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The Eagles

Thursday, May 9, 2013

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Leaving Switzerland was much harder than I expected, what with the closed passes and me not having much of an idea how to avoid the steep climbs on the Eurovelo 9 route (more of that later!) a tune kept playing in my head – the Eagles ‘Hotel California’ and the line “you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave” just wouldn’t go away. At least it was looking like better weather as the sun began to break up the cloud and I climbed out of the valley.

The blue sky was starting to appear at last.

The blue sky was starting to appear at last.

The gradient wasn’t too bad to start with, it just went uphill without respite until I finally reached the Brunig Pass summit. I’d rather enjoyed the climb actually, as when their are no downhill sections it’s much easier to settle into a nice rhythm. This time the hotels were all open and offering sustenance to all those weary tourists, including me. I popped into one with water bottle in hand and asked for water – the look I got from the barman was not friendly at all as he splashed water into the bottle, making sure he didn’t get close to filling it. I ‘almost’ commented, but decided he was probably just having an off day.

Summit of the Brunnigpass

Approaching the summit of the Brunig Pass

Instead of following the same route I took coming south from Lucern, I decided this time I would try and stick with the Eurovelo 9 route, which in hindsight was a big mistake. It seems that this particular flavor of the Eurovelo goes in for some serious hills, definitely not what I wanted. Some of the sections were beyond ride-able, even with a normal unloaded bike I would have had to walk up the steep hills. OK the sections were short, but pushing my bike up 1 in 4’s was not fun at all.

Lakeside riding

Riding along the lakeside.

It wasn’t all bad though, in particular the lakeside riding was superb with some clever use of wooden planks to form a path just for us cyclists. The signage was also very easy to follow, as I switched onto the Eurovelo 4 at Stans and headed East along the valley. I had a real treat planned for myself on this section of the route.

Lake Cycle Path

Running alongside a busy road, our wooden cycle path.

Easy to follow signs

Easy to follow the signs… to Bouchs

As I turned East I turned into a pretty strong headwind, but as it was clearing the skies and the views were beautiful I didn’t mind at all and this section was going to be quite short, as I intended taking the ferry from Oberdorf just a few more kilometers up the valley. This would mean I wouldn’t have to cycle around lake Lucerne, a major saving of both time and distance. I was pretty pleased with myself for choosing this option!

Wind was pretty strong

The wind was blowing a bit.

The crossing was everything I hoped it would be, Lake Lucerne giving magnificent views even though the clouds once again were gathering. I wondered if it would rain as I planned on wild camping if I could find a suitable spot outside Brunnen. If Switzerland wasn’t so expensive, I’d have loved to of taken a room for a real break, but I was doing my best to stay close to my budget.

Clouds gather over Lake Lucerne

Clouds gather over Lake Lucerne

Lake Lucerne was like a mill pond

A calm crossing with magnificent views

As we neared the end of the crossing I got a close up view of the lakeside properties, I wonder what one of these would set you back?
I’ll never tire of enjoying scenes like this and they’re even more special as in reality Switzerland has been very unkind weather wise on this trip, as once again the rain began to fall as I rode away from the ferry.

The lakeside houses

Lakeside houses

My target for the day was to reach Brunnen, which would put me just a day’s ride away from Liechtenstein. I found a suitable spot just outside the town and pitched up, it had been a full day and I was ready for my upcoming rest day when I finally leave Switzerland.The tune was still playing in my head!

“You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave”

More soon…

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