At Domodossola we took a train through the Simplon tunnel to Brig, Switzerland and biked down the Rhône Valley to Montreux, passing once again through the invisible linguistic curtain from German to French.
Along the way we rode on parts of six of the nine national bike routes crisscrossing the country. We stayed primarily at youth hostels and small family owned hotels. The weather? It was HOT!! We happened to arrive just as the Great European Heat Wave of was settling over the continent. We're from Ohio and we get our fair share of summer sizzlers but 10 straight days of 90 plus degrees were more than we bargained for.
Our flight arrived in Geneva along with all our checked baggage and two Bike Fridays. The rest of us rented bikes from Genèv' Roule. Using the internet from home we found only two establishments for bike rentals in Geneva. The other being Rent A Bike that rents bikes from train stations throughout Switzerland. The bikes from Genèv' Roule were passable. They were hybrid bikes with rear racks, 21 speeds a standard 7 cog rear derailleur with a 3-speed internal huband a "mixte" frame style that allegedly accommodates all riders.
That is after a couple days of riding and numerous stops for adjustments, experimentation, and general fiddling around with seat posts, handlebars, and finicky gears. The bottom line is the price was right and we had no breakdowns. Be prepared to speak French when you arrive at Genèv' Roule, as English speakers were in short supply during our visit to the shop.
Genèv' Roule is funded in part from sponsors who exhibit advertising placards on the bike frame. The bikes are then loaned out for free on a daily basis. Since we were using the bikes for many days, as well as taking them out of the environs of Geneva, the placards were removed and we were charged for renting the bikes, albeit a reasonable charge.
So join us on a five part trip through Switzerland using the links below. Click here to contact us with questions or comments. One of the few urban hostels not located next to a noisy train line. This hostel had storage lockers where we left suitcases and items not needed during the trip. They also provided locked garage storage for the bikes when not in use.
It was 99 degrees the day we arrived in Geneva. We had made lodging reservations well in advance for the entire trip since we were a party of eight traveling in August. When the airlines provided a significant price break by leaving a day later we knew changing lodging reservations at the 11th hour would be a monumental task.
We decided to take the train to cover the first riding day from Geneva to Morges to make up for the lost day. The first cycling day began along Lake Geneva at Morges. Unfortunately, we had only a short distance along the beautiful lake before we headed inland. Riding north from Morges on Cycle Route. We did a bit of single track when we deviated from the bike route to avoid an unnecessary hill. On our maps we noted a dashed line along a river circumventing a steep hill.
The back road eventually ended at a small farmyard with a gate. The barking dogs brought out a delightful curmudgeon of a man who greeted us with a big smile and a flurry of French phrases. Our limited French wasn't much help but he was talking a universal language of facial expressions and hand gestures. We understood what he was saying despite the language barrier.
He seemed to be whispering: "Yes, yes you can take this path, but go quietly so the old lady doesn't hear you sneaking through the farm! The terrain leveled out after the village of La Sarraz and we arrived for lunch in Yverdon-les-Bains on Lac de Neuchâtel. We contributed a few ducats to the local street musician performing for afternoon passers-by.
Our first riding day ends in Estavayer-le-Lac on Lac de Neuchâtel, and what's this? A McDonald's Hotel? Whose idea of a joke was this? Finding out how the room lights were activated was entertaining; a drunk would never find the little unmarked slot in the wall where one needs to insert their key card.
Besides a McDee's restaurant, the hotel also included a second fast-food eatery, gift shop and small grocery store.
Beginning the second riding day making bike adjustments in the McDonald's Hotel lobby. From the parking lot we found a bike path that tunneled under the freeway.
We left Cycle Route. This route is shown on the Veloland Schweiz maps. While we were visiting the beautifully restored 11th c Abbey Church in Payerne we were approached by Peter and Hans, two Swiss gentlemen who were vacationing near Murten. They must have overheard us talking and asked if we were English. They found it curious to find Americans biking in the region and they invited us to stop for drinks at their summer cottage on our way to Bern.
We accepted but we had a lot to see in the 13 miles between Payerne and Murten. The alternate route we chose was pretty flat until we ran into a 16 stray hill near Dompierre. Oddly enough this section was designated as an inline skate route on a regional tourist map. Avenches turned out to be an interesting lunch stop. It was at one time the capital of the Helvetii Celtic tribe. The Romans transformed it into Aventicum and their legacy is still visible in the 12,seat amphitheatre, city wall, gates, and a watchtower.
Avenches is situated on a small hill but it's well worth the climb. Murten is a picturesque town on the shore of the Murtensee. German is the predominant language here. The medieval ramparts surrounding much of the old town are said to be the finest in Switzerland. There's no charge to explore the ramparts with great views of the town and the lake. We thought we would make a quick stop to see Peter and Hans at their beach front cottage on the lake as they insisted we should.
As it turned out their genial hospitality completely sidetracked us. It started out with lively conversation, a good Swiss wine, cheese, crackers, fruit, and more wine. Then we found ourselves digging through our panniers for the bathing suits, and all of us walking across the lane to the lakeshore, and going for a swim in the 80 degree water of the Murtensee.
A perfect end to a great day but now it was evening. We'd never make it to Bern by bike. We bid our hosts goodbye and rode a few miles north to Kerzers and caught a train. It was dark as we arrived in Bern. Part 2: Bern to Interlaken As the capital of Switzerland, Bern remarkably retains a feeling of small town charm.
We preferred its intimacy and pedestrian friendliness over the congestion of busy, urban, international Geneva. The old town has 6 km of covered arcades sheltering outdoor cafés and well-appointed shops bustling with local shoppers. A stroll along the old cobblestone streets reveals interesting architectural details. The old town is adorned with eleven artistic fountains from the 16th c. At the Kornhausplatz is the 22 bizarre Kindlifresserbrunnen or Ogre Fountain that depicts a fiend devouring a child.
How many generations of children have been warned by their parents that this represents the consequences of misbehavior? The tower has an excellent viewing platform for a dizzying view of the city and the turquoise swath of the Aare River as it loops around the city. In most of the city was destroyed by fire and rebuilt in stone. The great cathedral was begun in and boasts reticulated vaulting and largest cathedral bells in Switzerland.
The impressive stained glass windows include the grotesque "Dance of Death" by Niklaus Manuel from the 15th c. The colorful 15th c. There is a graphic Last Judgement scene depicting the entry of the Blessed into Paradise and the torture of the Unbelievers and their fall into the fires of Hell. The Wise and Foolish Virgins are shown waiting at the door. The cast of figures total and exhibit much action and symbolism.
There's much more to Bern than the cathedral. Of course there are the city mascots, the bears. Although they are confined to the bear pits these comedians seem perfectly content performing their antics for snacks from the appreciative audience. The Federal Palace is home to the Swiss Parliament.
The National Council and the Council of States maintain chambers here. Separating the chambers is the Hall of the Dome. The impressive glass dome displays the coats of arms of the Swiss cantons. Tours are available when the parliament is not in session. Throughout the sections open to the public visitors can peruse the artifacts, photos, and documents of Switzerland's political past. Klosters The special offer 2 nights, 2 Nights in Double room, Half-board, Public transport ticket for Klosters per person per stay, 2 x Sion Cycling tour from Sion to the Goms valley 7 nights, Ascents to the mountain passes and sunny valleys make Valais the perfect area for a cycling trip Martigny Wine trail by bike 3 days 2 nights, Some of Switzerland's best wines ripen on the sunny side of the Rhone Valley.
Road bike rides hood river
The vineyards line the Sarnen Enjoy active weekend 1 night, 1 Night in Double room, Breakfast, 1 x 4 course evening meal on arrival date per person per stay, Gwatt Enjoy and wind down 4 nights, 4 Nights in Double room, Half-board, 1 x 5 course gourmet evening meal per person per night, 3 x Gwatt Unwind and relax by the lakeside 2 nights, 2 Nights in Double room, Breakfast, 2 x evening meal per person per stay, 1 x 25 minutes Massage per Miglieglia Discover Miglieglia 2 nights, 2 Nights in Double room, breakfast buffet, Mountain railway return journey per person per night, Track cycling race.
SlowUp Morat Lake. From 8 May. Bike Days Solothurn. From 6 Jun. Raid Evolénard. From 26 Jun.
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