We arose early this morning at 6:30 as we had to take a boat for Constance at 8:35. After a very pleasant ride on the lake (over the same route which we made the day before yesterday as far as Mainau), we reached Constance and walked past the Rathaus to the old Munster (Cathedral) founded in 1052 and rebuilt in 1435 and 1680.
The beautiful Gothic tower was erected in 1850. The doors of the principal portal has bas reliefs representing scenes from the life of Christ carved in oak. They are 450 years old.
Near the entrance is a large stone slab, a white spot on which always remains dry even when the remaining portion is wet. The Bohemian reformer Johann Huss is said to have stood on this spot when the council of the 6 July 1415 sentenced him to be burnt at the stake.On account of a service, we could not walk around in the church, and we returned to the Rathaus, which was rebuilt in 1593 and decorated some 45 years ago on the exterior with frescoes illustrative of the history of Constance.
In the lobby of the second floor, we looked at five frescoes also relating to the town’s history.
We sat down in the inner court which is filled with beautiful flowers and shrubs while the ivy, hundreds of years old covers the walls of the buildings surrounding it.
Here two little inquisitive Elsters (a German blackbird, size of a dove) hopped on to Emily’s foot and picked at the shoe lace and dress. It is really wonderful to note such little incidents, showing how well trained the children are in this country. None of them would ever think of chasing or worrying the birds, or of picking a flower in a public place.
We walked to the Schautztor, an old city gate and near it we saw the house in which Huss was arrested. It has a memorial table with a bust picture of the martyr.
Passing through the gate and walking along a promenade called the Obere Laube, we came to the house in which Jerome of Prague, another Bohemian reformer, was imprisoned in 1415 to 1416. Both houses are still inhabited.
We returned by way of Paradise Street to the Deutsche Haus where we enjoyed an excellent German dinner. Here I bought a vase with flowers, among them Golden Rod for Mama.At 2:15, we took a boat for a trip down the Rhine to Schaffhausen. It was a small boat and, owing to the beautiful weather, it was crowded with picnickers, but we enjoyed the ride nevertheless.
We had a last look at the Tirolese and the Swiss Mountains and the picturesque Constance and past the lake promenades and the garden and terraces of the Island Hotel. We steamed under the arches of the Rhinebridge.
Our first landing with its good name “Gootlieben” (to love God) gave us a taste of the beautiful scenery in store for us along this river route. Out of a pretty, green foliage arise two old dark towers, the remains of a castle built in 1250. Here, Huss was kept prisoner for a short time.
Further down, the river widens into a regular lake. Our next landing is Ermatingen with its old fishermen’s huts. Next comes Mannenbach, a veritable idyl, surrounded by water and situated in the midst of forests with hills crowned by pretty chateaus of which I counted not less than four.
We now crossed over to the island of Reishenan, formerly the seat of a celebrated Benedictine abbey founded in 724. There are three separate parishes on this island, and each one can boast of a church more than thousand years old. Of course, I wanted to “Land & Look,” but “Tempus fugit,” and we had to pass on.
Berlingen, our next landing, is the end of the lake like river from here, and the shores are closer together. We now zig-zagged between the Baden and the Swiss shores, touching Gaienhofen with its many towered chateaus, Steckborn with a picturesque old castle situated right near the river, now—a poor house. They are a practical people after all, these Germans.
Glarisegg with a pretty chateau, Wangen, Mameru, Oberstaad and Stein am Rhein, one of the prettiest villages on the route. Here, the houses seem to have undergone little change, if any, since they were built hundreds of years ago. Many of them are decorated with frescoe paintings on the outside walls.
Our smoke stack was lowered, and we shot through the arches of the old bridge and landed right close to one of these fine old houses. I felt like jumping off in order that I might rubber neck along the streets. But they do not stop very long at any of these landings, and “Einsteigen,” “Wabfahren,” and off we are.
Now for 1/2 hour we saw nothing, but water, woods and sky, occasionally a swarm of wild ducks. Perfect peace and quiet surrounded us, interrupted only by the rhythmical puffing of our engine.
All at once, as the river makes a turn, a high tower surrounded by a mass of red tiled roofs appears before us, and, a few moments later, we make landing at the pier of Schasshausen, the “Gate into Switzerland.”
A bus takes us to Neuhausen, two and a half miles distant, where we have engaged rooms in the Hotel Schweizerhof. Our room has a veranda looking out upon the Rhine Falls and we hasten to take a look at them.
A thundering noise greets us upon opening the doors leading out to the veranda, and we have it before us, a fairy like picture which one can never forget.
In the distance, the mountains, a pretty bridge with many arches, on the right shore upon a wooded eminence, a pretty castle, two large rocks, and the water falling with great noise and great force into the bed below.
It is impossible for me to describe this sublime sight of Nature. Goethe writes to this fellow poet and friend Schiller in 1797: “The phenomenon of Nature will be often enough described and painted, it will awaken the astonishment of every traveler, many will essay to give voice to their emotions, but none will succeed in catching the impression of the scene, still less in painting, it in all its powers.“
We stand still and say with the Psalmists: “Oh Lord! how wonderful are thy works!”
Mama could not tire of listening to the grand voice of the Falls and sat out on the veranda as often as possible. After dinner, we listened to the fine program of modern masters in the smoking room of the hotel.
More about this in my next.