Tag Archives: Switzerland

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.

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

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Germany, Across the Rhine to Alsace

Strasbourg France

“What is it that gives a frontier its magic? Not the fact that that it is a territorial or political boundary, for these are artificial, dictated by history.  Perhaps it is language that gives to the crossing of a frontier its definitive flavour of voyage.  Whatever the answer the magic is there.  The traveller’s heart will beat to a new rhythm, he will examine the strange new coinage.  Everything will seem to be changed, including the air he breathes”                                                           Lawrence Durrell

It was another disappointing morning and there was a slight drizzle in the air but the weather looked brighter to the west so we decided to drive in that direction and visit the French city of Strasbourg on the other side of the Rhine.

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Liechtenstein and What Makes Switzerland Famous

Buchs Switzerland

“I’ve always wanted to go to Switzerland and see what the army does with those wee red knives”                                                                                                                Billy Connolly

After we left the hill top tavern in Tregen we continued along the scenic route and through the Ruppen Pass with yet more impressive views and then we picked up a main road that took us south through the low lying plains of the Appenzell region.  This wasn’t quite so scenic but as we drove the Alps got closer and their high peaks began to loom overhead rising in dramatic style from the meadows and arable farmlands of this relatively flat part of Switzerland.

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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 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.

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Black Forest, Cuckoo Clocks

Triburg Germany Black Forest

Triberg looked stunning under a covering of fresh snow and we started out to walk the main road which was difficult in the snow and ice because the town is very hilly and the main tourist road runs up a steep straight incline toward the waterfall at the top.  The snow on the path to the waterfall was completely undisturbed and we were the first to use it this morning as we made our way towards the lower and middle falls.

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Little Venice

Little Venice

Little Venice is one of the most attractive and picturesque parts of Mykonos Town and one of the prettiest places in the Cyclades.  Its charming two and three storey houses with colourful balconies, windows and doors; built precariously right on the sea, form a unique picture.  It is almost as iconic an image of the Cyclades as are Santorini’s sugar cubed houses and blue domed churches and is among the most photographed tourist destinations in the whole of Greece.

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