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A Tale of Three Lakes: Chiemsee, Wolfgangsee, & Bodensee

A Tale of Three Lakes: Chiemsee, Wolfgangsee, & Bodensee

Old Sep 27th, 2021, 02:10 AM
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A Tale of Three Lakes: Chiemsee, Wolfgangsee, & Bodensee

I’ve been so very envious of all the road trips my friends were taking in the US in the spring, and I was desperate to have a day or two without the kitty-alarm and the many tiny responsibilities of life. I got vaccinated in May 2021, so, feeling invulnerable, justified, and righteous, I made plans for a 3-week road trip sorta in the vicinity of my home in Garmisch: Chiemsee, Wolfgangsee, Bodensee. I’d wanted this to be like a quick little getaway, but two of the hotels I chose had 5-night minimum stays, so it turned into a full-blown two-week vacation.

It’s pretty unusual for me to take a road trip; I adore taking trains, always (always and always) advocate for them, and my comfort with driving vanished some time ago during the 9 ½ years I lived in Garmisch without a car. I am especially uncomfortable with German/Austrian/Swiss highways, access to gas stations…. and parking spots the size of a small dining chair. Nevertheless, I decided to drive – one reason was to cut down on travel time (to Gstadt 4h by train vs 3h by car; to St Wolfgang 6h by train vs 2h by car; to Meersburg an unholy 9 or 10 hours by bus & train vs 4h30 by car; to home 7h by train vs 3h by car). Another reason was to improve my road-trip-chops. Well, those were the estimated driving times. They were not realistic.

Gstadt am Chiemsee I left my home on Monday 19 July. I’d had trouble sleeping the night before, adding an unnecessarily stressful element to the short drive. I arrived at Gstadt am Chiemsee before lunch, as I’d planned, and just adored the views of the lake as I motored up to the hotel’s parking lot. Divine. Well, the village was very small, tiny, a few blocks of buildings, and that was it. And apparently only one restaurant in the tiny village was open on a Monday. I was sent there to eat and wait while they cleaned and disinfected my room, and I could come back to check in at around 14.00.

I did not love Gstadt (pop. 1,200). Which surprised me because the name of the village is so close to Gstaad, the town in Switzerland I absolutely adore. Ah well. So perhaps it’s not a good idea to base one’s travel dreams on alliteration or name-similarity. Ok. Well, I also based my travel dreams on the hotel room views from photos I saw on the internet. The views were spectacular. But it took me about 24 hours to be done with them. And, while I don’t even own a swimsuit any more, swimming, SUP-boarding, boating, and sunning seemed to be the only activities of the village. With a mandatory 5-night stay, I planned to spend one day in Prien am Chiemsee, one day on the Fraueninsel, and one day on the Herreinsel; I thought I’d wait and see what I felt like doing for the last of the full days I was spending here.

Going to the Fraueninsel with its Abbey, a centuries-old church, and a Carolingian gate hall, was a high priority. There are direct ferries from Gstadt to the tiny island, landing either at the north dock (Nordsteg) or the main dock (Hauptsteg) on the southeastern side. But it doesn’t matter which one you land at because it takes less than an hour to circle the island. I landed on the north dock and took a left to begin my ramble. There are clusters of houses on the northern side of the island where the fishermen lived, which today you can rent for a vacation home. All of the houses have sweet lakeside lounge areas, which were full of happy folks tanning themselves. The monastery complex takes up the southern portion of the island. In the center, there is the Carolingian gate hall and the 14th Century church. Friends of mine have stayed in the guest house of the Convent, and they say the peace there is stunning. I ate lunch at the Gasthaus/Hotel Zur Linde, and had probably the best meal of the two weeks.

The next day I went to Prien am Chiemsee (pop. 11,000), arriving by bus that was free with the guest card from my hosts. I liked Prien pretty well, as it has enough streets to discover and shops to explore to keep my interest; however, it is not on the water. You have to take the Chiemsee-Bahn from town down to the lake, a sweet little ride of about 10 minutes. I may have enjoyed my stay if I’d stayed at Prien on the lake, with occasional walks into town for shopping or exploring. I had a nice lunch at the Trattoria Toskana and sat for a while watching people pass by, then I returned by ferry via Herreninsel.

Then I spent a day on the Herreninsel, which I wasn’t really interested in (I’ve lived in Bavaria for 12 years and have seen enough Baroque, thankyouverymuch). You arrive at the dock, and with every other soul, you traipse down the pleasant countryside path to the Neues Schloss, about 15 minutes. The scenery was beautiful on the walk, and the parting of the hedges to reveal the palace was dramatic. I liked the gardens well enough. Then I walked back towards the dock and discovered the 15th Century Church of St Maria, which entranced me far more than the Versailles-copy Herreninsel.

I had lunch at the Schlosswirtschaft restaurant on a small hill overlooking the harbor area, and found that I could not get anybody’s attention after they brought me my drinks. I kept getting the “Not my table…” dismissal from every server I hailed. I had to get up and stand near the servers’station to get someone’s attention to order my food. Single woman?? Don’t know. That doesn’t happen to me very often, and it really pissed me off.

The dilemma of what to do on my extra day was solved for me…. I got sick. I’d been running around outside without a mask, and I woke up with bad sniffles. As the day wore on, I went through about half a box of kleenex and sneezed my nose off. I went out for lunch, but was happy to spend most of the day reading and relaxing in the room. After having spent the last 18 months isolating in my apartment, I was not all that surprised that my body wanted to take a pass.
View from my room. Nice!
Museum in Prien

Prien

Little train linking Prien to the lake

Views from Fraueninsel

Fraueninsel Monastery

Approaching ghe Monastery

The church at the Monastery


Carolingian gate hall


Walking on the Herreninsel






15th Century church

Last edited by swandav2000; Sep 27th, 2021 at 02:14 AM.
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Old Sep 27th, 2021, 04:34 AM
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Great to see your report! Lovely photos.
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Old Sep 27th, 2021, 06:22 AM
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Never thought I'd see a swandav road trip! Very much looking forward to more.
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Old Sep 27th, 2021, 06:30 AM
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My BIL lives just south of the Bodensee and I'm looking forward to seeing what you photo.
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Old Sep 27th, 2021, 08:43 AM
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Hi Adelaidean! Thank you so much!

Lol, Melnq8, it's heresy! Apostasy! Shocking! But I did want to experience it for myself to see what the fuss was about and to make a comparison. And of course it's easier and cheaper when it's your own car.

bilbo... does he live south of Konstanz? Lovely area, great location to get to Switzerland and Germany. I've idly looked at apartments for sale around the lake. This was my 3d visit to the lake, previously stayed in Lindau and in Überlingen. I'm afraid my photos won't be very revealing... I didn't get to many places.

Thanks all!

s
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Old Sep 27th, 2021, 12:40 PM
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Great start! I love reading a local's view on tourist spots when possible, and of course, the rare, if not unheard of, Swandav car trip. Excellent.
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Old Sep 27th, 2021, 04:29 PM
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Along for the ride! and love your photos!

Lavandula
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Old Sep 27th, 2021, 10:04 PM
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Lovely to read your report and see the gorgeous photos.
Do you hope you are back to feeling well very soon.
We so miss our travels to this part of the world so again thank you for sharing this.
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Old Sep 28th, 2021, 12:10 AM
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Thank you Trophywife007! Yes, it's quite a departure (!) for me!

Oh thank you lavandula!

Thanks also to love travel Aus, and hoping all you guys down under get to join us soon!
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Old Sep 28th, 2021, 12:19 AM
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St Wolfgang, Strandhotel Margaretha.
The drive from Gstadt to St Wolfgang on the Wolfgangsee was quick and easy. Well. Almost. The GPS routed me through Traunstein and the 304 instead of the autobahn, for some reason. Then just before the border crossing, two lanes were squished to one, so for about 20 km everyone traveled at a crawl; at the border itself, each inching auto was examined carefully by armed guards, but no one was stopped. After that, traffic was heavy but there were no obstacles.

Until the last kilometer. The hotel’s address led the GPS to finish at a hotel right in the middle of town, but it was not my hotel (which I didn’t realize until I had parked and exited the car). My hotel was actually just outside of town (a 10-minute walk), so I did eventually figure it out. The GPS would not budge, so I got to drive white knuckled through the very crowded pedestrianized street until it led me out of town and I stumbled upon the hotel on the main road.

I loved St Wolfgang. I’ve stayed on the lake before, in 2009, but was in St Gilgen at the northern tip of the lake. St. Wolfgang is smaller by population, but the town is far more interesting, with winding streets and alleys and flowers and inviting shops and artisans. When I was in St Gilgen, I promised to use St Wolfgang for a base for any future trip, and it was the right decision. With another mandated 5-night stay, I thought I’d be exploring St Gilgen again and maybe doing a bit of walking.

Nordic Walking has been my favorite active activity for about a decade, but it’s been out of reach for me for several years. I somehow developed a drop foot on my left foot, so that after about 30 minutes of walking, my toes trail on the ground. I end up stumbling like a drunkard or tripping and falling (several times). I’ve seen 4 doctors, 3 of them specialists, and had MRIs and shocks and probes and tests and therapy. No-one can say why I have drop foot, or what I can do to make it go away. Every winter I think of a new solution, and spend months exercising it, strengthening and stretching, hoping that walking in the spring will show an improvement. After years and years of that, I gave up. I have a leg brace – really a shelf that my foot sits on and straps to my leg – but in the past it gave me blisters and/or made my toes go numb. But I brought it along and was gonna give it a try. And it worked!! I devised a way to wear it without any problems, so was able to get back on the trails. Alas, though, I could not match the 5-mile and 7-mile walks I assumed I’d be able to resume. Ah well.

I spent my first day in St Wolfgang just soaking up the atmosphere of the sweet little town, wandering down streets and alleys and poking my head into interesting artisan shops. I had lunch under shade trees down by the lake, with majestic mountains towering on the opposite shore. It was a divine and relaxing day. The next day, Sunday, I took the ferry into St Gilgen and just wandered around, and on Monday, I headed out on a gentle walk above St Wolfgang. It was fantastic.

On Tuesday I planned to ferry over to St. Gilgen for a walk, and wanted to get a packed lunch to go. In many hotels in Germany and Switzerland, it’s easy to get your hotel to put one together for ya; in Austria maybe not so much. At breakfast, I asked the server if I could get a sandwich packed to go, and she gleefully said I could. She asked what time I wanted it, and I said, “9, please.” Her face fell. She looked like I’d told her her dog was dead. She squinted up her eyes and with a curious look on her face, asked, “9 . . . at night…???” After some to’ing and fro’ing in German, I came to understand that the sandwich to go was only possible after the kitchen opened at 12.00. Noon. Now, I don’t know anybody who begins a summer walk after noon. I said, “No problem, never mind.” I thought it’d be quite easy to find a café or bakery in St Gilgen to get a sandwich. Lol. So I took the ferry to St Gilgen and began the search. Seems that all the cafes serve only ice cream and coffee. Bakeries were closed for Ruhetag, rest day. Restaurants were not open yet. I wandered around and around that town, 10 miles for sure, before I finally broke down and asked someone to direct me to an open bakery. He did. There were no sandwiches on display in the bakery, but the server was very happy to make one up for me. What kind? Oh, cheese please. Her face fell. Nothing else? Oh, butter, please. Her face stayed fallen. No vegetables????? Oh, ok, yes, please tomatoes. Her face recovered. So in a few minutes she handed me my sandwiches, found a spoon for a yogurt, and off I went. I loved that sweet young woman.

So I finally got to begin the walk around the lake, but I was only willing to go as far as my body was happy. I made it about 3 km, to just beyond Fürberg. I enjoyed my sandwich on a bench, watching the water and the people and the boats. Then I ferried back to St Wolfgang and wandered around town for a bit.

The dreaded post-isolation body-breakdown hit me again on my last day in St. Wolfgang. I had sneezing and a runny nose, and ran through the last half of my box of Kleenex. I did manage to get up and wander the town again and have lunch again on a patio overlooking the lake. Such bliss. This will definitely be a repeat.

St Wolfgang reminded me a lot of Switzerland

Heading into town

The bicyclist nearly clipped me while I was focusing on avoiding the horse...


Center of St Wolfgang





St Gilgen



Hunting for that sandwich



St Wolfgang

Walking above St Wolfgang





Back in town

St Gilgen

Walking from St Gilgen
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Old Sep 28th, 2021, 07:14 AM
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So. I added a new post to the thread at about 09.00 Germany time and was notified that the post went into moderation. It's apparently been in moderation for seven hours..... I don't have any emails in my account regarding that post. Is this normal? How long can a post linger in moderation?
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Old Sep 28th, 2021, 07:33 AM
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Just into Switzerland at Au (yes not that one the other one) so right on the Rhine.
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Old Sep 28th, 2021, 09:52 AM
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I stayed at the White Horse in St Wolfgang many years ago, and it's always been a fond memory. A lovely place.
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Old Sep 28th, 2021, 02:12 PM
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Your photos are up now- in my experience the holding in moderation can certainly be 8 hours, and posts can be missed if comments continue though, so best to post another comment (as you did) so readers do go back.

Those serene lake shots, the green hills, those charming alleys...love it.
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Old Sep 29th, 2021, 01:33 AM
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Yup, bilbo, I could not locate your bil's Au on Google maps. Did find an Au and an Auw, but both were farther south, in the Zürich Canton.

That must have been an awesome stay, nonconformist2! That pier/deck jutting over the lake looks like so much fun.

Yes, Adelaidean, it got posted! Yea! I posted a question on the Help forum, and a moderator said delays can take 7 hours if there is a backup of posts or no-one is working then. Thanks! Yes, those green hills above the lake are soo inviting!
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Old Sep 29th, 2021, 01:44 AM
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Meersburg on Bodensee (Lake Constance).
The drive from St Wolfgang to Meersburg was utter h3ll, and again after a night of restless sleep. I hit city traffic in Salzburg, then again in Munich, then had 3 Staus, then 1 very long detour. My GPS did not accept/acknowledge the detour and kept insisting, in a strict female British voice, “Turn BACK when possible…” Road signs in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland are about 10cm x 20cm (some exaggeration, but not much,), and I am notoriously map-challenged, but I somehow stayed on the correct route to find the road to Meersburg, and Madame GPS was happy again. The drive took almost 6h.

I had had heady anticipation for Meersburg. I believed this lake idyll would be the best of the 3. Alas, it was not. It was good, very good, but not the best. I’ve stayed on the Bodensee before, twice – once in Lindau in winter, which was fine, and once in Überlingen in the fall, which was great. I loved the quirky town of Überlingen and hoped Meersburg would be as sweet. But I disliked the views across the lake from Überlingen because the mountains were lower and less dramatic, so I was game to see what Meersburg would be like. Arriving at the hotel, I saw the mountains across the lake were quite far away, so the views were not wonderful.

My first day was scheduled for Konstanz, as I was eager for a big-city-hit with lots of shops, restaurants, and alleys to discover. So I left the hotel early and wandered up and down the lower town next to the lake. It was a beautiful area with lots of flowers and interesting little shops, and the port was energetic with lots of people lined up, distanced & masked, for the ferry boats going to towns around the lake. I lined up and boarded the boat to Konstanz and really enjoyed the quick 20-minute ride directly across the lake.

Konstanz was a madhouse. It was a Friday, not a Saturday, but there was a definite carnival atmosphere in the air. German custom forbids the publication of photos with recognizable people in them, so I usually wait until people have cleared the scene before I take a shot. That was not possible in Konstanz, as there was a constant and steady stream of faces everywhere. I hopped into a drug store to get some supplies, and the line of folks waiting to check out nearly dissuaded me.

So I spent a few hours wandering the old town and poking around corners and snapping what pictures I could. When it came time to eat, I wandered and wandered, finding little that was appealing – most were either fast food or family fare or heavy fried. At last, I wandered into the San Martino restaurant & bar, and had a fantastic lunch that was light and interestingly tasty. I wandered some more, then enjoyed people-watching at the harbor area before boarding my return ferry.

Next day was the day for the old town, the upper town, of Meersburg, which is delightful and interesting and quirky and old. Somehow, though, it didn’t touch my soul. There was something flat about it. There were lots of shops and restaurants, and the wine museum. But it felt like a stage set. It reminded me a bit of Lindau, where I had the same impression, that it was a town sterilized and maintained and staffed for tourists. Anyway, I walked around and around and around within the maze of gloriously pretty streets and alleys, had a decent lunch, then continued getting lost and found again for an hour or so. Then back down to the lower town, and a slow amble back to the hotel.

In what I was slowly realizing was a post-pandemic travel routine, the next day was a slow and vaguely ill one. I lounged in my room for a bit, then wandered the lower town looking for a nice restaurant, sat and enjoyed the bustle and the sun, then back to the room. I had intended to visit the Pile Dwelling Museum (Stone-Age village reconstruction) in nearby Unteruhldingen, but I had absolutely no energy or drive to move beyond a few km or so. Well, the Bodensee is close enough to me, and it’s a regular stop on my trips to Switzerland, so I’ll have other opportunities to visit it.

And the next day was an almost entirely pleasant day driving home. Most of it was a pure joy, at least until I was stopped on the road for a 45-minute Stau due to road construction just before the German border.

I’m planning a trip to Switzerland in October, and I already have the train tickets.

I think I'll post my photos in 3 batches -- the first for the lower town, next to the lake.


Walking along the lower town next to the lake

There is a mini-golf and gardens next to the lake










The wine museum in the upper town






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Old Sep 29th, 2021, 05:01 AM
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Photos from Konstanz


Boarding the ferry

Konstanz harbor



















Approaching Meersburg on the return

The upper and lower parts of town are clear in this photo


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Old Sep 30th, 2021, 10:22 AM
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Such lovely photos!
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Old Oct 1st, 2021, 12:38 AM
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Thank you so much Jsm1!
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Old Oct 1st, 2021, 12:47 AM
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Walking 'round and 'round Meersburg


Walking through the lower town

Steps to the upper town

Arriving at ghe upper town


Fascinating castle, first built on this spot in 7th century, this is probably 12th C.
















Pretty little square where I had lunch






Wine museum




Apparently, this is the most photographed spot in Meersburg.... it's quite nice.




Walking back to the lower town by the stairs next to the wine museum
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