The weather was unsettling the first few days we were in Friedrichshafen. But we wanted a little adventure after a couple of days inside. We decided to take a day trip which meant spending most of the day on three local German and Swiss trains to Rhine Falls. We’d heard and read about the falls which we hadn’t visited on earlier trips to Friedrichshafen where our Germany family live.
It rained most of the hour and a half and two train changes to reach Schaffhausen, a northern Swiss town which is virtually surrounded by Germany on the north, east, and west. where the upper Rhine flows and spills over cascading rocks into a lagoon.
The weather was still challenging, but we got a break of an hour or so to walk down road to viewing point to the falls which is in a quiet neighborhood of shops, pubs, and apartments. We followed signs that took us down a steep, hilly road where we could hear the roar of the falls even before seeing the river. We turned a corner, and there it was, churning, foamy water rushing between rocky banks about a hundred meters across.
Three Tiers of Rhine Falls
We had seen the Rhine River before, where it is flows gently with a moderate current and is a principal means of transportation for travelers and shipping. But the Rhine becomes more dramatic at the falls, descending as it flowed under a railroad bridge then rushing toward the falls and plunging into a lagoon before resuming to it’s more placid pace.
It seemed to have three tiers: upper slow-moving, rushing middle tier, then plunging dramatically to the lower tier into a lagoon.
Twin rocky spires
Across the channel two rocky spires jutted up from the rain-swollen Rhine. No doubt created by centuries of erosion from rushing water which carved out sentinels from the rocky riverbank. Looking closer, we could see intrepid hikers who had somehow reached the pinnacle of the sentinels.
A Swiss flag was whipping in the wind, with a few hardy souls braving the weather and danger behind a fence. I have no idea how they got there, but it had to be from the opposite side of the Rhine where we were observing. On our side, the thundering currents were too dangerous to consider getting too close to the river. But I was curious, would I have climbed stairs to see the falls from a windy, raining precipice? There must have been a tunnel under the river on the other side that took the adventurous to stairs to the pinnacle. Even in the mists, there was no sign of a bridge from the river bank.
Tour boats in the mists
A tour boat service was taking tourists up the channel for an up-and-close experience. The boats slowly made their way until they cruised into the falls mists, disappearing from view from our vantage point. They remained a minute, then slowly reversed course and emerged from the falls.
Rhine Falls Park
The backwash from the falls flowed into a cove with a small park and path to view the falls from ground level. Walkers were carrying umbrellas as the mists fell in a gentle rain.
The plunging falls created dangerous currents that rolled over each other in a whirlpool. Branches, debris and soccer balls were endlessly churning in the whirlpool, never breaking away and floating down the river.
Damp, wind-blown tourists
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