Lake Constance: Meersburg, Bregenz, & Konstanz

Lake Constance (in German: Bodensee) is located partially in Southern Germany, but also borders Switzerland and Austria. Before moving to Germany, I had never heard of Lake Constance. When we were living in Ulm and searching for new weekend travel destinations, my husband suggested we check it out. We found a place to stay with a friend of a friend and it was an incredible weekend.

lake constance germany

We were so lucky to be able to stay at a house located directly on the lake. There are only a small number of houses allowed to have water access, so it is not an experience that every traveler gets to have. We had a barbecue on their garden looking out over the water and it is by far one of my favorite memories from the summer.

lake constance dinner

Grilling our dinner at Lake Constance

Here are my travel recommendations for three cities located on Lake Constance: Meersburg, Bregenz, and Konstanz. I’ve also included some tips on other activities to do in the area.

Meersburg, Germany

meersburg lake constance

Meersburg was my favorite city of the three that we visited. It has the charm of Bavaria and an unbelievable view of the lake. It’s much smaller than the other two cities and for me was more of a laid-back atmosphere. These are a few of my favorite photos of the town:

meersburg lake constance

meersburg lake constance

Meersburg Castle
meersburg castle bodensee

The Meersburg Castle

My top tip for you is to check out the Meersburg Castle. You can’t miss it, as it’s the focal point of the city at the top of the hill. You can pay a cheaper ticket price, I believe it was 2.50 euro, to enter the castle, see some of the historic building and head up to the Castle Cafe. The cheaper ticket does not include a castle tour or access to all of the grounds.

The ticket then serves as a coupon towards your purchase at the Cafe, which has a stunning outdoor seating area with an amazing view of Lake Constance. Every other cafe we passed was super crowded with tourists and yet the Castle cafe was only half full so I don’t think many people know about this offer. I would definitely advise you to check it out!

meersburg castle bodensee

View from the outdoor cafe at the Meersburg Castle

Meersburg Therme

My other recommendation for Meersburg is to go to the Meersburg Therme. A therme is a German indoor pool/spa complex, that usually consists of heated indoor and outdoor salt pools, saunas, salt rooms, and massages. They are one of my absolute favorite things about Germany.

lake constance therme

Tanning Deck over Lake Constance

The Meersburg Therme has a heated outdoor infinity salt pool (I know, that’s a pretty intense pool description – but trust me, it lives up to it’s name). It’s not every day you can hang out in a pool and look out at the Alps. I really wish I had a photo of it but my husband told me that I was making people feel uncomfortable by taking photos at the pool (it does sound a little creepy now that I’m writing about it…), so I reluctantly had to put away my camera. We didn’t get a chance to go into the Sauna area, but from the outside it looked really unique and you can also take a dip in the lake afterwards to cool off.

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rothenburg germany travel

Rothenburg Ob Der Tauber: A Storybook Village

I’ve always loved a good fairy tale or princess saga, but thought the only to experience that in real life was by waiting in long lines and paying for overpriced food in Disney World. That was until I discovered the storybook little town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber. As soon as I saw pictures of Rothenburg online, I knew that I needed to visit. It’s a bit of a drive from the Northern part of Germany, but luckily with our relocation to the South it became an easy destination.

We were there for about 24 hours with some visiting friends. While there was a lot to see, 24 hours felt like the perfect amount of time for me. If you are someone who likes to go into every shop and museum then I might recommend adding on a second day. Everything in the town seemed to shut down fairly early in the evening, which was surprising to me.  For this reason, I would try to arrive a little earlier in the day.

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purple flowers garden

Eight Months in Germany

I’ve officially been living in Germany for eight months. It’s hard to believe that the time has gone by so fast. It feels like just the other day, I was imagining what my life would be like here. I’ve decided in honor of my eight months, I will share a few things that I’ve learned so far in the past 240 days.

1. Being an expat is a lot different than studying abroad

Sydney Opera House Australia

My first study abroad experience in Sydney, Australia

I’ve had a lot of experiences abroad. I studied abroad in Australia and lived with other Americans. I studied abroad in Spain and lived in a homestay. I did my entire master’s degree in England and lived in an international dorm. On my various travels I’ve been a backpacker, a vacationer, a visitor, a tourist. But nothing quite prepared me to be an expat. It’s a unique experience that I can’t really equate to any of my former trips abroad.

I think one of the differences is that this is more permanent. I actually live here and I don’t know when I will be home again. There are also no forced activities that you often have to partake in while studying abroad. While it was annoying to have to wake up and go to class, it provided an opportunity for making friends and seeing the city. Now I really have to rely on myself to meet people or participate in new activities, which has proven difficult given that my German is not quite up to conversational level yet.

It’s not all bad though. I like having my own freedom and not having my schedule dictated by those in charge of the semester. I feel more settled than I ever did while living temporarily abroad and more at home in my own apartment. Having a German husband has allowed me to hang out with locals and spend all of my time with people from this country, rather than just hanging out with other Americans while studying abroad. And I get to live my own life that I’ve created for myself, which is a rewarding experience.

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shot glasses bar

Mexikaner Shot Recipe: A German Party Favorite

Germans love to party. That’s one of the first things I learned when I came to Germany to visit one of my best friends when I was 18. I actually went to my first ever club on that trip (it was quite the experience) and was shocked when we purchased beer to bring to an official high school party with teachers and parents present. Sneaking in drinks I understood, but blatantly drinking with adults was a lot for 18-year-old me. Life looks a lot different when the drinking age starts at 16.

Nowadays, I am still trying to keep up with partying abilities of my German friends. It takes a lot of skill to learn how to party until 6 am and still be able to function. I’ve also discovered my absolute favorite shot, a Mexikaner, which is a German party favorite. It’s basically like a spicy Bloody Mary. But if you don’t like Bloody Marys, fear not, I don’t like them either but I still love this shot. I promise that it will be a hit at your next party (or brunch!).

mexikaner shot germany

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Grocery Store Bananas

Trapped In A German Grocery Store

Today I got trapped in the grocery store. Yes, that’s right… the grocery store.

I was in line with C (my husband), when we realized that we had forgotten something. I went back into the store and when I returned it seemed like 50 people had gathered out of nowhere. I could see that C was almost at the register, but I wasn’t able to get to him without asking at least 10 people to move. Now on a good day, I would have bravely marched up to the long line and used my mediocre German skills to explain I needed to pass them. Unfortunately today I just decided to stop, stare, and panic.

Kaufland Germany Grocery store

Kaufland: A German grocery store

I attempted to get C’s attention but that didn’t work. Then I went to exit down another aisle, only to learn that in Germany the empty aisles are locked. When C finished checking out, he came over to the other side of the locked aisle and asked me what I was doing, to which I replied, “I have no idea.” I then had to go back through the entire store and exit through the entrance while setting off multiple alarms.

This was one of those days where instead of feeling like an expat, I felt like a big, green, alien that everyone was staring at and wondering where I came from. I think that is one of the most challenging and also rewarding experiences of life abroad. There are times when I can’t complete the simplest of tasks, like shopping at the grocery store or ordering at a restaurant. I have to allow myself to make mistakes, get messy, and learn how to live life in a new place.

Trust me, while no one wants to be that person who is constantly looking like a fool, it really is worth it. I’ve learned to laugh at myself and not take life so seriously. I’ve grown in ways that I couldn’t if I just lived in a place where life was easy for me. I’ve been pushed out of my comfort zone and realized that I am capable of more than I ever thought was possible.

I know that I’m giving this sort of sad/funny story a happy ending, but the truth is that is how I feel. I would always choose this lifestyle, even if it means occasionally getting trapped in foreign grocery stores.

Do you have any funny stories of trying to complete simple tasks while abroad? I would love to hear from you!