A mini-break in Konstanz

We arrived in Konstanz at just after 1 pm on Thursday, following a roughly three hour journey on the Schwarzwaldbahn (beautiful scenery!). The above two photos were taken in the Petershausen area of Konstanz, which is where we thought our hotel was. Except both of us had apparantly failed to read the date correctly and we had managed to book a room for the night of Wednesday, 28th May instead. Of course, there were no rooms left at the IBIS for that night, but the receptionist was kind enough to phone another hotel where she managed to get us a double room. We ended up at Hotel Halm, which was slightly more expensive than we would have liked, but at that point it was a case of beggars not being choosers, so we went with it. At least it was convenient for the train station… as in directly opposite! And we got a welcome drink when we arrived which kind of made up for our complete stupidity 😉

Welcome drink at Hotel Halm
Welcome drink at Hotel Halm

Once we’d drunk our sparkling wines, we decided to take advantage of the absolutely glorious weather and take a boat out to Mainau, an island in Lake Constance (or the Bodensee in German). The boat trip over took about half an hour.

Approaching Mainau on the boat. The builing is a palce owned by the Bernadotte family
Approaching Mainau on the boat. The building is a palace owned by the Bernadotte family

After a quick stop for a sandwich at the cafe, we decided to head for the butterfly house. It was pretty crowded, but definitely worth it. So many butterflies! Here are a few:

Once we’d seen the butterflies, we went for a walk around the rest of the island. Here are a few photos. It’s not known as a flower island for nothing!

Probably my favourite thing on Mainau was this rendering of the Bodensee in blue flowers!

Lake Konstanz in flowers
Lake Konstanz in flowers


Once we’d seen all the island had to offer, we took a boat back over to the mainland and went off in search of somewhere to eat. The first place we tried was closed on Sundays and holidays (Thursday was Christihimmelfahrt… Ascension Day), so we wandered all over town, finally ending up back down at the lake. Here are a few photos from our wanderings:

Seeing as we were at a lake, fish seemed like a good choice of food. Jan had “Felchenfilet”, which translates as whitefish (sooo imaginative!), apparantly the typical fish of the Bodensee. I went with sea bass, which was served on a bed of carrot and ginger puree (you can’t see it in the picture as it’s under the fish). Each of us ordered a side, which we shared between us… spinach for me and rosemary potatoes for Jan. To drink, I had a local Pils which came in a teeny glass!

The next morning, it was raining heavily so we decided to hit a museum first. There is currently a special exhibition on about the Council of Konstanz, which took place from 1414-1418. The aim of the council was to resolve the papal schism. Basically, three people were claiming to be the rightful pope, each with different followers. It took four years, but eventually the three popes were persuaded (or forced) to resign and the council was able to elect a new pope, who became Martin V as he was elected on St. Martin’s Day. The exhibition was interesting, but loooong! We must have been walking around in there for 3 hours! By the end my feet were killing and I was dying of thirst! No photos of that part of the day I’m afraid because you weren’t allowed to take any…

After the exhibition, our next stop was the Cathedral. We had a look inside then paid the €2 each to climb the tower for a view of Konstanz. By that time, the rain had stopped although it was still cloudy.

Back down on the ground, we had another walk around town, mostly on the look out for a place to buy water. Then we stopped at a place called Pano for something to eat. For a place named, well, bread there was a disappointing lack of bread, but never mind! Food eaten, it was almost time for our train, but before leaving we briefly walked across the border into Kreuzlingen purely for the novelty of walking to Switzerland! There was a park over there (the Seegarten), which I’m sure would have been nice to have a look at if we’d had more time, but instead I just briefly took a photo of some flags by the harbour then we headed back to Konstanz to pick up our bags and catch a train home. All in all, it was a nice little break and Konstanz is somewhere I would definitely like to visit again!

Triberg im Schwarzwald

Since the weather forecast for Saturday was good, I suggested to Jan that we should go somewhere. After all, this could be the last sunny weekend we experience this year. Cold days are coming! We decided on Triberg in the Black Forest.

Triberg features the highest accessible waterfalls in Germany – do not be fooled by all the advertising that labels them the highest! It’s a lie… the actual highest is the Röthbach Waterfall in Berchtesgaden in Bavaria, but getting to that one requires a boat ride then a hike! Triberg is slightly more accessible…

View from opposite the train station
View from opposite the train station

We took the Schwarzwaldbahn (Blackforest Train) to Triberg, arriving at 11:45 a.m., so after going on a hunt for a bank, our first stop was lunch! We chose to go to the Marktplatzstube, because it looked at least slightly less touristy than most of the other restaurants. It’s basically an Italian restaurant and the menu is fairly standard, but I thought the food was good. Jan had canneloni with lots of meat and cheese while I chose the salmon ravioli.

It was a gorgeous sunny day and autumn was in full swing… so many beautiful colours! Walking through town, I was so warm I actually took my coat off – although I put it back on again once we got to the waterfall! It’s much chillier there, what with the shade from the trees and the water acting like natural air conditioning. Here are a few photos of the town and our walk to the waterfall.

The Rathaus (Town Hall)
The Rathaus (Town Hall)

It costs €3.50 to visit the waterfalls, but I think that’s okay considering how well maintained the trail was. Where you pay the entrance fee, you can also buy small bags of peanuts to feed the squirrels – apparantly they like to hang around near the top of the waterfall and are fairly tame. We didn’t actually see any squirrels though, so we started feeding the many birds hovering around instead. We would place a peanut on the fence, step back and wait for a bird to notice. One of the many information boards informed us that these birds are called Nutcrackers, or Spotted Nutcrackers.

It took a lot of peanuts to get that second shot!

Once we’d finished looking at the waterfall and having fun with birds, we decided to take one of the other trails through the woods – the Kulturpfad (Culture Trail). Once we got away from the waterfall, there were a lot fewer people around. And we were soon rewarded with a sighting of a black squirrel to share some of our remaining nuts with!

Where the trail left the woods, we discovered a small lake with ducks and a church, the Wallfahrtskirche. There was also a children’s playground beside the lake. From there, we took the road back into town and stopped from some Neuer Wein (Young Wine – it’s wine that’s just starting to ferment) before heading back to the train station.

Triberg is quite a nice little town, but it is incredibly touristy (as you can tell by the entire street ouf souvenir/Black Forest cuckoo clock shops near the entrance to the waterfall!). Personally, I think we picked the right time of year to go, when it was still warm but not too crowded… it was actually possible to have my photo taken in front of the waterfall without a dozen other people being in the picture! And of course there’s the added bonus of all the autumn colours, which you wouldn’t have in July or August. I wouldn’t recommend going if the weather is bad, but on a sunny day the waterfall and culture trail make for a nice walk. There’s also a Black Forest Museum if you find yourself with a few extra hours to kill once you’ve had enough nature.

colourful tree