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Bodensee, Germany









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Located on the southern border of Germany, next to Austria, lies the Bodensee (also known as Lake Konstanz).  The lake was created in its present form some 15,000 years ago during the last ice age, when glaciers carved the Lake Constanz basin.  The lake is actually part of the Rhine River as it flows north from the Alps to the North Sea.  It is also the source of drinking water for much of central Europe.  The upper part of the lake (the main part) is over 46 kilometers (27 miles) long, and 14 kilometers (9 miles) wide.  There are numerous towns surrounding the lake, with tourism being the main industry of the area.  An interesting fact:  Because of the curvature of the earth, you cannot see the south shore from the north shore because it is some 120 feet lower than absolute level.  Even on a clear day, it is below the horizon and out of view.






The Bodensee is visible on the northern border of Switzerland.

Liechtenstein is the small pink area on the eastern border.  Vaduz is the capital.



In the early 1900s, two aviation giants used the open expanses of the lake as a reason for basing their companies here.  First, Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin founded his dirigible company and produced his first airship in 1900.  One of the ships produced here later was the Hindenburg, which burned on landing at Lakehurst, New Jersey in 1937.  The second company was Dornier Works, producers of the largest amphibious airplanes, including the 12-engine Do-X.  Destroyed during WW II, the industrial centers did not produce anything until the 1950s, when Zeppelin Works began manufacturing industrial equipment, and today produces heavy motorized equipment similar to the Caterpillar company in the USA.  Dornier is once again producing aircraft, mostly medium sized planes used by various military services around the world.



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Our first view of the Bodensee from the northern shore.

After almost a month of rain, it was nice to see the sun.





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Lindau is a small island (about 1 mile across) on the southeast corner of the Bodensee.

 This is a view of the town from the harbor lighthouse.





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The entrance to Lindau harbor is protected by a large lion (built in 1856) and a large lighthouse.





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Here’s a better view of the harbor lion.

The lion (not including the base) is over 6 meters (18 feet) tall.

He has been guarding the harbor since the late 19th Century.





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This 13th Century tower (known as a “Mangenturm”) along the harbor that was part of the medieval defenses.

I would not want to be the person that replaces the roof tiles!





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The engraving on the base of the old tower. 

Roughly translated:  “This tower, called Mangenturm, was built in the 12th Century to

light and protect our seaport, a strong symbol of the Free Empire.”





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The Lindau Rathaus (pronounced Rot-House), similar to a city hall.





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The Lindavia Fountain by the Lindau Rathaus.

It was made in the late 19th Century.




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The Market street in Lindau.  We definitely were there on the off-season.




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The Diebsturm, or Thieves Tower, was built in 1380. 

I assume it was a kind of jail.




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One last look across the Bodensee towards Austria and Switzerland.

The Alps are visible even through the rain clouds. Next stop – Friedrichshafen.





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Just up the shoreline of the Bodensee about 12 miles lies the town of Friedrichshafen.  Our hotel was situated on the pedestrian shopping area near the water.  Just outside the front entrance and across the square was this beautiful church.  It was nice to look out the hotel window and see the steeple.




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The Zeppelin Museum was the main reason we wanted to stay at Friedrichshafen.

 Inside, you are taken back to the days of luxurious airship travel.  This is the entrance to the model of the passenger section.





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How’s this for room to stretch and walk around?  This is the drawing room.

Large windows line the walkways on both sides of the airship, providing an outstanding view.

The map on the wall shows some of the different routes the zeppelins traveled.





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This is a re-creation of the structure inside the zeppelin’s fabric skin.

The tanks held water for ballast.





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The Zeppelin Works also produced earth-bound vehicles for traveling.





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Now, Zeppelin is a producer of heavy machinery.





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This Maybach Zeppelin sedan is on display in the lobby.  Maybach was a very prestigious company, kind of like the Rolls-Royce of Germany.  To give you an idea of the prestige the name still carries 60 years after they produced their last car, Mercedes-Benz is using the name for it’s new line of “Ultra Luxury” cars.  The new Maybach sedan is powered by a twin-turbo V-12 engine and starts at $350,000.  What does this have to do with Zeppelins?  The Maybach engine works provided engines for many of the largest Zeppelins.





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  A close-up of the Maybach Zeppelin grille.






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Here is an original Maybach 12-Cylinder zeppelin engine.

 It’s actually two inline-6 engines (not in a “V”).





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This close-up view of the Maybach zeppelin engine shows the intricate detail given to the design and manufacture.  No detail was overlooked, no matter how small.





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After the Zeppelin Museum, we walked down to the waterfront to sit and watch the sunset.

Looking across the water to the south (and past this antique weather vane), you can see the Swiss Alps.





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Perfect end to a perfect day. 

Unfortunately, it was the last we saw of the sun on this trip.









The next morning, we awoke to the sound of rain on the roof.  Knowing the weather changes quickly, we decided to forge on.  After a great breakfast at the hotel, we headed south through Austria to Liechtenstein.  Austria was interesting because of the long tunnels under the Alps (one was over 6 miles long, the other was about 3 miles).  We were only in Austria about 25 miles before turning off into Liechtenstein.


 Liechtenstein has a total area of 160 sq km (62 sq mi), just slightly less than the size of Washington, DC. That may sound large, but it’s just over 10 miles X 6 miles – for the entire country!  The western edge of Liechtenstein lies in the valley of the Rhine River. The rest of the country consists of foothills of the Alps, which rise in the south to peaks of more than 2,400 m (more than 8,000 ft) above sea level. The Rhine River, which forms the western border, drains, along with its local tributaries, the greater part of the country. The Samina River is the principal stream of the mountain region. Liechtenstein has a mild climate; average temperatures range from -1°C (30°F) in January to 21°C (70°F) in July. The average annual precipitation is about 1,000 mm (about 40 in). Forests cover 45 percent of the land; deciduous trees predominate at lower elevations, conifers at higher elevations. Wildlife includes deer, chamois, fox, marten, and badger.


The population of Liechtenstein (2001 estimate) is 32,528 (about one-third of whom are resident aliens), with an overall density of 203 persons per sq km (527 per sq mi). The capital and principal urban center is Vaduz (population, 1999, 5,106). German is the official language, but a dialect, Alemannish, is spoken commonly. Approximately 88 percent of the population is Roman Catholic. In 1991 primary school enrollment totaled 1,985 pupils; about 1,200 pupils attended secondary schools. Primary and secondary education is free in Liechtenstein; schooling is compulsory for 8 years.



Customs of Liechtenstein


Marriage and Family


People usually marry in their late 20s; it is considered important to first complete one’s education and enjoy some financial security and independence. Some couples live together before or instead of marriage. Legal marriages are performed at the national Registry Office. To have a church wedding is optional, but common, and usually takes place the day after the civil ceremony. Some old wedding customs include decorating the door frames of the couple’s home with garlands or organizing a mock kidnapping of the bride.


The nuclear family is the most important social unit in Liechtenstein’s society. The father is generally considered the head of the household. Couples have been having fewer children in recent years. While single people and couples often live in apartments, families tend to prefer houses. The majority live in single-family homes, but more and more young families are becoming tenants because real estate is expensive. Many people prefer to settle in the village where they grew up. Adult unmarried children usually move out of their parents’ home by the time they have finished their professional training. An increasing number of married women work outside the home.




Zmorga (breakfast) usually consists of one of many varieties of bread with jam and coffee. Zmittag (the main meal) is served at midday and includes a soup or salad, a main dish, and dessert. Znacht (dinner), usually served around 6 or 7 pm, is typically light and often consists of open-faced sandwiches with cheese and meat. When going out for dinner, people meet around 8 pm. The national dish, Rebel, is made of ground maize stirred in a frying pan with milk, water, and salt. It is often eaten with elderberry purée. Other traditional dishes are Käsknöpfle, a type of pasta with sharp cheese, and Rôschti, grated and fried potatoes.


The continental style of eating is used, with the fork in the left hand and the knife remaining in the right. It is considered polite to not leave any food on the plate, and accepting second helpings is interpreted as a compliment to the cook. When a person has finished eating, the cutlery is placed side by side on the plate. In restaurants, leftovers are not taken home. Most people drink bottled mineral water, wine, or beer with meals.


Toasting with alcoholic beverages is common. Whether in the home or at a restaurant, it is impolite to begin drinking before the host proposes the first toast. The host will not do this until everyone has a full glass. Once the first toast is made, all guests are free to take a drink and propose additional toasts. In a group, the glasses are lightly tapped simultaneously in pairs.




A handshake is usually the appropriate form of greeting. It is common to greet people verbally on the street or when entering a store. The traditional terms used to address strangers are either the Swiss-German Grüezi! or the Grüß Gott! used in Austria and southern Germany. Both mean “Greetings!” It is appropriate to add the other person’s name, if known. Among friends, young and old greet each other with a short Hoi! Most people living in Liechtenstein address each other with the familiar du form of the pronoun “you,” and young people generally use first names. This is, however, common only among locals, not with foreigners. The prince is addressed as Durchlaucht (“Your Serene Highness”).


Young people socialize on a casual basis in school and in numerous recreational clubs. There are close to 300 clubs and Verein (associations) in Liechtenstein.


Dinner guests are expected to arrive no more than a quarter of an hour late. They often bring a small gift for their hosts. In formal situations, guests do not sit down until they are invited to do so. It is appropriate to give notice of a visit in advance; dropping by is only common between neighbors or close friends and relatives. While dinner may last well into the night, daytime visits are usually short.




People in Liechtenstein enjoy the outdoors and activities such as hiking, cycling, and skiing. They participate in a variety of leisure-time clubs. Among the most popular team activities are soccer, gymnastics, music bands, and choirs. Many clubs organize public festivals and other social events. People also enjoy traveling abroad. A great cultural attraction is the prince’s art collection, which includes world-famous paintings. A small part of this extensive private collection is exhibited in connection with the State Art Collection in Vaduz.



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Downtown Vaduz, the capital of Liechtenstein.

The Prince’s castle is visible high on the hill overlooking the city.




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This large church lies on the opposite end of town from the castle.





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A Liechtenstein license plate.  The FL stands for Fuerstentum Liechtenstein





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Spencer bought a genuine Swiss Army Knife and had it engraved with his name.




After walking around Vaduz, we indulged in a couple of small pizzas before driving off into Switzerland.  It wasn’t far to go – the border was only about 5 miles away.  That’s the nice thing about Liechtenstein – nothing is very far away.  Shortly after crossing the border into Switzerland, though, the rain started.  Hard rain!  We did not even stop in Switzerland except for a snack/rest stop at McDonalds.  Like most things, even McDonalds is expensive in Switzerland.  Two ice-cream flurries, a milk-shake, and an order of fries was $14.00. Yikes!  By 3pm we were back at the German border, and by 7pm, we were back in our warm home.



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