29/7/17. Our departure from Lake Constance was delayed by our reluctance to head off into the rain that was falling on Thursday morning. Having checked out of the campsite, we “hid” in the local cafe hoping for the promised better weather.
Eventually the sky started to look a little brighter and we set off towards the ferry in Meersburg to take us to the city of Constance itself. (A mighty pretty place it is too.) After stocking up on provisions at the last supermarket in Germany we crossed into the land of the banking “gnomes” and the famously high prices through a deserted border post.
The route along the southern shore of the Untersee (the smaller part of Lake Constance) took us through villages that had a different feel to their German counterparts, more rural and less touristy, and even the clang of cowbell, and led us to the picture postcard pretty town of Stein am Rhein. Ignoring the cycle route signs we went along the main street thronged with tourists and passed out through the western town gate to find ourselves back on the bike path which obviously took the long and not so pretty route round the less busy ring road.
On the northern bank of the river we soon crossed back into Germany, and then back into Switzerland. It was a taste of things to come!
We were aiming for a campsite that appeared on Stephen’s Garmin but when we arrived it appeared to have only permanent caravans despite several road signs with a tent. We pressed on crossing the river and back into Germany for another campsite. This one accepted tents but there were big signs everywhere saying “Private Campground for the Canoe Club only”.
We moved on. The road signs changed again although there was no other indication of a border crossing. It was now heading towards 7 o’clock so when we saw a sign for a B&B and temptation got the better of us. As we entered the village it still looked like Switzerland but turning up the side road to the farm where the B&B was Christine noticed that all the cars had German number plates.
Once we were booked in we asked “Are we in Germany or Switzerland?” The lady laughed and said it was an enclave of Germany completely surrounded by Switzerland. “We are politically German but economically Swiss”. We noticed this in the prices – €70 for the room and another €20 for breakfast which we declined figuring we could buy some bread rolls at a shop in the village in the morning.
Well! We chose 4 nice looking but smallish rolls and we’re staggered to be told that, once converted from Swiss francs, that they cost €5.40 – say £4.50! Definitely Swiss prices!
Friday was spent battling against a westerly wind on the northern bank, mainly in Germany but with a couple of forays into Switzerland. The route veered away from the river taking a shorter but hillier path through the minor foothills of the Black Forest. We had been hoping to get reasonably close to Basel by the evening but the wind, the heat (the rain clouds having gradually disappeared over the last two days) and the hills meant that we reached the town of Waldshut (Germany, in case you’re wondering) where we had stayed just over two years ago when we were aiming for the Black Sea. So we made for the same campsite. The area for tents was “free form” in that there were were no marked out spaces so, because we were there quite early, we could choose almost anywhere. As more and more people arrived it became more and more crowded.
Looking back at what we wrote last time we stayed here Stephen was annoyed at the cost €17 plus €1 for 4 minutes in the shower. This was after a couple of weeks in France. This time round it didn’t feel as extortionate after time in Finland where we occasionally paid close to €30 albeit with “free” showers, sauna and kitchen. It all depends on your perspective!
We had good chats to two separate British couples – Derek and Linda who were 4 weeks into a similar trip to us heading for the Black Sea, India and points east so we were able to share some of our experiences – and Carrie and (Sorry! We’ve forgotten your name!! How embarrassing!!!) who were driving down to Lake Constance to meet their son and who told us about a really interesting museum in Neanderthal.
On Saturday morning the tent was very wet from free and condensation so we were even slower than usual in getting going. The first part of the day was through pretty German towns on the north bank looking over at equally picturesque towns on the Swiss side and we found a lovely shaded spot for lunch on the old walls high above the river.
The last 20 km into Basel were as uninspiring as leaving the city had been two years ago but eventually we made our way through the suburbs, crossing briefly into Switzerland for the last time before hitting the French border for the last 2 km to another previously visited campsite in Huningue. This was at the more basic end of campsites but it’s price more than reflected this at €12 for the two of us for one night – and, amazingly for a campsite in France, there were toilet seats!
It has been interesting revisiting these two campsites after 2 years as, for both of us, it feels a bit like “completing the circle” of our trip.