This 46-mile lake in the foothills of the Alps is called Bodensee to those who visit its German shores. In the countries that share its 160 miles of shoreline, Austria and Switzerland, it’s called Lake Constance. On the north (German) side small vineyards slope down to the lakeside homes and bike trails connect the charming old towns that surround the lake. On the southern side of the lake you see the snow capped Alps.
We focused our time at the Bodensee around Lindau, a historic island town. For hundreds of years the town was the center of trade between Bavaria, Switzerland and Austria. While most of the city is on the mainland, the Altstadt, or Old City, is on a small island in the lake accessible by a causeway.
This is a great area for biking and the paths around the Bodensee are the most popular in Europe. We wanted to rent bikes so our first stop was a tourist information office. They were very helpful pointing us in the direction of places to rent bikes and things to see, then filled our hands with maps of local bike trails.
Lindau reminded us both of an Italian town with its narrow cobblestone streets, flower boxes in the windows, brightly colored buildings, and a wide promenade along the harbor. We biked the perimeter of the island then followed the maze of small streets and passageways past centuries-old homes, churches, lighthouses and gardens.
The Altstadt is a small island so it didn’t take us long to cover all the highlights on bike and soon we were ready for our picnic lunch. While we were sitting on a log on an off-the-beaten-path beach area I heard a “cuckoo, cuckoo” that sounded just like a clock I remember my parents having when I was a child. Wait – is the cuckoo a real bird? Of course Jim was convinced there was something cuckoo in this conversation, until later in our trip he heard the same thing.
Back on the mainland we followed the shoreline west and biked past small vineyards and uber homes to neighboring Wasserburg where we rested in a lakeside park. With bike trails that are very well marked and easy to follow, they’ve done a great job of making this a popular biking destination.
On our way back to the hotel we drove the lakeshore east of Lindau. Before we knew it we were in Lochau, Austria, a large, densely populated city. We were both glad to get back to the quiet countryside of Oberstaufen, and agreed we prefer cow fumes to car fumes. I guess that’s one of the things that makes us great travel buddies.