Summer: Bodensee, Germany

Still homeless, and in a bid to get out from under the feet of the family, we spent a couple of weeks flat sitting for Florian’s sister and her boyfriend at the Bodensee (Lake Constance). The area is one of Germany’s most beautiful, with its access to the lake, the Rhein, and the alps, and a coastline dotted with exquisite little towns and romantic castles.

When not running around after an increasingly mobile baby determined to reorganise his tante’s shelves, here’s what else else we got up to:

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Festungsruine Hohentweil, Singen

A fortress, first constructed in 914 atop an extinct volcano and eventually destroyed in 1800. It’s a steep climb to the top but well worth it. Panoramic views of the countryside including Lake Constance. Definitely one for the inner medieval knight. Reminded yet again why it is that our buggy is called ‘city mini’ not ‘ 4×4’.

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Spielplatz, Schwimmbad and the Rhein

Our boy loves the slide, the sand and water in equal measures. As well as taking a dip in the local lido we also headed to the banks of the Rhein, where you can let yourself be carried along the river by the current – just the coolest thing ever. We went to the Rheinuferpark in Gailingen on the German/Swiss border. It’s free, not too busy, and has a children’s pool and play area.

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Stein am Rhein // Horn

One Saturday, we popped over the border and had a wander around the medieval streets of Stein am Rhein. The town buildings all have pretty painted facades although you feel a little cheated when you discover that many of them date only to the early 20th century. My question as we rocked up there of ‘are you sure three hours of parking is enough?’ was perhaps a little premature. Finding little else to do, and refusing to pay over the odds for a small pallet of chips, we headed back along the coast road, stopped for a lovely lunch here in the village of Horn and took a walk around the hilltop grounds of the local church and graveyard. It’s a bit of a waste on the dead but at least your relatives are guaranteed to visit.

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Konstanz // Constance

Loved it. Lake side location and twisted cobbled streets crammed with pastel painted houses, shaded cafe bars, fancy jewelery stores, even fancier furniture stores, crafts, antiques and boutiques.

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Rheinfall / Rhine Falls

23m high, 150m wide, 250-700m³/s average water flow. Impressive and loud. I should imagine having this as your neighbour is akin to living alongside the A3 but with no respite.

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Reichenau

A gentle boat ride and we’re on an island in the middle of the lake. The island is famous countrywide for the quality of its fruit and vegetables. It’s covered in green houses and poly tunnels housing sweet smelling tomatoes. Neat lines of lettuce spread out before us like a woven carpet, and plump pears hang heavy from the trees. We walk to the minster and back, stop to eat a perfect schnitzel and pommes at the water’s edge and then board the boat home again. I hadn’t intentionally dressed our boy as the ‘Fisherman’s Friend’ but he did look darn cute in that yellow jacket (thanks uncle Tim).

And so that was our Bodensee adventure. I think we packed quite a lot into two short weeks. It was then back to Staufen to wait out the end of summer.

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