[Yak] Get to Switzerland!
Derek & Sharon Wilbraham
dwilbraham at suscom-maine.net
Tue Sep 2 07:28:55 CDT 2008
We just came back from a 3 week trip cycling through Switzerland. It
was fantastic! I was on my Bike Friday New World Tourist and my husband
was on our coupled DaVinci tandem with our 7 year old daughter. We were
fully laden, camping as we went along. We flew direct from Boston to
Zurich on Swiss Air. Our bikes packed into regulation size cases and
flew free as part of our checked luggage allowance. We flew in and out
of Zurich. We booked a night at the beginning of our trip and 2 nights
at the end of our trip at the Welcome Inn in Kloten. They had free
shuttle service to & from the airport and held our luggage for us for
the duration of our trip. The staff were very friendly and Kloten was a
good starting point for us. We highly recommend them. For you folks that
are purists and want to start cycling from the airport, not a problem!
The national bike route #5 has signs starting right from the airport!
Our plan was to start in Zurich and bike to as many of the places that I
had highlighted on a map of Switzerland based on things I had read in
some tour books. We underestimated some distances and the terrain slowed
us down some so we never made it to the Italian part of Switzerland, but
we did and saw quite a bit. The national bike route network was very
impressive. We could have done without some of the off road pieces and
lost some of the signs when we really needed some alternate routes (we
ended up on a very busy piece of road headed toward Visp with no
shoulder and large trucks. More than we cared to deal with but we
gritted our teeth and pressed on). For the most part, the bike routes
worked very well. My husband is the navigator and made do with the Swiss
Cycle route map from Kummerly & Frey that showed all the national
routes , local bike routes, and campgrounds/hostels. We also had a Swiss
Camping guide with us but found that the cycle map was sufficient.
Our trip took us from Zurich, east along the lake to Rapperswil, joining
Route 9 across the lake to Einsiedeln, to Zug then Lucern, then south
over the Brunigpass to Meiringen, to Interlaken (for 2 nights). We took
the train to the Jungfraujoch for a day trip - gorgeous!, onto Bern via
Route 8 (in the pouring rain only to be turned away at the youth hostel
because they were full so we back tracked to a campground to camp in the
rain). From Bern to Lake Neuchatel picking up Route 5. We cycled around
lake Neuchatel using Route 5 for part of it, then went onto Fribourg,
Murten, Bulle, and Gruyeres following parts of Route 4, back to Bulle to
take the train to Geneva. We then cycled along Lake Geneva, following
the Rhone route 1 to Visp, took a train to Zermatt that evening to look
around, then continued on to Oberwald, over the Furka Pass to Realp.
Onward to Andermatt, over the Oberalp pass , following the Rhein route
2 to Chur. Then took a train from Chur back to Zurich. The trains were a
non issue for my Friday. On two of the trains, the tandem was fine.
There was a large train car where you could use lashing straps to secure
the bikes to the side of the car. On one train, my husband had to stand
next to the tandem in the entryway between cars in case people got on or
off the train because the bike area was only made for single bikes to be
stood on end on a hook.
When we arrived back in Zurich, we still had most of the day so we
decided to do a quick ride through the city following the walking map
and then cycled to the zoo - which was also uphill. We thought we would
have an easy day. We biked like 16 miles that day and 10 of them must
have been uphill. Oh well, that meant more chocolate to eat! We still
had a day padded in before going home so we rented a car and drove north
to Schaffhausen, Stein am Rhein , along the Bodensee, down through
Liechtenstein and back to Zurich. The lake route which is also part of
National route 2 was full of bike tourists. It's a very flat and scenic
route with lots of villages scattered along the lake front. We missed
our bikes very much that day. We'll just have to return some other time!
Switzerland was a bit pricey overall but we mainly shopped for food in
grocery stores with the occasional treats. Grocery store shopping also
allowed us to afford chocolates, cookies & cakes, Swiss beer, and wines
:-) In the morning, we treated ourselves to pastries in the
bakeries/konditories/patisseries/boulangeries. We also treated ourselves
to fondue in Gruyeres and raclette in Zermatt. We wish we could have had
more time. The mountain passes were hard work but we did them and it
was very rewarding. We determined that anything over 10% was too
difficult with our load so at some points, we just got off & pushed.
Also, something to consider, our digital cameras had overexposure issues
at high altitude. My digital Canon Rebel always performed flawlessly on
other trips and I was very disappointed with a large amount of photos
looking overexposed in bright sunlight. My husband's Pentax also has
some washed out photos.
Please feel free to contact us offline with any questions about the trip!
Sharon, Derek, & Jenny Wilbraham
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