Thursday 30 May – Konstanz to Meersburg, racing the rainclouds!
I slept very well after all that travelling and woke up at 7am. Breakfast didn’t start until eight, apparently, which was a bit disappointing as the weather looked rather good and I was hoping to get out on the bike as early as possible as the forecast was for rain early afternoon. Maybe I could get to Meersburg before the rain began!
I heard people in the breakfast room at 7:50 so went for my breakfast, the usual selection of muesli, corn flakes, boiled eggs, cheese, ham, rolls, yoghurt and fruit. There was a group of seven people onthe table next to me and I couldn’t work out what language they were speaking – I thought maybe it was Italian. Anyway, after about ten minutes one of the men’s phone went off and he answered it with “Boqer Tov”. Hebrew then, good thing I spent four years at University studying Hebrew else I might not have been able to differentiate it from Italian!!!! (In my defence, we studied Classical Hebrew which we didn’t speak, just read/wrote).
I was out of the hotel by 8:30 and fetched Alfie out of the Fahrradkeller which involved carrying him up the stairs. The breakfast had clearly done its trick as I felt very strong!
I had decided to fix my panniers on in a slightly different way today, eschewing my clip system and just putting the strapping directly onto the relevant bit of rack. This meant I couldn’t remove the Banana Bags in a hurry but also meant they might stay in place a bit more securely (over time on Tuesday they had slipped a bit).
So in the early morning sunshine I stopped outside the hotel and took a pic of Alfie. Note the green paint that describes swirls and circles all along Bahnhofplatz – no idea why!
I decided to use the TrackMyTour app for the day’s ride as well as the overall route so you can see where I went today. I have to mark a waypoint manually (which means the iPhone’s battery doesn’t drain too badly) and I decided to do this every 1-2 miles, so there are lots of straight lines between waypoints. When I’m back home in England I’ll download the GPX tracks from my Garmin and put the more accurate maps up. But this gives you an idea of where I went!
Within a quarter of a mile I was crossing the bridge over the Rhein as it flows out of Bodensee towards (eventually) the North Sea. It becomes the Untersee, the lower of the two arms of Bodensee on the left hand side; I shall be cycling along this bit of the Rhein in a few days’ time, once I’ve gone right round Bodensee first!
I was now cycling along Seestraße and boy was this a posh bit of Konstanz – enormous h ouses, shiny big cars, attractive vistas.
The route took me through Petershausen and then towards Staad, at which point there was a diversion of the cycle route. I decided to take the opportunity to cycle down to the ferry area – this ferry goes directly to Meersburg, my destination for the day, but I had another 38 miles to ride!
This is the signage I was following – generally very good but I did have to refer to my Garmin a few times as there are several routes you can take (round the main lake or the two smaller ones) and I wanted to ensure I didn’t do a detour.
The diversion was because of building work around the cycle path; at this point the cycle path is alongside the lake but the diversion took us up to Allmannsdorf, and by ‘up’ I mean climbing. A fair bit, as it happens, which is hard work first thing in the morning after a hearty breakfast.
I rejoined the original route at Egg, whereupon the tarmac ran out for a couple of miles although this surface was OK.
I passed Insel Mainau (an island) and carried on on asphalted roads now to Dingelsdorf. There were lots of fruit trees here.
After Dingelsdorf there was a bit of a climb to Wallhausen and then I noticed the route turning inland, heading towards Dettingen.
It turns out that Dettingen is up a bit of a hill. Quite a long one, in fact, and my Bodensee Radweg map has a chevron printed on it, which means it is a steep gradient. The map did not lie, I trundled up at 5mph, getting warmer and warmer. In the end I had to take off my windproof jacket so I just had a normal jersey on but I was plenty warm enough, burning all those calories!
From Dettingen it was slightly flatter on a long, swoopy cycle path beside the main road (which wasn’t that busy). I saw some road cyclists on the main carriageway but most of the cyclists were keeping to the Radweg, like me.
I reached Langenrain and could see in front of me a pretty substantial hill. A quick look at the map and it was clear I was going to have to go over that hill. So I did – slowly. Once over the bump I had a nice bit of downhill at a good speed before there was another up and down. Not that I minded – the weather was great, blue skies with white fluffy clouds and away from the lake it felt much warmer. I think I was sheltered from the wind by these hills I had to keep going over. However, there were some fairly ominous clouds visible a fair way away – the promised rain, and it was heading towards me.
When I reached Liggeringen I noticed that the map had an alternative, more direct route to Bodman. The official cycle route does a real fiddly stretch through Güttingen and Stahringen which involved going round another hill. The alternative route looked like an easy, direct option to Bodman – 4km instead of 10km. With the massing dark clouds I decided quicker was better!
It was a rather bumpy road surface which meant I had to do a bit of swerving to miss the worst potholes (there were very few cars taking this route), but it was flat and that was good. Then, after about a mile there was a sign warning of an 8% descent for two kilometres. Oh no, what a shame – a free descent! So of I whizzed, reaching over 30mph easily enough. I had to use the brakes a bit because of the road surface but halfway down it was fresh tarmac so I let Alfie have his head and off we whizzed, feeling sorry for the many poor cyclists I saw toiling up the other way.
I overtook a roadie on the way down which always feels good; mind you, the combined weight of me, Alfie and my luggage was notably more than his bike, plus I had less wind resistance, so I really ought to have found it easy enough to pass him ono a downhill.
At the roundabout just before Bodman, after I had rejoined the official route, I saw this interesting vehicle steaming away quietly by the side of the road.
From Bodman it was just two miles to Ludwigshafen, the tip of the Überlinger See (this top left hand side extra bit off Lake Constance), and it was also the halfway point of my journey (or a bit further as I’d cut out four miles on the direct-to-Bodman route).
Ludwigshafen afforded some wonderful views of the lake, as well as just a few spots of rain!
And here is Alfie enjoying the view!
From Ludwigshafen the cycle route followed the railway, variously crossing under it. This was quite a busy bit of Radweg with plenty of cyclists out, including lots of families with children. It is clearly half term in Germany too!
Looking acrosss the lake to Bodman it was clear the clouds were massing. You can just about see the solid line of green which is the lakeshore – no wonder the road had to go inland before Bodman (on the far right of the pic).
It is a Catrike, a VERY blue one!, and the chap had a windwrap fairing on the front. I reckon that would be rather handy in the rain! We had a little chat but unfortunately where we had met was a rather narrow bit of cycle path and I was clearly irritating the passing cyclists by taking up too much room so had to head off after a few minutes.
At Sipplingen there was an unexpected sign which pointed two different ways to Meersburg – 20km each way, but one way had “Steigung” (a climb). Not surprisingly, I took the alternative, flatter route. Which turned out to be pretty fast – I was maintaining 15mph for a mile or two which is fast for Germany, especially with luggage!
I cycled along the lakeside to Überlingen which seemed like a good place to stop for lunch as it was ten miles from Meersburg. As I stopped at a bakery the rain began to fall so I dashed in to the café and ordered myself a Fladenbrot sandwich and a cup of tea.
When I left the café the rain was really falling. My Banana Bags were already wet outside with the rain beading up on the fabric surface. I remembered what Peter at Radical Design had said, that they are not fully waterproof, and I thought this would be a pretty good test!
Lots of people were standing under awnings out of the rain with their bikes alongside them. It looked to me like this rain was set in for a fair time and as I only had ten miles to go I might as well head off and get wet. So I did.
I rode through Nußdorf and the rain was really coming down now. I stopped periodically under a tree to do the waypoint for my TrackMyTour app but was reluctant to do so when the rain was really fierce in case my phone got wet so the waypoints bbecome a bit further apart!
After Nußdorf I passed Schloss Maurach which had Kloster Birnau on the hillside above it.
Looking across the lake it was clear it was raining everywhere!
The cycle path signs led away from my GPS track after Schloss Mourach but as I had found the signage to be pretty good up till now I decided to go with the signs. I noticed a couple of cyclists taking the GPS route but I carried on along a decent bit of road and it eventually joined up.
I was soaking wet by now (well, my Altura jacket had kept my top half dry but my shorts were distinctly wet) but I was warm enough as it was about 13 degrees. I pedalled on at a good speed (to keep me warm) and zoomed through Unteruhldingen and Ergelen before arriving, at last, at Meersburg.
I had plotted a GPS track directly to my hotel but I hadn’t quite appreciated how pedestrianised Meersburg is – my GPS track wanted to take me up a huge flight of steps! I tried a few alternative routes before eventually winding my way up a colossally steep hill which was a pedestrianised area. I went past lots of shops and food establishments and the place was bustling and very attractive. It was only when I got to the top of the hill that I noticed a rather important road sign – oops!
It took me a few minutes to find the hotel once I’d got to the top of the hill but eventually I located it and stood in the receptio’n area, dripping gently onto the floor.
Statistics for today:
It didn’t have an en-suite but a bathroom down the corridor although it turns out that bathroom is just for me which was handy as after I’d had my shower I could hang all the wet clothes up in there.
My Radical Banana bags had not kept all the waater out. There was a small amount of water in the bottom of the bags but as everything in there had been wrapped in plastic it didn’t matter. I hung the bags on the bannister of the staircase to dry them.
After my shower I noticed that the rain had stopped and as it was only half past two it was time to go and have an explore of Meersburg.
There were lots of really interesting fresh flower arrangements, placed on cut grass, in rectangles and circles all through the pedestrian precinct. They were something to do with the church, I think, judging by the symbols, but they were really interesting to look at and very colourful! I was subsequently informed that they were to do with a Corpus Christi procession.
Interestingly, when I went out for my evening meal at 7:30pm all but the big circular one had been cleared away!
Meersburg is a very attractive place with its steep pedestrian roads, half-timbered buildings, flowers and of course the huge castle right in the middle.
The road is so steep that after just a five minute walk from the side of the lake you get a pretty good view of it from above!
I decided it was time for a cake and looked into a few cafés (there were plenty to choose from) eventually selecting a Butterplunder and cup of tea in a cosy café near the top of the hill. The Butterplunder (which was very tasty) was 1,50€ and they didn’t charge me for the tea (as I supplied my teabag). Bargain!
This is the ‘high street’ of Meersburg at the level of the lake.
I walked along to the where the ships that cross Bodensee had their quays and wondered about maybe getting a ferry some of the way tomorrow. The forecast is for 44mm of rain (an improvement on the previously-forecasted 61mm!) and I need to get to Höchst in Austria (five miles past Bregenz) as I have a non-cancellable hotel room there.
I went into the ticket office and the lady told me that I can get a ferry from Meersburg to Bregenz for 21,50€ including bicycle so I thought that sounded pretty decent. For an additional 4€ I can get on and off to explore places along the way (such as Friedrichshafen) but I’ll only do this if the forecast has improved somewhat.
The lady said that the cycle path between Meersburg and Friedrichshafen wasn’t very exciting but the section between Friedrichshafen and Lindau (which has several ferry stopping points in-between) was rather nice so I’ll think a bit more about it in the morning. Although it’s slightly cheating to get a boat, it’ll be fun to actually go ON Bodensee on my bike!
I walked up the hill again and had a closer look at this fantastic building (a private house) nestled under the castle walls. It appears to have a working water wheel hiding around the back!
I then found myself at the Zeppelin Museum which chum Tony Simister had suggested on Facebook that I visit. So I did.
The entrance fee was 4€
The museum was a large room absolutely filled with bits and bobs about Zeppelins. The lady cashier, who was singlehandedly looking after the museum, got really excited when she heard me speaking German. She said how rare it was for English people to speak her language and that she was a bit wobbly in English. She looked like she could chat all day but I wanted to look round the exhibits so she took me to the little film section which had a film on Zeppelins. It was in German but I said that was fine (she was keen to switch it to English for me, but what about the other chap watching it?)
I’m fairly familiar with the story of the Hindenberg – who can forgot those pictures and the commentary by that American man so long ago – but I hadn’t quite realised that there were other Zeppelins that had successful plied the Germany (Friedrichshafen am Bodensee, in fact) to America and Brazil and Tokyo route many times. The Graf Zeppelin is the obvious example and the museum had loads of artefacts from it (I assume it was retired after the Hindenberg went pop).
They had plates and crockery and cutlery, all with the special Zeppelin logo, and examples of menus for the trip to the USA (Turtle soup, for example). There was a letter from a piano manufacturer in Germany who said that his grand piano on the Graf Zeppelin had covered 500,000 miles, multiple ocean crossings and had held its tune. There were bits of girder from the Graf Zeppelin, its radios and telex machines and more. All really interesting.
Of course there was also a section on the Hindenberg. I didn’t realise that a fair number of people had survived (how on earth did they survive???). I need to read up a bit more about it, I think.
After this I wandered to the Bible Exhibition in another building but it was 4:30pm and the Exhibition shut at five so it wasn’t worth paying the 5€ entry fee for just half an hour.
Another view of Meersburg’s hilly pedestrian area.
The gate out to the main road where my hotel is.
I was still a bit peckish after this so had a small pizza as well!
I came back to the hotel and settled down in the dining room (desk for the iPad) and the hotel manager brought me a cup of tea (using my teabags, of course). There was no further rain this evvening so the forecast for rain all day ended up as rain from about 1pm till 2:30pm. Not bad at all! Here’s hoping tomorrow’s weather is better than forecasted so I can maybe do a bit more riding between boat trips!
Tomorrow evening I shall be sleeping in Austria!