Crossing the river, we approached the picturesque hills of the Swabian Alb, the Rossberg, the broad backed Farrenberg, and the precipitous Dreifurstenstein, all of them old acquaintances of mine.
Stetten, situated in a fertile valley near to the “Hohenzollern” is the ancestral burial place of the Zollern family, the ancestors of the Kings of Prussia. The castle itself is seen to good advantage from the train and remains in sight for quite a while. It is grandly situated on an isolated wooded eminence of the Alb and was erected in 1850 by Frederick Wilhelm IV of Prussia as a royal chateau on the site of the old castle, erected in 1454, of which little remained except the chapel.
Our train kept climbing up until, after passing through a cutting in the rock, we reached beyond Lauttingen, its highest point 2420 feet, the watershed between the Rhine and the Danube.
We then descended gradually and, winding our way through a pretty valley, we reached Storingen where I noticed a little church built right near the track and, in passing, I could read, on the side of the wall, the words in German: “Man passes through life by fast express.” A “Memento mori” for all passengers.
Shortly afterwards, we passed through two tunnels, and our dinner station, Sigmaringen, came in sight. This is a handsome little town situated on the Danube, which we crossed, and it is the residence of Prince Hohenzollern who lives in the Schloss situated on a rock rising abruptly from the Danube.
After dinner, we enjoyed the spectacle of the Prince’s sister who returned from a visit to her home. The prince was there to receive her and several fine carriages with lackeys. They laid a carpet from the track to the carriage, and her car stopped just in front of it, so that she could walk along the carpet to her carriage. It was fun to watch the deep bows and scrapings of the servants.
From Sigmaringen, we passed through smiling green valleys and wooded ravines on the Stahringen where we had to change cars, and, at 4:30, we reached Überlingen, which is the name applied to the northwestern part of the Bodensee or “Lake of Constance.”
This lake is about 40 miles long and 7 1/2 miles in width. Its principal feeder is the Rhine, and the vast Sheet of water with its well peopled banks, its high wooded hills on the south side above which rise the distant Appenzell chain of the Alps with the snow clad Sentis and the snow peaks of the Voralberg Alps, presented a scene of great beauty.
Along the lake we rode until we reached the station of Überlingen from where a bus took us to the “Städtisches Bad Hotel.” Here we learned that Parliament have taken place this day instead of Monday, and we felt somewhat disappointed as we hoped to see the airship ascensions on Monday.
We dressed and went out into the beautiful garden which surrounds the hotel and out into the terrace which is right on the lake. Here we sat and enjoyed the grand scenery and, suddenly at 6:30, the cry arose: “Zeppelin, Zeppelin, here he comes,” and across the lake, over a wooded eminence, the peaked nose of the white sausage shaped airship appeared and, gradually, the full body of the ship with its two gondolas came in sight and crossed the lake towards the island of Mainau. It was a beautiful sight and a memorable never to be forgotten day.
The representatives of the German Empire had assembled to view the genial invention of Count Zeppelin and, from their midst, 88 persons had been selected by lot to make the ascend.
Six times, the airship ascended on this day, and all the landings and ascensions were made according to program and without a single accident. Once, the exchange of passengers was made on the lake. The passengers descended a ladder made of aluminum and others took their places. I am glad that we had an opportunity to be present on this day and to see the wonderful Zeppelin III.
Überlingen is quite an old town, and considerable remains of its old fortifications have been preserved, as well as numerous mediaeval buildings. The garden of our hotel is on top of one of the old walls and, as the hotel was crowded, I had to sleep in one of the old towers, but my room was fitted up quite modern. The walls are four feet thick and look old enough. I had a fine view of the lake from my window and fell asleep to the tune of the waves dashing against the walls of the old tower.
Überlingen. Pavillion at Badhotel.