Mouse over any Image to see a larger view.
PROLOGUE:Conrad Dege was our German Exchange Student in 1985. He invited us to Germany to attend his 10 Wedding Anniversary Celebration in May 2019. We added an independent bicycle tour of Switzerland from Geneva to Romanshorn to the trip. This was our first opportunity to travel internationally with our Electric Assist Hawthorne Tandem. The travel log follow:
Monday May 20, 2019: Munich to Geneva
We left Görlitz Sunday afternoon and drove to the Munich airport and checked into the Hilton hotel for the night. We had an early flight to Geneva on Monday morning and wanted to stay at the airport to eliminate any stress catching the flight with all of our luggage. Our flight for Geneva was on time arriving a few minutes past noon. Transportation from the airport to the Geneva downtown train station is free. We were concerned about getting the bike plus our luggage onto the train, but this time is was easy because the train car had a section for bikes where we could stash the bike cases. Our hotel in Geneva was across the street from the station and an easy walk even with the luggage. First on our agenda was to assemble our tandem bicycle. The hotel arranged for us to use the fitness center to lay out the bike and put it back together. We had planned to meet rep from Bike Switzerland at 3:00 in the lobby. We managed to finish the assembly although a little fine tuning remained. We met Matt and he went over the itinerary for our tour. Then he made a few restaurant suggestions and showed a few places using Google Earth that could be confusing as we followed along the routes. After he left we were ready for find a bar and restaurant. We followed Matt’s suggestion and visited “Les Cinq Portes” for dinner; a good suggestion!
Tuesday May 21, 2019 Geneva – Chexbres
We began our independent tour today. We had to have our luggage in the lobby by 8:30 for Eurotrek (this is the company which every day moved our luggage from hotel to hotel. Their service was flawless and transparent) to pick up for delivery to our next destination. After breakfast we walked over to the Bike Switzerland shop to do some final checks on the bike and drop the bike cases for them to deliver to our final stop at Romanshorn. Matt was there and escorted us out of town with stops in front of the UN building and other significant sights in Geneva. We were soon on our way following the prompts on the Ride With GPS app on our phone. We stopped for lunch in Rolle; we wanted a break, but also wanted to recharge the bicycle battery. The morning route was mostly on bike trails with little of interest to see. The second half of the trip was a little more interesting especially after we cleared Lausanne and headed up into the vineyards and wine country overlooking Lake Geneva. The final destination was Chexbres which is a small village nestled in the vineyards with an amazing view of the lake. We arrived a few minutes past 4:00 in the afternoon having just completed 53 mile on the bike with 3000 feet of climbing in 4 ½ hours. The Prealpina Hotel was in a remote location so we elected to stay there for dinner.
Wedesday May 22, 2019 Chexbres – Gstaad:
The breakfast buffet in the Hotel PreAlpina was a typical European breakfast except the water boiler for the eggs was not up to temperature so it was impossible to cook an egg. We started our ride close to 10:00 following the high route above Lake Geneva through the terraced vineyards. The route was on low traffic roads for a while before actually finding a bike path but the direction was only up. We rode through beautiful high meadow pastures with cows ringing their bells the entire route. Sometime around noon we rode into Gruyere where we stopped for lunch and a tour of a factory where the famous Gruyere cheese is made. From the lunch stop we continued on towards Gstaad constantly climbing through some of the most idyllic scenery possible. We arrived at the HUUS hotel in Gstaad about 4:30 in the afternoon. This is a spectacular hotel with incredible views of the mountains! The amenities were off the charts and the service and personnel matched the venue. We visited the bar for happy hour before moving to the restaurant for a memorable dining experience. Following dinner we were ready to collapse and recall the scenes from our 50 mile ride with 4000 feet of climbing.
Thursday May 23, 2019 Gstaad-Wengen
We had a wonderful breakfast at the HUUS hotel before we collected our tandem from the hotel bike shop and departed for the scheduled route. The route took us through a tour of Gstaad just in case we really wanted to see a tourist village full of multi millionaires. OK, it was nice, but we believe Fredericksburg is just as appealing. From Gstaad we climbed over the mountain pass, seeing gorgeous high meadows with cows grazing and ringing their bells. The first third of the days was through some truly wonderfully scenic areas of Switzerland, but it soon crashed as we encountered some seemingly endless gravel trails. Our progress slowed to a crawl as we struggled to keep the bike moving forward through the sloppy paths. Eventually we said enough of this crap and decided to chart our own route with the help of the Garmin and Google maps. We got back onto the road we should have never left and soon ended up on a good route into Interlaken without any more gravel paths. Thanks to the internet we could find options which were better for us. The ride for Spietz to Interlaken was almost all downhill so the bad memories of the lousy gravel paths soon faded. We found the Carlton Hotel where we had arrangements to store our bike for the next 2 days. We found the train station and caught the next train to Lauterbrunen and connection to Wengen. We found the Falken Hotel which would be our address for the next 2 nights. After checking in, we walked to a local tavern for a beer and then to the Eiger Restaurant for dinner. If you ever saw the movie “The Eiger Sanction” that’s where we are. So now it’s time to shut down for the evening and relax. Today we rode 50 miles with 2600 feet of climbing.
Friday May 24, 2019 -Wengen:
Wengen is a small village accessible only by hiking or by funicular train. There are vehicles here but they all have to be carried up on rail flat cars. Wengen is a tourist destination famous for skiing and hiking and access to the “top of Europe” train station on the Jungfrau…the highest train station in Europe. We planned to rest from the bike riding and do a little hiking. To our surprise the hiking was much more challenging than we had considered. We wanted to hike up to a train stop for lunch and then ride the train back down, but the trail was so steep that we abandoned this plan after 2 and a half miles of climbing (not hiking). Back in Wengen we went to the train station to finalize plans for the bike ride on Saturday. We made plans based on the weather forecast which not favorable. After buying tickets for the next day, we bought sandwiches in the local grocery store and the stopped for lunch in a park. We wandered around the town a bit before returning to the Falken Hotel to read and relax. I decided to visit the local supermarket to get a bottle of wine and some snacks for our happy hour. We were trying to decide where to go for dinner when a light rain started. That made the decision easy to stay at the hotel and enjoy their pris fixe dinner which was a salad, cheese ramekin, filet of sea bream and pear Helene. Excellent dinner with a reasonable price considering we are in Switzerland. So our activities today included more than 5 miles of hiking, with over 15,000 steps and 1800 calories burned. Needless to say we were ready for a night’s rest.
Saturday May 25, 2019 –Wengen – Lucerne (Luzern):
Some days are better than others for riding a bicycle and at our age and experience we choose to ride only we the conditions are pleasant. When we woke up this morning we realized the weather forecast was not favorable, but we thought we would have until noon before the rain started and could get in at least a 10 mile ride from Interlaken to Brienz. The weather did not corporate and we abandoned the bike ride in favor of a comfortable train ride to Lucerne. We did have a pleasant breakfast in the Falken Hotel in Wengen and then caught the 8:33 funicular down to Interlaken. When we arrived there, the rainy weather and wet roads was just not what we would be comfortable with so we abandoned the ride and bought train tickets. We found the train car with space for bicycles and rode comfortably into Lucerne, arriving about 1:00 in the afternoon. We were able to check into the Monopol hotel and garage the bike in a special locker near the train station. Our luggage arrived from Wengen as we were parking the bike. We changed from bike clothes into street clothes and set off to explore the old town and find a lunch venue. Bike Switzerland had recommended a brew pub on the water close to the hotel. We found the Rathaus and enjoyed a local beer and a pretzel sandwich. We walked around the town for a while and ended up in city historical museum. The guided tour of the museum was with digital tablets which could read a bar code at various exhibits and then explain what we were seeing. Our late lunch at the brewpub required some down time before a very late dinner. We found an Istanbul Kebap kiosk in the train station for dinner and a beverage shop nearby for the drinks. We spent some time planning our ride for tomorrow and we’re hoping for decent weather for the next leg of this adventure.
Sunday May 26, 2019 – Lucerne (Luzern) – Rapperswil:
As predicted the weather improved providing us good conditions for cycling. We were facing the most challenging day of the tour so we wanted to get an early start. Breakfast at the Monopol Hotel began at 7:00am…it was a standard European breakfast with nothing remarkable. After breakfast I walked over to the Velostation to claim our bike from storage while Becky finished checking out of the hotel. We were on the bike out of town by 8:30. The route through the old town was a bit twisted but soon we were on a bike path paralleling the river. The first 10 miles were fairly flat and we rode without the electric assist to conserve power In the battery. We soon started to climb following the route of a fast flowing river…the grade averaged about 5% but the path was gravel so we really couldn’t keep up a fast pace. We exited the river’s path and started a serious climb to reach the high meadows between the valleys. At noon we stopped in Rothenthun for lunch and recharge the battery. The staff in the restaurant was very accommodating and seemed very interested in our trip but were especially curious why I had learned to speak German. Now with a charged battery and satisfied bellies we were ready to tackle the last half of the tour. The roads and vistas improved for the rest of the ride with paved surfaces and gorgeous view of the Swiss landscape. We knew we had one major climb to summit before we could coast down into Rapperswil. The climb was a steady 10 – 12% for over a mile and the reserve power in the battery was approaching empty. Fortunately there was enough to assist us over the top and then we started the final descent for 7 miles to Rapperswil. We arrived at the Jacob Hotel about 3:30 and had time to clean up and change before strolling through the town. The first stop was to refresh with a local beer before visiting the church and castle fortress. We found a good Italian restaurant for dinner and enjoyed a bottle of the local Pinot Noir with our pasta. Finally we retired to our room with the satisfaction of having ridden over 65 miles with 4000 feet of climbing in just over 5 hours. We’re ready for some rest!.
Monday May 27, 2019 –Rapperswil – Feldkirch
The Jacob hotel in Rapperswil was in the old town so we could walk to all of the interesting sights in the area. The staff was very accommodating especially handling the tandem bike. Their breakfast buffet was standard fare for Swiss 3 – 4 star hotels. Our morning routine was to eat an early breakfast and have the suitcases at the reception by 8:30 for EuroTrek to collect and move to the next hotel. Much of the route was along lakes so we didn’t have as much climbing as in previous days. While the riding was easier we remarked that we were missing the magnificent views we had seen earlier in the ride. There were some nice waterfalls to see as they drained the snowcaps in the Alps into the lakes, but otherwise the scenery was not extraordinary. Maybe the overcast skies had an influence on our perception of the scenery. We did change the route a little at the end to avoid some narrow gravel paths, but with the help of RidewithGPS and Google Maps we could easily reroute. We arrived at the Best Western Feldkirch before 4:00 in the afternoon. This is a new modern hotel right next to the historic area. We had plenty of time to explore the area but mostly we just wanted to sit and relax and enjoy a cold beverage. We had stopped midway of the ride to eat lunch and charge the battery. The little restaurant we found had only one item on the menu and that was the daily blue plate special which we both ordered. This was a huge plate of meatloaf with potatoes and vegetable and a green salad for a starter. It was probably the largest meal we had during the entire trip. Needless to say by dinner time neither of us had much of a appetite, so for dinner we visited the local grocery next to the hotel and bought a bottle of wine and some healthy snacks which we called dinner. We rode 65 miles with only 2700 feet of climbing for the day.
Tuesday May 28, 2019 – Feldkirch – Romanshorn:
Today would be our last day of riding. We had been watching the weather forecast for the past week and the outlook for the Tuesday had always had a 100% chance for rain. We thought we could always take the train if the weather was horrible or we could take our chances and manage a ride in the wet conditions. Ultimately we decided to do the ride but take the shortest possible route. After breakfast we notice that the rain had a pause and the radar gave us a chance to miss some of the rain. Much of the route was along the Rhine River as it flows into the Bodensee but there were other streams that were also on our route. The rain was never a down pour but a drizzle for much of the ride. The worst part of the ride was over some gravel paths so we were covered in mud as well as the bike. But on the bright side the route was only down hill…we only had 373 feet of climbing for the entire ride. Our focus was to complete the route as quickly and safely as possible. We pulled into the Inseli Park Hotel in Romanshorn a few minutes past noon. We had ridden 37 miles and were happy to be finished with the wet ride. We checked into the hotel had a quick shower and changed into dry clothes. We enjoyed a nice lunch in the hotel restaurant before walking to the train station to collect the suitcases for our bike. The next item on the agenda was to clean and pack the bike. We lacked the supplies to do a thorough cleaning so that chore will be waiting for us when we arrive home. The rest of the afternoon we enjoyed a bottle of Prosecco and relaxed until dinner time at our hotel
Wednesday May 29, 2019 Romanshorn - Munich
Today was a travel day back to the Munich airport. During the early planning phases of this trip I had thought we could avoid trains by taking a ship across the Bodensee from Romanshorn to Lindau where I had reserved a rent car. However the only ships from Romanshorn went to Friedrichshafen so I tried to change the car reservation to leave from Friedrickshafen, but they were totally booked. The last option was to take the train to Lindau which required 3 changes. Train changes with 4 pieces of luggage are not for the timid; it really is a challenge but it was our only option. We took the hotel shuttle to the train station, bought tickets and boarded the train. When we arrived at what we thought was our 1st stop, we got off with all our luggage and started to look for our connecting train. As it turns out there are 2 stations at Rorschach and we got off one too early at Hafen. But God was travelling with us because we had exited at the ships dock and the next ship to Lindau left in 10 minutes. We bought the tickets and boarded the direct ship to Lindau…no more luggage handling. We arrived In Lindau about the same time we would have with the train. We took a taxi to the Europcar office, collected the car and drove to the Munich airport. The drive was easy on autobahn for less than 3 hours. We turned in the car and walked to the Airport Hilton Hotel and relaxed…the trip and all its adventures had come to a successful conclusion.