The bike tour was definitely the crown jewel of our honeymoon. The entire trip was wonderful, of course, but the bike tour was just heaven. Seven days, six nights, around Lake Constance (or Bodensee, to give it its proper name), and going through three countries (Germany, Switzerland, and Austria), just the two of us – sigh… We can’t wait to do another one!
We booked the Lake Constance tour through TripSite.com after some comparison of locations and prices and providers and so on. We picked this one because it had the option of doing 3- and 4-star hotels, rather than just all 4-star hotels, and thus being a bit less expensive. We don’t really need 4-star hotels, but I have to confess, part of me is now curious as to what those hotels are like, after how nice ours were! TripSite.com doesn’t organize the tours, just help sell them. They sent us our hotel list a month before our start date, and other basic travel information, but once we arrived, we were biking on a Radweg-Reisen.com tour.
Our first hotel was in Konstanz, Germany, the Hotel Volapuek. Actually, it was in the suburb of Litzelstetten, easily accessible by bus from the Konstanz Hauptbahnhof (main train station); the bus stop was almost directly in front of the hotel. Upon check-in, we received a big packet of information, including gummi bears! Because I had booked the tour, everything went under my name, so The Mechanic had to be “Mr. Floyd” for the week, which made me giggle. Because Radweg-Reisen moved our luggage for us every morning, our bags had to be labeled the same, so…. (Having our luggage waiting for us when we got to our hotel each night was pretty heavenly, too!)
Picking up our rental bikes couldn’t have been easier, either. One of the buses that passed in front of the hotel ran to the neighborhood of Konstanz where Radweg-Reisen was located. Once there, we gave them our (my) name, and a staff person brought out our red bikes, let us test out saddle height, told us the lock combination, showed us our seat covers, first aid kits, tool kit, panniers and handle bar bags, then waved us good-bye. And that was it! We were biking in Germany.
The next day we first headed west from Konstanz, after a morning at Mainau Island, then biked around Reichenau Island before taking a ferry to Oehningen, near Stein am Rhein. We spent the second night there; the third day we headed north and east, to stay the night in Ueberlingen; fourth night in Nonnenhorn; fifth night in Hoechst, Austria; and the last night back in Litzelstetten/Konstanz. All total, we biked 250km, which was a bit more than I expected. It rained the entire day on our way to Ueberlingen, and the morning we left Hoechst, which was a bit of a bummer, but other than that, we didn’t have any problems.
Each day was like something out of the travel brochures (even in the rain). The lake was as gorgeous as the small towns were historic and cute. The flowers were in full bloom and just gorgeous, everything was lush and green, and there were baby ducks and swans in just about every harbor. We hadn’t anticipated the vineyards and orchards, or the wine, and couldn’t take our eyes off the far-away Alps (well, which we could see on the sunny days). We kept stopping to take pictures, admire the scenery, wander through some picturesque town, or tour a castle. We felt a bit rushed, or maybe that was because we wanted to see everything, and still enjoy our hotels and dinners when we arrived. (Breakfast was included at each hotel, leaving us to find something local along the way. We ate pastries mid-morning, ice cream in the afternoons, and sampled local beer or wine with dinner. Except for the night in Hoechst, Austria, where the only thing that was open after 7pm was the doener kebap place.)
The other thing that we couldn’t get over was the bicycle culture we experienced. It was like nothing either one of us has ever seen – dozens and dozens of people doing the same thing we were doing, along the same trail, some with the same bikes and panniers, some with bikes from other tour companies, about half on electric pedal-assist bikes, and some loaded down with their own gear. Most of the other bicyclists we saw were retirement-age, and they were generally on the nice ped-elec (as they call them) bikes – which we studied as they cruised past us! In addition, or perhaps more importantly, the trail was so well marked that we never needed the provided maps. Every time we started asking, “Where do we turn next?” we would see a sign on a sign post, or painted on the road. We had a specific route symbol to follow, so sometimes that was all we spotted. Other times we found detailed arrows going in every direction, with kms or sometimes number of minutes to the next destination. It was pretty mind-boggling. Here, where we were, it was clearly coordinated for the cycle route, and towns would have the paths clearly marked. Locals were clearly used to bicycle tourists (in fact, probably are bicycle tourists themselves), and we were NEVER honked at. Ever. Then again, we also had clearly define bike lanes and lights and signs, and never felt threatened. How heavenly is that?!
I could go on and on and on, but I’ll leave it at some photos. That’s really the best way to explain it all, is to just show you how heavenly it was.