Goodbye Switzerland

(English at the bottom)

Photo gallery

Die Tage vor der Abreise vergingen wie im Flug. Vielen herzlichen Dank für all die schönen Abschiedswünsche, für den Mittwochabend im SouslePont und das Familienznacht am Donnerstag. Trotz der riesen Vorfreude wurde mir in den letzten Tagen auch bewusst, wie sehr ich meine Freunde und Familie vermissen werde. Es tut mir sehr leid, wenn ich in der ganzen Hektik nicht mehr dazu gekommen bin, auf die eine oder andere SMS zu antworten. Ich hätte mir niemals vorstellen können, mit wie viel Aufwand eine Abmeldung aus der Schweiz verbunden ist.

Packing the medical supplies (thanks Miri)

Packing the medical supplies (thanks Miri)

Nina's pile of stuff

Nina’s pile of stuff

Finishing touches

Finishing touches

Goodbye Fuhrenweg, Wichtrach

Goodbye Fuhrenweg, Wichtrach

Speeding through Emmental

Speeding through Emmental

Slippery icy bike path through Emmental

Slippery icy bike path through Emmental

Emme River in Burgdof

Emme River in Burgdof

Our hosts in Aarau (Regi and Marc)

Our hosts in Aarau (Regi and Marc)

Aare River after Aarau

Aare River after Aarau

Through the forest in canton Aargau

Through the forest in canton Aargau

Church in Brugg

Church in Brugg

Graffiti in Brugg

Graffiti in Brugg

Street Art in Brugg

Street Art in Brugg

Poulet aux Rezny (with Simone and Tom)

Poulet aux Rezny (with Simone and Tom)

Over the hill behind Zurich

Over the hill behind Zurich

Springtime is coming

Wintherthur

Wintherthur

"wood loop" with Serge Lunin

“wood loop” with Serge Lunin

Dinner with the Suter family

Dinner with the Suter family

Thurgau bike escort (thanks Marius)

Thurgau bike escort (thanks Marius)

Lake of Constance

Lake of Constance

Austrian border

Austrian border

Am 8. März haben wir es aber dann doch geschafft und verliessen Wichtrach Richtung Aarau. Schon nach 200 m Fahrt hielt uns ein freundlicher Wichtracher an, um nach unserer Route und den Velos zu fragen. Zwar haben wir in vielen Reiseblogs über die Gastfreundschaft und Freundlichkeit gelesen, die Velofahrenden so oft entgegengebracht wird, wir hätten aber nicht gedacht, schon in Wichtrach und anschliessend an vielen weiteren Orten in der Schweiz  auf so grosses Interesse und Offenheit zu stossen.  Gleich mehrfach wurde uns angeboten, bei jemandem zu übernachten, Autofahrende winkten uns zu und in Winterthur lud uns der Schreiner und Lebenskünstler Serge Mojonnier, der im Jahr 1973 eine ähnliche Reise unternommen hat, zur äusserst spannenden Ausstellung wood loop ein.

Von Wichtrach aus fuhren wir über Konolfingen, Burgdorf, Lagenthal nach Aarau. Ab und zu mussten wir von der Velo- auf die Hautpstrasse abweichen, weil erstere noch komplett mit Schnee bedeckt war. Kurz nach Mittag fing es zu regnen an und es hörte erst wieder auf, als wir in Aarau ankamen. Trotz Erschöpfung wegen dem Regen, der Kälte und natürlich auch den noch untrainierten Beinen freuten wir uns nach dem ersten Velotag noch mehr als jemals zuvor auf alles, was in den nächsten Monaten auf uns zukommen würde. Mit dem Velo durch die Natur zu fahren und jeden Tag draussen sein zu können, fühlt sich an wie die pure Freiheit.

In Aarau wurden wir von Regi und Marc so richtig verwöhnt und mit einem Fondue mit Agi, Beat, Gregi und Pia überrascht. Danke euch allen für den schönen Abend!

Am zweiten Tag (9. März) radelten wir von Aarau nach Zürich. Der Veloweg nach Brugg, entlang der Aare, ist sehr idyllisch und empfehlenswert. Danke auch euch, liebe Simone und Tom, für das wunderbare Znacht, den guten Wein und das bequeme Bett in Zürich.

Der dritte Tag (10. März) brachte uns von Zürich nach Romanshorn. Nach der Mittagspause (und dem Ausstellungsbesuch) in Winterthur ging’s meist über Feldwege und Apfelbäumen entlang durch den Kanton Thurgau. Obwohl die ganze Strecke ziemlich flach war, kamen wir doch hungrig und erschöpft in Romanshorn an, so dass wir das herrliche Znacht, das uns Marius` Eltern, Angelika und Florian, kochten, die Geburtstags-Kirschtorte und die Cupcakes von Sara umso mehr genossen. Auch meine Schwester Miri war für eine Nacht nach Romanshorn gereist und es fühlte sich ein letztes Mal ein wenig wie zu Hause an.  Danke euch allen!

An meinem Geburtstagsmorgen (11. März) frühstückten wir noch zusammen, verabschiedeten uns von der grosszügigen Familie Suter und ein letztes Mal auch von Miri und fuhren dem Bodensee entlang los und anschliessend durchs Rheinthal hindurch Richtung Österreich. Bei Meiningen überquerten wir die Grenze und es schien, als würde das Abenteuer nun so richtig beginnnen.

Goodbye Switzerland

The few days we had to organise everything in Switzerland after arriving back from Australia passed in the blink of an eye and we both felt that the limited timeframe we’d set ourselves meant we’d never be ready to leave.  Bureaucracy being a favourite pastime of the Swiss meant that we spent the first hours off the plane from Australia biding our time in this Cantonal office or that.

It was great that we could share one last drink for 2013 with so many great friends and family firstly at the end of February in Australia and then in Souslepont last Wednesday and finally enjoy a home cooked family dinner in Wichtrach on Thursday in order to top up our energy levels for the following day.  Thank you to everyone for your support and friendship over the last 12 months and especially for your patience listening to hours on end of details about this bloody bike trip.

In retrospect Friday morning (8th March) seems like a bit of a blur.  Thanks to our jetlag and Nina’s incessant need to spring out of bed the moment her eyes are open we were up packing at around 5am.  By some kind of miracle all of our bags were packed and loaded onto the bikes around 11am and after a sort photo shoot with Miri we were finally on our way – and that’s when reality comes and gives you a slap in the face.  500m down the road Nina noticed that her steering column seemed a little shaky (not very reassuring when the bike is loaded with 30kg of stuff).  A quick stop at the bike shop in Münsingen (the neighbouring village) wasn’t part of our plan, but a new screw for the headset seemed to do the trick and we were on our way – again!!

From Münsingen we set sail towards Aarau, via Emmental through Konolfingen, Burgdorf, Langenthal and Olten.  Just so that our first day wasn’t made too easy, it started to rain after about 1 hour and decided not to stop until the next morning in Aarau.  Just on dusk we finally arrived in Aarau, exhausted with 85km in our heavy cold untrained legs, happy to be greeted by the friendly faces of Marc und Regi and their warm apartment in the beautiful old town.  Cheese fondue in a tiny cosy restaurant with some of Nina’s other university friends (thanks Gregi, Pia, Agi and Beat) from her days in Basel rounded out our first day.

Following a delicious brunch with Marc und Regi we set off on Saturday (9th March) under almost sunny skies from Aarau towards Zürich.  Riding on the bike path along the Aare River was very picturesque (although unfortunately for the legs not quite as flat as we might have imagined) and a few hours later we turned onto the Limmat River and cruise into Zürich after about 60km where our next bed at Simone and Tom’s was waiting for us on the 5th floor (probably good training having to carry the bikes up and down a few flights of stairs). We were happy to see that Tom was already in the kitchen cooking when we arrived, and we immensely enjoyed his Poulet aux Rezny.  Thanks to you both again for your amazing hospitality.

A long day from Zürich to Romanshorn (about 90km) awaited us on Sunday (10th March) so we set off early towards Thurgau, the apple belt of Switzerland.  A quick mid-morning coffee and cake in Winterthur led to a chance encounter with another avid cyclist, Serge Lunin, who undertook a bike trip similar to ours in 1973 from Switzerland to Sri Lanka and we enjoyed hearing about the things he experienced all those years ago.  By coincidence we met him outside an art exhibition that he was involved in, wood loop, which focused on different methods of bending and breaking wood (hard to explain, but incredibly interesting).  Leaving Winterthur we soon came into apple country and the rolling hills towards the Lake of Constance.  Here we were looking forward to seeing Miri (Nina’s sister) who came to visit with the train from Bern, and Marius (Miri’s uni friend), and also meeting Marius’ parents, Florian and Angelika.  Special thanks to again to the whole Suter family for your kindness and wonderful dinner, wine and warm soft bed.

Although Monday morning (11th March) was Annina’s 30th birthday, there wasn’t too much time for sleeping in since our destination for the day was Bludenz in Austria, about 90 km away.  With Florian acting as statistician, we set about weighing our all of luggage and bikes, just for interests sake.  All up Nina is lugging an extra 48.3kg and Paul 55.8kg.  We then said goodbye to Miri and were fortunate enough to receive a personal escort in the form of Marius for the first 15km of the day along the Lake of Constance towards the Austrian border.  Saying goodbye to Marius seemed to be a bad omen, since the rain started almost as soon as he headed back towards Romanshorn. We were well prepared with our wet weather gear, but I hope that Marius managed to get home relatively dry.  We rode a while along the Rhein River in St. Gallen and then hopped our first of many borders into Austria at Meiningen.

Now after 3 days we can slowly begin to have some idea of what we’re getting ourselves into.  A total lack of sport and exercise in the last month, combined with a total over consummation of fabulous food and wine in Australia, means that we haven’t really had the ideal physical preparation for the trip.  The constant burn and heaviness in our legs can certainly attest to that, however, we always did say that the first month counts simply as a training ride.  For both of us, the highlight has probably just been the opportunity to be together outside so much in the fresh air surrounded by such beautiful nature and scenery.

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2 thoughts on “Goodbye Switzerland

  1. Great blog, love the photos! I guess that’s one way to get over the jetlag. Stay safe and enjoy.

  2. Nina, Happy (belated) Birthday!! You manage to send me birthday wishes from Bulgaria and I can’t even send you a message from the comfort of my warm comfy couch!! This will surely be one birthday that you’ll never forget.

    Daryl

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