Though the sky was pink as the sun rose over the brewery this morning.
Time to leave Kempten and head southwest towards Bodensee. Not much traffic around, we expected a fairly easy run as far as the border, but from then we’d need to pay attention, because our German hire car has neither a Swiss nor an Austrian Motorway Pass.
We really enjoyed the scenery of the Deutsches Alpenstrasse and the miles passed quickly. In no time at all it seemed, we were nearing the turn for Lindau.
We’d turned off the Navi in favour of a map on my knee – I don’t keep updating our time of arrival every minute or so, and mispronounce placenames so badly that they are unrecognisable. So, arriving suddenly at the junction near the airfield sign on the map and seeing a motorway sign up there, we made a quick (but mistaken) decision to carry on the same road.
Ooops. Not only had we gone wrong, but there wasn’t another turn until we reached Kressbronn, which you can see is a good deal further on. And guess where the only traffic jam of the trip was to be found?
But hey, we’re patient. We can manage. Except our hire car engine stops as soon as my hero takes his foot off the pedal…and then starts again. And stops. and starts. And we hope we have a good battery. Because this starting and stopping gets on our nerves in a traffic jam!
At last, we were on our way again, back along the lake shore, or at least, a little above it. There are cloud banks over the water and the whole scene is rather lovely and very peaceful.
We drive through mile upon mile of apple orchards before reaching Lindau and the suburbs of Bregenz. Suddenly, we found ourselves driving over the border into Vorarlberg, Austria.
These days, crossing Schengen borders is a bit of a non-event, because there’s no need to show passports or anything. It was interesting to see how this small piece of Austria has transformed itself into a bit of a shoppers paradise, with cheaper petrol and other goods than the neighbouring villages in Germany and Switzerland.
We had no need of fuel and didn’t feel like shopping so carried on along the road. But my hero is very good spotting things which might interest me and guess what suddenly appeared on the right hand side?
Only a true hero can recognise a Wolford sign at a couple of hundred metres and it takes one with a particular skill to notice that there’s a factory shop there as well. Guess where we went next?
Well, he did insist! Usually, Wolford tights are a luxury and when I find them reduced in a sale or in somewhere like Bicester Village, then I’m very happy. Here, the “ordinary” designs were on sale for 18 Euros, compared with the normal price of around £25 at home. I wasn’t really tempted by those with chains attached, or perhaps with Swarovski crystals embedded in the “seam” – even though that particular design looked stunning on one of the assistants. But thinking that such things might be a little much in a Cotswold village, I thought better of it!
Driving away, we passed by a Hanro store too and I realised that this area is renowned for fine textiles. The not-so-far-away areas around the Swiss cities of St Gallen and Winterthur have a long tradition of embroidered fabrics and lace and I suppose it’s no coincidence that Bernina sewing machines are made just along the lake in Steckborn.
Well, a hero’s patience is not without its limits, and so we drove on, to the Swiss border, where there was a jam.
We thought we’d better get out passports out, just in case.
No need – we drove straight through without any fuss or question. Apart from the sign which welcomed us to Switzerland with a friendly “Gruezi!”, the only change of note was a sign on our Navi:
That’s all right then.
Within minutes, we were there, behind a tractor, a car and a bicycle, pootling alongside the railway lines with a distant view of the Alps. Were we happy?
We climbed higher into the countryside, heading for Appenzell, where we planned to buy some cheese and apples and have a picnic lunch.
But we failed in our timing, arriving shortly after the whole town had shut up shop and gone for lunch.
Oh well, an enforced snooze in the car was called for, the quarter hours counted by the church bell. The minute we heard “one thirty”, we closed the windows again, gathered our things and returned to the well stocked cheese shop to make a hard decision. Buying cheese in Appenzell isn’t quite like ordering a pound of Cheddar!
Not only did we succeed in choosing the most delicious Säntis Bergkäse, a conversation with the shopkeeper resulted in her removing the rind and cutting the slices into perfect picnic sizes for us. Since we can no longer travel with our Swiss Army Knives in our bags, such impromptu picnics can prove challenging. So, there we are, two brötli, a couple of apples and eine viertel of cheese, cut in half. Eaten in the fresh air, with the river just beneath us, it tasted divine.
And not a Weissbier in sight! (well, someone has to drive….)
Having eaten, snoozed a little and enjoyed a little walk around one of our favourite Swiss towns, we were ready to be gone. Just a shortish drive over the pass then, and down towards Lake Zürich and the small town of Rapperswil, where we’re staying.
It’s lovely to be back here again, by the lake. The weather is perfect and we’ve already bought our tickets for tomorrow, when we’ll leave the car behind and travel by train into Zürich, have a potter around and maybe a spot of lunch, before coming back here by steamer in the afternoon.