5 Things You May Not Know About Lake Constance

Central Europe’s third largest lake is a wonderful confluence of the three distinct countries that share its borders.  Travelers on VBT’s new Lake Constance: Germany, Austria & Switzerland biking vacation will spend a week practically circumnavigating this expansive body of water on its vast network of bike paths, as well as enjoying a variety of culturally enriching activities off their bikes. Guests will love sampling delicious local cuisine, organic fruit brandy and German beer; exploring Romanesque churches in Reichenau, absorbing sprawling views on a ferry crossing, and relaxing in 4-star hotels in lakeside towns. To get you more acquainted with this oft-overlooked alpine gem, here are some fun facts that you may not know about Lake Constance.

Three in One
What we call Lake Constance (and the locals call the Swabian Sea) is actually comprised of 3 bodies of water. The largest part of the lake is the eastern section known as the Obersee and is connected to the smaller part of the lake—the Untersee—by a 4 km stretch of the Rhine known as the Seerhein.

The Flower Island
Of the Lake’s three main islands, Mainau, is perhaps the most fascinating. Known as the “Flower Island,” this Mainaupedestrian-only private island is a lavish display of hundreds of thousands of plants in manicured gardens that blossom with the changing seasons. Tulips, orchids and rhododendrons burst in a riot of color in May while dahlias and roses arrive in September. Whenever you visit, you’ll be treated to a colorful landscape that will enchant even the most novice gardener.

Waters without Borders
The middle of Lake Constance is the only area in Europe where technically no borders exist because once your boat is far enough from the shoreline you are in international waters. While Switzerland argues their border extends to the middle of the lake, Austria contends that international law governs any part of the lake with more than 25 meters depth. It appears Germany doesn’t have any official view stance on its border other than its actual shoreline.

Ages Ago

Long before the Romans discovered the lake in 43 AD, Lake Constance was home to a variety of societies during the Bronze Age. While on tour we’ll visit Unteruhldingen—a UNESCO World Heritage Site—to visit replications of ancient dwellings from the Stone and Bronze Age (4000 to 850 BC). During our stay we’ll learn about the Celtic people that lived a sophisticated lifestyle in harmony with nature on the lake.

At a Glaciers Pace
Lake Constance was formed over time by the Rhine Glacier during the last ice age and is a type of lake known as a “Zungenbecken”—which translates as “tongue basin” in German. Even today the Rhine deposits sediment from the Swiss and Austrian Alps that continually change both the shoreline and clarity of the lake. Depending on the time of year the discrepancy of the inflow and outflow of the lake causes as much as a 4 meter difference in water level. 

To learn more about this new biking vacation including daily itinerary and all available 2014 departure dates, please click here. If you would like to reserve a vacation or speak with one of our Tour Consultants, please call 800-245-3868. They are available Monday-Friday from 8:30am to 6:30pm EST and Saturdays from 10:00am to 3:00pm EST.

Walk the Path of the Gods on Italy’s Amalfi Coast with VBT

Path of the Gods
The Amalfi Coast, located on the southern edge of the Sorrentine Peninsula in Italy is an astonishing landscape where dramatic cliffs of the Lattari mountains crash into the Gulf of Salerno below. Dotted with charming villages, majestic views and world-class walking trails, the Amalfi Coast—named a UNESCO World Heritage Site as a cultural landscape in 1997—is a must-see destination for any world traveler. Active travelers will delight in the experience of walking along its most revered walking path, Sentiero degli Dei or “The Path of the Gods.”

Path Sign

This trail, that runs from Agerola to Positano was once a path for mule herders to transport goods between coastal villages, but now serves as a recreational walking route with heavenly views. VBT travelers on our Amalfi Coast and Capri walking vacation will walk the scenic stretch between the Biscotto Caves and the hamlet of Nocelle. The path is well-marked and offers views of Capri and the islets of Li Galli, or Sirenuse, where the mythical Sirens attracted seafarers with their melodious songs. Once we reach the Nocelle, we’ll stop to enjoy lunch on your own. Afterwards travelers have the option to continue walking along the path or shuttling by van on to Montepertuso where according to legend, the Madonna was challenged by the devil to punch a hole in a towering mountain—pertuso means “hole” in Neapolitan dialect. The views from here are simply amazing.

VBT Backpack

The best time of the year to walk the Path of the Gods is in the late spring and early fall as the weather on the Amalfi Coast tends to be dryer, clearer and offers conditions more conducive to walking during this time than in other months. VBT offers departures on this tour in May, June, September and October. A recent VBT traveler, Caryl from California had this to say about her experience while on vacation— “This trip walking along the Amalfi Coast makes you feel sorry for travelers going by on big tour buses and thinking they have seen the Amalfi Coast. We saw the coastal villages by boat, as well as from above as we hiked the Path of the Gods, and enjoyed the villages free from worry of navigating the narrow roads. Stopping at specially picked restaurants with fantastic views for lunch and taking time to see gardens in Ravello made the trip oh-so special.”

Amalfi Couple

To learn more about this popular walking vacation—which includes visits to Pompeii, Capri and Sorrento— and to see traveler reviews and available 2014 departure dates, please click here. If you would like to reserve a vacation or speak with one of our Tour Consultants, please call 800-245-3868. They are available Monday-Friday from 8:30am to 6:30pm EST and Saturdays from 10:00am to 3:00pm EST.

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