Bodensee/Lake Constance/Konstanz Sept 2017 - aires and sites we used.

magicsurfbus

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On the way to Bodensee we stopped overnight at Blaubeuren: Overnighting is permitted in the MH car park of this picturesque village in the Schwabian Alb region. It sits in a curving limestone valley SW of Ulm, and the museum contains some of the world's oldest prehistoric figurines and musical instruments, discovered in the immediate area. There's also an old timber framed watermill fed by water bubbling up from limestone caverns through the Blautopf (Blue pool). There's a pay for service point, and an attendant comes round charging 5 Euros for 24 hours parking.

Next on the agenda was Bodensee/Lake Konstanz. We'd passed through the area on our way back from Austria last year and thought it worth a further look. It's fair to say it's not well publicised on this side of the Channel as a destination but it's well worth a look.

The big plus about Bodensee compared to Lake Garda is you don't feel like every square metre of lake frontage is given over to either private ownership or to screwing your tourist Euros out of you. At night you can actually see gaps in the sodium lighting on the shoreline. The shore is far more publicly accessible, with much of it given over to footpaths, bike tracks, and nature reserves. Not all of it by any means, but a lot more of it than Garda. There's also more variety in the different towns and it has a generally less crowded, less commercial, and calmer feel to it, although we were visiting in September. It's clearly popular with Germans, the stellplatzes and campsites were far from deserted, and it's definitely not as well used by foreign visitors. It helps if you know some basic German as the area's not set up for dealing with English speakers in vast numbers. That said, local mastery of English is generally very good in Germany if you're polite enough to ask. On the minus side Bodensee is further north than Garda so it's generally less warm, and occasionally catches a bit of cloud and rain forming off the Alps at the Eastern end.

Campingpark Gohren: Various options here ranging from stellplatz at the front through to superpitches inside. We chose the stellplatz, without electricity, which was about 10 Euros a night. You have access to all site facilities including their private stretch of lakeside. If you can cycle, this spot is very well placed for visiting Langenargen and Wasserburg, both of which have scenic lakefront promenades. Langenargen is the larger of the two towns and has a supermarket up near the station. There's a very well defined cycle route around the lake, some of which is on minor roads, and very little of it is hilly at the Eastern end of the lake. The bike track passes the entrance of Camping Gohren. We also took a look at Kressbronn, which had a street festival and flea market in the town centre away from the lake shore promenade when we were there.

Park Camping Lindau am See: The stellplatz at Lindau is basically a bare car park on the edge of the town with a 24 hour limit and not much of a view so we opted to pay a bit more for a lake front campsite instead. The site is about two miles by bike from the historic town on the island which is the main point of interest for most people. The old town has a number of qualities about it which make it a popular spot for visitors, although I wouldn't describe at as heaving when we visited. Worth a bit of your time if you like unique towns.

Camping CAP Rotach (Friedrichshafen): A multi-purpose spot with hotel, restaurant, car park type stellplatz out front, and smallish marked pitches inside, some directly facing the lake. Most people there were in MHs. There's a quiet bit of lake shore out the back gate where you can sit on a sunny day and enjoy good views across the lake towards the Alps and the town. We opted for a lake facing pitch (arrive early to get them). The site is about a mile by bike into the town. Friedrichshafen was badly damaged in WW2 so it's a modern-built medium-sized town with typical town centre shops and a substantial water frontage with bars, cafes etc. The main attraction for me was the Zeppelin Museum, which says all you'll ever need to know about German airships, and actually includes a life-sized walk in reconstruction of the passenger section of the Hindenburg. That's pretty impressive and you won't see its like elsewhere. The Zeppelin company still operates airship flights from the airport around the lake and yes, they're hideously priced. Also next to the airport is the Dornier Aerospace Museum which is well worth the two mile bike ride from the campsite if you're into aviation history and satellites, not least for the weird 1920s seaplane models and a number of aircraft that you can actually walk inside.

Meersburg stellplatz: There's 3 MH parking spots uphill from the town centre, priced at 15, 12, and 10 Euros a night respectively. The first two have pay to use service points, a public loo, and a basic shower. The cheaper two are closer to the main by-pass so are noisier at night, and they get less evening sunshine. All are close to a bus stop (Parkingplatz Allmend) on a circular route from the waterfront which only costs 1 Euro if you can't be arsed walking back up the hill. The first stellplatz is next door to a Norma (cheapo) supermarket, and a low cost Beer/Wine shop with a huge beer selection at decent prices (ie Paulaner half litre at 1 Euro a bottle with free crate thrown in). Of all the places we visited on this trip, Meersburg was by far and away the most commercial/touristy and the closest we got to most of the towns you see around Garda in terms of its Euro grabbing mission. Groups of South East Asian tourists taking pictures of everything with selfie sticks is usually a good indicator of touristy for me, and they can be seen in Meersburg. It's a quaint old town on a hill, with all the things you'd expect from a quaint old German town rammed full with tourists. It would certainly tick a few of Walt Disney's boxes if you get my drift. Being directly across the lake from Konstanz (another tourist honeypot) probably contributes to it being a popular destination, hence three stellplatzes instead of one. We visited Konstanz by ferry, but after looking in the Rosgarten Museum, an unusual sculpted archway and a couple of rather bland churches we didn't hang around. It was nice enough as old towns go, but on a sunny Saturday afternoon it was heaving.

Our favourite trip from Meersburg was a couple of miles down the lake on bikes at Unterhuldingen - the Pfahlbauten prehistoric lake village reconstruction. Another unique museum, they've built replicas of the ancient lakeside pile dwellings that have been found all over southern Europe, and once you're released from the compulsory German language guided tour (with gratuitous multimedia intro) it's actually quite an interesting spot, if that sort of thing floats your dug out canoe. The only drawback of cycling along the lake from the Meersburg stellplatzes is you have to get back up the hill. Great if you're a lycra-clad loon or have an e-bike, but a bit of a puff for the rest of us.

Needless to say, the lake is well-served by ferries to and from all the various towns, and not too expensive. Meersburg-Konstanz return (about 30 minutes) was 12 Euros each.

Before departing Germany we dropped in on Freiburg, parking at the Stellplatz about a mile from the city centre. The price list quotes overnight rates starting from 9 Euros, but if you specifically ask at reception for Short (ie day) Parking it's 3.50 Euros for up to 6 hours. We didn't need that much - the cathedral is interesting and the surrounding square is quaint, but due to extensive war damage the city is to all intents and purposes a busy modern shopping centre. We didn't hang around.

Next stop was Europa Park near Rust, a theme park that falls somewhere between Alton Towers and Disneyland in terms of what it has to offer. Something for everyone, including at least 4 heavy duty roller coasters (I like roller coasters) and numerous milder experiences. The Silver Star roller coaster still takes your breath away even though it doesn't loop or corkscrew, and the wooden coaster Woden will shake any loose fillings out. There's a Wild West themed camping area with all the trimmings, so it's not cheap. 24 hours parking with electricity plus toilet/shower block and various evening distractions will set you back around 35 Euros, same as Disney. A day's Park entry cost us 47 Euros each in September, but we like theme parks and this one is good value for money, certainly when compared to Disneyland. It kept the two of us busy all day, and if I was planning a family trip to a continental theme park I'd give this one some serious thought.

After that, back into France.
 
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Oct 2, 2008
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Very nice assessment of the area , also didn't know of Blaubeuren
duly noted :)
 
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