Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Wednesday 11th May 2011 - Tuesday 17th May 2011

Markelfingen , Camping Willam (ACSI2011-590)

Today, Wednesday as we leave Freiberg, it is overcast and rain looks like a real possibility. As we climb towards Titisee, the rain starts. This is the first rain we have had since we left home two weeks ago. We cannot complain at that, but of course we do.

It is clear by the way the road climbs, we would never have made Titisee on the bicycles, even if we had kept going beyond the 11 mile mark yesterday, admittedly, yesterday was fine and sunny, but today, we are soon engulfed in cloud as the road snakes it’s way up.

Once we have got over the hills past Titisee, the rain stops and the sun is shining again.

We are still on kat-nav, road 34 until we join the A81 autobahn. The Germans do not appear to prefix their road numbers with a letter which indicates the type of road. Maybe it is because all of their roads are of excellent quality.

A slight hiccup as we miss our exit and almost end up crossing into Switzerland. This is not deemed a mistake, since, at the point where we turn around there is a Lidl supermarket and we are able to do necessary shopping, then via a slight detour get back on track.

The site is on the shore of the Bodensee (Lake Constance, to us), between Markelfingen and Allensbach, slightly nearer to Markelfingen , with a traffic free cycle track to both.

Facilities are up to the usual high standard you would expect in Germany. There are no English instructions on how to work the washing machine, we learn that “Geld erst einwerfen wenn rote lampe leuchtet!” means “put your money in when the red light comes on”, but not of course until we have put our money in BEFORE the red light came on!. I know we are in Germany, and here they speak German, but, they could give some consideration to those of us whose knowledge of the language is limited to reading the Beano in their childhood, and hence know only "Achtung", "schnell", "swinehunt".

Only problem so far, there does not appear to be a wifi signal at the van, we might have to go to the bar.

A little cycle ride to Allensbach, accompanied by Kathleen, and we find a church, so the coming weekend's church requirements are sorted.

Thursday we wake up to rain, but it is hair washing day, so no real problem.

For the whole day, we have periods of dry followed by heavy downpours, not the weather to risk the carefully dried and straighten hair, so the most we do is a short walk into Markelfingen .

The highlight of the day is another culinary delight rustled up by Kathleen, using the Remoska. This really has been an excellent buy, I cannot understand why no other manufacturer has copied the idea and made a similar product. It is so versatile, a few days ago, I managed to make roast potatoes in it, and today Kathleen has made what she calls an oven omelette, which is like a quiche, without the pastry.

Friday dawns bright and sunny, not quite as hot, but a pleasant 24C will do us.

There is a cycle track right around the Lake, I have been told, it is 230km (144 miles), I cannot talk Kathleen into attempting it, so we settle for something more modest.

After breakfast we set off on our bicycles along the Cycle track to Konstanz. It is (fairly) easy going, a few ups and downs through the undulating countryside, but nothing too strenuous.

Konstanz itself is a slight disappointment, plenty of fine old buildings with murals painted on the wall, but given that it is a town built on a lakeshore, I had expected more of a “waterfront” feel to the place, where in practice the lake does not form a major part of the town.

It is a busy place, with lots of pavement cafes and bars, and lots of people strolling about or sitting in the sun.

Plus of course several fine churches.

We sit among the students on some steps to have our picnic lunch. I thought we fitted in rather well. Kathleen said she thought they would wonder why she had (as a student) had brought her dad (me) with her.

After lunch, we cycle part of the way back the way we had come, until we reach the causeway to Insel Reichenau, a sort of island in the lake.

We peddle along the cycle track, on the causeway, to the island.

Once on the island, it turns out to be quite hilly, which we did not expect. Only a few mutterings of discontent as we peddle along. The intention is to take a ferry back to Allensbach. We have an hour to wait for the ferry, so we indulge in a few beers and some chips at the cafe beside the ferry landing.

The ferry arrives dead on time (well this is Germany), and we find we are the only two passengers, for the short crossing.

We are soon off the ferry at the other side and peddle back along the cycle track to the campsite, to clock up 20 miles.

On our return to the site, we notice there have been quite a few arrivals some to the static caravans around the site, and some towing caravans. As the evening progresses, more and more arrive, it looks as if it is going to be a busy weekend!

One amusing little scene unfolds just beside us. A Swiss family arrive with two small girls (aged about 5 and 7), before their caravan is even unhitched, they are both whizzing around on bicycles!

More rain overnight, by morning it has stopped, but there is thick cloud cover, no blue skies today I fear.

We set off to cycle towards Radolfzell and perhaps beyond.

I think we could easily make it to Stein am Rhein (32km or 20 miles away), but I am out voted.

The cycle tracks are excellent, and it is easy going, we are soon at Radolfzell, where we stop to buy bread.

The cycletrack more or less follows the lakeshore, as we head on past Moos, for the point where the River Rhine leaves the lake.

This made me think that the Bodensee must be the source of the Rhine, but apparently not, the source is (I think) in Switzerland, I will have to look that up, when next I get access to Google.

We cycle through meadows, as I remember they used to be, ie filled with wild flowers of various types (signs of advancing years, talking about how things used to be).

Although the photographs do not show any other people, there are in fact quite a number of cyclists travelling in both directions.

Cycling along the lakeshore is clearly a popular pastime.

We make it as far as a place called Gaienhofen-Horn, which is at the point where the lake begins to taper off into a sort of “v” shaped bay, and then becomes the river Rhine.

We return the way we have come, despite my suggestions that we could keep going to Konstanz, thus, making a circuit of it.

We stop off for lunch at a beer garden beside the cycle track.

This evening, Kathleen goes to church in Allensbach, so with the 23 miles we clock up during the day, plus the 5 miles round trip to the church, that will be almost 30 miles today, quite enough for two pensioners, I am reminded. Plus it begins to rain just before we set out, so we get slightly wet on the way there, and soaked on the way back. I hope the powers that be appreciate the trouble Kathleen takes getting to Mass, and the trouble I go to in helping her get there.

Although going to Switzerland was not really part of our plan, we are so near, it seems silly not to go.

So accordingly on Monday morning (16th May) we check out and head for Interlaken.

I have tried to get into the sat-nav to see if there is anything which can be fixed (I suspect the battery), but my little box of various screwdriver bits does not include one small enough to fit the screws, which means we are still on kat-nav.

I not at liberty to comment, let us just say we got to know a place called Singen pretty well, before we got to the Swiss border. We bought our outrageously priced ticket to allow us to drive on their roads (35 Euro!).

Once in Switzerland it all went smoothly and we found the campsite without a problem, despite an unplanned diversion because of a closed road.

Interlaken-Ost, TCS Camping Interlaken 6, (ACSI2011-717).

We are right beside the waterway connecting the two lakes (Thunersee and Brienzersee), this is the view from our window.

The site is only ten minutes walk from Interlaken, and appears all very organised and clean, Swiss fashion.

The site has WiFi, so we should be able to get online, but I find (at 19:00) the Reception closes at 18:00, so I cannot buy an access code, I will have to wait until tomorrow.

The sun is shining, the weather forecast is for at least two more days of sun and temperatures of 23C, and this being Switzerland, the scenery is stunning.

Switzerland is not part of the Euro-zone, so we have to get some Swiss Francs. When I withdraw 100 Swiss Francs, at a cash machine, it gives me a 100Franc note, equivalent to £75!.

We decide to sit at a pavement bar to have a drink and get change. I anticipate problems trying to pay for two beers with what is effectively a £75 note. The waitress does not even falter and gives me change no problem. This is a seriously expensive place I suspect.

On Tuesday, we cycle to Brienz, which is almost at the other end of the lake (Brienzersee).

It is ten miles (there), and initially I have my doubts we are going to make it.

After only 2 miles (all up hill), Kathleen is asking "how far have we come?".

This is not a good sign. But, I can understand why. When you travel along a road in a car (or campervan), it may appear to be fairly flat. This is because to go up a hill, all you have to do is press a little harder with your right foot. When you have to peddle along the same road, you realise it is most definitely NOT flat, because you have to peddle a lot harder to go up hill!.

We make it to Brienz, without further signs of mutiny, it is a very pretty little place, and we have almost cycled the full length of the lake.

I make an attempt at persuasion to go just that bit further right to the end of the lake, nothing doing.

Here you see Kathleen, with her patient face on, waiting for the waiter to come and take our order for Latte Mochiatta, our present favourite (non-alcoholic) drink.

While here, it is a pity the camera puts only the date, and not the time, on each photograph, you see the transition to impatience, because the waiter has not appeared quickly enough.

I go inside to order, and discover he is having a bad computer day, with receipts spilling out everywhere.

We get our drinks in due course.

Having had a hot drink, and then eaten our picnic lunch, by the lakeside, old persons syndrome strikes of course, a toilet is needed. We find a novel public convenience. The walls are made of glass. From the outside, they are opaque (as you would expect). But once inside, they do not appear to be so opaque, it is rather disconcerting to be standing (or sitting) there doing the necessary, when you feel like the walls may be partially transparent!

We need to visit the supermarket for vegetables, which we do when we return to Interlaken, this place is expensive!

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