Riding the Rhine without a map | I think the first bit might be a bit hilly

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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

View from hotel room in Andermatt_7827277846_o

We arrived in Andermatt just before 9pm after an epic 510 mile drive from Lille.

Or rather it should have been a 510 mile drive, but for a few wrong turnings and a failed attempt to find lunch at a nice local restaurant en-route.

I can only imagine that the whole of France must have been on holiday or strike, because despite it very definitely being lunchtime every single restaurant we found (in three separate towns) was closed.

The climax of our failed attempts to find lunch was when we stopped at a Best Western hotel just off the motorway on the basis it would be definitely open, at 1.58pm. After answering the call of nature we returned to the hotel bar at 2.01pm to find the barmaid turning off the lights.

Thankfully we had better luck at the motorway services, where I was able to have a steak cooked to order. I think that could only happen in France.

The remainder of the days calories were provided by a bag of acacia gums, which came in a range of flavours, all of which seemed to be located on a continuum of flavour that began with pine resin, and ended in toilet duck.

I do not recommend them.

It turns out my driver Damian has some history of driving this route, having previous driven a “£60 Volvo with no brakes” the exact same route passing through Andermatt in the Staples to Naples rally a few years ago.

Thankfully he has upgraded his car since then.

My first impressions of Switzerland are very good. It’s been on my list of places to visit for a long time and the scenery is as stunning as the people are warm and friendly. Despite managing to reserve a hotel room online for the wrong evening, the manager just laughed and charged me 80 swiss francs less than the agreed price.

Andermatt is a lovely little Alpine town, that seems to be doing almost as well with hikers, cyclists and touring motorcyclists in the summer as it does in the winter when it turns into a ski resort.

We spent the evening having a pizza and a couple of beers in a friendly local bar that never seemed to want to shut. In the end the bartender outlasted us and we headed back to our hotel to grab a few zzz’s before the morning.

I’d definitely come back here, however now the time has come to ride.

Footnote:

Staying up until the small hours of the morning really wasn’t what I needed, but I had to have a few beers with Damian after he drove me all that way.

I was exhausted and dehydrated, but it didn’t stop me waking at 6.30am itching to get moving. It led to a not inconsiderable amount of frisson over breakfast, as Damian definitely isn’t a morning person.

I eventually persuaded him to come and take a photo of me setting off.

Continue reading …

 

Index

Prologue

Setting off for Switzerland

I think the first bit might be a bit hilly

Day 1 – Andermatt to Chur

Day 2 – Chur to Rorschach and lunching in Lichtenstein

Day 3 – Rorschach to Shaffhausen and the need for professional help

Day 4 – Schaffausen to Basel and the end of the Swiss section

Day 5 – Strasbourg or burst?

Day 6 – Strasbourg to Karlsruhe

Day 7 – Karlsruhe to Goddelau and more getting lost

Day 8 – Goddelau to Koblenz on a spoke and a prayer

Day 9 – Koblenz to Cologne, the day I hit the wall

Day 10 – moving North from Cologne

Day 11 – Nijmegen to Gorinchem, clogging it along the dijks

Day 12-13 Gronichem to Hoek van Holland and the end of the Rhine

Epilogue

Kit List

 

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