Our holiday, as all good holidays, started in stress and panic. For whatever unknown reason, we just had to take a very early (for holiday) train. Of course our bikes were not quite as ready as they should have been (my bad) and I probably woke up a bit later than I should have. Anyway I decided to totally chill out and not care about timing at all. But I noticed Luna did the exact opposite: the further from home, the more stressed.
She even refused to visit a church which really is unusual. I thought she’d have a heart attack when we kind of got lost and were looking for the camping for our first night. However it is me who was surprised when the camping’ guy welcomed me and called me by name. I even got confused when he told about our tent location, which we never booked as far I know. And then he added “others are already there, deploying their tents”. What others ?
Obviously Luna invited a few friends up there to celebrate my birthday which was extremely unexpected for it was two weeks early. We went playing in water and then made a barbecue with lots of sausages, alcohol and chocolate cake. Yummy ! That lasted almost all night, the most cheerful (or drunk) were singing while others spent countless hours cutting entire trees with a Swiss army knife. But even best stuff have to end, even the huge fire, especially since we were supposed to ride 30 km the day after.
All in all, that was great party, as a proof there is even a rumor that someone slept in toilet !
The next day we packed our stuff, said goodbye to friends who abandoned us with our bikes and left the camping around midday. That was the real start of our trip. Sun was shining and no clouds in sight. We made our way down the hill, to the Saut du Doubs, and once there I had the bright idea that it would be wise to avoid too much climbing. Of course we had to climb a bit, but it seems to me that we could avoid excessive effort if we change our plan. So did we. 5 hours later and 400 meters higher I wasn’t so sure it was such a good idea. anyway we had first supper with instant noodle.
Being a bit lost we stopped in les Planchettes to ask for directions. A drunken farmer kindly pointed us to our destination, after I had to show him three times were his village were on the map. Anyway it was getting late and we were only a quarter of our way so we tried to speed up a bit. To save time I improvised a shortcut which looked extremely convenient. Needless to say we got completely lost. We passed by a farm and asked a guy how to reach the next village (already gave up to reach our real destination, whatever village would be good enough). He told there were a path in the woods, but that may be a bit tricky by night so we should hurry. According to him the next village is 30 minutes away. That should do it.
A quarter later it was almost pitch black and we were still looking for the road. Not much choice than ask another farmer. The path was actually right around their farm. But that time we’ve been told that would be two hours till the next village and they actually looked quite worrying about riding bikes by night in the forest. Not enough to make us give up, we cheerfully left them and got into the forest.
However we actually slept five minutes away from the farm because the so called path was actually very rough. And our stomach started to wake up as well. So we eagerly looked for a poo free area to deploy our tent and got ourselves one more yummy instant noodles. That was a well deserved meal after a very long and exhausting day. Anyway the worst was now behind.
Fairy tale morning
As hard as waking up goes, it’ always slightly better with singing birds, shiny sun and smiling wife. That day started in a good mood and we decided to eat our breakfast in the next village. We randomly picked one of the two path in front of us and down we went. Of course when we noticed the “quality” of the path, it was already too late to go back. So down we kept going. 400 meters lower we were not much pleased as the potentially right road actually went up the next mountain. We decided not to wait for the village to have breakfast and shared a banana before climbing up.
Two hours later and 400 meters higher we agreed not to follow random mountain paths anymore. But first we had to find civilization. Luckily we came across a lovely restaurant where we had delicious lunch. And we eventually arrived at @@@@@@. Better late than never, I understood the difference between the two kind of biking signs. Never ever follow mountain bike sign when you carry your home. Also never look for so called clever shortcut, you will always end up regretting later.
Following these new rules we successfully reached Saignelegier camping, with only one day late. I didn’t know yet, but it was one of the best camping we would go during these holidays. Mainly because we could make fire right in front of our tent (but we didn’t have meat to grill). It only misses a small lake to be perfect.
From there to Basel we kept going down, that was quite a change from the first two days. We especially enjoyed the part between Saignelegier and La Côte, where we will probably go back to have a real barbecue sooner or later. Then came a quite rough path from La Côte to Glovelier, especially since it rained, but it was still nothing compared to what we did before: we could actually ride our bikes.
We were kindly hosted in Courtetelle were we slept in real beds, washed our clothes and charged our camera batteries. Heading to Basel we hanged our panties on the bikes to dry them. We enjoyed not walking beside our bikes to climb mountains and safely arrived in Basel when it started raining.
I didn’t have any clear memories of this city (not even sure if I have been there before) and was really surprised at how cute it is. They somehow managed to keep a village-like ambience in spite of the city size. The center is especially cute with pedestrian streets and lots of trees and flowers. That may be one of my favorite city (if only they didn’t speak German ;)). Even the backpacker was extra cool. Located in a old factory with plants everywhere, everything was awesomely grunge. The backpacker guy suggested a Thai restaurant, whose owner is actually previous backpacker owner, where we had huge Pad Thai, extra yummy !
We took a train to St-Gall where we slept in a Youth Hostel. That night we had a two people party, because no one were young enough to drink alcohol with us. We had planned a full day to visit the city and we especially enjoyed the church. Very bright and clean feeling. We decided to marry there next time (after Korea, and Manly of course). Otherwise the whole town was under construction, so we couldn’t really appreciate the pedestrian area buy it looked quite nice as well.
Time to ride our bike once more, heading to Appenzell. That was quite a tricky plan to avoid climbing too many mountains, but we did quite ok, in spite of an incredibly stiff short road. Totally unexpectedly we found a cheese factory on the way. So we stopped to enjoy the traditional music players and had a look in the factory. Of course we couldn’t help buying cheese as well.
There was supposed to have a camping in Appenzell, actually slightly outside the village, but not too far. Indeed it wasn’t that far, but on more time it was incredibly high. We had to up for two hours only to sleep and then come down in the morning in ten minutes. The view up there was beautiful but I still would not recommend it. The camping was just a field next to a restaurant with no fireplace, paying showers and no so kind people.
Coming to Appenzell was easier than expected, but after a short visit of the village, we realized than leaving was much more complicated. Trying to avoid cars road we followed the indicated road for bikes. Unfortunately we ended up following the feared mountain bikes signs. So we ended up climbing another mountain event though we could see cars going in the valley. Such needless efforts. We somehow arrived to next camping near Rheineck next to Konstanz lake were we could enjoy barbecue, free hot showers and a good night of sleep (way less cold than up the mountain).
We are huge fan of Hundertwasser so we had to drop by one of his creation which includes a restaurant. A good opportunity for a real meal, spaghetti, before going on a small cruise to Germany and back to Switzerland. In the evening we found one more camping which had no fireplace. Luckily it was on the lakeside so we walked a little bit further to grill sausages and peaches on the beach.
On 1st September we continued our trip along the Rhein, which a very flat road. But clouds were getting pretty much dark and before we knew it it started to rain. Not that much, but still quite annoying when camp outside. However we didn’t sleep in the rain that night. Luna had a magic trick and invited in a five stars hotel next to the river. That was my second birthday surprise. It felt kind of awkward to arrive there with dirty clothes, stinking barbecue and sweat. A shower transformed us back to normal looking (smelling) people and we had delicious meal in the restaurant.
Breakfast were server on the terrace right on the top of the Rhein. They even had Nutella ! What a luxurious place to sleep. Our final destination were getting closer. We took the time to take a few pictures in Steim am Rhein where the houses are covered with paintings. That was quite nice place, but very touristic. By the end of the day we arrived in Schaffausen. We improvised a backpacker, because the planned Youth Hostel were a bit too expensive. Actually the backpacker was not that cheaper but at least we were right next to the train station.
That evening we held my third birthday party with alcohol and chips. Somehow I didn’t get any hangover and after a quick breakfast (without Nutella) we left for the famous Rhein waterfall. The whole day was a bit rainy, but it didn’t matter much as we were going home in the evening. But before that, we bought a pyjama for my birthday present. And finally, back at home, we had my fourth birthday party with real chocolate cake, wine and present.
Overall it was really good holiday, I had load of fun, but it was not finished yet…