Last time out we were so blown away by Rothenburg ob der Tauber that we had to get it all written down for you before we forgot! That means we’ve got ourselves all out of sequence with our travels this time. It would be a shame not to mention Meersburg or Füssen; two memorable stops where we stayed over for a few days each.
After our visit to the Black Forest and Freiburg we continued along Germany’s southern border. Lake Constance separates Germany from Switzerland and Austria, and as we love a bit of lakeside camping we headed for Meersburg. There, we reversed into a handy spot on a very basic Stellplatz on the edge of the town. Our first impressions weren’t too favourable, we seemed to be in a rough car park in a concrete-y residential area. There were loos there but not much else for our €14 per night.
When we walked down into the town all our concerns disappeared. Apart from torrential rain, it has to be said – the first really adverse weather we’d encountered so far. It got to the point where we just stood under a tree until the rain eased off. Meersburg is one of those places with a high town and a low town. The high town has the obligatory Schloss, the fancy square with the council buildings and the wine-tasting. The lower town has the promenade along the lake shore, the park, and a long street of eating places and touristy shops.
We loved both! From the new castle (there’s an old Schloss AND a new Schloss, which seems a bit greedy to me) there are fabulous views across the lake to the mountains of Switzerland. You can look over the roofs of the town, and down into the cobbled streets which seem unchanged from centuries ago. We didn’t fully explore the lower town; on the first day a handy lakeside bar distracted us. Then on the second day we came across the world’s grumpiest waiter. It seems as though customers were an enormous inconvenience to him; we had a fit of the giggles every time he sighed heavily and trudged off to get us a drink or bring our food out. Asking for two cappuccinos at the end was the last straw for him – I’d already finished mine by the time Gill’s arrived. Maybe he only had one cup.
Don’t let that put you off though, along with Rothenburg and Füssen, Meersburg was one of our top stopovers. My lasting memory of Meersburg will be my lovely wife crying with laughter in one particular shop. I have the kind of big head which just isn’t designed for hats. This doesn’t stop me trying them on however, and is a constant source of merriment to the other half. If you picture Dumbo the Flying Elephant with his tiny hat perched on top you’ll get the idea.
Füssen, a couple of hours further east, sits on the Lech river and is in proper Sound of Music countryside. We drove past endless fields of lush green grass, over gently rolling hills with tall mountains looming in the background. The town itself – well, you know the drill by now – half-timbered houses, cobbled lanes, pedestrianised shopping areas and of course ice-cream. We stayed on a very well-appointed Stellplatz with toilets & showers just up the road from an Aldi and a Lidl. We were getting so used to German prices by then that we only winced very slightly when handing over the credit card. It’s going to be some bill when we get home eek!
The highlight of our visit to Füssen was a cycling day in search of Neuschwanstein Schloss (not easy to say after a couple of beers…). This world-famous castle sits picturesquely among the peaks of the Schwabian Alps looking like something Disney would have designed. It’s all turrets and pointy roofs, surrounded by greenery. People were stopping in lay-bys, on corners and even standing in the middle of the road, trying to capture the perfect picture.
Our cycle paths kept us off the roads, through woods and across fields, taking us to the best viewpoint we could find. We’d brought a picnic with us (German prices again…) so we could park the bikes by a crystal clear lake and just gaze at the view over lunch. It was one of those perfect moments. We were surrounded by fresh air, silence and the beauty of nature. No we weren’t. The air was fresh enough but half of Germany had had the same idea and it was heaving with tourists! We did manage to find a reasonably quiet spot, with entertainment provided by a lady paddling in the lake who lost her balance – oops! Don’t shout at me for laughing, she was fine I tell you. I’m sure she dried off quickly in the sunshine.
Our final stop for this post was just a one-nighter on the way up to Rothenburg, in the village of Laupheim. Not much to report really, it’s a modern place – no half-timbered houses for once – with a lovely Stellplatz in a shady square off the main car park. There were half a dozen slots set aside for motorhomes, and we were one of only two parked up overnight. All afternoon camper vans and motorhomes came and went, making use of the service point but not parking up. We soon realised why. The beautiful spire behind us housed what sounded like Big Ben. Every fifteen minutes, that’s every fifteen minutes, 24/7, we were treated to what sounded like somebody throwing a set of pots and pans down a flight of stairs. Rest assured, a good night’s sleep was certainly not had by all.
Next time – only a tiny bit more Germany, then west into France to begin the trek north towards Calais and home. But there’s still plenty of fun to be had along the way.