are all around 25€ here, so very expensive.  The first only has power if we buy the 3 pin connector for 20€ and is 27€ but looks a dump.  The next is lovely but reception doesn’t open until 4pm and the laundry room is only available Tuesday to Sunday.  The next has no WiFi.  That’s the little group of sites all in close proximity – done.   The next is on the Rhine Delta. Miles away. Fortunately it has everything!   But it’s going to be expensive!  At least we can get everything done.  By 7pm (and I think I started at 2.30pm) the blog is published.   Daz does his Fb bits and uploads the photos.  

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Some of you might have noticed that we’ve skipped past Munich and headed to Constance.  Well first reason Daz has always wanted to cycle around Constance.  But secondly in Munich our trikes were supposed to be serviced.  Unfortunately the shop Honza uses is on summer vacation so no appointment could be made.  So Honza will arrange for our trikes to be serviced next Monday.  Unfortunately that means another week without charging ability from the bike but at least Daz has fixed his back light with glue and masking tape.

 

Lake Constance.  Nicknamed the schwäbische Meer (Swabian Sea), Lake Constance is Central Europe’s third largest lake and it straddles three countries: Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Formed by the Rhine Glacier during the last ice age and fed and drained by that same sprightly river today, this whopper of a lake measures 63km long by 14km wide and up to 250m deep. There is a certain novelty effect in the fact that this is the only place in the world where you can wake up in Germany, cycle across to Switzerland for lunch and make it to Austria in time for afternoon tea, strudel and snapshots of the Alps.
Taking in meadows and vineyards, orchards and wetlands, beaches and Alpine foothills, the lake’s landscapes are like a ‘greatest hits’ of European scenery. Culture? It’s all here, from baroque churches to Benedictine abbeys, Stone Age dwellings to Roman forts, and medieval castles to zeppelins.

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Come in spring for blossoms and autumn for new wine, fewer crowds and top visibility when the warm föhn blows. Summers are crowded, but best for swimming and camping. Almost everything shuts from November to February, when fog descends and the first snowflakes dust the Alps.

 


Tuesday 13th September

Rohrspitz,  Rhine Delta to Constance

Distance: 66.36 km

Average Speed: 11.10 kmh

Top Speed: 30.45 kmh

 

Total Distance: 7688.57 km

 

Today we have a really late start. The campsite cost us 31€.  21€ for camping and the other €10 went on hot water for showering, laundry and drier.  We potter around and relax, drinking coffee, and finally leave around 11.30am.

 

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We cycle into Switzerland.  First stop Rorschach. We cycle into the market Square and there’s only one stall there selling dried fruit.  Daz tastes some mango, then some pineapple,  then some ginger, then some beetroot.  He says we’ll take some and the lady bags up apricot,  pineapple and ginger. €25.  We nearly have a heart attack.  That’s a night’s camping.  We ask if she’s confused Swiss francs with euros but no, it’s €25.  Daz apologises and says it’s too expensive and we cycle away.   I feel dreadful after all the samples we tried!

Instead we find a supermarket and buy a tub of icecream – €3.50.

We continue along our route and meet 2 cyclists from Oxford.  84 and 86, and bless them, they’re on full pedal power, no motors on their bikes because apparently she was too short.  But what an age to be on a cycling holiday – awesome!

The cyclepath is well signposted but there are considerable stretches where the lake is well out of sight and some handrails the railway or the main road but the occasional glimpses of the lake or lakeside riding is so beautiful.   Arbon and Romanshorn are pretty lakeside town with timber fronted houses, a harbour and Arbon has a schloss.  

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We stop when something catches our eye.  For Daz it’s anyone in a bikini, for me it’s budgie smugglers!   But actually we stop to watch 3 dogs who are playing in the water, each trying to outdo the others.  I’ve never seen dogs so eager to swim.  

There are people sunbathing, swimming and out in their boats.  It’s a beautiful area and beyond the lake are the hills of Switzerland, Germany and Austria.  

We continue on to Konstanz but have to cross a border, we’re back in Germany.

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 In Konstanz we cycle through the narrow streets and see houses with magnificently painted facades, the Minster, and the old gateway.  Then we head to the harbour. There’s a statue at the harbour entrance –

Constance is a town of great historical relevance. For the most part it wasn’t affected by the wars of the last century and was to be of historical significance throughout a certain period of time. From the 6th century until the year 1827, Constance was the bishop’s see of the largest German diocese. Located at the intersection of main routes of commerce between Italy, France and Eastern Europe, the city became an important emporium for the trade with fur, linen and spices from the 10th to the 14th century. In the 15th century, a four-year long council took place in Constance that attracted 72.000 visitors, among them 3000 prostitutes. A walk through town is an encounter with many traces of past centuries of prosperity.

 

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MARINA

Our walkabout starts at the marina equipped with the Lake Constance Magazine and a city map. At the entrance of the harbour, Imperia, a nine-meter high statue created in 1993 stands self-confident and openhearted. The notorious beauty made of stone was built by sculptor Peter Lenk and has become the town’s landmark. A historic character, a prostitute who was also a literary figure in Honoré de Balzac’s short stories, inspired the voluptuous figure. Two small naked male figures are sitting on the palms of her hands, each of them holding the regalia of secular and clerical power.

 

After a cycle – past some of the main tourist areas we head out of Konstanz along the Rhine.  The area is busy with people swimming, having a beer (wine) and socialising.  We’ve been amazed at the number of people we’ve seen swimming in rivers, lakes and reservoirs.  It’s already gone 7pm and the sun it’ll be dark in another hour and yet people are out in their swimming togs enjoying the riverside ambience.

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We weave through the crowds and soon we’re out in the country, we go through another border crossing point back into Switzerland and find a spot to wildcamp.  Just time to set up and cook dinner before it gets dark.

 

Wednesday 14th September

Constance to Rhine Falls and then to Allensbach

Distance: 64.87 km

Average Speed: 10.99 kmh

Top Speed: 41.94 kmh

 

Total Distance: 7753.44 km

 

Last night’s camping spot was a truly dreadful site, picked by me I hasten to add! We were in a ploughed field next to a busy road and cyclepath.   Daz dreamt of foxes in the tent weeing on his head (personally I think it was a weird ‘golden shower’ fantasy), I also had strange dreams.  Maybe we were both anxious about night time visitors… we must spend more time picking our locations and not jumping on the first “likely” spot!!

We are both a little grumpy as we pack, lack of sleep. We pack up trying not to get all our kit muddy from the ploughed field as the tent is dripping wet when we pack it (and I was convinced they would be no condensation from a ploughed field)!! Cyclist go by, cars and occasional tractors.  We hope the farmer doesn’t come along.  Finally we are away, no time for breakfast.  We’ll have it later.  As we cycle towards the first village we are passed by several ‘crocodiles’ of school children.  They are all on bikes and wearing reflective jackets, being escorted to school by an older girl or an adult or two.  Amazing discipline and we wonder if it would work in the UK!  Probably not, too much traffic or mums in their ‘Chelsea tractors’.

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We stop in a lovely village square and have coffee and croissants for breakfast.  We also have 3 litres of milk we bought yesterday to get through!! We’re astounded when the bill is an exorbitant  16 Swiss francs.  Beware Switzerland – it’s very expensive!

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We continue along the cyclepath and stop to watch a couple of ladies harvesting beetroot and then follow the path to the end of the lake.    We meet a Scottish couple in their 70s cycling from Basel to circumnavigate the lake and they don’t have motors, a rarity out here.  They tell us to pop in if we’re ever in the area (Ayrshire)   At one point we follow a couple of cyclists and end up on a footpath that’s sooo narrow we barely get through.

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At the end of the lake we cross to the north bank and Stein Am Rhein, an incredibly beautiful town.

At the point where Lake Constance again becomes the Rhine River, you will find the little town of Stein am Rhein. It is famous for its well-preserved Old Town featuring painted facades and half-timbered houses, for which it received the very first Wakker Prize

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It is here that the oldest house of worship in the Canton of Schaffhausen is found, a church dedicated to St. John the Baptist in the midst of wall remnants of the Roman fortress Tasgetium, which was built in the 3rd century A.D.

We now follow the Rhine (well it’s there somewhere but we only get the occasional glimpse) and finally we’re in Shaffhaussen.  This is where we’ve been heading to see the Rhine Falls, Europe’s biggest waterfall.  It’s 150m wide, 23m high, the depth of the basin is 13m and the falls are about 15,000 years old.  The flow rate in summer is 600,000 litres per second and only 250,000 in winter.  We’ve got to say Iceland had far more impressive waterfalls – clearly it’s not Europe!  But we’re glad we’ve seen them.

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This detour has cost us dearly in time so we decide we don’t need to cycle back to Constance but should get a train.  We’re told the Swiss train would cost us the best part of €80 but the German train only 26€. Unfortunately there’s engineering works on the last section of the journey, and a bus replacement so we can only go as far as Radolfzell.  We have to use the elevators to get onto the correct platform but it’s all fairly straightforward until we need to change at Singen.  We have 7 minutes to get the bikes off the train, from platform 5 to 2, and onto the other train.  

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It was going well until we realised the elevators were that much shorter and Daz needed to lift the boom up the backwall.  But we managed it with seconds to spare!  In Radolfzell we stop for a drink and some food and then cycle out of town until we find a place by the lake.  We need to dry the tent before it gets any later and whilst it dries we have a swim.  It’s gone 5pm but the water is lovely and warm.  Once we’re a bit cleaner and the tent is dry we push on for another couple of kms and Daz picks our campsite.  It’s far superior to last night’s selection and as a result Daz doesn’t dream (well not about foxes anyway)!

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Thursday 15th September

Allensbach to Friedrichshafen

Distance: 49.77 km

Average Speed: 11.27 kmh

Top Speed: 34.04 kmh

 

Total Distance: 7803.21 km

 

After a good night, packing goes smoothly although the tent is wet.  We cycle into Allensbach and buy some milk so we can have our cereal, which we eat on the kerb outside the shop.  Then we head back to a little market and coffee stall and chat to the lady running it.  We mention Swiss prices and she tells us the Germans don’t even stop for coffee in Switzerland because of the cost.  She lets us check the weather forecast – we’ve been told “winter is coming” and it’s due tonight.  

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Our plan today is to see the 2 islands of Constance ; Reichenau and Mainau. However as we cycle towards Reichenau and gaze upon it from the lakeside we change our mind. Apart from 3 very nice churches and it being a World UNESCO site there’s not alot to attract us.  So instead we carry on towards Konstanz town so we can cycle around to Mainau.  The skies are clouding over and the wind is picking up so we stop on the Konstanz waterfront and get the tent out to dry.  Daz ties one end to a bench and holds the other end so it fills with air like a ‘chute to dry quickly. I get roped into taking a group photo for some youngsters then Daz calls me over and asks me to hold the tent whilst he goes over to an old man who is carrying his bike.  He has a puncture and nothing to mend it with. So good samaritan / boyscout Daz offers to fix it.  By the time it’s done the tent is dry and we pack up and carry on to Mainau.

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Mainau is a kilometer long Island that is basically a huge garden with a schloss thrown in.  It’s a top tourist attraction for the beautiful gardens and we spend 3 hours wandering around.  They also have a butterfly house which was as good, if not better than the one we saw in Spain.  Other highlghts were the ‘secret gardens’, the Italian Rose garden, the Dahlia display and the water garden.  Oh and the giant peacock floral display! After all the walking we are tired out, obviously we’re not used to this activity!!

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We head back towards Konstanz and catch the ferry across the lake to Meersburg.  We are now heading south back towards Lindau, our original start point.  

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We stop in Friedrichshafen and cook dinner in a little park by the lakeside.  We finish off the day by finding a lovely secluded spot in a nature area to wildcamp.

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Friday 16th September

 

Friedrichshafen to Lindau and then to a Munich campsite

 

Distance: 33.52 km

Average Speed: 9.98 kmh

Top Speed: 33.61 kmh

 

Total Distance: 7836.73 km

Bizarrely despite our expectations winter didn’t come and this morning our tent is dry – an unusual occurrence.  We cycle into a Langenargen and stop for coffee and then into Lindau.  

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In the Island Town Lindau, Lake Constance, Bavaria you will enjoy walking through the alleys and places, discovering historical splendor. The Pulverturm from 1508 and the Diebsturm from 1370 where parts of the ancient city wall, which protected Lindau and its citizens for many centuries. The Mangturm from the 13th century was the first light house of the island and was erected to protect the harbor of Lindau. The harbor in the shape you see it today was finished in 1856 and is believed to be the most beautiful at Lake Constance. The 6 meters high monument, showing a lion overlooking the lake, the heraldic animal of Bavaria, was created by the sculptor Johann von Halbing. Together with the 33 meters high light house they still flank the harbor entrance. Take the time and visit the museum of Lindau. Originally built as a private residence and still thought to be the most beautiful estate at Lake Constance, it was converted into a museum in 1929. Here, in this majestic baroque building, you will find furniture from Gothic to baroque style, silver, glass, tin, ceramic, historical toys and important paintings and sculptures.  

After admiring the huge lion at the harbour gates and the lighthouse we head to Maximillian Strasse to admire the buildings there and then it’s a train back to Munich.  Unfortunately our behaviour is weather driven.  We expect rain from mid afternoon here and it’s forecast for all weekend whilst Munich has a slightly more favourable outlook.

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