We arrived in Bregenz last night having drove here from Zürich in quite appalling conditions. We had hoped to make it further to either Innsbruck or Münich but neither of us were really prepared to drive much further in these conditions. Either way, we quickly found the centrally located Best Western Weisses Kreuz in the centre of town and had a quite an enjoyable meal at their restaurant which had an excellent selection of Austrian wines before retiring for the evening.
After an enjoyable breakfast, we took the short walk from our hotel to the Old Town ("Altstadt") of Bregenz. Bregenz is small and set on Lake Constance (Bodensee) the meeting point of the three nations of Switzerland, Germany and Austria. We stayed on the other side of the railtracks - living in Zürich, we know about lakes and railtracks! So the Old Town it was......
The Altstadt, a short walk from our hotel the Weisses Kreuz, the Altstadt towers above the remainder of the town on a rock. We skirted round the edge and took a set of steepish steps up to and into the walled old town. While present day Bregenz dates from around the 10th Century the missionaries St. Columbanus and Saint Gall worked here between 610 and 612 - St Gall was later to be responsible for the founding of St Gallen in Switzerland. The Upper Town / Altstadt is the oldest part of Bregenz and dates from the 13th to 16th century so many of the buildings have that "quaintness" and decorations that one associates with this periods - which makes it's a great place for a morning stroll.
We made our way towards the Martisnturm which has a late Roman core but now sports an imposing Baroque-style onion dome which has become something of a landmark here in Bregenz. The tower is now home to a museum of armourments which is open from May to September - so I can't report on it's contents! The nearby Rathaus (now a residental building) also boasts an imposing and impressive exterior. We headed back into the main part of the city through Martinstor - the fortified gateway into the Altstadt.
On the way down, we stopped in at a lovely little cheese shop which sported all sorts of goodies from the local area. The region of Bregenzerwald is reputed for it's cheeses - and the Cheese Road stands a testament to that. Perhaps we will do this on another trip? Anyway, having rummaged around the cheeses, debating which one to take, I left with 100 grams of rather pleasant beer cheese. Which was nice.
Down the hill an up another we headed in to the Catholic parish church of St. Gallus which is apparently on the site of a chapel founded by Columban and Gallus. The church is in the Gothic style with Baroque-style interior decoration. The first documentary evidence of the church is in 1079. But after the fire 1477 the tower was reconstructed and the church was extended. From 1737-1740 the church was remodelled after a design by Franz Anton Beer which gave the church its present appearance. The exterior of the church was restored 1968-1972 and the interior between 1973/74.
Bregenz is a pleasant place to spend a night and potter around for some hours. I'm not sure that I'd want to spend days on end here as a tourist, but as a day it was great. The old town is pretty, the buildings are excellently decorated and it's well connected which makes it a great place to break a road trip.
After having looked around Bregenz, we continued on to Salzburg - our final destination for the weekend. The GPS in our Saab underestimated our journey time by around an hour - which meant we arrived later than expected. Not to worry, though, the Austrian countryside made a pleasant drive and we were in no rush anyhows.
While the drive was most enjoyable it was a pleasant to arrive at The Hotel Sacher - our hotel for the coming nights. Our car was immediately taken to the car park for us and reception couldn't have been more welcoming. Our Sacher Torte arrived in the room shortly after us and we put our feet up with a slice of torte each and some fruit each. We took dinner in the "Zirbelzimmer" downstairs in the hotel. The Zirbelzimmer does a strong line traditional Salzburger cuisine. My pheasant dish was excellent and the selection of wine is excellent.
Austria - recommended places to stay - Recommended hotels in Vienna, Salzburg and Bregenz
Salzburg / Bregenz - accomodation summary - Comments on our hotels during a trip to Bregenz and Salzburg
Salzburg - St Sebastiankirche - Brief notes on and about the St Sebastian Kirche in Salzburg
Switzerland - places not to miss - Sixteen places not to miss around Switzerland
Switzerland - sacred destinations - Nine of the finest churchs, cathedrals and monastries in Switzerland
Switzerland - festivals not to miss - Fantastic Swiss festivals to visit through the year
Sargans - Parish Church of St Oswald and St Cassian - Parish Church of St Oswald and St Cassian, Sargans, Canton St Gallen, Switzerland
St Moritz - White Turf - A travelogue from the White Turf show case horse racing event in St Moritz, Switzerland
A day trip to the Kartause Ittingen - Notes from a day trip to the Kartause Ittingen near Frauenfeld in Canton Thurgau, Switzerland
A day trip to Glarus for extraordinary Open-Air Parliament - Notes from a day trip to Glarus for ausserordentliche Landsgemeinde (extraordinary Open-Air Parliament)
Mark Sukhija is a travel and wine blogger, photographer, tourism researcher, hat-touting, white-shirt-wearing, New Zealand fantatic and eclipse chaser. Aside from at least annual visits to New Zealand, Mark has seen eclipses in South Australia (2002), Libya (2006), China (2009) and Queensland (2012). After twelve years in Switzerland, Mark moved back to London in 2012. You can follow Mark on Twitter or Facebook