Adventure

Le Grand Tour: Day 54 – Buchs To Konstanz (64km + Ferry)

CURRENT LOCATION: MS Schwaben, Bodensee

The first part of Plan B has been enacted… Quite an achievement when you bear in mind that there wasn’t ever a detailed Plan A and when Plan B is about as vague as a Brexitier when you try pin them down on the benefits of the UK leaving the EU. I am currently en route to Konstanz in Germany. More of that in a moment.

It was an early start this morning, but with good reason. I had agreed to meet Ken Wynn for breakfast. Ken, as you may have seen from the previous post, is attempting to cycle ‘12 Countries in 12 Days’. I met him at a café in country number six; Liechtenstein. More details of his endeavour below and you’ll be able to hear him in the final episode – part 8 – of the ‘Grand Tour‘ podcast series. (Parts 1 to 7 are now available to stream or download – all the links at CyclingEurope.org/Podcast.)

Ken wasn’t the only planned meeting of the day. You may remember from ‘Crossing Europe…’ (the first book about the 2010 cycle from southern England to southern Italy) that I met my friend Claus on Strasbourg. We trained together as teachers in the UK but he managed to escape before the horrors of Brexit and returned to his hometown of Stuttgart. Today, I had arranged to meet him in Bregenz, Austria…

When I woke from deep slumber – a rare thing in the tent – at around 3am this morning, I started worrying about my chances of getting back to Rotterdam for the 3rd September and the overnight ferry to Hull. It is a deadline that cannot be changed as I’m back at work on Monday 5th. Analysing the map and trying to break down the remaining route of the Rhine into ten roughly equal rides was a sobering experience. I don’t think it is possible while maintaining an average of 80km per day. Even if I were to push myself, it would be a struggle. 

I do, of course, have two train journeys remaining. But I never set myself any rules about ferries… (Paragraph 4, subsection 3: “Andrew can make up rules about ferries as he travels…”). The Bodensee – or Lake Constance if you are a Brexit voter and think things in other countries deserve to be renamed in English at will – is an elongated stretch of water that forms the border between a large stretch of southern Germany and northern Switzerland with Austria having its share of the coastline at its eastern end. From Bregenz in Austria to Konstanz in Germany it’s about 50km. Mmm… Ferries float on water. 

I arrived in Bregenz after a 64km cycle from Buchs and my breakfast with Ken. Although it involved some pretty stuff early on, the cycle was predominantly a slog along the embankment of the Rhine. A functional ride but not unpleasant. I passed a little time chatting to a chap called Tony. I’d love to say that he was Swiss Tony but alas he was Spanish Tony, from Barcelona. A fellow teacher, he was heading to Basel for a plane home before the start of the new term on September 1st. No such option for me of course… 

Upon arrival in Bregenz and before meeting Claus I investigated the ferry option. It would basically extend a 64km day into one of over 100km in terms of distance. I bought the ticket and went off to meet Claus. An entertaining afternoon was had reminiscing and catching up. Bearing in mind the comments I made about him in that first book and his then girlfriend, you’ll be delighted to know that his life is now much more settled… 

The boat is about to stop at Immenstaad on the northern shore. I need to change for a second boat at Meersburg to get to Konstanz by 7.30pm. I’m treating myself to a hotel in Konstanz. I dearly hope that an upmarket resort like Konstanz does laundrettes as my clothes are in dire need of soap and water. If I can’t find one, you may find me with a bar of soap beside the Bodensee tomorrow morning. 

On the subject of which… I’ll probably continue cycling along the Rhine to Schaffhausen tomorrow. The waterfalls are a Rhine-must-see, but then? Train to Basel? Not sure I can afford to stay any more nights in Switzerland… More Plan B planning needed.

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10 replies »

  1. Yes, the Rhine Falls are are must see. From Basel it’s good flat cycling on superbly surfaced routes more or less the whole way and a cyclist such as yourself should be able to do it. However, should it become necessary, you have the superb rail networks of Germany and The Netherlands at your disposal. And if it becomes necessary, it’s not really cheating, is it?

  2. This footage is now starting to get nostalgic for me. When I hit the Bodensee I also started to worry about making it back to Rotterdam in time for the ferry. I took me 15 days of cycling to do the entire Rhein/Rhin/Rain/Rijn plus 1 day off. And I wasn’t stopping for drone shots.
    You’re an old hand at this but my advice would be to smell the roses. Break your train rules if you must, but don’t let your memories of this beautiful river be of riding your nuts off trying to meet the ferry. Take more/longer train journeys.
    If sacrifices have to be made . . . if you want to miss out the heavy industry and the urban build-up, skip the area around Mannheim and the section south of Remagen. There’s lot of great cultural stuff in these places, but it’s not pretty and the cycling can be just functional.
    I enjoyed the section between Mainz and Bonn. Deutches Eck is worth seeing and the ride along the Lorelei is famously scenic.
    I actually enjoyed the build-up getting back into Rotterdam especially the small town of Schoonhoven, but don’t forget it’s still 20 miles to the ferry from Rotterdam.
    Good luck!

      • I’ve just noticed a schoolboy error in my advice. I suggested you to skip the area “south” of Remagen. I actually meant “north”, ie downriver.

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