August 16 – Durach to Lindau, Germany (76 km, 47 miles)

August 16 Route Map

Today can be summed up in one word – rain. The sky didn’t look too bad when I woke up and I was hopeful for a second nice day in a row. But it was not to be. About an hour after I started riding the first sprinkles came down, followed soon after by a constant rain for the next seven hours. And with the rain was, of course, a headwind. Yesterday I was headed northwest into a northwest headwind – today I was headed southwest into a southwest headwind. I just can’t win. There weren’t any nearby train stations, therefore Plan B wouldn’t have worked. Fortunately the temperature was quite cool today, so with my raingear on I was able to keep dry without sweating inside the raincoat. It definitely made things more tolerable.

I’ve been having trouble finding campgrounds that provide WiFi internet connections, so posting updates has been a bit spotty. Today, as I was passing by a McDonald’s, I had a random thought that maybe they had a WiFi hotspot. Sure enough, they did. So I picked a table in a corner and caught up on my e-mail while watching a store full of Germans wolfing down Big Macs and fries – surreal. With all the good German food they have here, I wonder why they go for McDonald’s. And since I’m on the topic of food, the ice cream here in Germany is fantastic. My favorite is vanilla, cherry, and raspberry ice cream covered with amaretto and cherry sauce, and with chocolate syrup covering it all – just fantastic. Anyway, I caught up with my e-mail and had a real-time planning session with Melanie (she lives near Zurich). Turned out that she wouldn’t be in town tomorrow when I was planning on getting to her place, So I switched to Plan B and changed today’s destination to Lindau, Germany rather than Rapperswill, Switzerland.

Lindau is about 850 years old and is located on a small (0.25 square mile) island in Lake Constance (also called the Bodensee). Nearly the entire island is covered with old buildings and narrow cobblestone streets. Although the town is small in size, it would take quite a while to walk all of the streets and alleys. Everything is packed in really tight.

So far, I’ve liked everything I’ve seen in Germany and Austria, but one thing that I can’t stand is the smell of the farm fields. Unlike in the U.S., where fields and cities are separate, here in Germany the fields are often right on the edge of the towns, and sometimes even in the towns. And there are a lot of cows here. So what do you do with the tons of manure produced by the cows? Well, here the farmers simply collect it in big piles and then spray it on the fields. The smell is absolutely horrible and you can smell it throughout town. I don’t know how people put up with it. That’s the kind of thing that would never be allowed in the U.S. But that’s just they way they do things here in Germany, so if they don’t have a problem with it, then it can’t be all that bad – I guess.

Another thing I’ve noticed that’s different between Europe and the U.S. is that Europeans are much more energy-conscious. For example, the hallway lights in apartment buildings are on a timer switch. So when you walk in, the hallway is dark. You hit the light switch and the lights come on for a couple minutes and then automatically turn off. In several of the hotels I’ve stayed at, you have to use the electronic room key to turn on the lights. There’s a special switch near the door, and the only way you can turn on the electricity in the room is to insert the room key in it. Then you turn on the lights with the regular light switches. It’s a pretty good system, because when you leave the room you of course have to take the room key with you. And when you remove the room key from the electrical switch, all the power in the room is switched off, which saves electricity when you’re not in the room. Pretty smart. I’m sure there are some hotels in the U.S. that do this as well, but they’re definitely a minority. The U.S. really needs to catch up to Europe when it comes to energy efficiency and conservation.

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