Day #5 - Black Forest, Rhine Falls & Lake Constance
We set of to Schauinsland loop cable car to catch a lift up to Schauinsland Peak. We were looking forward to the views as we went, thinking we might spy a little bit of snow at the very top (as we saw it from the car), but were really surprised to find there was snow all the way up the mountain. Once we got to the peak we went for a walk and discovered a 'white winter wonderland'......everything was covered in a very thick blanket of snow and was oh, so gorgeous! The boys got to make snow angels (well, they tried, at least) and had a snow ball fight with Matt, right before he stepped, almost hip deep, in the snow.......very deep! The views from here were amazing but we had to cut it short as there appeared to be more snow coming and we didn't want to be stuck up there when they closed the cable cars down for the day. Definately worth the journey and oh, so different from the leaf covered walk I had up there back in 1989....breath taking!
Next we headed down towards the Swis border for an attempt to catch a look at the River Rhine. The Navigator tried to take us through a part where cars are no longer permitted to cross the border so we were a little dissapointed when we realised we couldn't go into Switzerland by car as planned.....or so we thought. At this point we parked the car and went for a walk over the border into the Swis town of Furstenberg to find another very old town with cobbled roads and loads of atmosphere, though not enought to keep you busy for very long so it was back to the car after only half an hour to set off again. We stopped for a look at the Rhine Falls but were very dissapointed (it was not as beautiful as I had remembered and I wondered where the spot I had been before was...no luck).
We set the navigator to our next German point of interest and found that we had no choice but to cross the Swiss border as we went....very pleasing. We stopped for lunch at MacDonalds before we headed over the border. Once in Switzerland we stopped at a fortress in Stadt Laufenburg. Along the road as we went were crusifix after crusifix. Every mile or so there was another one on display....this was really interesting to see. The road we were travelling led us in and out of Switzerland and Germany several times, involving several sets of border gates. Switzerland is not part of the European Union so passports are need to pass between these borders.
As we driving inside Switzerland we saw a sign that made my heart stop. It read 'Rheinfallen' (Rhine Falls). My heart skipped a hopeful beat as we followed the road that led to a car park for the falls. We started walking towards the signs pointing the way when it hit us.....there is was! Larger than life, directly in front of us, were the Rhine Falls. They were even bigger and more beautiful than I remembered. Apparently they increase in volume as the snow melts from up on the mountains...and head to the streams below, leading into the Rhine.....WOW! We sat and watched the falls for ages before eventually taking a stroll up the hill, right alongside them. On the way back to the car we stopped for the boys to play in a park at the falls. Zane learnt the hard way to stop and listen to our advise. After being told, several times, to sit on the slide (not stand) he fell and bumped his head because he was standing....we then had to quickly head to the car to get him a cold pack from the car fridge...meaning our stop at the falls was over. Luckily, we got to enjoy them before he tried to knock himself out...ouch!
As it turned out, we were only a short drive from Konstanz (Constance) in Germany, our planned stop for the night. So, after driving under the mounains through several long tunnels and passing through another set of border gates we made our way to the Autobarn (big smiles from Matt as we got to 150km this time) and headed to Constance to camp for the night.
We found one camping ground that did not allow dogs so ventured on and eventually found one, Campingplatz Himmelreich Allensbach, where we could stay the night. This place was amazing and one we would strongly recommend to anyone. It cost us €28 for the night and was worth every cent of it. We were camped only metres from the lake (with full views all round). The camping ground has amazing facilities with everything from heated showers to washing up tubs with hot water, a park for the kids to play in...and amazing views! Must return here someday if possible!