Bike Touring: France, Germany & the Netherlands (Part 3)

07 Sep

In Part 2, we explored the Pyrenees, in Part 3 we head to Switzerland, and then back to France just to enjoy more cheap and beautiful food! Part 3 ends in Germany, and then Part 4 will take us all the way to Amsterdam.

16/07/2011 TRAIN – Geneve

We learned a few things from this trip. It is better to get on a train near it’s point of origin, off the train near it’s final destination, and if you have to change trains, try to do it in a smaller station as it’s easier to find the platform and less distance to walk (while dragging 37kg of bike and luggage). Swiss trains are fast, quiet and efficent. This was our first real exposure to other European train systems so we could see the faults of the French system. The exits on French trains are too narrow and all French people bring a lot of baggage, so it causes delays in embarking/disembarking – this also means that on French trains people get up, get their luggage and queue for the door 15 minutes before their stop. If you get caught behind the hoard and are in a hurry you may miss your connecting train. The French also don’t display the platform a train is leaving from until 20 or 15 minutes before, so everyone is then running through the station with their massive bags stressing. Swiss and German trains tend to leave from regular platforms and display their departure platforms hours in advance.

Lego man stencil in Geneva

Lego man stencil in Geneva

The hotel was in the night life district, which was convenient for kebabs and McDonalds, but it was pretty loud, so we couldn’t leave the window open. I really would have liked to go out but I was so tired.

When we woke up in the morning it was pouring down with rain. We decided to go for a walk to find the ‘old city’ regardless as we only had a day in Geneva. That turned out to be a bad idea – it was freezing and I lost feeling in my hands. We bought some nice chocolates and went back to the hotel to warm up.

The Fountain

This Fountain at Lake Geneve is one of the major tourist attractions

The rain did ease off and we got to spend some time walking around without being rained on. I got a good shot of the fountain. 

18/07/2011 TRAIN – Zurich


Lake Zurich view from Uetliberg

It rained a lot, but we managed to do a few things without getting wet. We took the train up Zurich’s ‘house mountain’ and then climbed the ‘observation’ tower. The view up there is great. We saw the view from another angle when we went on a ferry ride the next day.

Cruise on the Zurich

Cruise on Lake Zurich

We also made time to check out the Tram Museum, and walk around generally enjoying the charms of Zurich. It was the second time I had been and I will probably visit again if I’m in that part of the world.

21/07/2011 TRAIN – Basel RIDE Huningue (6ks)

After spending a bit of time in Switzerland, we were feeling broke. We decided we would catch the train from Zurich to Basel, and then ride across the border to France.

We put the Fridays together in Basel train station and got a lot of interested stares, and a lady who appeared to be telling us that her son works on bikes. The French/Swiss border in this area has a lot of heavy industry, so we didn’t take any photos on the short ride. It was difficult to find the hotel – the only reason we found it was that we happened to come across a sign directing us. We got to the hotel just as the rain started, and they allowed us to put our bikes into a car garage for the night. The hotel was pretty ugly, the beds were uncomfortable, and the WIFI barely worked. We had a great meal in the pizzeria next door though.

22/07/2011 RIDE Huningue – Breisach (65k)

crossing the rhine

This bicycle bridge had EU flags all over it

The start of the Rhine Valley ride, navigating was fairly straightforward. We followed some locals through the roadworks and got on to the path. It rained, the path was muddy, and this was a bit heavy going in some parts where the track was soft.

home made Rhein sign

Someone put this sign up on the trail

When we got close to town, a thunderstorm was over us, the rain was torrential and there was a bunch of racing sculls in the Rhine – it looked like it was some kind of racing carnival as there were tents and marquees set up, but the race was called off and the boats had all pulled over to the side. I would have been getting out!

Our hotel in Briesach was easy to find as it was an old medieval fort. We had to walk the bikes up there though as the road was wet, slippery cobblestones. We weren’t the only soaked bike tourers who arrived that day.


We tried the snails - they weren't that impressive

Stay tuned for Part 4 – Briesach to Amsterdam!

1 Comment

Posted by on September 7, 2011 in Bike Friday, Touring


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One response to “Bike Touring: France, Germany & the Netherlands (Part 3)

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