13 September, 2011 05:41

So it’s one week down.

6 more to go and it feels like we’ve been on the road for months. As we wrap up the week and are thinking back over what we’ve done and seen so far the memories are already sadly fading. I guess thats what happens when you try to fit in so much in and your senses are being overloaded by how different things are.

It’s been a great week of cycling, eating, drinking and spending seven night in seven very different locations.
The self guided cycling tour was great. All accommodations booked and it took us to some great locations which I’m sure we wouldn’t have found ourselves but glad we did. Some of the highlights thus far;

Well sign posted bike paths and lanes which crisscross Switzerland and even continue into neighboring countries.

Stopping by the side of the bike path to lunch on the largest fresh raspberries we had ever seen

Cycling right through and within perfectly preserved medieval towns and villages

Ordering from a menu only half knowing what was described and being pleasantly surprised by the results

Spotting 7 castles on one day within the one 50klm stretch of bike paths

Our bikes actually being welcome on most other forms of transport including trains and boats. One cog railway even had a carriage dedicated just for bikes !!!!

Drivers going out of their way to share the road and pedestrians not giving you bad looks for sharing the footpath with them in a responsible manner

The Swiss and Austrians, some of which spoke little or no English, would go out of their way to help you figure out where you were, where the bike track was or what the menu actually meant. I actually got weary of looking at my maps as helpful people would literally pull over in their car or jump out of the bushes to assist meaning I’d then have to go through the energy sapping “I don’t speak …….. nod and smile” sign language dance.

Some great accommodation. Not sure whether it was just Switzerland or the bike tour company but the accommodation has so far been great. Falls into three categories. Old and daggy, old building but the bedrooms and bathrooms had been updated to be quite swank or was just a transfer location in an in-between town which was usually pretty average. Even then every single one was exceptionally clean. And most had free Internet, a loan Swiss to euro plug convertor and a decent restaurant which included breakfast.

Bircher muesli. A swiss invention the perfect start for a cyclists day.

Swiss people are happy and friendly. Not surprised really after spending a week here but if they are sick of all the single-lingual, convict stock, smelly bike yokels they didn’t seem to show it.

The scenery is un bel iev able. If you have any interest in the outdoors or architecture go and find someone to ride with and book yourself on this tour. Every single cliche you have seen or heard is present, correct and wonderful. Rolling green pastures, soft brown cows with bells munching grass, castles perched on cliffs, cerulean blue rivers and lakes, shingled roofs, flowers in windows and cats in meadows. Im sure to the average swiss person the rest of the world must just look like a giant concrete toilet block.
You sometimes have to pinch yourself just to ensure you’re not in some in(s)ane willy wonker inspired chocolate commercial. Staying on the correct side of the road can be challenging when your neck is bent on a strange angle to try and take in the best view of the scene you just passed.
NOTE: Your mileage may vary with the weather but we had sunshine for all but one day. (thanks to global warming Autumn is the new summer)

Great fallback options should a cycling disaster strike. With 5,000klm of train lines Switzerland has one of europes largest networks. For us this meant being able to take a train rather than ride when we were unwell, if it was raining or if we wanted to do more sightseeing than touring that day.

Being able to ride three countries in one day. Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Austria all in the space of 4 hours.

Some nice bikes. Whereas in germany all the bikes were utilitarian and all looked like mountain bikes for the 80s the Swiss bikes had a little more style. Some nice steel frames roadies with original 70s running gear and some great war era bikes that had been fixed up and converted into town bikes.

Anyway we’ve now said adeu to Switzerland and we are hoping that the Italians are brushing up on their english, mowing their fields, soaking our bircher, tempering their chocolate and painting their black and white cows grey in preparation for our arrival after a couple of days in Austria.

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