Vacation to Konstanz, Germany

What We Packed – Walking Holiday in Konstanz, Germany

The Trip

On this trip we're heading to south Germany for a walking holiday around Lake Constance. The city of Constance (or Konstanz) is adjacent to the Swiss border, whilst the lake itself (also known as Bodensee) straddles Germany, Switzerland and Austria.

It wasn't an area we'd heard much about before, but the pictures looked stunning. It is possible to walk (or cycle) right around the lake, with excellent footpaths. This would take several days, but trips can be arranged where your luggage is transported to the next stop for you.

However, we decided to base ourselves solely in Constance and take day drips from there. We stayed at the Hotel Halm, a smart hotel chosen largely for its facilities and close proximity to the train station (literally across the road).

 

Hotel Halm, KonstanzThe Packing

Flying with Swiss Air to Zurich, a checked suitcase each was included in the air fare. However, we planned to transfer to Constance by train so if we could limit our luggage to just one case that would make the travelling much easier. This was my challenge – despite us both talking a pair of walking boots and clothes for variable weather conditions, which would clearly bulk out the load.

Lake Constance - BodenseeTravelling in late September we hoped for pleasant weather, but there would be a chance of rain and we didn't know what the conditions would be like underfoot when walking around the lake.

To save space we wore the walking boots en-route, although this meant adding in a pair of trainers each which would normally be worn to travel on a non-hiking holiday.

 

 

We also wore:

  • Walking trousers (‘Rohan' style with detachable legs for shorts, and plenty of pockets)
  • T-shirt
  • Fleece
  • Pashmina (for me)

Then we packed:

For me:

  • 7 x underwear and a selection of socks (socks stuffed inside shoes)
  • Sleepwear
  • 3 vests
  • 3 t-shirts (2 could be worn as casual evening wear)
  • 1 smarter evening top
  • 1 smart dress
  • 1 pair of smart jeans
  • 1 pair of smart shorts
  • 1 smart cardigan
  • 1 pair of comfy trainers for city walking
  • 1 pair of smart flat shoes for evenings
  • 1 set of jewellery

For him:

  • 7 x underwear and a selection of socks (socks stuffed inside shoes)
  • 2 casual t-shirts
  • 2 smarter collared polo shirts
  • 3 smarter evening shirts
  • 1 pair of smart jeans
  • 1 lightweight pullover
  • 1 pair of smart comfy trainers for city walking and evening wear

Along with toiletries (decanted into small bottles), we got everything in the one suitcase, which we checked in. We also carried a rucksack (used for day trips on location) and handbag containing:

  • 2 fold-up waterproof jackets
  • 2 caps
  • Travel wallet and documents
  • Books/puzzles/games
  • Binoculars
  • Camera
  • Phones, gadgets and solar powered charger
  • Foldable water bottle

The Journey

Wearing the walking boots was a bit heavy going, and not great for getting through the security checks! However it was better than taking another suitcase. We did unfortunately experience a delay waiting for our luggage at Zurich airport when the carousel got jammed – the only time things weren't super-efficient. This meant we missed our intended train connection and were later arriving at our hotel than we'd hoped. With hindsight, taking just hand luggage instead would have prevented this – although we didn't know it at the time!

Everything else about the Swiss/German travel experience was excellent though. We were impressed by Swiss Air, the station is straight down an escalator from the flight arrivals, and it is a cliche but the trains really do run like clockwork. There was one hairy moment as we had to change trains (having missed the direct one) and finding there were just 2 minutes to do it in, whilst negotiating stairs to the opposite side of the tracks! Not fun with a suitcase, but at least we did only have the one.

During our week's stay we had some warm, sunny weather – the shorts were needed – plus a few cooler days (one freezing with rain) so layers and flexible options were definitely needed. Evenings were cooler without being too cold (a pullover was sufficient). The footpaths (wanderwegs) around the lake are all really well maintained and signposted. Conditions were good and dry, so we could have got away with trainers rather than the full walking boots – at least at that time of year.

KonstanzContance itself (like many German towns) has cobbled streets, so flat shoes are the best option rather than heels. Dress among the locals was largely smart and conservative – although without much contrast between day and evening wear (there was little evidence of ‘changing for dinner').

One bonus of staying in Constance is that you get a fee bus pass which is valid on various routes around the area. This meant we could explore quite a wide reach from our base, plus we took two boat trips across the lake to Friedrichshafen (lovely sunny day) and Meersburg (very cold, wet and windy day!) – the Meersburg trip being perhaps the only time we didn't have quite the right clothes (not warm enough – though we had more layers back at the hotel had we known to wear them).

FriedrichschafenMeersburg - very pretty, very cold

One other thing we could have used was a German phrase book or translation app. Whilst most people do speak English if you ask, the majority of tourists are German-speaking (Austrians, Swiss, Germans) so all signs and menus etc are in German – and everyone assumed we spoke German unless we asked for the English versions. With a smattering of German knowledge between us and wanting to make an effort, we tried to muddle through – but we had one or two interesting meal choices!

The London Sherlock Holmes SocietyAll in all it worked well, and one thing's for sure; we knew we'd chosen more sensible wear than this group of people checking in for our flight – The London Sherlock Holmes Society were visiting the Reichenbach Falls in Switzerland (to re-enact the death of Sherlock Holmes, as you do) – 50+ people all dressed in authentic Victorian costume! Let's just say it took some time to get through airport security!!

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