If one were looking for Konstanz on the map, you’d do best to look at the Dreiländereck where the borders of Switzerland, Austria, and Germany meet. Now, if your map’s good enough or with a large enough scale, you’ll notice there’s a lake there – this is Lake Constance, or Bodensee in German, and to the extreme west of this lake lays Konstanz.
If Basel was gorgeous, I don’t have a word to describe Konstanz. The city pinches the lake into a short section of the Rhine (Seerhein), which in turn flows into the smaller part of Lake Constance before meandering its sparkly way off into the Rhine-proper, where it passes by Basel, Strasbourg, Mainz, Koblenz, Cologne, and on into Holland, getting dirtier every kilometre of the way. Here however is its start, as beautiful a vista as you could imagine in so populated a country as Germany.
I couldn’t shake the feeling that Konstanz had something of the Mediterranean about it. Something to do with the architecture, the cleanliness, the proximity to water reminded me of Venice. It’s no coincidence that the harbour area is called Klein-Venedig, or Little Venice!
Nicole and I stayed with a friend of a friend of her’s, in a near-empty student WG, it being the spring break between the winter and summer semesters. Our host showed us a wonderful time, and proved a good guide and insight into the city. though many of my German friends had questioned my desire to visit Kontanz, I found it to be vibrant and energetic, even in the off tourist season and with so many of the city’s 13,000 students away.
Between its proximity to Switzerland and its lack of industry, the Allies avoided Konstanz during bombing runs in the War. As a result, Konstanz retained many of its old buildings, though we did see a good deal of new construction going on, especially along the Seerhein.
In all, Konstanz and the Bodensee were definitely recommendable. I would love to go back and explore more of the little cities and towns surrounding that beautiful lake. Unfortunately work commitments restricted us from spending too much time down there, so it was with some sadness that I boarded my train back on the Sunday morning.
I had lucked out however with the train, snagging a deal through ltur.com, with a near direct connection from Konstanz to Trier for 25€ with InterCity trains, not the frustratingly slow Bimmelbahn. What’s more, the train took me through the Black Forest, known more for its cakes than its fir-tree covered hills and picturesque little valleys. We snaked our way through adorable little villages and before long it began to rain. As the droplets rolled down the windows, and the creeks and streams began rushing, the near white-sky threw the green of the hills into a darker contrast. I found myself reminded of home, of somewhere so different, so far away, yet still so lush and vibrant.