Switzerland and more…

27 Sep

Right here we go again. I just typed out my whole blog post and was about to click publish when my one hour of internet at the library expired and I lost everything. Luckily the woman working saw me and let me have another hour of internet. I would still rather be sitting out in the sun in the 23 degree heat than writing this out again!

So I have a lot to catch up on.  I left you in a forest in france still on the eurovelo 6 route. I followed that route to Besancon where I was hosted  by my first couchsurfer the lovely Marie, a primary school teacher (and headmistress, their system is different). We went for a nice drink with her friends and then I was treated to a traditional meal from the region of ‘liquid cheese’ and smoked sausage. I had to rise early to a foggy morning as she had work the next day but that put me in good stead for a fine day’s cycling. I did my first (imperial) centurion along the banks of the Doub and various canals heading towards Basel. The scenery was really nice and the fog cleared to a gorgeous day of sun.

I got to Basel the following day and was hosted by Iona the half English half Nigerian girl working for a pharmacutical company. She showed me round, cooked me dinner and we went to a very ‘hip’ bar. Very nice indeed. I spent the following dqay relaxing by the side of the Rhine in the sun, watching the swimmers go past and the filthy rich hobnobbing. I was sitting under a tree reading when Ziggy (yes, he did play guitar, and churango, violin and penny whistle) stopped and asked where I was heading on my bike. As we were both heading to Italy we decided to join forces and go together the next day. I spent the night at Didii, another couchsurfing host’s and her friends house drinking a heady fruit cocktail and having fun.

Ziggy had already arranged a host, a friend of a friend’s place only 30km or so away from Basel so we spent a lesiurely day riding there and getting to know each other while he nursed an illness from something he ate the night before. We were welcomed by Susanna and Theo into their lovely very artistic home covered in there family’s works of art or instruments. We had a nice meal, good sleep and a very hearty breakfast to set us up for the morning of climbing a 1000m pass. The weather was thankfully good and we had nice views of the valley and lush hills. I felt good on the climb and it filled me with confidence for what lay ahead.

We took 2 days to reach Lucern where we had a very fun night at another couchsurfing host’s place. We stayed with Fabio and Julianna and were treated again to good foo, drink and conversation. Every couchsrufing expereince so far has been great for me, really welcoming and good fun. Some people are skeptical when they hear about couchsurfing but it really does work, people are nice!

Well after a late night Ziggy and I set off towards the St Gotthard pass. Unfortunatly our paces were too mismatched, so after a final lunch together overlooking an alpine lake I decided to tackle the pass by myself. Having to wait, especially at the top of climbs was spoiling the cycling for me, so it was for the best. Plus the weather forecast was also only good for the Friday with Saturday and Sunday looking cloudy and grey. So I ‘put the hammer down’ on Thursday afternoon and managed to get to Wassen by nightfall where I cooked a hearty curry and washed them down with a couple of Weiss beers ready for what lay ahead the next day.

And what a day it was! It started misty and cool as I began to ride up the continual uphill road. As the day progressed the mist cleared showing the steep green slopes surrounding me which got more and more rugged and gnarled as the day went on. I continued slogging all morning, varying between spinning in my lowest gear or going up a few and standing on the pedals in a higher gear. I did curse buying 2 kilos of rice as it was the same price as 1 but couldn’t bring myself to shed any weight and loose food. In fact that probably made it all the more satisfying reaching the summit of 2106m with all my gear while lycra clad roadies did it only with their carbon fibre steeds.

I treated myself to a beer at the top, ate some biscuits but didn’t stop too long. I was too excited for the miles of cobbled road and switchback turns that lay ahead. As much as I enjoyed the uphill with it’s great scenery, it was nothing compared to the fast descent on quiet roads.

I spent another day getting to the border of Italy and camped near Como. I had an uneventfull rest day near a lake and then a quieter day heading to Bergamo that was punctuated by a massive storm. I had followed a busy road from Como all day when it had turned into a motorway, so I came off, ate some cheese and then the storm began. Luckily there was a noisy bridge to take refuge under so I put in my ear plugs, brewed a coffee and waited untill it passed.

The rest of Italy has been pretty uneventful. Yesterday I met a 30 something German guy called Uri and spent a relaxing afternoon cruising ot Ostiglia where we stayed at an Agricamping. Basically a guy’s house with a big garden where we could put up our tents and have a shower. My first hot shower and clothes wash in a week, it was definately neccessary! So I feel clean and refreshed today and ready to carry on my trip, A few more dqays in Italy, might pop in to Venice if I feel inclined and then Slovenia, back into Italy, Slovenia and then Croatia.

I will try and get some photos up now if I have time. EDIT – The computer won’t let me so you wil have to wait.

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4 Responses to “Switzerland and more…”

  1. Mattbott September 27, 2012 at 3:07 pm #

    Good to hear from you Phil!

    Have you had any cheese free days yet??

    • philb0412 September 30, 2012 at 6:19 pm #

      Unfortunately I have had a few, and I think they might become more regular as I head further East. I have eaten lots of Mozzarella and Parmesan in Italy. Will be in Slovenia tomorrow.

  2. Lewis September 29, 2012 at 10:52 am #

    All seems to be going well, Phil, keep pedalling!! And you mention nothing about the bike – which is as it should be, indicating that nothing is going wrong or needing sorting out. Good. It sounds as though you will be in more remote areas before long – take care. Regards Lewis. (Cube going well, by the way, suits me very well. More fiddly but not a problem for the sort of riding I do now.)

    • philb0412 September 30, 2012 at 6:24 pm #

      No the bike has been as sturdy and dependable as anything. It handles the weight excellently and give a lot of confidence cornering at high speed. I did have the hub slip into neutral as I was standing and sprinting in pursuit of a tractor to draft behind. This resulted in my knee jerking up and hitting the handlebars and careering all over the road. I managed to control the bike and only had a bit of pain in my knee though so that was alright. Glad to hear the Cube is working out for you, hope the wrists are OK. Phil

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