We booked this tour through Rad & Reisen, a tour company we had been with before and always found to give excellent service. This tour was no exception. They organise accomodation. In this case we had half board, luggage transfer, bike hire and tour information with maps etc included in the tour price. All the logistics worked perfectly.
Our tour started in Konstanz, a German town on the lake just over the border from Switzerland. We flew from Luton to Zurich and took a train to Konstanz, the train station is under Zurich airport and there are frequent trains direct to Konstanz so it was an easy transfer. When we checked into our hotel we found all our briefing material waiting for us. Hotel Barbarossa is in the old town of Konstanz and reputedly dates back to the 14th century. It is full of character and very comfortable; we had a four poster bed. The old town has many impressive buildings and remains of old town walls and evidence of occupation going back to Roman times. We arrived late afternoon and did not have that much time to look around before seeking out a German burger restaurant for supper.
Next day, there was a superb breakfast bar including eggs and bacon so we ate well then left for a short bus ride to pick up our bikes and set off round the lake. The bike pick up point was at a sizable warehouse with what must have been hundreds of bikes in racks. Ours were ready for us, correctly adjusted to our height and with panniers attached. We had a quick ride around the yard to check all was OK then had a brief talk about where to go, how to operate the bike and odometer, and how to get help if needed. There was a group of ladies in team blue track suits also being briefed. We later met them on several occasions and discovered they were from Iceland. And there was another quartet, just leaving, who we also kept meeting on the tour. We later discovered they were Germans from Ulm.
To start with, the bike track was alongside the railway, leaving Konstanz in a northerly direction towards the Island of Reichenau. The English spelling of the German name of the town Konstanz is Constance but the German name for Lake Constance is Bodensee; a little curious. The lake is the third largest lake in western Europe; it is about 60km long and 15km wide, its average depth is 12m and its deepest part is 250m.
In general terms, land to the north of the lake is Germany, land to the south east is Austria, and that to the south west is Switzerland as seen below
Just before we reached Reichenau we crossed the railway line and took a good cycle path more or less parallel to a road. At this stage we had only distant views of the lake but soon the views opened out and we could see Reichenau Island across reed beds. Later we passed pretty villages like Allenbach
and had wider views across the full width of the lake. We arrived at the top of this arm of the lake at Rudolfzell around lunch time. We took a stroll around the market place close by the Munster
After our rest we continued on round the lake and through a tree-lined path alongside a road.
We were soon at Moos where we watched as a crane lifted a very smart wooden boat out of the water, ready for winter storage.
The next section of the route was more agricultural through vineyards and orchards before passing through a park like area at Horn. From Horn the water became slowly more like a river than a lake, you could sense the steady flow of the river Rhine as the banks gradually converged.
We passed through more small villages and the odd marina. This was one of the few places on the trip with hills of any significance but they were fairly short. Just before we arrived at our destination for the day, Stein am Rhein, we crossed the border into Switzerland but we were not sure precisely where this happened. There did not seem to be any marker.
Our Hotel in Stein was 4 star Hotel Chlosterhof.
Extremely comfortable, our room had a balcony with a river view and there was a swimming pool and sauna etc. We arrived just before 4 so had a chance to take a good look around before nightfall; just as well because it has a beautifully preserved old town.
We were lucky to get into the Burgersyl just before it closed for the day. The main building is medieval, renovated to an extremely high standard. It was built in the 14th century and had a wide variety of uses in its past, most notably a poor house and hospital. After this we visited St Georges Abbey. an old Bendictine building first established in Roman times.
The lake becomes a river at Stein and while we quaffed a beer by the ferry landing we watched the crowds of tourists and cyclists pass by, including our fellow German and Icelandic cycling groups. The path along the river offers pleasant views.
Since this was Switzerland everything seemed pretty expensive and we chose to eat in town at a restaurant bar in the Market square after we had swam in our hotel pool.