Tag Archives: Konstanz

Ko2Ko – Höchst to Stein Am Rhein (Austria, Switzerland, Germany, Switzerland)

Saturday 1 June – Breakfast in Austria, Lunch in Germany, Dinner in Switzerland.

or

Konstanz Kraving (with apologies to K D Lang)

(this title was suggested by Deano from YACF)

The forecast today was rain – loads of it!

However, when I went down to breakfast it wasn’t raining, nor was it raining whilst I repacked my bags. It seemed like an exceptionally good idea for me to get underway before the heavens dropped their forecasted 29mm of rain.

So I settled up the bill at the hotel, fetched Alfie from the garage and was on the road by 8:15am. That’s early!
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Here’s my route for today, starting at the bottom right.

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I decided today to wear a different arrangement of cycle clothing, knowing that rain was forecasted but that it was also going to be reasonably warm. I don’t like riding in waterproofs (boil in the bag) and if it’s warm you’re better off just getting wet and drying naturally. So I had shorts with legwarmers, two jerseys and armwarmers, and this was a very good temperature for the earlyt morning’s riding.

I rode for more than an hour before I felt any rain. However, I could see lots of evidence of water in the skies – there were some lovely views!

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Höchst is the penultimate town in Austria; I rode through Gaißau and then arrived at this bridge.
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It happens to be the border between Austria and Switzerland (at least the bike/walking route border, there was a car border 100 metres down the road that looked rather more significant). Here is Alfie with rear wheel in Austria and front wheels in Switzerland (nominally, anyway!)
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It’s the Rhein that he’s hovering over. Readers of yesterday’s blog will know that I had already crossed the Rhein – turns out it splits into two at one point, like a mini delta, and I was now crossing the Alter Rhein.

On the other side of the bridge was a whole new set of cycle route signs to familiarise myself with.

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My destination for the day was Romanshorn (I’d looked up a few hotels there) but I did wonder, with the improved weather, whether I might get a bit further.

Once I’d crossed the bridge I was on a non-tarmacked surface. It was OK but I kept hearing grinding noises as stones were flicked up into my rear mudguard.

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I rode through Rheineck, Altenrhein and Staad, really enjoying some of the views of clouds hovering over hillsides.

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And clouds over Bodensee as well, of course!

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I chatted to a few people with dogs as I passed by – and discovered that it’s very difficult to understand the Swiss accent!

As I approached Rorschach there were clouds of little flies hovering over the track and I had to periodically shut my eyes and mouth as I went through these clouds.

I rode through Rorschach and there was a huge Würth Group building on the lakefront – you can just about see two of me in the windows

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This was looking across to Horn from Rorschach. The first spots of rain were falling.
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Very quickly the rain turned to proper rain, the sort that will drench you within a minute. I took refuge under an overhang from a café.

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After about ten minutes the rain had eased off a bit from ‘pouring’ to ‘raining’ and I headed off again.

I took this picture looking across at Steinach – those clouds are looking more ominous!

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I approached Arbon, riding past this church that started ringing its bells for 10am. I had covered about fifteen miles by this point.

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I passed several fields of sheep where the sheep were wearing cowbells (sheepbells?) Not something I’ve noticed in Germany or Austria!

I rolled into Romanshorn at about half past ten. This was originally my planned overnight stop but clearly I had to recalculate a bit. Although it was raining and I was wet, I wasn’t uncomfortable with the clothing I was wearing so pressed on.

Here’s a reminder what country I was in.

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After Rorschach the rain fell much harder. I saw a lot of people wearing huge macs that flapped about – this chap on the left was pushing his son along.

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My plan B was to have lunch in Konstanz (at 32 miles) and see what I wanted to do after that. I thought it was now feasible to stick to my original schedule and ridde to Stein am Rhein and the friendly B&B, but I’d see how I felt when I stopped.

The final miles to Konstanz were a bit drier with just a faint drizzle. I was turning the pedals steadily and it was midday when I reached this point – the border into Germany!

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The route took me in past cars queuing for the customs area, and then along the harbour which is the other side of the railway line to where the hotel was I stayed at on Wednesday night.

Here are some boats for James.

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Here is Alfie, parked up as I wanted to check out a café. I didn’t fancy the offerings though so headed off.

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I rode round to the pedestrian area and parked Alfie outside an Italian restaurant. I went in and ordered some soup and a tea. The man said that he would have to charge me for the hot water – 3 Euros. I thought this was ridiculously steep for tea/water so said I’d have a glass of tap water then. He said they didn’t supply tap water, only mineral water, and could I move my trike away from the seating area outside. I said I wanted to be able to see it from the window (which I could, just) as it is expensive. I told him to cancel my order and I went outside to find somewhere else – didn’t find them a very friendly café!

Soon enough I found another Italian and they didn’t mind that Alfie was parked outside.

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I dfidn’t want a full meal and they didn’t do soup (surprisingly) so I ordered a half Pizza Bread.
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I headed off from Konstanz again with just 18 miles to go to Stein am Rhein. And now the rain came, properly set in and a bit colder.

I passed this building in Triboltingen that looked like one of the WW2 hides you see all over England, but a bit larger. Something to do wtih Switzerland protecting itself from Germany in the war??

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Bodensee squeezes itself through a narrow gap at Konstanz and then spreads out again into Untersee, which I was now cycling alongside.

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This beautifully-painted house was on the main road in Tribolltingen.

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Veg growing an scary clouds which continued to drop rain on me.

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This is the view of Untersee from what my iPhone’s map wants to call Näächsthorn but I think that’s got to have an extra ä in it!

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A very smart church I passed in Mammern.
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In Mammern I had to watch carefully as I cycled along the track because there were hundreds of snails wandering around. As far as I am aware I missed them all!

As the route neared Stein am Rhein it rather inconveniently started to climb. At Eschenz there was a particularly steep climb which was made harder by the wet tarmac with lots of leaves on it (not good for trike traction). I was also getting close to a group of three cyclists who were slower than me so I stopped a couple of times to take photos of the view to give them a chance to get ahead where the path was narrow.

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This photo is looking down on Stein am Rhein which is a very narrow pinch point on the Rhein (and I suppose could be considered the end of the Untersee and thus Bodensee itself). I said goodbye to Bodensee and its rain and looked forward to the improving weather forecast for next week.

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An uphill usually means there is a downhill and there was – a long, swoopy one. I was getting pretty cold now and was rather relieved that there were just two miles to go. I overhauled the three cyclists I had been trailing and then noticed a couple of warning signs in the middle of the path. Why were they there?

I soon discovered they were marking a flood across the path. There was no alterntiave route so I had to go through. The level was above the bottom of my Banana Bags so I tried to hold them up out of the water with minimal success. The three cyclists were following me and talking very excitedly about the water although I doubt they got their feet wet (I didn’t).

I arrived in Stein am Rhein, crossing the bridge with the rain beating down.

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The B&B I had booked was about three quarters of a mile outside the town and turned out to be, rather disappointingly, up a whacking great hill. The sort of hill that I had to tackle in first gear (out of 33), at about 2mph. Not what you need after 50+ miles of riding.

It took me a while to find the B&B that was nestled in a cluster of houses but eventually I located it, and the front door, and the doorbell – but there was no response! I tried several times, peered through the door, no luck. I noticed a business card pinned to the door with the mobile number of the B&B so rang it – and after ringing four times it went to voicemail. I left a message to say I was sitting outside, really cold, and wanted someone to let me in!

After five minutes I tried again, still voicemail. This was not good as I was getting really chilly now. I got out my Bodensee Radweg book and looked up Stein am Rhein accommodation. There were eiight or so hotels listed so I checked where they were situated (I realised I wanted to be near the centre, not up a hill a mile away!) and phoned a couple. The first one I rang had a single room for 70 Francs including wifi and breakfast. That’ll do nicely!

I left a message with the B&B to say that I had had to go elsewhere due to being really cold and headed down that steep hill (fun!) and back into the centre of Stein am Rhein. I found the Hotel Rheingerbe easily enough and the lady was very friendly. She showed my to my room which hadn’t been renovated in a while but was clean and looked comfortable enough.

It took a while to get the wifi working which caused some panic on my behalf, not helped by me dscovering the Swiss use different sockets! Yikes, my iPhone charger didn’t fit in!

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I tried again later and it worked so panic number 2 was also now over.

Here is the readout from my Garmin with today’s statistics – in imperial and then metric.

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I noticed as I parked the trike in their storage room that the Union Jack flag on my rear mudflap has completely disappeared today and the German flag sticker is hanging off. I will need to have a plan B for these in future (painting the flags on?)

I had a hot shower which was very welcome although I had a lot of stuff to dry and it didn’t all fit draped onto the radiator. I suspect I may have a bag of damp clothing in my panniers tomorrow.

Talking of panniers, considering my banana bags were partially submerged in a flood they hadn’t let in much water at all, probably less than yesterday. Clearly driving rain for 10 miles is more of an issue than medium rain for 30 miles.

After my shower it was time to have a bit of a walk around Stein am Rhein. The hotel lent me an umbrella and I had a bit of a look around the pedestrian precinct which was just behind the hotel.

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I was feeling peckish – not surprising after cycling for 52 miles and only having pizza bread for lunch – so I sstopped for a piece of black forest gateau!

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This was the choice I was initially faced with!

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Walking around the town there was a surprising number of shops selling Swiss Army knives! There was also a shop selling chocolate, including this 4.2kg bar of Toblerone (for 115 Swiss Francs, which is about £90)

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After writing up some of this blog it was time for dinner and I was very hungry!

A local Stübl did an offer of salad and lasagne for 18 Francs. This seems remarkably expensive in gerneral but was cheap for Switzerland (I’d checked out lots of restaurants earlier).

My salad
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My Lasagne
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It was good food and the serving lady was friendly although the room was rather smoky as clearly smoking is allowed. It’s hard to remember what it was like in the UK before the ban but it seems so unpleasant now when people are smoking as you are eating.

I could hear the people on the next table talking in English and talking about doing a cycle tour so when I’d finished I said hello and we got chatting. They were doing their first tour and a company was taking their luggage to the hotel each night so they weren’t touring with all their stuff. It sounds like they’re enjoying itr but they keep getting lost (no Garmin!) Tomorrow they are going to the Rhein Falls, as am I, so we might bump into each other. They say they saw a couple on recumbent trikes today.

I walked back to the hotel and went up to my room but I still felt hungry so went downstairs to the restaurant and had an Apfelstrudel and tea.

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The Apfelstrudel was the cheapest thing on the menu at 8,50 Francs. A scoop of ice cream is 3 Francs (that’s £2), no wonder people say Switzerland is expensive. I will definitely try to overnight in Germany if possible. For example, my orange juice today was 6 Francs (that’s about £4) whereas one I had in Germany a couple of days ago was 2,40€.

Still it’s been very cool to breakfast in Austria, cycle non-stop through Switzerland to have lunch in Germany and then have dinner in Switzerland. The awful weather is about finished now too so hopefully it will be sunshine from now on!

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Filed under Cycle Tours, Cycling in Germany, Konstanz to Koblenz

Ko2Ko – Konstanz to Meersburg

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!

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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!

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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!

This is looking out to the main bit of Bodensee to the east.
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Here is the view along the Rhein.
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I was now cycling along Seestraße and boy was this a posh bit of Konstanz – enormous h ouses, shiny big cars, attractive vistas.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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I rejoined the original route at Egg, whereupon the tarmac ran out for a couple of miles although this surface was OK.

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I passed Insel Mainau (an island) and carried on on asphalted roads now to Dingelsdorf. There were lots of fruit trees here.

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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.

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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).

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Ludwigshafen afforded some wonderful views of the lake, as well as just a few spots of rain!

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And here is Alfie enjoying the view!

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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).

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Although I’d cycled twenty miles I wanted to press on before the rain arrived properly so kept the pedals turning towards Sipplingen. At which point I bumped into this:
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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.

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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.

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Looking across the lake it was clear it was raining everywhere!

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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.

In Oberuhldingen I stopped to take a photo of some boats for James my husband.
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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!20130530-195126.jpg

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:

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I was shown to my room which was a tiny garret!
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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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!20130530-202234.jpg

This is the ‘high street’ of Meersburg at the level of the lake.

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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.

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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!

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I then found myself at the Zeppelin Museum which chum Tony Simister had suggested on Facebook that I visit. So I did.

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The entrance fee was 4€

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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.

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The gate out to the main road where my hotel is.

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After writing up some of this blog I started to feel hungry so I went out to an Italian café restaurant. I ordered a salad but when it came it was surprisingly short on lettuce leaves – none!
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I was still a bit peckish after this so had a small pizza as well!

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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!

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Filed under Cycle Tours, Cycling in Germany, Konstanz to Koblenz

Ko2Ko – Düsseldorf to Konstanz by train

Wednesday 29 May – Düsseldorf to Konstanz by train

I was woken to the sound of rain on the window – yesterday’s fantastic sunshine was most decidedly gone! I had my breakfast and then packed up my bags, spending five minutes trying to separate out the flagpole on my trike (so I could stow the flags and 3 flagpole pieces in my luggage rather than having them on the trike). It seems the flagpole metalwork at the join had corroded together a bit but eventually I managed to separate it and pack it away in my Banana Bags.

I headed out very early – almost an hour before my train. This was due to my paranoia about missing this train, and also to give me time to buy some supplies for the journey of seven hours on the one train.

I walked/wheeled the trike the 0.15 miles to Düsseldorf rail station whereupon I was faced with an abundance of choices for my lunch which made it very hard to choose one. In the end I got myself a ham roll for lunch and also bought some crisps and chocolate.

I was glad to see my train listed on the board of departures for its platform – that is always an encouraging sight!

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I followed the signs to the lift at the station and when I got to the lift serving Platform 16 I discovered it’s too short for a recumbent trike. Ho hum (I have since discovered that apparently some German chap has done a website which lists the dimensions of all the lifts at German rail stations). So I was back to my usual German railway station skill of carrying my trike and my luggage (separately) up a few flights of stairs.

When I got to the top I wheeled Alfie along the platform until I found the information poster which tells you where the different trains stop and where each carriage is. My ticket told me I was to be on Wagen 6 and that was at the back (as usual); the info poster showed it with the bicycle symbol.

A man and a woman came over to chat to me, asking me about my trip and cycling in Germany and England and more. The man said he was getting the same train as me (as far as Koblenz) and was very happy to help me to lift Alfie on board. That was a bit of a relief! The lady was very interested in what it’s like cycling on roads in England with all the cars whizzing past you.

When the train arrived, bang on time, it stopped a bit short so I had to wheel Alfie along the platform. The man carried my luggage for me which was rather helpful!

He helped me lift Alfie in through the narrow door and we found the bike compartment pretty full of bikes. I folded Alfie and tucked him underneath a pair of hanging bikes.

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Each bike has a ticket to say where it’s going and I noticed all the rest were going to Trier (therefore changing at Koblenz) so I knew I’d have to make sure my trike was out of the way as we approached Koblenz.

I decided to sit in the bike area for a bit to make sure that Alfie wasn’t sliding around too much (once he’s folded he tends to roll around) and the chap sat with me and chatted about bikes and other stuff. He regularly cycle tours but was this time going on a walking tour. He had a little tip to stop your brake cables corroding – wipe vaseline on the cable before it goes into the outer sheath. An interesting idea!

We passed through Köln (Cologne) and I noticed that the thousands of padlocks have been removed from the bridge although some new ones have already been added. At Köln another lady with a bike got on and my companion helped her lift the bike on and found a stowage spot. She was going to Konstanz too so Alfie wouldn’t be the only bike on board after Koblenz.

I decided Alfie was suitably well installed and went into the main seating area to find my seat. The seat in front of me was occupied by a rather nice Schnauzer dog, sleeping on a towel on the seat. His owner told me that she has to buy a child’s ticket for him. He woke up to say hello to me and then went back to sleep again.

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The train stopped at Bonn where the conductor came round for the second time to check tickets – they’re taking it seriously obviously! Mind you, at just 29 Euros for this seven hour journey there’s no excuse for Schwarzfahren!

At half past eleven we reached Koblenz and the great bicycle exodus began. Six burly chaps packed themselves into the bicycle section and tried to squeeze their bikes out around Alfie, plus keeping their multiple panniers in a reasonable pile. We all survived and I unfolded Alfie once they had gone – it was just Alfie and the lady’s bike left. She asked me if my trike counts as one or two bikes – not something I’d ever really thought about but I said it was one.

Virtually everyone had got off the train at this point so I was left with the entire section of the carriage to myself.

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It’s lovely taking the train along the Rhein as you get fantastic views. The river level seems much higher than normal which might be an issue for some riverside campsites and everything looks extremely green. It’s always fun watching the barges whizzing downstream or pootling upstream.

The train sped through Spay, somewhere I have stayed several times, and as we approached Lorelei/Sankt Goar it looked as though the rain was easing and the clouds looked lighter. This was all very familiar cycling territory for me (I’ve done this bit of the Rhein Radweg at least four times) and it’s good to look down on the cycle path from a slightly higher vantage point.

I had my lunch of a baguette and some crisps at one o’clock, washed down with water from my bike water bottle.

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There was a buffet car at the other end of this train and periodically a member of staff came through the train with a tray with a couple of coffees on it. Shame I don’t like coffee! I thought I might treat myself to a cup of tea (if they have such a thing) mid-afternoon as an excuse to take a stroll down the train too and stretch my legs but in the end I was happily ensconced in my carriage with my luggage and didn’t bother.

We stopped at Mainz and then the train headed off through bits of Germany I haven’t previously visited, including Worms and then to Mannheim and Karlsruhe.

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I’ll be cycling back through these towns over the next couple of weeks and am looking forward to exploring them at a slightly slower pace.

The Rhein river was out of sight now that the valley was wider. We stopped at Baden Baden and also at Offenburg which are slightly off my route. The towns were very quaint and attractive here with lots of churches in the style familiar from Bavaria/Austria, although I believe this is Baden Württemburg.

It’s interesting travelling on one train for seven hours as you become aware just how big Germany is and also how much territory you can cover through cycling as I will be travelling most or not all of this distance back.

The terrain became hillier after Offenburg with some vines on hillside terraces and of course an obligatory impressive castle or two. The skies had cleard a little and the rain had stopped after Mainz but as I reached the mountainous area further south there were more clouds and a very misty vista of the green hills.

Some of the villages were picture postcard agricultural villages nestled amongst the high hills. At Hornberg there was a sign about the Schwarzwald (Black Forest) so I probably missed out on a cracking slice of cake by not getting off the train!

The route through the Schwarzwald had us clinging to the sides of mountains and going through lots of tunnels. The train’s speed was significantly reduced as well which meant I had plenty of time to see the outside world, which was absolutely beautiful.

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It was also noticeable that the driver’s information over the PA, for example the next station and any other train connections from that station, were now given only in German rather than the previous German and English.

After a very long climb we reached St Georgen which appeared to be the top of the local hilly area at 806 metres above sea level – at which point I got phone signal again, having been without for quite some time.

Continuing on now on a flatter plain, the train stopped at Donaueschingen and then at Singen where I noticed some blue skies to the west. The forecasted complete day of rain hadn’t been quite as bad as that so I have hopes that tomorrow’s day of rain may have a few dry patches in which I can do my 40 miles.

I helped myself to a few squares of Ritter Sport chocolate which I bought for the journey but decided against voyaging to the buffet car (I’d have to leave my panniers behind). The cup of tea at Konstanz would be tastier for the delay and of course I could also maybe have a cake with it.

My first gimpse of Bodensee (Lake Constance). Look at that blue sky!

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We arrived at Konstanz station bang on time and the lady whose bike was also in my carriage helped me lift Alfie out.

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She was having a camping tour around Bodensee so the weather forecast was rather ominous for her. She asked where I was going and when I said I was planning on 60km per day she seemed to think that was an amazing distance. I told her I had done 100km yesterday and she looked mind-boggled. I didn’t like to mention that my friend Andy rode 1000km (600 miles) in three days a couple of weeks ago!

Unfortunately Konstanz appears to be one of those stations without a lift so I had to carry Alfie down a double flight of stairs under the railway line and then up the other side. I couldn’t see any impressionable young men I could persuade to help me! In fact, all I saw were elderly and smartly-dressed people, several of whom were speaking English.

The hotel is right opposite the railway station and above a McDonalds (which I shall not visit). My room is very nice and Alfie has a very spacious Fahrradgarage although unfortunately it was down a flight of steps which was rather awkward to manage with him (a narrow staircase) but I succeeded and he is safely tucked up for the night.

My 3G data wasn’t working on the phone today (I had a text message from Vodafone.de to say there was a fault) so I was offline for my whole journey (I read a couple of iBooks). When I got to the hotel and found that their wifi works perfectly (hurrah!) I took the opportunity to look at the forecast for tomorrow (Thursday).

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So that’s looking a little bettter than before, at least it’s warm and there will be some sunshine.

However, on Friday I shall be cycling from Meersburg – take a look at the predicted amount of rainfall!

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I think I may need to build an ark around Alfie.

Having showered and freshened up it was time to explore Konstanz a little, mainly in search of food.

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As I was walking around the town I found an Indian restaurant. You don’t tend to find that many Indian restaurants in Germany so I thought I’d give it a go. Mayura seemed fairly posh inside and the prices were Konstanz-worthy, but when my ordered Chicken Masala (no tikka, seeing as we’re not in the UK!) arrived it was served in a little bowl made of two puppodums. Fantastic!
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It also came with rice and a naan.

I enjoyed the meal and then fancied a pastry for dessert. Unfortunately all the bakeries seemed to have closed (it was now 8:30pm) so in the end I settled for a Smarties McFlurry and a cup of tea, despite generally avoiding McDonalds.

When I got back I had a chat with James on FaceTime and Poppy the dog also peered at me across the miles.

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I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s cycling (the dry bits at least) as I saw the cycle path from the train and it looks very decent. It looks like the best of the weather is in the morning so I will make the most of it and make a reasonably prompt start.

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Filed under Cycle Tours, Konstanz to Koblenz