May 15, 2019 Reichenau GE

We have been enjoying Lake Constance so we decided to spend another day on the lake at a UNESCO World Heritage Site on Reichenau Island.  Yesterday we visited “Flower Island” and today we are visiting “Vegetable Island”.

The drive over was quick and uneventful except for a diversion to the ferry terminal as Greta Garmin decided that was the quickest way to Reichenau, she was probably right but we decided to skip the ferry fee, and after some resetting of Greta, we were on our way by road.

World Heritage Sites are usually pretty spectacular, so when we pulled on to Reichenau it seemed that the emphasis was on vegetables and not memorable architecture.  For our friends from Oregon think of Sauvie Island with three small churches.  After settling in to the Stellplatz we decided to walk on over to the Abby which is the largest of the three churches that make up the UNESCO site.  The walk was thru a bunch of vegetable fields where we played guess the vegetable, Ton won.

A field of different types of Lettuce on Vegetable Island.

We arrived at the Abby and it was a nice enough church but nothing spectacular. We finally figured out that the smaller church called St. George Church had the paintings that were what caused the UNESCO designation, and we had a couple of hours to wait until the next tour.

Part of the Abby which was the center of the religious order on the island in the middle ages.

The island this time of year is really very quiet and peaceful, and we spent quite a bit of time just wandering aimlessly around the streets enjoying the views of the lake and enjoying the ambiance and the greenery, it really reminded us of Oregon.   We visited the museum to try to understand the history of the Abby as the tour was in German so we needed to prep.

A reproduction of some of the art that we would see later in St. George Church.

Finally what we thought would be the highlight of the day was the tour of the interior of the church which has artwork from the 10th century that was rediscovered in the 1880’s  when the white wash that had covered them was removed.  The paintings are in the process of being preserved, access to the church is limited to help minimize the humidity in the church.

An example of the paintings from the 900’s that are being preserved at the entrance to the church.
Some of the art inside the chapel, this type of painting is very rare and this is the northern most church in Europe that this style is found.

The explanation of the on going work to preserve the paintings and the meaning of the paintings was quite extensive, but we did not understand much as it was of course in German.  But the guide was quite obviously proud of the work and very knowledgeable.

The exterior of St. George Church, sometimes modest structures hide real treasures.

We had planned on taking the bus back to François after the tour, but I was unable to figure out the bus system, and the bus guide we had did not match the one at the bus stop.  So being unsure whether the bus was going to take us home, or into Konstanz I talked Ton into walking the 2 miles back.  On the way she saw a sign for a grocery so we detoured down a side road where we saw a small brewery.

Being a little curious we crossed the street and were peering in the door when a man waved us in and welcomed us in German.  We were a little shy as we do not speak any German, but the man switched to English and asked us where we were from, when we told him Oregon he laughed and his wife smiled.  He said he got his Masters Degree from Southern Oregon University!  They have been operating the only microbrewery in the region for about 3 years.  Thomas insisted on giving us a tour of the facilities and a couple of beers to taste.  His beers are excellent.  We were also invited to a special event the brewery is having on Saturday including beer making, bands and food.  It looks like we may be staying in the far south of Germany for a few more days.

Thomas the owner of Insel Brewery on Reichenau Island.
We ended the day by walking down to the beach for a romantic sunset over Lake Constance.

May 14, 2019 Mainau GE

Woke to blue skies, so morale is up for the day.  We decided to spend another day here to further explore the area.  As we walked into town we decided to head over to Mainau Island to explore what is called the Flower Island.  

We had not done any research, but knew we had to take a ferry there.  The ferry was a little expensive, but the shock was the lady who sold us the tickets said there was a €20 charge to get onto the island once we landed that we should buy on the boat ride over.  At this point we were committed so on the ride we were feeling a little guilty about the cost, questioning our decision, and vowing to do more research next time.

Meersburg from the ferry as we were leaving.  The castle is in the upper left.

When we began the walk it became clear that the decision was a good one.  The island which is 110 acres is a giant botanical garden that is really well done.  The island is owned by a Duke and Duchess and was originally a Grand Dukes residence.  There is a strong Swedish royal connection, and the Swedish flag flies conspicuously on the residence.  

A really cute topiary that greets you when you enter the island celebrating the flower island theme.

During different times of the year they feature different flowers and for April and early May it was Tulips.  The flower gardens featured over a thousand varieties of Tulips interspersed with other flowers.  

Some of the tulips on display with other flowers mixed in, really well done.
Another beautiful flower patch with the Swedish tower in the background.

In addition they had a petting zoo full of cute animals, and a butterfly building with thousands of butterflies flying around that we got to walk thru. 

A Shetland Pony pony that Ton thought was really cute.
Ton’s favorite butterfly amongst the thousands in the butterfly building.
This lady was kind enough to pose for a couple of minutes while Ton and several other people took pictures of the butterfly in her hair.

Their Arboretum was full of very interesting trees most of which we could not identify, but interestingly they had about 15 or 20 Sequoias from California.  Beside the tulips there were other flower gardens including poppies, and rhododendrons.

A giant sequoia that had been moved from California at some point.
Ton loves poppies.

While we may not have known what we were getting into when we got on the ferry there was no doubt that it was a great decision.  Mainau is by far the best botanical garden we have visited in the world. What we thought would be a quick couple of hour visit turned into a whole day on the island.

The Alps towering over Lake Constance.
Heart shaped vines outside the tasting room at Staatsweingut.

May 13, 2019 Meersburg GE

Another cold night last night with lows in the high 30’s.  The weather has been less than ideal this trip.  We have so far had only two sunny days, we have several days of heavy rain, and even the days when it has not rained have been cloudy and cold.  It is starting to wear on us a bit. 

There were 5 vans in the Stellplatz last night and we were the last to leave in the morning by a good bit.  We have a good excuse as we were up at about 5am celebrating the Trailblazers game 7 win in the NBA playoffs.

We wanted to swing by Lake Constance while we were in this part of Germany.  It is about 40 miles long and 7 miles wide at its widest point.  Germany, Switzerland, and Austria all have part of the lake.  Some of the tourist ads refer to it as Germany’s Riviera which is stretching it.

Lake Constance and the lower town of Meersburg from the top of the castle.

Meersburg made a favorable impression on us, though I think it would have made an even better impression if it was not gray, windy, and about 50 degrees. (OK I am done complaining about the weather.) Meersburg is a nice  town with two very distinct levels. As you look over the lake towards Switzerland you can see the alps.   The upper level has a couple of very large estates one of which is an upscale winery, and the other a museum.  The lower level has some typical tourist stores as well as a lot of nice restaurants.

Vineyards stretching down the hill towards the ferry landing.

There is also an old castle that looked interesting so after some debate we decided to go for the tour.  It turns out that this is the oldest castle in Germany dating to the 1300’s.

The entrance to the castle.

This castle is in private hands now, after the church moved to a modern castle in the late 1700’s a family bought it in the 1800’s and still lives there today.  The first impression was just ok as we walked in just as about 60 French middle schoolers arrived.  But one of the guides came to us and told us to wait a few minutes to let the middle schoolers go, and we could join a guided tour that included a climb to the top of the tower which was not on the public tour.  The tour was in German, but she went out of her way at each stop to pull us aside and give us information in English.  

A view of the castle from the lower town. We climbed to the top of the center tower.

Like many castles it went thru several additions, and remodels so several different architectural styles are represented.  It did successfully withstand one siege of two months in the 1600’s.  They also have an extensive collection of armor and weapons from the middle ages until the late 1700’s.  

Part of the collection of medieval armor and arms in the castle.

It turned out to be a great tour.  At the end the guide spent twenty minutes with us discussing the area, different dialects of German, and other fun things.  She convinced us to stay another day and explore some more.

Ton took this picture on the way back to François.  It is one of her favorites so far on the trip.

May 12, 2019 Schonach GE

Tonight we are sitting at the bottom of a ski run in the Black Forest of Germany.  We are near a small village called Schonach and the Aire/Stellplatz is quite nice.  When we arrived there was no machine to pay so we went to the info board, and it said to pay at a hotel in town.  The hotel was 800 meters (about 1/2 mile) away, we thought this was weird, but chalked it up to different ways.  We made the trip, paid our €7 and headed back to François with a packet of paper giving us permission to park.  When we got back to the Stellplatz a German Van pulled in.  We saw them wandering around, and then there was a knock on the door, and they asked how to pay.  I did my best to explain, they looked confused, and kept asking 800 meters?  After the third time trying to explain I took them over to the board and showed them.  They shook their heads and muttered in German as they headed into town, so the set up here is not a German thing, just weird.

It was still early so we decided to head down to a town nearby called Triburg which is supposed to be the Cuckoo Clock capital of Germany.  We knew we were in the right place as everywhere else we had driven thru on this trip was closed for Sunday, this place had nearly every store open.  There are several stores selling cuckoo clocks, and a couple of nice looking restaurants.  The town also has the highest waterfall in Germany, but we had a minimum walking policy for the day that was already messed up buying our parking pass, so we passed on the hike.

Germany’s highest waterfall was up above but we did not have the motivation to climb the hill.

We did drive down to see one of the worlds largest cuckoo clocks, it is quite large but it is unclear where it stands in the world of large cuckoo clocks.  It appears to have held the record for two years before being passed by one in Steamboat Colorado.

Probably the second largest cuckoo clock (possibly the third largest) in the world in Triburg Germany.

May 11, 2019 Freiburg GE

Today was certainly less hectic than yesterday.  We woke up a little earlier than usual, but were in no hurry to get going for the day.  After puttering around for a while we decided to head into Freiburg.  

Freiburg is supposed to be one of the greenest cities in Germany, it is full of walking trails and bike paths. When we checked in I got a lecture about how to sort our garbage before depositing it at the campground.   

This walking trail follows the river from the campground to downtown Freiburg.

The old town walls are mostly gone but two of the old gates are still in place.  We headed to the Cathedral square and were surprised by a very large farmers market.  We spent about an hour poking around the market looking at the various vegetables.  There were three sausage grills going that were doing booming business. I was drooling, Ton was more impressed with the number of vegetables for sale.

One of the three sausage carts.  The number of sausages was impressive, and the smells were to die for.

We went in to see what the interior of the cathedral looked like.  As we went in unlike almost any other cathedral we have been in many people were sitting in the pews. It turns out there was an organ concert scheduled in a half hour so we sat down and waited.  The concert was really nice, and the cathedral was packed.  

The organist just sitting down to begin the concert.

In fact when we left the concert the city center of the town was really packed with people.  We were both startled with the number of people as this is not a big city, but it was really busy.  After one more pass thru the city we headed back to the campground.

This gargoyle is mooning the city hall.  The story is that when the cathedral was being built the town council told the stonemasons working on the cathedral that they needed to work faster, and with more detail.  This gargoyle is the response from the stonemasons guild to the request.  It was done quickly and with a great deal of detail.

As soon as we got back the wind really started howling, and then rain kicked in.  We did get our laundry done which is always a landmark event on these trips, so all in all a productive day.

May 10, 2019 Breighau GE

Today was supposed to be an easy day.  We only traveled 70km’s and the only chore for the day was to fill the LP gas.  That was where the easy day unraveled.  

We had our first experience of German Autobahns as we left Kehl we traveled for about 50km’s on the autobahns and for a 15km stretch there was no speed limit.  So we were puttering along in the right lane at about 90kph (roughly 55mph) while cars were blasting by in the left lane at least double that.  The roads are really good though and free.

About 20km from Freiberg we saw a sign advertising LP gas at the next exit so we whipped in for what I thought would be a quick fill.  Our LP gas system that we use for cooking, heating, and running the refrigerator when we are not plugged in is British, and a bit unusual for Europe.  Most RV’s carry cooking bottles and they exchange them when you run out.  Unfortunately the bottles and the regulators are not standardized in Europe.  To get around this problem we bought this British fixed bottle gas system, and you fill it from a pump like the US.  The pumps are pretty common at gas stations as a fair amount of the cars and vans here run on LP gas.  The only problem is the pumps are not standardized there are 4 different systems, one for France and Spain, one for Germany, and one for Britain, I am not sure where the fourth system is used.  The system came with 4 different adaptors so I could hook up to the pump depending on what country we were trying to fill up in  Now that you know way too much about LP gas in Europe here is the story.

We have filled up in France on multiple occasions so I thought no big deal as I pulled up to the pump.  When I opened the bag that I keep the adaptors in the German one was missing.  After digging around hoping it had come loose and was rolling around in the back I remembered that in Spain I was sorting thru them the first time I filled up there.  I am certain I forgot it in Spain.

We need gas so I said some bad words and got in the car, confessed my stupidity, and as I drove on to Freiburg Ton began researching propane stores.  We tried one RV dealer without success, and when we arrived at the campground I asked the receptionist if she could help.  She was kind enough to call around to ask.  After a couple of calls she told me there was a place that had it, so we were off.

When we arrived they realized we were talking about something different than they thought.  They took a look at our system and said the words I did not want to hear, we do not have these in Germany.  But the two of them had a further conversation and asked me to wait a minute.  A few minutes later one guy walked out and handed me a sticky note with the address of an Esso fuel station.  He said the owner had a box of adaptors people had forgotten in the past and I was welcome to go see if one that would work was in the box.  Well to make a long story short there was a well used one in there and it works.  Even better he would not take any money for it.  So we are not faced with calling England and arranging to have one shipped to us here in Germany!

The well used replacement adaptor.

To make penance for my stupidity I took Ton to two groceries store for some recreational shopping.  We always say we are traveling not vacationing, so today was a day for traveling not sight seeing.

May 9, Strasbourg FR

Today was a day of rest for François but not us.  The weather is starting to wear us out a little.  We shut in yesterday to let the heavy rain pass thru.  Yesterday the weather app was saying it would be better today.  They were wrong, today was just as miserable, we had periods of very heavy rain mixed with showers, and the temperatures were in the low 50’s.  

Our Stellplatz (German for Aire) is located a few hundred yards from the Rhine, so we decided to head down there to start the day.  The river was flowing pretty fast and there was a large river cruise boat parked there.  It was a nice park, but after talking about it we decided to go ahead and head in to town for the day despite the bad weather forecast.

A German Post mail bicycle.  We followed the mail lady down the road for a while on the way to the Tram.

As we stepped off the tram in the center of Strasbourg we saw a “Free” tour going buy so we decided to join in.  It was a good tour though I think everyone’s motivation dropped when the rain and wind really started kicking in.  Strasbourg looks like it has a lot to offer.  It is an interesting blend of French and German architecture.  

The old town of Strasbourg is built on an island in the Ill River.  
Another view of the Ill River.

We ended the tour in a windy downpour, so we dived into the Tourist Information Office with about 100 other Americans.  We were debating whether to call it a day, but decided to spring for a boat tour as the weather app said the rain was going to let up a bit later in the day.  The boat trip would have been great except for the pounding rain but at least we were inside.  We went by the European Parliament which is quite an impressive modern building.  We did not get any pictures due to the heavy rain.

Our last stop for the day was the Cathedral.  It is another very beautiful building.  The highlight of this cathedral for us was the astronomical clock.  The gold hands on the clock represent the solar time, and the silver hands the local time.  It also figures that rotate around at certain times of the day representing the different phases of life parading past a figure representing death.  

The astronomical clock in the Strasbourg Cathedral.
A modern version of the last supper from the interior of the Cathedral.
The exterior of the Cathedral.

After the Cathedral we called it a day heading back on the tram to Kehl.  We had a short sun break where I leant a young group of Belgians our water can so they could fill their RV with water, one of the guys told me that he had recently hitchhiked from Miami to Houston, (never got the reason why) and could not believe how generous the people were on that trip.  Shortly after that  another band of rain drove us into François for the night.

May 8, 2019 Kehl GE

Today we left France for the day.  We are parked up in Kehl Germany as it was the best option to visit Strasbourg France.  The problem was that when we woke up the weather report had gotten much worst.  They were now calling for heavy rain and high winds due to a “Bomb Cyclone’ that was hitting southern France.  I think a bomb cyclone is a new more dramatic way to say cold front, but it certainly gets your attention.

As we learned yesterday Colmar was the home of Frederic Bartholdi, the sculptor of the Statue of Liberty.  All of the guide books said there was a replica of the statue in Colmar, but we never found it.  As we were leaving Colmar on a four lane road thru an industrial park, there was the statue in the middle of a traffic circle, so we circled around a couple of times so Ton could get a good picture.

A replica of the Statue of Liberty in Colmar, the home of the sculptor.

We had a quick drive over to Kehl as the roads were mostly freeways, and arrived before the effects of the bomb cyclone.  We decided on a quick trip into the town  to see what was there.  Like many border towns the center seemed to cater mostly to day trip shoppers from France looking for bargains.

Downtown Kehl, mostly consisting of shopping aimed at French day trip visitors.

We did get to visit a Woolworths Department Store which while they became extinct in the US about 25 years ago are still going strong in Mexico, France, and Germany. After a quick walk thru downtown Kehl, and our first visit to a German grocery store, the rain was starting to set in so we hustled back to François.

Some days we tour exotic medieval cities, and some days we hunker down in the back of François.  This afternoon we hunkered down and watched a good Netflix Movie with Kevin Costner and Woody Harrelson.  

After a lot of time looking for a good French beer we have now discovered one.  We have tried two different types of Fischer Beers and they are both excellent.

The Fischer Three Alsatian Hops Blonde, a really good beer.

May 16, 2019 Garmisch- Partenkirchen

The day began with indecision.  Thomas’ offer to attend his brewery event on Saturday was very tempting, so we began the day by looking at options to do around Reichnau until Saturday.  The other issue is the weather.  Today and tomorrow are the only two good days forecast in the next 12 days.  After today and tomorrow the Weather Channel App shows 10 consecutive days of miserable weather for Southern Germany, actually for most of Germany.  Ton even researched weather in other parts of Europe to escape the cold and rain.  Right now Oslo has the best weather, but it is a bit far away.  The interesting thing is that the temperatures are going to be warmer in the North of Germany than in the South, also the forecast showed slightly less rain in the North.

St. George Church, our last stop on Reichenau Island.

We still really wanted to take Thomas up on his offer so we talked about options including Switzerland (really expensive), just settling in Reichenau but we needed supplies mostly LP gas.  With the cold weather every night we are using a tank of LP every 4 or 5 days ( for comparison we used two tanks in 6 weeks on our trip to Spain).  After looking at options around the region we finally decided we needed to get going North towards the less lousy weather, so today we are in the Alps near the Austrian border.

Mountain valleys with many small farms, and villages.  The population is much denser in Germany than in Spain or France.

When we punched Garmisch into Greta Garmin she told us it was about 3 hours to drive the 250km’s, we add 30 minutes to all of her estimates as we are usually under the speed limit.  It still sounded like a pretty reasonable day.  The first problem is around Freidrichshaven we ran into really heavy traffic, so the first 100 kilometers of the trip took 2 hours, after we broke out of Freidrichshaven traffic thinned out, and then we found ourselves on the autobahn so all looked good.  With about 80km’s to go I noticed a sign that said we had just entered Austria, did not know that was going to happen, after a few minutes I remembered that Austria requires a vignette to drive on their roads.  A vignette is a sticker you buy in place of paying tolls, many countries require these ( one of the reasons we did not go to Switzerland is that they require an annual one that costs 40 Swiss francs).  So now we were outlaws as not expecting to enter Austria I did not research how to get a vignette or how much it would cost.  I decided to press on as our final destination is in Germany so I figured we must just be cutting thru a corner of Austria.

The dandelions were out in force as we drove thru Austria.

All was looking good as we had spent the last hour in Austria driving thru magnificent mountains and gorgeous valleys carpeted with flowers.  We passed back into Germany without getting fined, when we were 8km’s from the campsite for the night we came to a barrier across the road.  This was in a narrow mountain pass, so there was no local by pass.  Much cursing because when we turned down this road about 30 minutes earlier there was no indication that it was closed.

Typical of the roads in Austria, the mountains were spectacular.

So I told Greta to find us another route to Garmisch, her alternative was 80 km’s!  Lots of cursing now, as we are literally 10 minutes from our destination, and the detour is going to take nearly 2 hours.  So back up the road illegally into Austria again.  The next detour routed us thru a national park with narrow steep roads with views of  glaciers and glacier fed lakes, not a fast route but really gorgeous and nearly worth the trouble. 

The large glacier fed lake in Brentanwag National Park on the road we took on our detour caused by construction.
Another view from our unexpected detour.  

After 6 hours of hard mountain driving we arrived in Garmisch, and just before the turn into our campground we saw signs for a US Military compound.  After settling in we took a walk down there to see what they had.  It turns out it is a recreation center complete with hotel, 3 restaurants, and big American washing machines.  We had a beer and nachos while watching American sports. We are planning to return tomorrow with a load of washing.   A nice end to a hectic day.

Another view of the mountains around us tonight.

May 15, 2019 Reichenau GE

We have been enjoying Lake Constance so we decided to spend another day on the lake at a UNESCO World Heritage Site on Reichenau Island.  Yesterday we visited “Flower Island” and today we are visiting “Vegetable Island”.

The drive over was quick and uneventful except for a diversion to the ferry terminal as Greta Garmin decided that was the quickest way to Reichenau, she was probably right but we decided to skip the ferry fee, and after some resetting of Greta, we were on our way by road.

World Heritage Sites are usually pretty spectacular, so when we pulled on to Reichenau it seemed that the emphasis was on vegetables and not memorable architecture.  For our friends from Oregon think of Sauvie Island with three small churches.  After settling in to the Stellplatz we decided to walk on over to the Abby which is the largest of the three churches that make up the UNESCO site.  The walk was thru a bunch of vegetable fields where we played guess the vegetable, Ton won.

A field of different types of Lettuce on Vegetable Island.

We arrived at the Abby and it was a nice enough church but nothing spectacular. We finally figured out that the smaller church called St. George Church had the paintings that were what caused the UNESCO designation, and we had a couple of hours to wait until the next tour.

Part of the Abby which was the center of the religious order on the island in the middle ages.

The island this time of year is really very quiet and peaceful, and we spent quite a bit of time just wandering aimlessly around the streets enjoying the views of the lake and enjoying the ambiance and the greenery, it really reminded us of Oregon.   We visited the museum to try to understand the history of the Abby as the tour was in German so we needed to prep.

A reproduction of some of the art that we would see later in St. George Church.

Finally what we thought would be the highlight of the day was the tour of the interior of the church which has artwork from the 10th century that was rediscovered in the 1880’s  when the white wash that had covered them was removed.  The paintings are in the process of being preserved, access to the church is limited to help minimize the humidity in the church.

An example of the paintings from the 900’s that are being preserved at the entrance to the church.
Some of the art inside the chapel, this type of painting is very rare and this is the northern most church in Europe that this style is found.

The explanation of the on going work to preserve the paintings and the meaning of the paintings was quite extensive, but we did not understand much as it was of course in German.  But the guide was quite obviously proud of the work and very knowledgeable.

The exterior of St. George Church, sometimes modest structures hide real treasures.

We had planned on taking the bus back to François after the tour, but I was unable to figure out the bus system, and the bus guide we had did not match the one at the bus stop.  So being unsure whether the bus was going to take us home, or into Konstanz I talked Ton into walking the 2 miles back.  On the way she saw a sign for a grocery so we detoured down a side road where we saw a small brewery.

Being a little curious we crossed the street and were peering in the door when a man waved us in and welcomed us in German.  We were a little shy as we do not speak any German, but the man switched to English and asked us where we were from, when we told him Oregon he laughed and his wife smiled.  He said he got his Masters Degree from Southern Oregon University!  They have been operating the only microbrewery in the region for about 3 years.  Thomas insisted on giving us a tour of the facilities and a couple of beers to taste.  His beers are excellent.  We were also invited to a special event the brewery is having on Saturday including beer making, bands and food.  It looks like we may be staying in the far south of Germany for a few more days.

Thomas and me in his wonderful brewery. If you are anywhere nearby try Insel Beer.
We ended the day by walking down to the beach for a romantic sunset over Lake Constance.

May 14, 2019 Mainau GE

Woke to blue skies, so morale is up for the day.  We decided to spend another day here to further explore the area.  As we walked into town we decided to head over to Mainau Island to explore what is called the Flower Island.  

We had not done any research, but knew we had to take a ferry there.  The ferry was a little expensive, but the shock was the lady who sold us the tickets said there was a €20 charge to get onto the island once we landed that we should buy on the boat ride over.  At this point we were committed so on the ride we were feeling a little guilty about the cost, questioning our decision, and vowing to do more research next time.

Meersburg from the ferry as we were leaving.  The castle is in the upper left.

When we began the walk it became clear that the decision was a good one.  The island which is 110 acres is a giant botanical garden that is really well done.  The island is owned by a Duke and Duchess and was originally a Grand Dukes residence.  There is a strong Swedish royal connection, and the Swedish flag flies conspicuously on the residence.  

A really cute topiary that greets you when you enter the island celebrating the flower island theme.

During different times of the year they feature different flowers and for April and early May it was Tulips.  The flower gardens featured over a thousand varieties of Tulips interspersed with other flowers.  

Some of the tulips on display with other flowers mixed in, really well done.
Another beautiful flower patch with the Swedish tower in the background.

In addition they had a petting zoo full of cute animals, and a butterfly building with thousands of butterflies flying around that we got to walk thru. 

A Shetland Pony pony that Ton thought was really cute.
Ton’s favorite butterfly amongst the thousands in the butterfly building.
This lady was kind enough to pose for a couple of minutes while Ton and several other people took pictures of the butterfly in her hair.

Their Arboretum was full of very interesting trees most of which we could not identify, but interestingly they had about 15 or 20 Sequoias from California.  Beside the tulips there were other flower gardens including poppies, and rhododendrons.

A giant sequoia that had been moved from California at some point.
Ton loves poppies.

While we may not have known what we were getting into when we got on the ferry there was no doubt that it was a great decision.  Mainau is by far the best botanical garden we have visited in the world. What we thought would be a quick couple of hour visit turned into a whole day on the island.

The Alps towering over Lake Constance.

We ended the day by visiting the most famous winery in Meersburg Staatsweingut.  We tried a couple of their whites, a red and a rose that was labeled Spätburgunder we liked the rose and asked what grape it was made from.  After some asking around amongst the staff it turns out that Spätburgunder is German for Pinot Noir.  

Heart shaped vines outside the tasting room at Staatsweingut.

May 13, 2019 Meersburg GE

Another cold night last night with lows in the high 30’s.  The weather has been less than ideal this trip.  We have so far had only two sunny days, we have several days of heavy rain, and even the days when it has not rained have been cloudy and cold.  It is starting to wear on us a bit. 

There were 5 vans in the Stellplatz last night and we were the last to leave in the morning by a good bit.  We have a good excuse as we were up at about 5am celebrating the Trailblazers game 7 win in the NBA playoffs.

We wanted to swing by Lake Constance while we were in this part of Germany.  It is about 40 miles long and 7 miles wide at its widest point.  Germany, Switzerland, and Austria all have part of the lake.  Some of the tourist ads refer to it as Germany’s Riviera which is stretching it.

Lake Constance and the lower town of Meersburg from the top of the castle.

Meersburg made a favorable impression on us, though I think it would have made an even better impression if it was not gray, windy, and about 50 degrees. (OK I am done complaining about the weather.) Meersburg is a nice  town with two very distinct levels. As you look over the lake towards Switzerland you can see the Alps.   The upper level has a couple of very large estates one of which is an upscale winery, and the other a museum.  The lower level has some typical tourist stores as well as a lot of nice restaurants.

Vineyards stretching down the hill towards the ferry landing.

There is also an old castle that looked interesting so after some debate we decided to go for the tour.  It turns out that this is the oldest castle in Germany dating to the 1300’s.

The entrance to the castle.

This castle is in private hands now, after the church moved to a modern castle in the late 1700’s a family bought it in the 1800’s and still lives there today.  The first impression was just ok as we walked in just as about 60 French middle schoolers arrived.  But one of the guides came to us and told us to wait a few minutes to let the middle schoolers go, and we could join a guided tour that included a climb to the top of the tower which was not on the public tour.  The tour was in German, but she went out of her way at each stop to pull us aside and give us information in English.  

A view of the castle from the lower town. We climbed to the top of the center tower.

Like many castles it went thru several additions, and remodels so several different architectural styles are represented.  It did successfully withstand one siege of two months in the 1600’s.  They also have an extensive collection of armor and weapons from the middle ages until the late 1700’s.  

Part of the collection of medieval armor and arms in the castle.

It turned out to be a great tour.  At the end the guide spent twenty minutes with us discussing the area, different dialects of German, and other fun things.  She convinced us to stay another day and explore some more.

Ton took this picture on the way back to François.  It is one of her favorites so far on the trip.

May 12, 2019 Triburg GE

Tonight we are sitting at the bottom of a ski run in the Black Forest of Germany.  We are near a small village called Schonach and the Aire/Stellplatz is quite nice.  When we arrived there was no machine to pay so we went to the info board, and it said to pay at a hotel in town.  The hotel was 800 meters (about 1/2 mile) away, we thought this was weird, but chalked it up to different ways.  We made the trip, paid our €7 and headed back to François with a packet of paper giving us permission to park.  When we got back to the Stellplatz a German Van pulled in.  We saw them wandering around, and then there was a knock on the door, and they asked how to pay.  I did my best to explain, they looked confused, and kept asking 800 meters?  After the third time trying to explain I took them over to the board and showed them.  They shook their heads and muttered in German as they headed into town, so the set up here is not a German thing, just weird.

It was still early so we decided to head down to a town nearby called Triburg which is supposed to be the Cuckoo Clock capital of Germany.  We knew we were in the right place as everywhere else we had driven thru on this trip was closed for Sunday, this place had nearly every store open.  There are several stores selling cuckoo clocks, and a couple of nice looking restaurants.  The town also has the highest waterfall in Germany, but we had a minimum walking policy for the day that was already messed up buying our parking pass, so we passed on the hike.

Germany’s highest waterfall was up above but we did not have the motivation to climb the hill.

We did drive down to see one of the worlds largest cuckoo clocks, it is quite large but it is unclear where it stands in the world of large cuckoo clocks.  It appears to have held the record for two years before being passed by one in Steamboat Colorado.

Probably the second largest cuckoo clock in the world in Triburg Germany.

May 11, 2019 Breighau GE

Today was certainly less hectic than yesterday.  We woke up a little earlier than usual, but were in no hurry to get going for the day.  After puttering around for a while we decided to head into Freiburg.  

Freiburg is supposed to be one of the greenest cities in Germany, it is full of walking trails and bike paths. When we checked in I got a lecture about how to sort our garbage before depositing it at the campground.   

This walking trail follows the river from the campground to downtown Freiburg.

The old town walls are mostly gone but two of the old gates are still in place.  We headed to the Cathedral square and were surprised by a very large farmers market.  We spent about an hour poking around the market looking at the various vegetables.  There were three sausage grills going that were doing booming business. I was drooling, Ton was more impressed with the number of vegetables for sale.

One of the three sausage carts.  The number of sausages was impressive, and the smells were to die for.

We went in to see what the interior of the cathedral looked like.  As we went in unlike almost any other cathedral we have been in many people were sitting in the pews. It turns out there was an organ concert scheduled in a half hour so we sat down and waited.  The concert was really nice, and the cathedral was packed.  

The organist just sitting down to begin the concert.

In fact when we left the concert the city center of the town was really packed with people.  We were both startled with the number of people as this is not a big city, but it was really busy.  After one more pass thru the city we headed back to the campground.

This gargoyle is mooning the city hall.  The story is that when the cathedral was being built the town council told the stonemasons working on the cathedral that they needed to work faster, and with more detail.  This gargoyle is the response from the stonemasons guild to the request.  It was done quickly and with a great deal of detail.

As soon as we got back the wind really started howling, and then rain kicked in.  We did get our laundry done which is always a landmark event on these trips, so all in all a productive day.

May 10, 2019 Breighau GE

Today was supposed to be an easy day.  We only traveled 70km’s and the only chore for the day was to fill the LP gas.  That was where the easy day unraveled.  

We had our first experience of German Autobahns as we left Kehl we traveled for about 50km’s on the autobahns and for a 15km stretch there was no speed limit.  So we were puttering along in the right lane at about 90kph (roughly 55mph) while cars were blasting by in the left lane at least double that.  The roads are really good though and free.

About 20km from Freiberg we saw a sign advertising LP gas at the next exit so we whipped in for what I thought would be a quick fill.  Our LP gas system that we use for cooking, heating, and running the refrigerator when we are not plugged in is British, and a bit unusual for Europe.  Most RV’s carry cooking bottles and they exchange them when you run out.  Unfortunately the bottles and the regulators are not standardized in Europe.  To get around this problem we bought this British fixed bottle gas system, and you fill it from a pump like the US.  The pumps are pretty common at gas stations as a fair amount of the cars and vans here run on LP gas.  The only problem is the pumps are not standardized there are 4 different systems, one for France and Spain, one for Germany, and one for Britain, I am not sure where the fourth system is used.  The system came with 4 different adaptors so I could hook up to the pump depending on what country we were trying to fill up in  Now that you know way too much about LP gas in Europe here is the story.

We have filled up in France on multiple occasions so I thought no big deal as I pulled up to the pump.  When I opened the bag that I keep the adaptors in the German one was missing.  After digging around hoping it had come loose and was rolling around in the back I remembered that in Spain I was sorting thru them the first time I filled up there.  I am certain I forgot it in Spain.

We need gas so I said some bad words and got in the car, confessed my stupidity, and as I drove on to Freiburg Ton began researching propane stores.  We tried one RV dealer without success, and when we arrived at the campground I asked the receptionist if she could help.  She was kind enough to call around to ask.  After a couple of calls she told me there was a place that had it, so we were off.

When we arrived they realized we were talking about something different than they thought.  They took a look at our system and said the words I did not want to hear, we do not have these in Germany.  But the two of them had a further conversation and asked me to wait a minute.  A few minutes later one guy walked out and handed me a sticky note with the address of an Esso fuel station.  He said the owner had a box of adaptors people had forgotten in the past and I was welcome to go see if one that would work was in the box.  Well to make a long story short there was a well used one in there and it works.  Even better he would not take any money for it.  So we are not faced with calling England and arranging to have one shipped to us here in Germany!

The well used replacement adaptor.

To make penance for my stupidity I took Ton to two groceries store for some recreational shopping.  We always say we are traveling not vacationing, so today was a day for traveling not sight seeing.