It’s a long way to the top!

5th August – 12th August

We had a nice bike ride around Titisee lake to the main tourist area which is very touristy, selling cuckoo clocks, clothes, cheeses, and smoked meats amongst many other things. It still has a nice feel about it even with the crowds. You can hire paddle boats, row boats, power boats or take one of the many boat rides on offer. We had a nice coffee and cake before visiting many of the shops who seem to all sell the same things. There was one which had a Christmasmarkt where a lot of the goods were cheaper than we had seen at the Christmas markets on our previous trip to Germany. You could honestly spend a fortune buying all things Christmas, pity we couldn’t get them home, partly due to breakages but also the weight. Might try and sneak something in the suitcase! We had a nice light lunch at a cafe overlooking the water which was really pleasant then on our bikes for the ride home. A quick change of clothes and down to the lake for a swim, not me of course, but Dave did jump in for awhile. There are three caravan parks here, two of them right on the lake (not ours, although we are only .02km away) and are very expensive however they are afforded the best views of the lake. All three have on site cafes where you can either just have a drink or a meal as well and are reasonably priced. We are fortunate to have a little stream running past our site with a family of ducks nearby. Sounds great, doesn’t it?

We have bitten the bullet and decided to go to Switzerland for a couple of days even though we know it will be expensive. We had a nice drive to the first border post along the B500 for part of the way, leaving the Black Forest behind us only to find the border post was closed. The nice German border guards directed us to the next post which was 20km in the opposite direction. Upon arrival at the border stop, we parked in the wrong place however the guard was very polite about it. We ended up buying a 10 day vignette (road tax) as it doesn’t expire for 1 year, no passport required, no registration papers required, just our UK address (thanks Joanna and Paul), €32.50 and we were on our way again. Our destination was Neuhausen am Rheinfall where the Rheinfalls are. The couple that we met in Baden Baden from Melbourne told us about this place and also Stein am Rhein which we will visit after here. Driving on the road system here was a breeze until we got to the tunnel where we lost all reception on the iPad, suffice to say we took the wrong road. After some confusion and a bit of re plotting we we’re on our way again to come to a bridge that was 3.2 metres high. Guess what! Tilly is 3.2 metres high and we weren’t prepared to risk it so another rerouting and we were on our way again. This is our first bridge that we have not been able to fit under so all in all, we shouldn’t complain. We finally got to the road that led to the Aire which is near the Rhine river only to find that we had come in the wrong way and Dave had to do some amazing manoeuvring of the van to get in through the gate with only centimetres to spare. Not the best of starts to one of our favourite countries. We were a bit frazzled once parked up so we donned our bathers and went for a swim in the Rhine with the waterfalls across the river from us and not too far away. A cold beer on our return and we are starting to feel human again. Tomorrow is another day!

The promise of a thunderstorm today saw us leave early for the Rhine waterfall. We walked along the river and along the way I was bitten by a bee on my wedding ring finger. My fault really, it flew into my hair and not knowing it was a bee I went to flick it out and it stung me in protest. Now I think I have a pretty good pain threshold but I have never been in so much agony before in my life, give me childbirth any day. At least the pain eases off in between contractions! It appears I may be allergic to bee stings as 9 hours later it is still painful and my finger is very swollen. Enough of that. Up the stairs to the ticket office where we paid €10 entry fee and then down to the falls. There were several levels with viewing platforms and while they weren’t the biggest we have seen, we were amazed at the power of the water that was rushing through. There are several boat rides you can take that bring you in close to the water but the lowest vantage point that we could get too was just as good if not better. We caught the glass lift back up to the top and had a quick look at Schloss Laufen which boasts a history of 1000 years. We decided to walk into Schaffhausen as the path followed the river. What a lovely old town with many of the buildings covered in frescos depicting all types of scenes. We climbed stairs through vineyards to the 16th century fortress. The circular battlements were built with forced labour during the reformation. The view at the very top overlooked rooftops, spires to the Rhine and the wooded hills that fringed the city. We then walked back to the waterfalls, got changed and had another swim in the river at the same spot as yesterday. It was extremely hot today and sadly the thunderstorms didn’t eventuate. After dinner we walked to the falls as once night comes, they light the falls up. It was a nice end to the day.

Rheinfalls

Rheinfalls

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So much power

So much power

Our visit to Stein am Rhein, 14kms from the Rheinfalls saw a change of plans. We parked in a car park just outside of town where the fee for the day was €8 and we could stay the night, so we did! Stein am Rhein, as the name suggests is right on the Rhine river. This town of medieval houses, many of them with beautiful frescos, half timbered houses and a tree lined promenade leading into the old town is a sight to behold. We fell in love with this pretty place so are staying put. We had a relaxing afternoon sitting by the river. One of the popular things to do is to walk into the middle of the river and let the current take you downstream as far as you want to go. Then you get out, walk back to where you started and start again. Dave indulged in this pastime however I’m still being a wuss as my finger is still very painful and swollen, off to the chemist tomorrow for antihistamines. I did wade in the river as again it was very hot today. After dinner we walked into town as there is a music festival on. We only stayed for a little while, lots of people enjoying themselves.

Stein am Rhein old town

Stein am Rhein old town

Starting point for David's swim

Starting point for David’s swim

The plan to stay two nights was altered due to the traffic noise last night, which is such a shame as it was a beautiful spot and we could have stayed for a few days however we did find it expensive. An example of Swiss expenses was petrol. In Switzerland the average price of diesel was €1.50 per litre. Within 50 metres of the border on the German side it was €1.14, so how many Swiss cross the border for fuel? Across the border again and back into Germany saw us drive to Marienschlucht and as the car park was closed, we parked at the Lake Constance golf club after getting their permission. We walked to the start of the hike to Marienschlucht which is a deep ravine wedged between the villages of Bodman and Wallhausen however we got as far as the gate and there was a sign which translated by a nice German bike rider said the path was no longer safe and it couldn’t be used. Another path to the gorge was from the village of Bodman but as that made it a 15km round trip with a huge number of wooden stairs to climb down and back up again in the heat, we agreed a swim in Lake Constance at Bodman was a better option. This was obviously the right choice given we have just learnt that this will be the hottest summer ever in Southern Germany! There is a designated swimming area which cost €2 each to get in however it was very refreshing so well worth it on another very hot day. It cooled off a bit later in the afternoon so we took a walk into town. It isn’t very big, mainly restaurants on the riverfront and a couple of small shops. It was a nice walk given it wasn’t so hot. There were very dark clouds in the sky and we thought we might get a thunderstorm, and we did! It was a beauty, we laid in bed for ages in the dark watching the lightning and the thunder was earth shaking, love it!

Once the storm stopped we had a goodnights sleep before driving around Lake Constance to our next Aire in Meersburg. We stopped half way to have a cuppa with a view over the vineyards to the lake. The view was stunning as was the drive. We parked at our home for the next few nights and had a relaxing afternoon just sitting. We had a walk into the old town which is about 1km away through a parkland. We didn’t do any sightseeing it was really just for the walk. We will investigate the town gully tomorrow.

We had another thunderstorm last night, more lightning than the previous night but less thunder and rain. We walked for hours today, back into town this morning before it got too hot and down to the ferry area where the boats leave for lots of different places. Some go to the town of Konstanz, some to Lindau and many other destinations. We had a walk around the old town and had our lunch on the seafront before visiting Burg Meersburg, which is a museum in the old castle that dates back to the 7th century and is one of Germany’s oldest medieval strongholds. We stopped and had a beer on the way home simply for wifi which didn’t work! We still drank the beer!

Burg Meersburg

Burg Meersburg

We have now driven most of the length of Lake Constance which is 67kms and are in Lindau, a beautiful town on the edge of the lake. We arrived just on lunchtime so we had our lunch before a welcome swim in the lake. We sat on the grass for a few hours watching the Zeppelin’s flying past, the yachts sailing in the breeze and the power boats racing past, it was great. We then hopped on our bikes and rode the 4kms to Lindau Island just over a small bridge which is where the old town is. A lovely town with some of the buildings painted with colourful frescos. Lots of cafes and restaurants as well as the usual shops. We wandered around for an hour or so, stopping for a drink before heading back to Tilly for dinner. The Aire has a maximum of 24 hours parking unless we want to pay €31.50 per night to stay in the proper caravan park which we don’t. It will be a shame if we can’t stay another night here.

Lindau Island

Lindau Island

Zeppelin airship in the right hand corner

Zeppelin airship above the clouds

13th August – 20th August

Well, we didn’t stay the extra night and hit the road just after 9. We had a major stuff up today. We took a wrong turn and ended up in Austria at the border crossing. You need a vignette when travelling in Austria and as we were only looking for an escape route, we didn’t stop to pay for one. Dave recalculated another route and we gingerly set off on the 10 km journey to the German border. We got there without any problems and are hoping that doesn’t happen again….don’t need the stress. We had a wonderful drive through the beginning of the Bavarian Alps to our next destination of Immenstadt where the plan is to do some walks on the wander wegs, however today we had our lunch and headed on our bikes to the Grosseralpsee (large lake) for a swim. The water, which is fresh water is quite warm and it is a bit strange swimming with the fish! At every opportunity the German people love to bathe and there were lots of them today. There were boats for hire as well as stand up boards. The scenery around this lake was stunning with Alps almost all of the way round. We had a drink before riding into town for a quick look. There doesn’t seem to be too much here, but we have come for the hiking so that isn’t going to be a problem.

Our swimming hole

Our swimming hole

After a good night sleep and breakfast, we rode to the other side of the lake to start our first Alpen wanderweg. It was a 10km round trip however it was quite steep in parts taking us to an altitude of 270 metres. We walked through forest and past many cows in the fields and the clanging of their bells kept us company. We reached the top with a stunning view over the lake to the mountains behind. While we love visiting the cities, towns and villages this is what our journey is all about. We have been so looking forward to our alpine treks and even though today’s was small we weren’t disappointed. On the way down we followed a lovely babbling brook for part of the journey which was downhill and a bit hard on the knees. Once we reached our bikes, we rode back to where we had a swim yesterday. Unfortunately we had forgotten our bathers, then we remembered where we were and went in anyway. That’s what the Germans do, so when in Germany……..it was very refreshing after our walk/ride. We also experienced our first currywurst mit pomme frites (curry sausage with fries) and it was very nice. The sauce was a bit tart but overall an enjoyable lunch which replenished our tired bodies. We are now sitting outside Matilda with a cuppa and the thunder has started again. Won’t be too long before the rain sets in so we are lucky we got to do our trek today.

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Grosser Alpsee

Grosser Alpsee

We had another thunderstorm last night. Not much lightning and a bit of thunder however the rain was really coming down, so much so that the Aire flooded in parts. As today was quite overcast we decided to ride the 11kms around the Grosseralpsee. It was a fairly easy ride along the lake with a few stops along the way to take photos. Just past half way on the other side of the lake was the Bergfahrt and Alpsee coaster (ski lift and toboggan ride) so we went to have a look. There was a restaurant and shop at the bottom level and of course the ticket booth. While I thought we were just checking out the prices, Dave had other ideas. €21 later, we had two tickets for the journey up the ski lift to 1100 metres and down 1100 meters on the toboggan sled. The views from the ski lift along the way were just stunning, looking back over the lake and the valley below. At the top there was a restaurant selling all different types of wurst, frites, schnitzels and of course big jugs of beer. They also had a couple dressed in traditional clothes singing German beer songs. There was a group of men out for a bucks party with the groom dressed up and some strange looking things hanging around his neck! We got to the toboggan station and the gentleman running it told us in no uncertain terms that if we wanted to go slow, we should take the ski lift down, that it was dangerous to go slow and that the sleds were designed not to come off the rail! Very comforting. We climbed into our individual sleds, got our straps on and away we went. It was awesome! We went so fast around some of the corners, I thought we would leave the track. It seemed to take forever to reach the bottom, it was a long ride and well worth the money. Back on our bikes and home for lunch. We walked into town afterwards and Immenstadt is getting all geared up for a big triathlon event tomorrow with stalls in the main square selling all sorts of triathlon gear. It was amazing to see just how many people were lined up to register for the event. Hope the weather brightens up for the participants and spectators as it is currently raining with another storm possible.

View back to the lake from the ski lift

View back to the lake from the ski lift

The toboggan ride

The toboggan ride

It has rained all night and it still raining, although not heavy. We had a lazy day today, read in bed for a little while this morning before having breakfast. We donned our wet weather gear and walked to the lake where the swimming events were happening passing some of the cyclists on their leg of the race. The participants had to swim 5 x 1km legs having to get out of the water at the end of each kilometre and walk over a ramp and back into the water. After about 30 or so contestants the ramp broke and instead of creating another path, the poor swimmers had to either jump off what was left of the ramp or walk through some of the spectators to get back into the water. It took the organisers a little while to set up an alternative path for them. We left them to it and came home for lunch. Fortunately for us, the refreshment stands for the runners was in the Stellplatz (car park) so we watched them from Tilly while we had our lunch. Then off into town again to see what was happening there. In the square was the turn around point for the runners so we stood there for awhile watching them before heading home. It has rained off and on all day, although not heavy and we are now sitting watching the low clouds roll over the hills. More rain to come I think.

On the road again and after doing the shopping we stopped at Bad Hindelang for a quick look. After visiting the tourist office to find out about any walks, we are now staying here at least for tonight. We had a walk around the town first, not a big town, but it did have some beautiful buildings. Once again the houses here are all dressed up with flower boxes full of petunias, lavender and ivy. They are just beautiful. Bad Hindelang is at the bottom of a valley and is totally surrounded by alps. Back to Tilly for lunch and then off we went on a small walk down to the river which obviously is fed by the melting snow and ice as it was a smoky green colour, just like the glacial lakes we have previously seen. There is a ski lift here as well which we checked out this afternoon for prices and as we aren’t paying anything to park up for the night, that will be our starting point tomorrow.

Looking back to Bad Hindelang from the road

Looking back to Bad Hindelang from the road

We were woken this morning by the sounds of clanging cow bells. Sounds nice doesn’t it? It was very loud as two shepherds were walking them down the street in front of our van to their paddock for the day! There were about 30 of them just meandering down the road. You would be hard pushed to see that in most places. There was a slight change of plan this morning, we drove to Oberjoch about 7 kms away but on the windiest of roads with some amazing views. A quick trip to the tourist office to confirm which hike we were going to do, and off on the ski lift which took us to an elevation of 1536 metres. From there we hiked to the summit to Iseler which is at 1876 metres. While it was only 300 metres higher than the ski lift, it was a steep climb but not too difficult except for where we had to walk through the herd of cows on the path. Such beautiful creatures and so gentle, we patted a few before venturing on. Once at the top we were literally in the clouds however we did get lots of glimpses of the valleys below. We hiked back down to the ski lift where we had our sandwiches and a rest stop before heading off on another path that would take us down to the bottom. The path crossed the valley and then went down through the forest before coming out just near where a new ski lift is currently under construction. The path through the forest was very difficult in parts due to wet ground as well as lots of tree roots which zig zagged across the path and were very slippery. We managed to get down without any injuries but our shoes and pants didn’t fair as well. Both were very muddy and will require quite a bit of scrubbing, but it was a most enjoyable hike.

Glad Dave was driving and not me!

Glad Dave was driving and not me!

Our early morning wake up call

Our early morning wake up call

Company on the path

Company on the path

It's a long way to the top

It’s a long way to the top

As has been the case with a lot of our drives, the scenery today was beautiful. Through cloud covered mountains and lush green valleys spotted with cows and sheep, it is amazing. On our way to Fussen, we stopped for a cuppa overlooking Weissensee, a huge lake in Oberkurcke about 7 kms from Fussen. Even though it is raining, we decided to go for a walk down to the lake. That walk down took us 2 hours as we decided to walk around the whole lake through forest on one side, with several trickling waterfalls feeding into the lake. It was just what our bodies needed after yesterday as we were a bit stiff in the top part of our legs. Back to Tilly for lunch overlooking the lake before finishing our journey in Fussen. We are in a proper Aire with showers, washing machines (yay), toilets and all of the necessities for a Motorhome and we are only 1km from town. The Aire is well placed with a Lidl, Aldi, Getranke shop (liquor store), backerei within metres so we will be very comfy here for a few days. The rain is very heavy at the moment, so we will stay put for today and hopefully we will venture out into town tomorrow. I’m keen to see if Fussen is just as I remember it from our trip back in 2008.

Weisensee

Weisensee

Weisensee

Weisensee

Had a lovely walk into Fussen this morning along the river which took us about an hour. We headed straight for the old town as that was where we stayed last time and had a nice coffee and cake before exploring further. We ventured down the main mall and came out at the hotel we stayed at last time we were here, it hasn’t changed a bit. There was a lot we remembered about this town although it seems bigger. A quick trip to the tourist office to get some information on some of the walks we can do, then We visited the St Nang Benedictine monastery which dates back to the 9th century and is the largest and most impressive of Fussen’s baroque churches. A walk through the gardens before returning along the river and home to plan our next few days.

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5 Responses to It’s a long way to the top!

  1. Baxterbus says:

    brilliant post – you have found some brilliant places. We are in Czech Rep heading to Austria and Germany over the next few weeks so may catch up with you sooner or later.

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  2. Have you been to Prague? One if my favourite cities. Would love to catch up with you if possible. Once you are in Germany let us know where you are, perhaps we can dork something out. From here we are off to Garmisch-Partenkirchen, then Berchtesgarten, then the romantic road route.

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  3. Absolutely wonderful write up and stunning photographs of the Germany I know and love, you are exploring some parts we have been to and bringing back some wonderful memories, but you are also doing things and visiting places we still have to explore so thank you. 👍

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  4. Glad you are enjoying it. Stay tuned for a lot more of Germany to come.

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  5. Sally Cole says:

    I am so glad you did end up going into Switzerland Linda. It would have been a shame after travelling all that way and not go there, even for just a few days.
    The photos are wonderful as usual, love your friendly cow! . My old North Ringwood neighbour Pam, is travelling up the middle and through the top end of OZ down to Perth and across the Nullarbor. I have to say I love your trip so much more. The countryside in Europe is much more prettier and the history is amazing. While Pam’s photos are nice they don’t make me want to go there, whereas yours (well David’s great pics) make we want to jump on a plane now.
    Look forward to seeing more of Germany etc.
    Lots of love from your big sister Sal. xx

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