Matt Krog & The Eurovelo 5: Day 20

Wednesday 1st August
Rest in Konstanz/Meersburg

“The sun beat down on my tent. I continued to lie under the bright blue tarp for as long as I could bear the heat. Unzipping and crawling out onto a patch of dewy damp grass, I took a moment to adjust to the brightness of the outside world. The campsite was super busy and it felt like I was the last one to get up. Greeting the people at the table near to where I had just crawled out, I looked over my shoulder and saw that Jenny was still parked up against the fence, draped from head to toe in what were once wet socks and a towel.

I slowly packed up my things (it now only takes 30 minutes, without even trying) and checked out of the campsite. Today I was going to enjoy the lake, but first I needed breakfast. I stopped at a supermarket on the way into Konstanz city centre to stock up on breads and meat for breakfast and lunch.

Riding along the beautifully laid out German cycle paths, I heard a bell sound behind me. I moved over to my right to allow the cyclist to pass. I did not notice that the pedestrian path that I was moving onto was actually raised above the cycle path and thus before I even realised it, my wheels were scraping up against the curb. Inevitably my bicycle fell over but some how, I did not. I found my myself standing on the curb next to my, now horizontal bike, holding only the handlebars. The lady that rang her bell behind me let out a loud โ€œoh my godโ€ in the thickest of German accents that just made me laugh. I waved her on telling her I was fine. Subsequently, every time throughout the day, as I replayed the event in my mind I could not help but burst out laughing at the sound of her voice (I suppose you have to have been there). It must have looked strange to the people I passed to see this lone traveller laughing to himself.

I explored Konstanz for a while. Being right on the border to Switzerland, the city of Konstanz would keep its lights on at night during WW2, so that it would appear to be part of the neutral country and thus not get bombed by the allies.

Itโ€™s got a very old cathedral but with so many people milling about and talking loudly, sitting inside wasnโ€™t that peaceful. In fact the whole town was frantically busy. August the first is the Swiss national holiday. Ironically, this means that all the Swiss living near the border flood into Germany, where everything is still open.

I took the ferry across the lake to Meersburg. There was not a cloud in the sky and looking across the lake, one could clearly see the towering Alps in the distance. I thought about Marco, the Dutch cyclist I met in Zurich, and wondered if he was busy struggling up one of the passes.

Meersburg was just as busy as Konstanz but had a lot more charm. Itโ€™s a medieval town, divided into an upper and lower section that are connected by steep cobblestone streets. Itโ€™s got many sights and activities for the holiday maker. Iโ€™ll go through some of them; being a medieval town, itโ€™s filled with beautiful stone architecture, some notable buildings include the old castle and the new palace, that overlook the lake. One can cycle all the way round the lake and take a dip at almost any point. There are about 8 museums, dedicated to a diverse range of subjects, including Zeppelins, wine and Droste (a famous poetess who lived in the town).

After walking around the small town and taking in all the sights, I headed down to the lower town and waterfront. I cycled along the lake circumference until I came across an area that seemed like a popular place to jump in. I did just that and it was so refreshing, however I could not enjoy it for too long as my bike was out of my sight and housing my valuables at the very bottom of the left pannier.

I got out and was dry by the time I reached my bike, a mere 100 metres away. Continuing along the lake, I came across a more private beach, that I bought Jenny down onto and this time enjoyed a more lengthy swim.

I lay down on a bench and started reading Sun Tzuโ€™s Art of War. In the shade, I slept on that bench for 2 hours.

I was staying that evening with Sarah and Peter, a couple who lived in Meersburg. On arriving at their house I was greeted by warm smiles and made to feel very welcome. Sarah and Peter were fellow computer scientists (or that’s at least what they studied). What was most interesting was hearing about their cycle tour through Scandinavia, Asia and New Zealand. They spent one whole year on their bikes and had many interesting stories to tell. Also staying with them was Sarahs sister, who studied English literature. I told her about my weak attempt at reading the classics. She recommended Oscar Wilde. So when I get the chance Iโ€™ll pick up a copy of โ€˜The Picture of Dorian Gray”.

After a delicious barbecue with their neighbour, we all headed up to watch the fireworks from a nearby hill. Our position overlooked the lake which was brightly illuminated by the moon. Across the lake was Switzerland, alight with fireworks. To the left was Austria, the border between the two clearly marked by the absence of flashes and bangs. What a way to say farewell to Switzerland.”

Matt Krog

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