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Our “ultimate European road trip” started in Stuttgart, Germany after we picked up our brand-new Porsche Macan S from the factory, now heads back north to Stuttgart as we conclude our extended vacation. Our car, named Max, will be prepped for his long boat ride home where he trades in his lederhosen for a surfboard rack.
Our adventure continues as we explore this beautiful and historic lakeside city.
Mother Nature Deflated Our Zeppelin Adventure
All the planning in the world is no match for Mother Nature and the fickle winds on Lake Konstanz. Months ago we had booked and paid for a ride on a real Zeppelin airship which departed from the city of Friedrichshafen, the birthplace of the Zeppelin.
The email the night before warned us of the conditions and we awoke to tree bending winds and a lake full of whitecaps…. clear skies but blown out, cold conditions.
So we now have an unplanned, open day to explore the town… Plan B.
We selected the Steigenberger Inselhotel because of its location (and the ever important private, gated parking facilities). Situated on a small private island (albeit a small canal constitutes its “island” status) on Lake Konstanz, the hotel is a short walking distance to the “old town area”, the train station and the ferry docks for trips to other lakeside cities and sites.
What makes an island…. water
The hotel was originally a Dominican monastery, and fortunately the management maintained the legacy of the property and incorporated updated décor throughout their 100 guest rooms and two suites.
A touch of the Dominican monastery past
Wandering Around Town…. The Backup Plan:
Courtyard entrance One of many village bakeries
Town Hall buildings
Cathedral of the Diocese of Konstanz
“Karl Steuer Brunnen” fountain dedicated to a popular and cherished local humorist
Whimsical street installation, “Unbridled Thinking”
The most visited landmark - the Statue of Imperia in Konstance Harbor
Council of Konstanz
In 1414, the Roman Catholic Church had three popes and no unity, so the most dominant king in Europe got the powers-to-be together and said pick one - which is why we have only one pope today.
Courtesans and the Papal Elite
During the 15th century, the courtiers of the papal court were clerics and were not allowed to marry, but at the same time they had the habit of hiring well educated, intelligent and sophisticated female escorts to accompany them at formal court assemblies and to add an element of femininity to the gatherings.
Imperia was a famous representative of this new class of courtesan.
Fanning the Flames of Notoriety
Around 1830, Honoré de Balzac wrote a fictional short story entitled “La Belle Imperia” which was a satirical swipe at the Catholic clergy’s morals and, as his story goes, our girl Imperia seduces the cardinals and assorted royalty that attended the Council of Konstanz and ultimately had them all under her… um, power, shall we say.
Peter Lenk Joins in the Fun in 1993
Peter Lenk is a German sculptor who is based in Bodman-Ludwigshafen on Lake Konstanz and is well known for the controversial sexual content of his public art, such as a relief sculpture in the town square that depicts various German politicians engaged in sexual play… Angela Merkel being one of the nude caricatures.
He was inspired by the Balzac short story and created the Imperia statue, which portrays a voluptuous woman, scandalously attired, holding a nude man in each of her hands… the right hand holds King Sigismund (the power broker of the council) and the left hand holds Pope Martin V (the “true” pope selected by the council).
Needless to say, there was a lot of media hysteria, with major pushback from the town council because of the way the pope and king were portrayed and the bishop of Freiburg was quoted to have said it was “without taste and could disturb the religious peace”.
But stimulating tourism prevailed over the church and the town council.
According to the promoted “legend,” the 30-foot-tall, 18-ton statue was clandestinely (supposedly in the middle of the night) erected on a revolving pedestal, on land owned by the German Rail company... pretty good trick but once again the show must go on!
In Search of a Casual, Authentic Meal
After exploring the village we had a craving for some “comfort food” in the form of authentic German cooking and excellent German wine.
TripAdvisor suggested the Weinstube Zum Guten Hirten, which translates to the “Wine Bar of the Good Shepherd“ - and indeed it more than lived up to its name. Stepping off a cobblestone street we entered a wine bar cellar alive with the buzz of happy people with a buzz on from the wine… of course.
So here we are with weak German language skills trying to navigate the crowded entrance in search of a table and it must have been obvious to the wait staff because out of nowhere Janine (also noted in the TripAdvisor review) comes to our rescue.
Our “famous” American waitress took over and cold wine and hot, delicious food showed up… all is good. Coincidentally we shared a communal table with a traveler from our hometown of Los Angeles who was with his German relatives who live in Constance. Great conversation and a memorable dining experience.
Large wine goblets with a generous pour
The evening menu, written on a paper plate
Dunnele (German pizza) with sour cream, speck and onions (no cheese)
Schautele mit Kartotffelsalat (pork shoulder slices and potato salad) - cut-it-with-a-fork tender
Our planned visit to Konstanz was rearranged by Mother Nature but resulted in an exposure to a picturesque city with many historical sites, museums, and a collection of vibrant shopping all along its cobblestone streets.
Definitely could be worth a three night visit… when you have three diverse countries making up the shoreline of this lake the options are wide open for a fun and interesting adventure.
Please follow us as we complete our “ultimate European road trip” by returning to Stuttgart and dropping off Max of for his boat ride to his new home.
After all, what is the hurry… be inspired.
© 2016 Inspired Travel Itineraries with Bob and Janice Kollar
© 2016 Picture Credits Bob & Janice Kollar, katatonia82/Shutterstock, Achim Mend