Stein am Rhein and Konstanz

Stein am Rhein

Another soothing boat ride on the Rhine took us to a beautiful village, Stein am Rhein, or Stein on the Rhine. Jan forgot the very cool straw fedora he had purchased in Colmar, and was getting a head sunburn. We were on the top deck and it got suddenly very sunny. Lots of folks were having brunch or lunch on board. Suddenly, there was an announcement to descend to the lower deck. Turns out we were approaching an old wooden bridge and stuff had to happen for us to be able to negotiate it. Folks left mid-meal, top-deck poles were lowered, the captain's bridge actually folded down and we slid under the wooden bridge beams!

In Stein am Rhein, Jan did the tourist thing and got a baseball cap--with Swiss insignia! Our walk into the Altstadt (old town) took us past dozens of medieval, half-timbered buildings--some of them colorfully frescoed--the town is famous for. What a beautiful day to visit. Our only regret was that a monastery refectory containing unique, medieval wall paintings was closed that day. I took pictures of what we missed. Ha.

Had a delish soup and veggie plate--getting to like these Swiss 'gemischter salaten'--mixed salads--clumps of shredded or chopped carrots, beets, cabbage, celeriac, radishes, whatever else is fresh, each clump lightly dressed, then covered over with red and green leaf lettuce, which is then ALSO dressed in either French (light seasoned mayo, I think, not our orange stuff) or balsamic. Seem to be the only choices.


After Stein am Rhein, we thought it would be fun to take a short train ride to Konstanz, on Lake Konstanz (Constance). It's actually just over the border in Germany. Getting off at the station was a shock--more bicycles, buses, crowds of people than we were prepared for. And, it had gotten hotter. A helpful tourism guide gave us some ideas of what to see in an afternoon and we tried to get to the old sector. Just give us some areas and churches a few centuries old and we can be happy. But the crowds were overwhelming. We finally got some respite at the cathedral, which has a quiet, mystical crypt below the altar. What a find--medalions from about 1000 AD that used to adorn the front of the edifice.

More wandering finally got us closer to the lakefront, hungry again but worried we would not be able to find anywhere decent to eat. Like Lake Michigan on the first warm day, families and groups were all along the park-lined shore, cycling, on sailboats, or queued up for boat rides back across the lake to their hotels. Then, a hotel restaurant with a huge patio came into view. German! No reservations needed! A table overlooking the shore! Jan probably had pork schnitzel and a big glass of a local draft beer. I opted for freshly battered lake trout, of course, mit salat. And a lovely local weiss wine. Our kind waitress explained what the heck was going on that day. Turns out we have not been the only ones thinking Switzerland was expensive. The Swiss do, too. So much so, that a quick trip over the border is exactly what a couple or a family of four or five often do to save money on entertainment and food. Hence, the immense crowds that day.