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A small wooden pier ends in a covered sitting area jutting into Lake Constance. Those who want to get onto the lake can take excursions with commercial cruise lines, or rent motor boats or pedal boats.
A small wooden pier ends in a covered sitting area jutting into Lake Constance. Those who want to get onto the lake can take excursions with commercial cruise lines, or rent motor boats or pedal boats. (Leah Larkin/Special to Stars and Stripes)
A small wooden pier ends in a covered sitting area jutting into Lake Constance. Those who want to get onto the lake can take excursions with commercial cruise lines, or rent motor boats or pedal boats.
A small wooden pier ends in a covered sitting area jutting into Lake Constance. Those who want to get onto the lake can take excursions with commercial cruise lines, or rent motor boats or pedal boats. (Leah Larkin/Special to Stars and Stripes)
These giant feet (shoe size 2,400) are part of the set for the opera 'Aida,' the centerpiece of this year's Bregenzer Festspiele, a monthlong program of opera, concerts and other musical performances. The shoes, which are representative of a broken statue, are on stage the entire opera.
These giant feet (shoe size 2,400) are part of the set for the opera 'Aida,' the centerpiece of this year's Bregenzer Festspiele, a monthlong program of opera, concerts and other musical performances. The shoes, which are representative of a broken statue, are on stage the entire opera. (Leah Larkin/Special to Stars and Stripes)
These giant feet (shoe size 2,400) and large cranes are part of the set for the opera 'Aida,' the centerpiece of this year's Bregenzer Festspiele, a monthlong program of opera, concerts and other musical performances. The shoes, which are representative of a broken statue, are on stage the entire opera. The cranes are used to lift actors in an aerial ballet.
These giant feet (shoe size 2,400) and large cranes are part of the set for the opera 'Aida,' the centerpiece of this year's Bregenzer Festspiele, a monthlong program of opera, concerts and other musical performances. The shoes, which are representative of a broken statue, are on stage the entire opera. The cranes are used to lift actors in an aerial ballet. (Leah Larkin/Special to Stars and Stripes)
The promenade in Bregenz along Lake Constance is a popular place, especially on sunny days and during the Bregenzer Festspiele, when the city is packed with visitors attending the many musical productions.
The promenade in Bregenz along Lake Constance is a popular place, especially on sunny days and during the Bregenzer Festspiele, when the city is packed with visitors attending the many musical productions. (Leah Larkin/Special to Stars and Stripes)
The Pfänderbahn, a cable car from the city center, takes passengers to a mountain top offering splendid views of Lake Constance and surrounding peaks.
The Pfänderbahn, a cable car from the city center, takes passengers to a mountain top offering splendid views of Lake Constance and surrounding peaks. (Leah Larkin/Special to Stars and Stripes)

My husband and I had pedaled through Bregenz, Austria, several times while cycling the Lake Constance bike routes that follow the shores of Europe’s third-largest lake through Austria, Germany and Switzerland.

Each time we sailed right by its famous “floating” stage in the lake and its other sights. We had miles to go and no time to linger and enjoy the town.

But on our last visit, we traveled by car. We took time to stroll along the lake, to wander through Bregenz’s pleasant pedestrian zone, to tour a huge ship anchored in the harbor, to ride a cable car to the top of a mountain — and to get a closer look at that stage.

The stage is the centerpiece of the Bregenzer Festspiele — a monthlong opera festival held every summer. During our visit, huge cranes towered over the stage and a pair of giant feet (shoe size 2,400) that will be featured in the Giuseppe Verdi opera “Aida.” It was presented here last summer and will be repeated from July 22 to Aug. 22.

The big feet are part of the set design for “Aida,” a reference to a broken statue found in “an antique land” in the sonnet by English poet Percy Bysshe Shelley and a symbol of either tolerance or liberty. The cranes will lift the performers in aerial ballets, including the dead lovers in the final scene — all part of the spectacular production.

The festival also will include performances of the opera “The Passenger” by Polish composer Mieczyslaw Weinberg at Bregenz’s Festival Opera House, concerts by the Vienna Symphony Orchestra and the Vorarlberg Symphony Orchestra and some shorter pieces.

Even without musical performances, Bregenz is an enjoyable place. During our May visit, the promenade along the lake was crowded with people out for a stroll. Sightseeing boats offered excursions on the lake. Pedal boats and motor boats were available for rent.

We left the lakeshore for a ride on the Pfänderbahn, a cable car from the city that glides to the mountain top at 3,500 feet. We enjoyed splendid views of the lake and surrounding peaks from the terrace of the mountain restaurant where we had lunch. We took a walk through an alpine wildlife park on the mountain. Crowds were gathering for a show with birds of prey, but we passed on that and rode back down to town where we visited a far-out art exhibit in Bregenz’s Kunsthaus, a noted museum for contemporary art.

Then we wandered up into the older part of town, past Deuring Castle (now a hotel) and into a pretty residential area. We savored dinner in the garden of the Kornmesser restaurant where I went for Zander pike-perch from the lake, and husband Bob chose his favorite Austrian specialty, Tafelspitz, boiled beef with horseradish.

We’d be happy to return to Bregenz, but next time we’ll be sure to go during the opera festival and take in one of those monumental productions.

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