Lake Constance, known as Bodensee by the Germans, is a very large lake located along the borders of Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. Fed by the River Rhine as it flows down from the Alps, Lake Constance is some 40 miles long and almost nine miles wide. With an area of 220 square miles, it’s Central Europe’s second largest freshwater lake and over four million people rely on the lake for drinking water.
The water around the edge of this lake in Germany is quite shallow and features some marshes which are home to approximately 250,000 different kinds of birds. Some merely nest there during their winter migration while others take up residence throughout the year. Amazingly these birds find room to live when the shallows consist of 14% of the entire surface area of the lake. The birds feed on shellfish, plants, and other things around the lake. Those touring Lake Constance, by bike or other means, will want to keep an eye on the marshes. Several species of threatened birds are fond of nesting amid the reeds and some blossoming plants—such as Siberian lilies—can be found.
The most famous of Germany’s castles, and one of the three commissioned by King Ludwig II, overlooks the gorgeous Hohenschwangau valley. If the architecture looks familiar, you’re right; Walt Disney used the castle as inspiration when designing the Sleeping Beauty Castle for Disney Land. Hundreds of artisans from around the globe took sixteen years to build but a third of the planned castle. It was never finished. However, its sweeping turrets and alabaster walls show that there’s little reason why Neuschwanstein is a prime tourist attraction in Germany.
Construction on the castle began in 1869, but given the exact tastes of King Ludwig II, progress was very slow going. As an example, it took 14 carpenters four and a half years just to complete the woodwork in Ludwig's bedroom. The King was an immense devotee of Richard Wagner, even going as far as naming the castle after a character in one of Wagner's operas--the Swan Knight. In none of the other castles in Germany will you find more instances of Ludwig's fondness for Wagner's work. Tapestries depicting scenes from Wagner's opera can be found inside.
The Romantic Road
With over 220 miles of enchanting vistas, the Romantic Road is one of the most picturesque of Germany attractions. It ranges from the River Main in the north and winds its way south to the Alps, passing through walled towns and villages. Originally a trade route during the middle ages, the remnants of the past can be found along its enchanted roads. Gothic cathedrals and ancient churches are nestled near quaint country inns. The adventurous traveler will find no shortage of gentle farmlands or sprawling forests to walk in.
While the road you'll travel on is modern, the trade route it's based on is quite ancient. The road follows the course of the Roman highway--Via Augustus--and was also a medieval trade route that connected several of the tows that lie along the Romantic Road.