Posts Tagged ‘spring’

Historical Friedrichshafen

The town of Friedrichshafen, along the Bodensee, provides for beautiful views.  Tourists, residents, and avid bikers can use Friedrichshafen as a home base and catch ferries to Switzerland, Austria, or any of the islands in the Bodensee.  It has a port for boatmen and some coastline available where eager water-lovers can swim, play, or just dip their toes.  See below:

The Rocky Beach at Friedrichshafen

Preparing for a quick dip

It's not easy to balance on slimy, wet rocks

Mom looking pretty relaxed

Along with the obvious other attractions like dining along the lake:

Lakeside Eateries

Or climbing the viewing tower:

Viewing Tower

Friedrichshafen happens to be an integral place in Germany’s history.  Mainly because of these:

Zeppelin sighting!

At the end of the 19th century, the first dirigible factory was built in Friedrichshafen by Ferdinand von Zeppelin.  Today, Friedrichshafen has a great museum dedicated entirely to the technology, history, and economics of Zeppelins.  In fact, the first Zeppelin ever flown was flown over the Bodensee in July 1900.

Zeppelin Museum, Friedrichshafen, Germany

Zeppelins were originally used as a form of travel for high-class passengers.  The museum contains a 33-meter replica of a Zeppelin used for passenger travel.  We were able to walk through hallways, see bedrooms and bathrooms, explore the lounge with windows looking to the outside of the airship, and we even saw the smoking lounge.  For pity’s sake, who thought it was a good idea to have a smoking lounge on an airship that runs on volatile gases??

Sleeping Quarters

Russ spies on me from the lounge while I check out the view outside of the airship

We also got to check out the support-structure of the Zeppelin.

Hello, back there, smoking lounge.

Zeppelin Support Structure

The frame itself was made out of some metal alloy and the cover was a sewn-together conglomeration of fabrics like linen.  The rigidness provided by the frame allowed the airship to be larger, carry a much large capacity, and hold several fuel cells (hydrogen or helium held in bags made of cow intestines, mmm).

I just want to take a minute to say how crazy I think people were to fly on Zeppelins, considering how often they were damaged or caught fire.  In one of the better instances in which the Zeppelin was being flown to promote flying for entertainment, it landed in the boughs of trees, and all the passengers had to disembark via ladder.  Giant, over-sized balloon that’s difficult to control and often catches fire.  Wanna ride?? Umm, no thanks.  Despite the fantastic looking smoking lounge.

SPilot's Log--"Ship Smashed to Hell. Both engines out. Landing Smashed all Undercarriage."

Obviously Zeppelins were not only used for travel but were often used in the military as well.  At first, their use was primarily for spying, as the ships were virtually undetectable by in-advanced wartime radar because of their curved and smooth shape.  During WWI, Zeppelins were often used to bomb London.  Zeppelins were not ideal for this job, however, as they were often restricted by weather and were more often than not inaccurate.

British ad warning school children about Zeppelin sightings

After Germany lost the war, the Treat of Versailles conditioned that the air force of Germany was to keep nothing, airships included.  The Germans were required to take any and all remaining dirigibles, fill them with the appropriate gases, and deliver them to the Allies.  They were also expected to transfer housing and repair facilities as well as the plant that was used to manufacture hydrogen gas.

in the 1920’s, airship production started again with the focus on international and world travel.  The most famous airship of the time, the Graf Zeppelin, transported passengers and mail back and forth from the United States to Europe.  The airship functioned largely this way until the Nazis gained power in Germany during 1933.  Recognizing that the airships were really no good for combat, the presiding party focused on using Zeppelins as a way to spread propaganda.

German Nazi Airship--picture from

Often times these airships would fly over Germany playing nationalistic songs or even broadcasting speeches from the heads of the Nazi party.

And of course when everyone thinks of Zeppelins, they think of the famous Hindenburg, the largest airship that was ever flown, caught fire, and killed almost half of the passengers inside, thousands of spectators standing by.  The Hindenburg was fatally flawed by the use of hydrogen gas, much more flammable than helium.  Because of the war, however, helium was not available, and so, the decision was made to conduct the journey anyway.

Catastrophe in Lakehurst

After the Hindenburg disaster, airships were flown less frequently, and finally ordered to be halted during the beginning of WWII.  What was left of the airships burnt in a fire at the Zeppelin facility, and the production of Zeppelins was quickly over.

The museum was really interesting and provided a great background to the setting of Friedrichshafen.  I really appreciated how frequently they presented information in multiple languages.  Though the descriptions on the displays were strictly in German, touch-screen computers were available in every section of the museum; these computers contained all the reading material necessary to understand the displays in the language of your choice.  It doesn’t always happen that we run into museums so nicely set up for an international crowd.

Oh, and I better throw one of these pictures in for Russ:



Island Hopping on Easter

On Easter Sunday while my mom was visiting, we took another boat ride across the Bodensee.  This time our destination was Mainau Island–the island of flowers!

On Easter morning, we woke up to some rain showers and were pretty worried about our trek across the lake.  We were instantly cheered when we went down to the breakfast room, and at each place lay a vibrantly dyed Easter egg and a few bunny-shaped chocolates, too!  It was absolutely a welcome surprise.  I guess the Easter bunny can find you anywhere, can’t he? 😉

Our fantastic hotel--Hotel Waldhorn

As we drove into Friedrichshafen (our hotel was just slightly outside of the city), the skies began to clear a little.  It wasn’t perfect, but as long as it wasn’t raining, we’d take it!

Friedrichshafen--a daunting sky

Nonetheless, we shoved off (is that the correct boating term?) and enjoyed the 1 1/2 journey to Mainau Island with some stops along the way to pick up more passengers.

Departing Friedrichshafen with an already better-looking sky

Small stop in Immenstaad and some other places

And then….


Warm welcome to the flowering island of Mainau

This island, it its entirety, is owned by the family of a Count who was at once time a Prince in Sweden. The island is notable for a few things: the abundance of flowers, the variety of plant species, the views from the island, and the tropical houses, one of which holds butterflies.  Mom and I enjoyed imagining actually owning this place, and after all the crowds dissipated, just going for a stroll through all of the gardens…which you own…because the entire island is yours.  Crazy!

Tulips Galore!

The Castle Overlooking the Rest of the Island

Admittedly, Russ going to Mainau Island is a little bit like me going to a car museum.  We agree to do it, enjoy looking around and taking in the big picture, but when your travel partners need to stop at every single plaque (or in this case, plant), it gets a little annoying.  Despite all this, Russ did a fine job putting up with our “ooohing” and “aaahing.”  🙂

One section of the island was titled, “Rhododendron Row.”  The sheer number of Rhododendrons (over 200 varieties) and the height of the plants was astonishing.  Unfortunately, only some of them were in bloom at the time.  One more week, or maybe two, and the whole row would have been on fire with bright pinks and purples!

Mom and her favorite Rhododendron

Rhododendron Row--you have to use your imagination!

and because I match!

The tulips!  Oh, the tulips!!


Check it out--feathered!

Incredible Height!



He's not so bad, either! 😉

Pam and Lauren--Mainau Island

Mainau Peacock

And Duck Pond!

And, well, I don't really know what to call that.

The island also had an amazing variety of roses.  Obviously, it’s not rose season in Germany (except for in green houses), so we didn’t get to see any of the roses in bloom.  But, hey, they have to have something to show off when all these tulips are finished blooming, right?

After a drink and a bratwurst, we decided it was time to head to the Schmetterlingshaus.  Butterflies!

Russ made me do this in order to go into the butterfly house

Walking through the rowws of gigantic trees (including some Redwoods) to get to the butterflies


It was crowded.  It was hot.  Like, really, really hot.  Rainforesty.  Russ wandered off on his own course while Mom and I stuck together, and after getting accustomed to the heat, we really enjoyed spotting exotic types on flowers and watching the shades of the butterfly wings change to match that of the plant on which they alighted.  Nonetheless, we weren’t the ones with the camera (how do you photograph butterflies, anyway?), so the pictures you see are obviously from Russ’s journey.

Camoflauge 101

These bright blue butterflies constantly swooped down over the heads of observers

How many butterflies are in this picture?

Check out that body and those cacoons!


Obviously, photographing butterflies is difficult.  It’s even more difficult when the place is filled with people.  And even more difficult when you’re worried about the humidity affecting the camera (which Russ never actually said, but I can read his mind).  The most beautiful butterflies were usually the less stationary, but it was a really cool thing to experience.  Not to mention that the outside air felt really good after we were done!

We ended our time on the island with a walk toward the castle where the big trees were showcased.

Giant Tree on Mainau


Cool view up through the Redwood

The weirdest tree...almost like a cactus!

Approaching the Castle

The Castle

Easter Eggs!


A Peek out to the Lake

Looking out towards the boarding dock

We had a fantastic time on the island!  After arriving back at Friedrichshafen, we wandered around for a little bit, but ultimately headed back to the hotel.  The Waldhorn has a fantastic restaurant with outdoor seating.  We ate there twice and enjoyed some of the best German cuisine we’ve had since living here!  Definitely a memorable Easter Sunday. 🙂

Spring Frenzy

It has been a ridiculously long time since I last posted, but I have an excuse!  Maybe not a good one, but here goes.

1. We’ve had lots of visitors.

2.  The weather!! How could I possibly think about blogging when I could be outside in the gorgeousness.

Now that we’re between visitors and, quite frankly, my allergies can’t take any more, it’s time for me to hop back into blogging.  And there is A LOT to talk about.

We were lucky enough to have two separate visits since I’ve been on hiatus; we welcomed Russ’s parents for just under 2 weeks and then my mom came for a week!

With all this action, there’s nowhere to start except at the beginning.  Except for the fact that the beginning of the visit with Russ’s parents started with Volkswagen car museums, and we all know that I’m not starting there.  I’ll leave that part to Russ.  So I guess we’ll start somewhere in the middle, after all.

THE BODENSEE! One of Europe’s little gems, this “sea” is actually a lake smack dab in the intersecting middle of Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and a wee bit of Liechtenstein. It’s a great place to go “country-hopping,” which you can do by car, bicycle, or boat.  We actually visited here twice, once with Joe&Kate and once with Pam.  On Joe and Kate’s visit, we had the goal of setting our feet in Switzerland, so we took a wonderful 45 minute boat ride from Friedrichshafen, Germany to the other side of the lake, landing in Romanshorn, Switzerland.

Boardwalk at Friedrichshafen

Boat coming into port

Leaving the shore at Friedrichshafen

Too hazy to see the Alps

Zeppelin rides, anyone?

Approaching Romanshorn

The Dock at Romanshorn

Our boat transported cars and motorcycles, so it was interesting to watch all the vehicles start their engines and drive right off of the boat!  After the pedestrians were permitted to exit, we spend a nice, leisurely few hours in Romanshorn, walking around the lake, exploring churches, enjoying spring flowers, and getting a bite to eat.

Romanshorn Harbor

Spring Flowers in Bloom

Cool Shot in Romanshorn, Switzerland

The Alps Appear

The Alps Loom over the Harbor


Joe and Lauren must feel the alpine waters

Our boat arrives!

Heading back to Germany

Warning: this is the start of many, many posts.  They probably include lots of pictures of lakes and mountains and blooming apple trees and castles and….well, you get the idea.  Spring is beautiful in Germany!