I’ve had my eye on this trip for years. The circuit of Lake Constance, the Bodensee to its German-speaking friends, is supposed to be Europe’s most popular bike ride.
It’s easy to see why. There are over 300km on safe cycle paths or quiet roads with slow-moving traffic, passing through picturesque villages, stopping for kaffee and local pastries and at night the option of warm, dry hotels and local wine.
We can cut a few corners and shorten the route by taking ferries across arms of the lake, or we can extend ourselves by making diversions. The exact route doesn’t matter that much. It’s all rather attractive.
Freedom Treks has provided us with bikes and a map and booked the accommodation. Mevrouw T gets an electric bike, which means she can power on ahead of me up the hills. I’m happy with my touring bike, built for comfort rather than speed.
Our first day was designed by the route-planners as a warm-up. 20-30km to roll out of the town of Konstanz onto Reichenau Island, UNESCO World Heritage-listed for its churches and monasteries.
From there we took the ferry across to the Swiss side of the lake, half an hour away…
…which left us only a dozen kilometres or so to Stein am Rhein, surely one of the world’s cutest villages, in a Swiss-chocolate box, jigsaw-puzzle sort of way.
It’s well worth some photos anyway.
From Stein, I made a stupid mistake, turning left instead of right, heading east instead of west, and wondering why the dumb towns all had the wrong names.
The bike computer racked up an extra 15km and the rain was threatening as the error of my ways gradually dawned on my feeble brain. Well before this Mevrouw T had sensibly turned her e-bike back towards Stein. And our warm, dry hotel.
More tomorrow, weather permitting.
The writer was the guest of Freedom Treks and assisted by Internationale Bodensee Tourismus.