Having been back from our 20-month adventure for 2.5 months we thought it was time for another cycling trip. I started working 9 hours a week and the company was closing for vacation the first three weeks of August. Not an ideal time to go away as half of Europe takes off at exactly that time, but we had no choice. And off we went on the 2nd of August.
Day 1 – 80km to Tuttlingen: The plan was to leave early as we had packed most of our gear the evening before. But as always on the first day, we only left by 11am. We wanted to pedal South in the direction of the French Alps by crossing Switzerland and end up somewhere at the Italian Riviera. As always these plans changed. The first rain hit us after 8km. Thankfully we were just shopping our food for the day and by the time we were ready the rain had stopped. We cycled along the river Neckar, mostly on small bike paths through forests and fields and enjoyed the lush scenery. We ended up in Tuttlingen at the famous Danube and pitched our tent at a small campsite where only cyclists and mostly French cyclists would camp. We could tell that the Danube cycle path is very popular amongst pseudo touring cyclists from the amount of cyclists of all ages and shapes we met. That day we just managed to get to bed on time before the skies opened!
Day 2 – 65km to Kreuzlingen (CH): The rain only stopped at 7:30am and we packed up everything as quickly as we could but still only left by 9:45am, a good and healthy breakfast is too important. It’s been a beautiful route, after we had climbed a 3km long and super steep hill. At the top of the hill we could see the Lake of Constance in the mist and beautiful rolling hills all around us. From then on we mostly went downhill through a picturesque valley and every once in a while we could catch a glimpse of the Lake. As the weather improved we dried our tent during lunch, went for a swim as soon as we reached the Lake, ate ice cream in Constance in the rain and pitched our tent in the pouring rain at an extremely busy and expensive campsite in Switzerland. At least there was a dry spot to cook!
Day 3 – 67km to Kriessern at the Rhine: We woke to beautiful weather and continued cycling all along the Southern shore of Lake Constance. Tons of people do the same, it’s another famous cycle route. We still enjoyed the beauty of this area with the Lake to the left and snow-capped mountains to the front and right. Easy cycling all day long. When checking in at the campsite and asking for the price, we were told it’s 22CHF. That’s cheap (in Swiss terms) we thought, only until we paid the bill and another 8 CHF were added for the tent! We saved the 1CHF for the shower and enjoyed a wash with ice-cold water as it was still very hot outside. Right after dinner it rained again!
Day 4 – 81km to Weesen: Rain again in the morning, so we left late to avoid the worst. The route continued along the Rhine and by lunchtime the sun was shining again, the sky became clear blue, the grass even greener and the scenery lovelier. We climbed one short but steep hill along Walensee, Johan lost a fight with a deaf moped rider who managed to stay right in front of him for a few kilometres without letting him pass. Johan became almost furious and I smiled behind seeing Johan move from left to right to left to right on the small path. We camped next to the lake at a mosquito campsite and this time the rain only started in the middle of the night (thankfully (!!!) we had our laundry hanging outside. We should have learnt by now.
Day 5 – 88km to Flüelen: Rain all night, sunshine in the morning. As we wanted to climb our first pass, the Klausenpass, we packed up everything wet and left shortly after 8am. For about 34km we cycled on a dedicated bike path through a valley that got narrower with every kilometer. A few sheepish clouds were hanging between the mountains, but otherwise it was a perfect day for a long climb. The air was very clear, all we heard were the cow bells, some motorbikes in the distance and the odd barking from a dog. We moved to the main pass road when the real climbing started. Traffic was acceptable with a few idiots on motorbikes passing too fast and too close. After about two hours or 13km we reached a plateau, a welcomed rest for our legs far beyond 1,000m of altitude. The last 8km to the top continued very steep and I hardly cycled faster than 5km/h. At some scarier parts with a very narrow road I cycled trying to watch the road and the edge at the same time. Only a very low fence separated me and Rudi, the bike, from the edge of a precipice. The weather deteriorated again and by the time we reached the top, we were in the middle of the clouds. Happy to have reached 1,952 m but sad for not having had a view. And now we were looking forward to a wonderful descent only to learn we had to climb two more times. A big deception. By the time we finally reached a village we treated ourselves to the best Döner ever, pitched our tent by the Vierwaldstätter See and went to bed shattered.
Day 6 – 53km to Giswil: Despite it wasn’t raining we took it easy, we still felt the long climb in our legs. We continued cycling along the lake for about 10km and through a few bike tunnels – the only tunnels we like – before we reached a sign warning us about the upcoming busy road without bike path and advising us to take the train. Having seen the traffic it was an easy choice for us, the train it was. We cycled one of the Swiss national bike routes that guided us to a ferry to cross the lake. As we arrived about 10 minutes too late, we had a forced rest at the lake for about 1.5 hours. The weather was perfect, it was lunchtime and for once we really rested. By the time we reached the other side of the lake the weather worsened and soon we would cycle in the rain again. Within no time it was pouring cats and dogs and at the campsite we opted for a cabin instead of pitching the tent. Not the best choice, as the rain stopped shortly afterwards and it stayed dry all night. Arghhhh!
Day 7 – 82km to Gwatt: Worst night ever, our neighbour must have had a nightmare as she started screaming in the middle of the night. The route was very scenic and we had to climb a lot. It started with a 12% and 2km climb followed by some shorter and easier climbs, followed by the Brünigpass, where we cycled on an extremely busy pass road for about 3km and decided to take a detour to avoid the heavy traffic. We didn’t really get it why this road was part of the national bike route, far too busy and dangerous.
That day we also passed a lot of signs from hotels offering ‘Free accommodation’. We were very tempted to take on their offer, but in the end preferred our tent to sleep in. Switzerland is also a country with very funny names, at least for me as a German: Fußpflege Zwicky, Märchy, Stöckli Metall AG, Garage Wursteisen, Tschudi Holz AG to name just a few. Sometimes we thought that Swiss German is easy to speak, you just need to add ‘li’ to the end of a noun and that’s it. But there is much more to this very nice sounding language.
We also cycled through Interlaken, situated between two lakes with a beautiful Jungfrau vista. Unfortunately the city was packed with tourists from all over the world and far too busy for us so we quickly pedalled through the city, admired the ‘Jungfrau’, whose top unfortunately was covered in clouds. We ended up at the most expensive campsite so far and by the time we went to bed it started raining and storming again and wouldn’t stop all night. Time for a decision on how to move on in this weather!