Monday, October 18, 2010

The Europe Adventure for Jan & Me - Bodensee

Jan keeps reminding everyone, who want to hear, that the only thing she had planned for the year 2010 was to visit her friends Sylvia & Jochen in Germany and that all those other activities - like selling two houses, packing up and leaving Sydney, buying a new house, getting married, travel frequently in Australia - were just not part of that. Finally, after a roller-coaster year, we took the plunge and booked our tickets to Germany, flying with Singapore Airlines from Melbourne to Singapore and from there on the new Air Bus A380 to Zurich. It was a long trip, as all of you who travel will know. The planes on both segments were full and there weren't a lot of spare seats.

Arriving in Zurich, we made our way to the Airport Railway Station and soon found ourselves on, what we hoped, was the right platform. A quick check with another passenger confirmed that we were on the right track and much to our delight, the lady - whose name is Amy, told us that she was also heading for Singen, the nearest railway station to where Jochen & Sylvia lived. Amy was most kind and helpful, especially when we needed to change trains with little enough time to do so. We appreciated her assistance.

Arriving at Singen, we were relieved to connect with Sylvia on her mobile phone and learnt that she was less than ten minutes from the station. Much excitement! It was lovely to see the two ladies being reunited after some four years. For me at least, I was happy to settle in the back of her car and let Sylvia take over, driving us to her home in the little, and very delightful, village of Liggersdorf not all that far away from the Bodensee (Lake Constance).

Liggesdorf in Hohenfels

Meeting Jochen was also a treat and he and I immediately enjoyed an excellent rapport. Both Jochen & Sylvia speak excellent English, which made for easier conversation. Their home is beautifully situated in the village. Everything is delightfully quiet. Their garden is a credit to them and their kind hospitality very generous.

Our home for ten delightful days, and below with our hosts.

Liggesdorf is not very far from the Bodensee, and it was not long before our hosts treated us to some wonderful sightseeing excursions. Here is a map of the area with Hohenfel clearly marked as the centre of our activities. Clicking on this map will give you a better idea of how much we covered showing the routes of different trips:
After a couple of days of getting over jetlag (it took a little longer than that), Jochen & Sylvia introduced us to their village and surroundings, including the community (we had two dinners with them!) with the Mayor present at both! Talk about being welcomed with overwhelming kindness!

There are lovely forests to walk through and with our hosts being active walkers, were encouraged to enjoy them. Our first walk gave us a feel for the place and we were warmly welcomed by the 'local residents', as you can see in the following picture:

These lovely horses seemed happy to welcome us, but in fact were just let loose for their daily exercise. Liggesdorf on the background. And isn't it all green!!

And just a glimpse of our time in the forests:

It might look good, but there was nothing to shoot (or to shoot with).
The shooting season for deer wasn't far away though.
No wonder the locals were warned to be 'vorzicht'!! But the smile tells a lot!

After a couple of days, Jochen and Sylvia considered it reasonably safe for us to be taken to (or let loose in) a wider audience!! They could not have picked a better spot than Uberlingen, an unspoilt medieval city on the shores of the Bodensee. There was plenty to see and our cameras were kept busy, though it would be boring if I placed too many photos on this blog chapter.

Every picture tells a story. One of many light and happy moments.
You can see Jochen is enjoying himself, but what about Jan? YES!!

You better believe it!

Meersburg was another magic place on the Bodensee. This time it was Sunday and the weather was perfect. The locals were out in force, along with hundreds of visitors from other areas who took their families to the lake. We parked the car and walked 6-7 kilometers along the top that overlooked the lake, to Hagnau. The walking/cycling track was through vineyards that were just about ready for the autumn harvest.

The grapes looked yummi and we did sample both the white and red grapes.
The only thing we needed to watch were the many cyclists along with fellow pedestrians. But the setting was just gorgeous.
Just a magic day!

After our long and most enjoyable walk, we dropped into the lakeside town of Meersburg, a lovely German town with old buildings and heaps of atmosphere. It was time for the winefest and there were stacks of people enjoying themselves and having a great time. We just soaked it up.

The crowds were much larger in other parts of Meersburg.
A reminder of the past.
This lovely view of the Meersburg harbour is picture book stuff.
What a day! What a view!

And a view from the harbour side looking up to the buildings above.

On our way home we passed the 'Basilica of our Lady' by Lake Constance at Birnau. A very nice church with hordes of people both to visit and to worship. While we were there, the choir was rehearsing a Latin mass and we happily sat in the pews for some time to soak up the atmosphere and the music.The art work in this basilica is quite outstanding. Its earliest history goes back some 600 years, but this new church was built during 1746-50.
We enjoyed sharing in a moment of quiet worship with the choir & organ rehearsing.

It was good to see that the church in Germany is still active and well attended, though sadly, we did not see many younger folk.
The village church in Liggesdorf.

But then, one can also worship among the flowers. We visited the island of Mainau and thoroughly enjoyed the lovely gardens that were established by Count Lennart Bernadotte-Stiftung, who poured all his energies into making this a wonderful place to visit. When we were there, the Dahlias were in full bloom with many varieties to feast our eyes on. So let me finish this chapter with a selection of these flowers, which are a favourite of mine, along with some other photos taken during our visit:

By now, autumn colours abound. Always a lovely time of the year.
The cascade of water looked great both from this angle and from the top!
I had the above variety in my garden at Lauderdale.
Also love the shot below with the bumble bees doing their bit!

And they just kept on coming. So many!

And just to be different, these sun flowers looked great and there were plenty of them!
Plus a pair of other ring ins brightening up the day!
And finally, this delightful sculpture that fitted most beautifully in this setting:

Look out for the next chapter when we head off to Bavaria!