June 6 – Arbon to Kreuzlingen
Ah yes, that quintessential Aussie phrase of two words that are so versatile in their usage. It was put to work today by the taller member of the team. Had it not been this chosen phrase, an expletive would probably have been used in its place.
WOOMP…WOOMP…WOOMP…WOOP… That went on most of the night as the tent blew and buffeted in the wind. The wind had got up and the temperature had dropped and it was a fairly rowdy night in the little Nylon Palace, thanks to the wind tossing that thin roof of nylon around.
When I emerged, a little sleep deprived, I was greeted with a very speccy sunrise glowing over the lake. Once again, greeting the day in the dawn light had its rewards.
We’d spoken to a couple at the campsite who were our pitch neighbours and they had just done the ride to Konstanz, which was the route we’d be following for today’s ride.
“What’s the ride like,” I asked them, “does it stay by the lake?”
“Yes, very beautiful,” they assured us.
So as we set off, we had high hopes for a more successful lakeside ride to the one we didn’t end up having yesterday.
We pedalled off into Switzerland, feeling positive about the ride ahead. Oh, first the encounter Steve had when paying for our tent pitch. Steve returned from Reception and said to me, “I could have got you in as a child.”
“Why?” I asked.
“Because you’re small.”
Well, that’s no great revelation, but what’s that got to do with paying for a patch of grass? It seemed the lady at Reception had seen us on the bikes and when Steve was paying for the pitch she asked him, “One adult and one child?”
“No, two adults,” Steve corrected her.
When she had seen us from Reception, she thought she was seeing Steve, the adult, and me, the child. I’m short, yes, but since I’m freewheeling my way to 50, it was only the benefit of the long distance sighting that could have had me passing for a child!
We were on a traffic free path, which was great and we were leaving our camp, which was right on the lake, so things were looking good that we would be hugging the lake at last. But then..we turned…away from the lake…and it disappeared.
“Fair dinkum!” cried Steve,”where’s the lake?!”
It had gone. Somewhere. Not beside us.
We pedalled on, in the cool of the morning. It was 12C, which was definitely a cooler start to the 23C beginning of the day before. The sky was grey and the wind was blowing and it was certainly cool, but not too cold, so all was good on the weather front really. Not long into the ride, we were once again confronted with a barrier. This one was thankfully temporary though and we waited for the train to pass and the barrier to rise and we could be on our way.
We rode into Romanshorn and saw the lake again, with the town sitting on its shore. We rode down to the water for a look and then the path and the route signs took us…away from the water again. That was it. We had seen the lake and now it was gone.
We pedalled on and came to another rail crossing and another barrier, with the lights flashing and the bells ringing and we stopped. We waited. The barrier went up and we pedalled on.
We rode beside paddocks, more paddocks, a railway line, industrial estates, the backs of houses, but no lake. We were following the signs and they had the cycle icon on them and the route number, but this Lake Constance Cycle Path seemed to be devoid of the main feature from its title. No lake.
On we went and then…another rail barrier.
“Fair dinkum! Not again!” called Steve, who was getting a bit miffed by the character of the ride thus far…chilly, no lake and now barriers! Oh dear.
We rode past the train station and I saw two people beside the station with a stand, handing out free bottles of something. I rode past and then the fella called out to me and took off, sprinting after the bike. I slowed down and he ran along side and thrust two bottles of the freebie into my hands. I laughed a thank you and he laughed and waved me off, as I pedalled on. It was like I was in a triathlon or the Tour de France and I’d missed my fuelling station and the crew member was running after me to hand me what I needed. There I was, pedalling along the street, when I suddenly had a nice young fella sprinting by my side, handing me bottles, which turned out to be free bottles of apple and blueberry juice, which will be much appreciated thank you very much! Another unexpected but memorable little moment of the ride and I wheeled on with a smile on my dial.
We pedalled on, past ditches, neighbourhoods, vacant land and that ever present railway line and every now and again we caught a glimpse of the water, over there, across that railway line, through that paddock and behind those trees. We were still nowhere near the lake though.
“I’m not seeing the beauty of this ride!” said the big, frustrated one.
Nope, we were finding it hard to see what our tent neighbours had described as a beautiful ride, because it was mostly the backs of houses and paddocks beside the rail line. Definitely not hugging the lake.
Then…we got an actual no entry sign and a sign telling us the path was closed and a bright orange detour sign with the bike symbol on it, telling us we needed to take an alternative route. OK, here we go again, we’re used to this. We turned, went through a roundabout with the traffic and then up a hill, following the orange detour signs. We went through a neighbourhood, through a park, through a gate and then up a hill. I could almost warm myself on the increasing glow of Steve’s peeved face, as all those features guaranteed to cause peevishness were conspiring together…a detour, a lack of scenery and a hill. Then the detour turned us up another hill and there was…another train barrier!
“Fair dinkum!” I heard again. This phrase was definitely getting a workout today. This was barrier number four for the ride and we sat as the lights flashed, the bells rang and we waited fo the train to pass.
On we went, following those orange bicycle detour signs and then they took us down to a road. A very busy road. With trucks scraping our elbows. Honestly! Could this be any further from a tranquil, traffic-free lakeside ride that we had expected the “Lake Constance Cycle Path” to be! We eventually saw another orange detour sign up ahead, turning us off the busy main road and onto a quieter street. Phew. I thought the sign was very appropriately placed, beside a business whose services I probably could have done with.
We navigated our way back to the original route and once again, got a glimpse of the lake in a small marina in front of some offices and apartments. Time for elevenses. We stopped, regrouped, recovered from a hairy ride along the busy road and again wondered about this cycle path that was supposed to be by the lake. We were not lost. We were following the signs. But…we were puzzled, perplexed, confused, bamboozled and befuddled! Where oh where did Lake Constance factor into this “right beside the lake” path that we had read about and heard about? Yesterday and today, we had expected to tootle along beside the lake and we just hadn’t. We were flummoxed!
We rode on from elevenses and then got…oh dear…here it comes…another one…a rail barrier! This was number five for the morning! We stopped. We waited. The lights flashed. The bells rang. The train eventually appeared in the distance, whooshed past, the barriers went up and we could be on our way again. No lake. No scenery. Five barriers. Hold it together Big Fella…hold it together!
We rode into Kreuzlingen and made this our pit stop for the day. Just a short ride.
“Well that wasn’t quite what we were expecting,” I commented.
Steve’s silent response told me all I needed to know about his thoughts on the morning. Ah, no, it hadn’t gone quite as we hoped. I had a smile on my face though, because just before we arrived in Kreuzlingen we passed some trees and I saw a squirrel!
We got ourselves changed and fed and then went for a roam. We were still in Switzerland, so we decided to go for a walk to Germany. So we did. We walked down the road to Konstanz and as we did, we crossed the border again.
One thing I find amazing about the proximity of these countries is the huge difference in the cost of things. We were in Switzerland very briefly a few years ago and remembered it was expensive and it hasn’t take us long to be reminded of that. We stopped at a supermarket this morning to get the usual few things for elevenses and lunch on the road and the cost of those things, some bread for Steve and fruit for me, was quite literally three times the price we had been paying in Germany and even more than we’d paid in Croatia and Slovenia. The fact that it is so much more than Germany, just amazes me, when they are literally a street apart in places. The couple we’d spoken to at the campsite live only 200km from Lake Constance and they told us they’d cycled the German section many times but were only now cycling the Swiss section because they said Switzerland is too expensive. So it’s not just us noticing these things. As we walked to Konstanz, we also learned that there is a favourite pastime called Einkaufstourism, which is cross-border shopping and the Swiss duck over to Germany where they can buy things a whole lot cheaper.
We roamed into the city centre and Konstanz was another nice place to visit, with pedestrianised cobbled streets and sitting alongside the lake.
We saw the lake and a park beside it, so since we’d seen very little of the lake thus far, we crossed the road to have a look. Then, you’ll never guess…we were about to walk into the park, which involved walking over a rail line and…the lights started flashing…the bells started ringing…the barriers came down!
“Fair dinkum!” cried Steve for the umpteenth time that day. Yes, it was so. You wouldn’t credit it. We had barrier number six, this time on a pedestrian crossing and we waited for the train to pass and the barriers to rise and we could be on our way.
We ran some errands and hope to do some more roaming and exploring tomorrow before we ride on at the weekend and head for the Rhine. So that was the day. A day when one page of the Pocket Aussie Phrase Book got a real workout by one slightly exasperated cycle tourist. We rode again, but didn’t ride beside the lake. We had barriers again. We had detours again. We don’t know if we went wrong, but we were for darn tootin’ sure we were following the right signs! Oh well. Embrace the element of surprise and roll with the unexpected! Tomorrow we’ll do a final explore around the lake before we leave and see what more we can discover. We might even make a point of discovering the actual lake! So the plan might be to stay close to the lake and far, far away from rail lines and their bells and lights. The Big Fella’s blood pressure might need a day to come down!
Distance ridden: 29.4 km
Time in the saddle: 2 hours 11 minutes
Distance roamed: 9.6 km
Weather: grey, windy, a bit cool, 17C