Thursday, August 19, 2010

Conclusion: Tour of the Mostly-Swiss Alps

I had fun, I had a lot of fun. Kekoa and I both had a lot of fun. Despite losing all my biking gear the first day, I'm glad I bought all new gear and got my butt on the saddle for the next three weeks. While writing the trip reports, I also realized how much I already want to go back.

There's something very different about bike touring compared to normal "visit a big city" traveling, I felt that I had a lot more freedom bike touring. I could get from point A to point B without help - unless I wanted help via public transportation. I felt a strong sense of independence associated with pedaling myself from place to place. I was on nobody's schedule but my own (or the group's). I also really enjoyed the fact that we could find a hotel and/or restaurant every few miles (at least in Switzerland, with the help of our maps), which meant we weren't going to starve or freeze to death :)

Everyone was also really nice, it might have been because we were traveling by bike. But every time I asked someone for help, they were very eager to help (with directions, finding a book store, and so on). The stays at every hotel, meal at every restaurant were also wonderful. I really enjoyed the breakfasts with lots of meat, cheese, and bread. The large and plentiful dinners. The ability to eat whatever I wanted. At Rosenlaui, they even started breakfast earlier for our group because we had a train to catch. Once again, German beer is really really yummy!

Compared to the US, the drivers were also much nicer. We got honked at a total of 4 times (not including Innsbruck, where we got honked at about 5 times in 2 miles there). Twice in Switzerland and twice in Italy. That's not bad for 2 weeks of riding. The drivers themselves were much more polite, I rarely felt unsafe with the cars around me. The same cannot be said for the roads around Northern California.

Switzerland was extremely beautiful, and the climbs were gorgeous. I now miss hearing cow bells during my bike rides. A lot of folks have asked me what my favorite part of the trip was - for me it was just the being there, biking, feeling like I could be anywhere I wanted, and experiencing every day. (God that sounds really cheesy, but it's pretty true!)

If I had to make a list...

Least favorites - Losing all my shit and having to pay really expensive German prices to replace it. Having a hard time finding things my size because almost everyone is taller with bigger hands. Crap weather the first week (if only we flew into Europe one week later...). The freezing cold descents the first week.

Favorite things - The climb and descent of St. Gottard and Sustens pass. The cool looking hairpins on Splugen pass. The stay at Rosenlaui. The food (lardo, pizza, pancetta), the beer, the wine! The sound of cow bells. The many waterfalls. Having someone to help block the wind.

Looking forward to going back!


ed said...

Did you drink any Rivella in Switzerland?

cyn said...

Nope. Interesting description on Wikipedia. Another excuse for me to go back :-)