Aug 6 – Sept 1, 2007
Saarbrücken (Germany) – Strasbourg (France) – Freiburg (Germany) – Zürich – Horgen – St.Gallen (Switzerland)
Country 27 of this trip was Germany, although it was just 2 short whistle-stops. The first sign in Germany warned us that crawler gear was required. With almost 25,000km under our belts, we wondered how we had managed so far without it!
We followed the Saar River, on a nice quiet bike path and enjoyed a few dips to cool off from the hot midday sun. Something we almost regretted when we passed a huge UNESCO World Heritage Site in Völklingen.
It was a gigantic industrial ruin from the early 1900s, where iron ore was transformed into steel. To us it was a lot closer to a rusty scrap-metal dump than a pleasant cultural experience and a far cry from the many beautiful UNESCO sites we visited on this trip. (More Germany below)
From Saarbrücken we entered the Alsace region, where we found all the restaurants, shops and bakeries closed for the month. Luckily, about every 30km we found a supermarket that catered for the few that didn’t flee the scene for the month of August.
Some beautiful houses lined the streets of quaint little towns… but alas they lacked the hustle and bustle of a happening place.
You know you’re back in Europe when passes as low as 350m are marked!
It’s not all joy on the road! Kurt’s new pannier rack broke for the second time since it’s purchase in Scotland, some 2 weeks previously. Creative engineering with nuts and bolts saw him safely home to Switzerland.
A whole wet day of cycling brought us to Strasbourg along the Marne Rhine canal.
After exploring the beautiful old town of Strasbourg, with its magnificent churches and period buildings, we tucked into a winter meal of Choucrout and a mixed meat casserole, that suited the chilly evening nicely. We would go back to this UNESCO site for the food alone!!
Next morning our way led us across the semi-flooded Park of the Nations on the Rhine.
It was a cold 100km against the wind into Freiburg, where our good friend Gabi threw a party in our honour.
Gabi, who cycled northern Spain with us at the beginning of this trip, wined and dined us for the weekend in her beautiful new apartment. We had a great time there meeting up with our Freiburg and Barcelona friends.
Kurt spent a morning test riding recumbent bicycles and tricycles around the local specialist store. This could be the start of something new. Watch this space!!!
After another day’s cycling through vineyards, we were within earshot of cowbells and alphorns.
In Augst, we spent the evening with a lovely Kiwi/Dutch couple, who were cycling along the Rhine with their 8-month-old daughter, Tui, enjoying the view from the trailer.
Kurt’s brother Thomas, who cycled France with us earlier this trip, joined us outside of Basel. He managed to lead us over every hill and mountain pass on the way to Zurich, and his apartment. As we panted and gasped in the midday heat, he exclaimed: But you guys have cycled 4,000m passes; this should be peanuts for you! Well, where he’s right, he’s right.
Refreshed after a night’s sleep, we managed the 20km to Horgen without major hiccups. There we camped for 2 weeks on Kurt’s sister Anita’s terrace, enjoying home-cooked food and games with Dominik and Martina.
During this time, we started looking for a flat in St. Gallen… while a couple of jobs successfully found us.
Meanwhile, on the terrace, our tent poles snapped on a daily basis, in a subtle plea to call it a day. We returned to the store, where we purchased the tent, to be informed that tents where only designed to last for 6 months constant use! Fair play to the Salewa manufacturers who replaced all poles free of charge.
Between these busy spells, we took 2 days off to go hiking in central Switzerland.
The spectacular views over the Vierwaldstättersee, the cool mountain air, the delicious wild blueberries and the constant jingle of cowbells was a tonic.
A stunning sunset comleted the picture and it was great to be back.
Having secured an apartment in St.Gallen we bought a few pieces of furniture, filled the fridge and were ready for the last 2 days of cycling.
We retraced our route from 2 years ago to complete our journey to St.Gallen. This time the newlyweds, Edith and Franz, hosted us at their place in Winterthur…
…with Rene and Eva joining us for a wonderful dinner and evening in the garden.
Needless to say, we spent the day exchanging stories about our Latin American experiences and we thoroughly enjoyed having company for our last 70kms.
In this time, we cycled through 27 countries, climbed 10 passes above 4,000masl and completed 25,283km.
Cycling home to our own place was extra special after so long on the road. As well as enjoying home sweet home, we had a load of packages to explore from the various markets we visited in Latin America.
The prospect of drawers as opposed to plastic bags and rubber bands; doors as opposed to reluctant zips and standing room as opposed to crouching space were what we had begun to glorify in the final stages of the trip. Our kitchen is a dream with everything ship shape to cook up a storm.
The fact that it is mushroom season is an added bonus, and we have been spending the weekends in the forests collecting tasty edibles for the coming months.
Our Europe/Latin American trip was really a phenomenal and enjoyable experience. There is not a day goes by that we don’t recall some episode or other. We have thousands of photos to brighten up a rainy day… and for the moment work is keeping us out of mischief! Nevertheless, we are presently enjoying our settled life … and our hammock in the living room!