Tag Archives: Lake Constance

On This Day – Friedrichshafen on Lake Constance

While the current travel restrictions are in place I have no new stories to post so what I thought that I would do is to go through my picture archives and see where I was on this day at any time in the last few travelling years.

On 30th May 2008 I was at Lake Constance in Germany with my daughter…

Friedrichshafen 07

Germany? You’re going on holiday to Germany? But why?”  I am willing to bet that this question/response never arises if you tell people you are travelling to Italy or France.  No, there’s something about travelling to Germany that requires an explanation. Or should that be, there’s something about British people that requires an explanation if you are travelling to Germany and although I encountered this reaction before going to Friedrichshafen I didn’t really feel that I really needed to explain myself.

As Sally had recently broken the news about having a baby which I have to say came as a massive shock, I wasn’t ready at only fifty-two to be ready for that sort of commitment, I thought it would be a good idea to have a last bonding holiday together as father and daughter before the big event as it might to be a long time before we get this opportunity again.  I was straight to the Ryanair website and I quickly located cheap flights to Germany.

I really had no idea where Friedrichshafen was and I really didn’t care, I was determined to have the flights so I booked them without giving the transaction a second thought.  After it had been confirmed I set out to discover where it was exactly and to learn something about our destination.

I was delighted to find that it is in the far southwest of Germany sitting alongside Lake Constance and within easy reach of its neighbours Switzerland and Austria and I quickly realised that here was a trip where I could pull in some extra countries in my quest to visit as much of Europe as possible using the low cost airlines to get me there.  After consulting the guidebooks and planning a suitable itinerary the final plan was to fly to Friedrichshafen then drive to Switzerland and visit Liechtenstein as well.

Lake Constance

We arrived in Germany at three o’clock in the afternoon and picked up the hire car with a minimum of fuss and drove directly to the city to find the hotel Schöllhorn, which wasn’t as straightforward as it should have been but eventually we found it at the third attempt and checked in.

The hotel was a grand building in a good position with front rooms overlooking the lake but as I had booked a budget room ours had an alternative view over the car park at the back but this didn’t matter because as it was mid afternoon already we quickly organised ourselves and made our way out of the hotel and down to the lake to see what the city had to offer.

We walked for a while along the friendly waterfront and before very long selected a table at a bar with an expansive view of the water stretching across to Switzerland.  Not that we could see Switzerland however because there was a strange mist that hung over the curiously dead calm water that rather spoilt the view of the Alps in the distance.  A glance at the menu confirmed my excellent judgement in earlier purchasing a German phrase book at the airport because the menu interpretation looked especially tricky with very few words that meant anything to me.

“My philological studies have satisfied me that a gifted person ought to learn English (barring spelling and pronouncing) in thirty hours, French in thirty days, and German in thirty years.” – Mark Twain, ‘A Tramp Abroad –That Awful German Language’

Friedrichshafen 01

My first attempt at the German language proved a total failure.  I ordered two beers and got three from a slightly confused looking waitress who couldn’t distinguish between my zweis and my dreis – anyway we didn’t complain and drank them all anyway so perhaps it wasn’t such a linguistic catastrophe after all, but mindful of the possible dangers in being too adventurous with food choices from an unfamiliar menu we restricted ourselves to a simple salad for lunch.

This was a perfect spot for an afternoon sojourn and we sat and watched the lake that was busy with ferry boats crossing over to Switzerland or simply stopping off at all the little towns that border the lake and we sat and practised German from the phrasebook and Sally impressed me with her natural grasp of the language.  Later we walked along the promenade to check the schedules for our planned trip to the other side of the water the next day.

Click on an image to scroll through the Gallery…

If you were wondering, the grand looking chap who has his statue it is Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin because this is where his airship was pioneered and developed.

Zeppelin was born in Konstanz, on the other side of the lake and in 1898 he founded the ‘Gesellschaft zur Förderung der Luftschiffahrt’ or the company for the promotion of airship flight, and construction of the first Zeppelin began in Friedrichshafen in 1899 which enjoyed a perfect location for launching the airships presumably because the lake provided a slightly softer landing in the event of mishaps.  The first Zeppelin flight occurred on 2nd July 1900 over Lake Constance and lasted for eighteen minutes.

Read the Full Story Here…

Not sure why I was so worried about having a grandchild – now I have four, Molly, Patsy, William and Heidi…

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Some things that make Switzerland Famous

I suppose you have to admire the Swiss.  Here, after all, is a county that is small. mountainous, has virtually no natural resources and yet has managed to become the richest nation on earth” – Bill Bryson, ‘Neither here, Nor there’

In April 2007 we visited Alpine Switzerland and driving through the meadows and hills on our way to Liechtenstein we stopped at a delightful little place for lunch.

It was a perfectly lovely setting and we sat in the sun and enjoyed our food but the best was yet to come because when we decided to use the washrooms before resuming our journey we were amused to find what simply has to be the best loo in the world with a mechanical cleaning process that included a 360º scrubbing and automatic disinfection of the toilet seat.

This was really impressive but I was a little concerned about health and safety risks associated with it beginning in advance of the occupier leaving the seat, which could have been especially painful for a man if he was to get his valuables caught up in the procedure.

Switzerland it has to be said is not the most exciting country in the World so this started us thinking and we tried to agree on five things that make it famous.  We were going to do ten but this seemed absurdly ambitious!

Our final choice might have included cowbells, yodelling, fondue sets or emmental cheese, maybe Roger Federer or Ursula Andress but in the end we agreed upon, in reverse order…

5. Swiss watches of course – that was rather obvious.  I have never owned a Swiss watch and never will because I really fail to see the point of spending hundreds or even thousands of pounds on a wrist watch when a simple Casio will do the same job for just a few pence.  I once bought one in a petrol station for £1.99 and it lasted for several years.

4. Cuckoo clocks, because even though they are strictly speaking from Germany the Swiss were important for the ‘chalet’ style that they introduced at the end of nineteenth century and is the sort of cuckoo clock where it is common to have a  music box somewhere in the mechanism with tunes like ‘Edelweiss’ and ‘The Happy Wanderer’.

I once had a problem with a cuckoo clock in Germany – Trouble With a Cuckoo Clock

World's Biggest Cuckoo Clock Triberg Black Forest

3. Breakfast cereal Muesli, which was introduced around 1900 by the Swiss doctor and nutritionist Maximilian Bircher-Benner for patients in his hospital in Zurich.  I imagine that this solved the problem of bed-blocking!

I am not a big fan of Muesli, I always think it looks like something that I should put out on the bird feeding table…

Muesli

2.   Toblerone, the Swiss chocolate bar found in every airport duty-free shop that was invented by Theodore Tobler in 1908 in his factory in Bern with a design supposed to represent the Matterhorn Mountain in the Swiss Alps.

I confess that I rather like Toblerone but then I am rather fond of almonds.

Toblerone

but most of all we had to agree upon on…

1. The Swiss Army knife.

Various models of Swiss Army knives exist, with different tool combinations for specific tasks. The most common tools featured are, in addition to the main blade, a smaller second blade, tweezers, toothpick, corkscrew, can opener, corkscrew, slotted screwdriver, flat-head screwdriver, phillips-head screwdriver, nail file, scissors, saw, file, hook, magnifying glass, ballpoint pen, fish scaler, hex wrench w/bits, pliers and key chain. Recent technological features include USB flash drives, digital clock, digital altimeter, LED light, laser pointer, and MP3 player.

That is a startling collection of potential weapons in one utensil but I can’t help thinking that it was a good job Switzerland didn’t go to war with Germany in 1939 because I can’t imagine Hitler’s crack Panzer division being turned back by an army wielding nail files and toothpicks.

Manufacturers today  supply over fifty thousand a year to the Swiss Army which works out at a new knife for every soldier just about every three years or so.

Have I missed anything?

Weekly Photo Challenge: Between

Friedrichshafen to Romanshorn Ferry

Ferry Between Germany and Switzerland…

At the ferry booking office  a helpful and patient lady assisted us with our enquiries on how to make the trip across to Switzerland.

She advised us not to book today in advance in case the weather took a turn for the worse and was bad tomorrow and we worried that she knew something that we didn’t, but we took her advice and noted the times of the crossings for later in the day because we had a mind to make a foot crossing later if we ran out of things to do in Friedrichshafen, the prospect of which seemed most likely.

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Liechtenstein, Austria and Germany

Vaduz Liechtenstein

We stopped the car in Vaduz and walked aimlessly along the main road, looked at a church and tried to convince ourselves it was interesting, and then the new Parliament building that was being constructed and then we left.   We crossed back into Switzerland and progressed towards Austria, which we entered through a busy border control crossing but were not asked to produce our passports this time.

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Switzerland, Car Hire, Ferries and Self Cleaning Toilets

Switzerland Alpine Meadow

“Switzerland is a small, steep country, much more up and down than sideways, and is all stuck over with large brown hotels built on the cuckoo clock style of architecture.”  – Ernest Hemingway

After a second generous Teutonic breakfast we booked out of the hotel and took a taxi to a car rental office a couple of kilometres out of town.  Our plan was to take the ferry across to Romanshorn again and then drive through Switzerland to Liechtenstein.   At this stage we didn’t have a road map because I tend to consider these to be an unnecessary expense and I was fairly confident that the place would be signposted and not too difficult to find, as it is, after all, an independent European sovereign state.

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Germany, Friedrichshafen from a Swiss Perspective

Romanshorn Switzerland

“The Swiss have an interesting army.  Five hundred years without a war. Pretty impressive.  Also pretty lucky for them.  Ever see that little Swiss Army knife they have to fight with?  Not much of a weapon there. Corkscrews. Bottle openers.  ‘Come on, buddy, let’s go.  You get past me, the guy in back of me, he’s got a spoon.  Back off.  I’ve got the toe clippers right here.’”                                    Jerry Seinfeld

Switzerland is an fascinating country, which due to its geographical location, the ethnic composition of its population, part German, part French and part Italian, and its relatively small territory, has had to obtain neutral status in order to maintain internal cohesion.

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Germany, Friedrichshafen to Romanshorn by Ferry

Friedrichshafen to Romanshorn Ferry

At the ferry booking office  a helpful and patient lady assisted us with our enquiries on how to make the trip across to Switzerland.  She advised us not to book today in advance in case the weather took a turn for the worse and was bad tomorrow and we worried that she knew something that we didn’t, but we took her advice and noted the times of the crossings for later in the day because we had a mind to make a foot crossing later if we ran out of things to do in Friedrichshafen, the prospect of which seemed most likely.

Read the full story…

Germany, Friedrichshafen and the Zeppelin

Friedrichshafen Zeppelin

The hotel served a substantial breakfast and after making sure that we had filled ourselves sufficiently to last the whole day we set off to explore the town.  It was surprisingly warm and I had failed to pack appropriately and lacking a short sleeved shirt had to purchase one from the cheap shop next to the hotel, only 4€ so a real bargain, but I was too mean to buy more than one so this would have to last for three days, so what I’d saved on clothing I would probably need to spend on deodorant.

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Germany, Friedrichshafen and the German Language

Friedrichshafen Germany Lake Constance Bodensee

“My philological studies have satisfied me that a gifted person ought to learn English (barring spelling and pronouncing) in thirty hours, French in thirty days, and German in thirty years.”                                                                                    Mark Twain, ‘A Tramp Abroad –That Awful German Language’

There was a long sweeping and exceedingly sociable waterfront where we walked for a while and before very long selected a table at a bar with an expansive view of the water and in the full glare of the midday sun.  A glance at the menu confirmed my excellent judgement in earlier purchasing a German phrase book at the airport because the menu interpretation looked especially tricky with very few words that meant anything to me.

Read the full story…

Germany, Friedrichshafen and Lake Constance

Friedrichshafen Lake Constance Bodensee Germany

“Germany? You’re going on holiday to Germany? But why?”  I am willing to bet that this question/response never arises if you tell people you are travelling to Italy or France. Probably not Japan or Russia for that matter.  No, there’s something about travelling to Germany that requires an explanation.  Or should that be, there’s something about British people that requires an explanation if you are travelling to Germany and although I encountered this reaction before going to Friedrichshafen I didn’t really feel that I really needed to explain myself.

The time was right to visit Germany at last or maybe it was just simple opportunism.

Read the full story…