We parked a good ways from the center of town in a visitor parking lot and helped a comically stereotypical American couple in shorts and fannie packs decipher the parking meter. While we were standing there, two German women in an ancient RV drove into the parking lot, totally oblivious of the gate over the entrance bearing a big sign warning that the height limit was 2 m. Their RV had a roof-mounted storage unit on top and altogether it must have been a good foot higher than the gate. Somehow they managed to scrape their way through without tearing down the gate, although they did some serious damage to their roof unit. They slammed on the brakes, got out, surveyed the damage, turned around, and tried to push their way back out. I’m not sure how they eventually got out again, but we saw them drive by us a few minutes later as we were walking into town. I guess this just goes to show that not all Germans are good drivers, and two women chatting in a car together is generally not a good thing in any country.
It was about a 10-minute walk into town, and we spent some time exploring the crooked streets lined with colorful half-timbered houses. We walked out onto the broad balcony of the salmon-pink Neues Schloss (left), which overlooks the lower town and has magnificent views of the
We decided to have lunch at Weinstube Der Löwe, sitting outside in the shade on the peaceful little Marktplatz (right). I had asparagus quiche with smoked salmon (delicious but a meager portion) and John had the Schweinsteak special – pork medallions topped with sliced apples and melted cheese with mashed potato cakes. I got a small caraf of a local Müller-Thurgau for 4,90 Euro and John had a ½-liter Kristalweizen for 3,10 Euro. We shared chocolate mousse for dessert. Total bill – 40 Euro.
It was getting on in the afternoon after our leisurely lunch, so we headed down to the lakeshore and strolled along the esplanade (right), which is lined with dozens of cafés and restaurants. We walked out to the dock, watched a ferry from
We made our way back up to the Altes Schloss (below) and paid the 8 Euro entry fee, which included a guided tour of Dagobert’s Tower, the oldest part of the castle. The original Meersburg claims to be
A series of famous royal families have occupied Meersburg over the course of its 1400-year history, starting with the Merovingians and followed by the Carolingians, the Guelphs, and the Hohenstaufen. The prince-bishops of
A very nice woman guided us and three other German visitors through several rooms of the castle and up into the tower, with its massive nine-foot-thick walls. I said “We don’t have those in
After the tour, we walked through over thirty rooms of the castle, including the kitchen, the warden’s bedchamber, the main living rooms, and the Hall of Arms, which is decorated with 16th and 17th-century suits of armor, spears, and swords, and a rare set of jousting equipment. We passed through the elevated garden, which has lovely views of the Bodensee and, in the distance, the
Next we passed through the armory and a long fortified passageway along the battlements, where you could almost picture the castle’s soldiers pouring boiling pitch onto their assailants far below. The Hall of Knights (visible through doorway at right) was decorated with some mangy deerhides and an elk foot drinking cup. Wine was said so have flowed freely from the “Fountain of Christ” during great feasts for the people of Meersburg. We entered another dungeon room, where you can look through the “hole of fear” into the Hungerturm (literally “hunger tower”), a 9-meter deep chamber where prisoners were left to starve. Several more rooms housed various tournament helmets and other heraldric items; the 17th-century Chapel of the Prince-Bishop is decorated with the coats-of-arms of every owner of the castle – and there were many! Finally, we visited the small stable, where we could see the entrance to a subterranean passage that leads down to the lake. When the castle was under siege for fourteen weeks in the 14th century, provisions were secreted to the castle from the lake through this passage.
Upon completing our tour, we took in the views of the lake one last time (the