A few weekends ago, we went to visit a good friend of ours who lives just across the border in Constance, Germany. It is only about a 45 minute train ride from Winterthur, and we can even take a direct train with no transfers.
We’d been to the city of Constance once before close to Christmas to see the spectacular Christmas market with our friends Stacy and Oliver. I’d always wanted to return to Constance, because it looked like such a pretty city, sitting on the shores of Lake Constance. While we didn’t really get to explore the city on this visit either, we got to check out some amazing gardens located on the Island of Mainau and the historic buildings. The island has a fascinating history, having been transferred between several different countries and families, and most recently owed by a Swedish Prince. It is mainly known for its expansive gardens, and it was pretty popular the day we were there.
We started by meeting up with Ayse, who is one of Heath’s coworkers, but a very good friend of ours as well. She’s even babysat Eddie on a few occasions. She helped us get our boat tickets, as we had decided to take the ferry there. You can also drive to a parking lot near the island on the mainland and take a footbridge across (the island isn’t very far out in the lake). We enjoyed the boat ride, and I hope that Heath and I might be able to take one of the dinner cruises sometime.
It was unfortunately a cloudy day for much of our visit, so a lot of my pictures didn’t come out all that well. The gardens were gorgeous. Thousands of plants, flowers, and trees, and even a small vineyard. We saw apples, plums, roses, and many other plants that I don’t know the name of.
There were horse-drawn carriage rides, a really neat miniature train set, an overly-crowded orchid-filled butterfly house, several huge playgrounds (one of which catering to really small kids like ours), and even a petting zoo:
We briefly toured the inside of several of the historic buildings, including a museum that had the wedding gown of one of the former residents of the island. I know all my costume nut friends would go ga-ga over the details of this gown, so I snapped a few pictures (more can be found on Flickr):
We took the footbridge off the island, and took a bus back to the city where we said good-bye to Asye and caught a train back home. I’d recommend the Island of Mainau to anyone, even if you have children. Just take your walking shoes!