Christine’s Ode to Joy

Thursday – Saturday 30-1 Feb 2020

After the delights of Italy, Christine decided she would like to spend some time in her favourite place, the shores of Lake Constance. So, once again it was time to travel across the Alps. As the train sped north towards Milan there was a line of white topped mountains visible ahead. It was a beautifully clear and sunny day. 

The train headed into the mountains and there was a view of Lake Como and then a short stop at the border. No border guards or inspection of passports, but 3 Swiss financial guards got on and asked a middle-aged couple to open their bags and even their wallets to look inside. 

The train went alongside Lake Lugano and with the green valleys and snow capped mountains it was glorious. Switzerland at its picture postcard best.

Christine stayed in the city of Konstanz itself, which has many old buildings, but seems vibrant and lively with many students. On the Saturday she decided to circumnavigate the lake by train. Setting off on the first train she travelled to the little town of Radolfzell at the western end of the lake. 

From there it was along the northern side into the city of Friedrichshafen where she took a stroll along the waterfront looking across at beautiful Switzerland. Then time for a rail replacement bus through some very tiny village lanes to the beautiful old island city of Lindau where she wandered the cobbled streets lined with typical old German buildings. 

Once again, January was a perfect time to be there as the usually crammed streets were peaceful and quiet. It was then just a few minutes ride round the eastern edge of the lake to the Austrian town of Bregenz for lunch by the waterfront, before taking the half hourly shuttle into Switzerland. 

On our first visit to Lake Constance about 15 years ago, we got caught by a 48 hour deluge in Austria and checked the train times for a possible day trip out, only to find there were only 3 or 4 trains a day. How times have changed with all the cross border cooperation that now takes place. This felt particularly poignant as it was the UK’s final day in the EU.

The weather was so beautiful and the temperature so warm at about 14C that Christine took a 2 hour walk between Swiss towns along the lake shore amazed at how glorious a day it was, but also thinking it did not feel right for it to be so hot and so green there on the last day of January. Then the final train alongside the lake and cycle paths she had ridden so often and a walk across the border back to Germany. 

When Christine and Stephen set out on their big bike ride in 2015 they intended to cycle the length of the Danube from its source in Donaueschingen in the Black Forest to the Black Sea. The prettiest bit had been near the start through a beautiful valley for only bikes and trains, and Christine had always wanted to do this on the train, so today was the day. It was just as beautiful as she remembered and brought back many happy memories and made her think how lovely it would be to cycle it again.