July 01-09, 2005   
St Gallen - Wil - Waltenstein - Meilen - Horgen - Einsiedeln - Euthal - Ibergeregg - Gersau - Stans - Sarnen - Bruenig Pass- Lake Brienz - Zermatt - Valais


And we're off! Months of planning, endless farewells and 5 days of intensive apartment cleaning led to a grand exit down Paradise Street.     


Cathedral, St. Gallen  
Our first port of call was to Velo Stern and René, our friendly bicycle dealer who did a wonderful job of building our bikes to measure - as low tech as possible so that even in the remotest village we should find the parts to fit.



René, at Velo Stern


Farewell to Pipi.Strello and Mario, St. Gallen

Eva and René, our friends from Winterthur, joined us on their bikes to give us a royal escort out of St. Gallen to their home in Waltenstien (Winterthur), our first leg. Oswaldo had the kettle on the boil in Wil for a very welcome pit-stop en route. It was fun pedalling with Karin and Abera and having a great barbeque all together with Franz and Edith as our last send off.
 horgen  waltenstein

Oswaldo and clan in Wil

Farewell at Waltenstein     


Isabel and Rolf were out in their full racing gear to ride with us as far as Meilen, while the Muellers and Baehlers had a big family reunion for us on their terrace overlooking Lake Zurich, where we camped with Martina and Dominik overnight.




Isabel and Rolf


 The Baehlers and Muellers in Horgen

After a boat spin on Lake Zurich and a quick dip to refresh from the 30 degree heat, we hit the road again - all the way up to Einsiedeln, the first major stop on the Camino de Santiago. Built on the site where Mainard, a monk from Reichenau on Lake Constance, set up his hermitage in 828, Einsiedeln is now a huge Benedictine monastery.
Pilgrims come to worship the black Madonna in the Lady Chapel, but the Baroque interior of the church is a wonder in itself. The 16.50 singing of the Salvé Regina after vespers was quite a show.






Another 30-degree day and a long, steep push up to Ibergeregg (1406m) -  well worth it for the downhill and spectacular views of Lake Luzern surrounded by majestic mountains on all sides. Beautiful- that was until the storm came... 

View of Lake Luzern

Rain gear today... and the decision to "sleep in straw"- a possibility at many farmhouses with a hearty breakfast before setting off again.



Kurt snuggling up for the night

Is there no way to avoid mountains in Switzerland? It seems the only way is up! By the time we hit the pass (1007m), the rain was pouring down and so taking the train from Lake Brienz through the mountains to Zermatt seemed justified. 



 Here we are in Zermatt with a grand view of the famous Matterhorn peak - or at least what it looks like in the clouds! Maybe it will show its face before we leave ... or is it all a myth that we and the Japanese tourists have fallen for? Picturesque town, cute houses, great restaurants and a car-free zone... a grand spot for a rest day!

 The Crown of Switzerland peeked out for a mere 20 minutes at 6am before we headed off, so all was not in vain. matterhorn


Our last Swiss pass...

With head wind through Valais, along the Rhone to Sion, we were up to our last day in Switzerland... and another mountain pass for old time's sake! Col de la Forclaz (1527m)-  four hours pushing through hair pin bends in a "misht you wouldn't mind being out in."