Switzerland is possibly the most expensive place on Earth to which we are responding by trying to forget that we know how many Swiss Francs are in a pound. We should have remembered from our last visit when our friend took us to a rather nice cocktail bar in Zurich and we had to pay for a round of drinks with a credit card. And things haven’t changed, the hotel restaurant was a combination of bland and eye wateringly expensive so we wandered outside and found an Italian where we managed to spend the thick end of a hundred pounds on a pizza and a bowl of spaghetti.

Suzy has organised the trip like a military operation, she has cut her wall map into 15 numbered sheets, measured so that they fit into the map carrier on her handlebars and today was to be the first test of her plans.
It’s one of our longest cycling day with 40 miles or so to pedal (pages 1 through 3 of the map collection) and starts with a train journey from Zurich to Konstanz. The plan demands an early start but we accidentally ordered a litre bottle of wine with dinner so we over slept and only got to the train station at the airport about lunchtime.

Getting onto the train with fully loaded touring bikes is always fraught and today is no exception – there are spaces for three bikes but they have been taken up with, variously, a pushchair, a trolley bag and a well preserved Swiss lady. A well preserved Swiss lady who speaks enough English to understand Suzy’s slightly Anglo Saxon language when she lifts her bike onto the train and realises there is nowhere for it to go.
“Not a problem,” says the Swiss lady, “let me move these things.”
She then proceeds to move all her stuff, and then other people’s stuff, and finally some other passengers about the train so we could sit together. At one point we actually thought she worked for the railways, so helpful was she.
In response to our protestations she just replies “It is not a problem,” and “you are our guests, it is what we should do.”
I am confident that Swiss visitors to Glasgow would encounter a similar response..

Things we have learned (1).

We ended up sitting next to a young Spanish woman who was about to embark on a pilgrimage -an  800km walk back to Spain.
We asked about her walk and suchlike but she just kept saying “Camino de Santiago” really fast in Spanish and looking serene so in the end we gave up as it seemed to be upsetting her. At one point she showed us a shell tied to her bag as if that should make everything clear, to which our response was once again a somewhat bemused ‘Oh, that’s nice’.
She then explained that lots of pilgrims tied them to their bags so they could recognize each other.
Seems unlikely if you ask me but each to their own…
In fact until I got back into the land of internet access I literally knew nothing about it, yet apparently 200,000 people do it every year (“The Way of St James”).
How odd.


Anyway we take the train to Konstanz and the cycle holiday begins and the scenery starts to unroll.




Hamish and the Sims are just back from this area and told us cautionary tales of extreme heat and blazing sunshine but we see nothing of that, it’s 18 degrees in drizzle but the cycle paths are smooth and clearly marked tarmac or gravel – running through or skirting picture postcard villages all the way to our hostel in Schaffhausen.
The drivers are generally ace and only a few hoot their horns at our generally incompetent attempts to decipher their road markings.

Schaffhausen is incredibly pretty (I really need a new adjective) but despite it being late July it’s like we are here in the off season. The streets are deserted and the restaurants almost empty. Perhaps Wednesday is not their lively night…

Rhine Falls tomorrow..


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