Day 11: Four countries, one day

Cycle path on the Rhein in Liechtenstein

For the second time on the trip, we awoke in total comfort. I think maybe even if you plan always to camp, it might not be a bad idea to treat yourself to a hotel here and there, even if you don’t need it.

Drying clothes in the hotel

We took full advantage of the sun coming through the window and the chairs on the balcony to try to dry our washed clothes. Ever since we left the warmth of the Mediterranean, drying clothes had been a battle.

Next up, we headed out to buy supplies and breakfast from the local supermarket (Spar). Swiss prices are terrifying for everything and even a 50% off package of 4 slices of ham still set us back 4€. I picked up some dark chocolate for a decent price actually and ever since this trip, I feel like I can’t eat anything below 50% cocoa. Just another barrier crossed into old age.

Breakfast on the balcony

I think the best part of the breakfast was the view from the balcony! We got to enjoy the mountains as we ate our bread, meat, and fruit. I also had some juice to keep the vitamins flowing into my cold-ravaged body.

We packed up and hit the road, riding shortly through Chur and then in the direction of Germany!

Riding towards the mountains in Switzerland

I can’t praise this road enough. Not too much traffic. Lots of mountains in every direction. It’s a great ride. An older man passed me on a road bike and I tried to keep pace with him. Like I said in my day 10 post, I would love to ride this stretch again but with a road bike.

Stopping for snacks

Although the overall course goes downhill, there was one long stretch of uphill, leading up to a huge drop into Liechtenstein. We took a short break during the climb to pee and eat some snacks.

Resuming the climb, we passed through a very nice area, filled with vineyards. Bert snatched some grapes that were hanging over on public property. As we finally began the descent, we went through a fort and then down a really great hill and past the sign marking the border to Liechtenstein. It would have made a great video but, at this moment, my camera informed me that the SD card was full and that it had not saved anything. Oh well.

Liechtenstein

Bert entering Liechtenstein

Predictably, for a wealthy and tiny tax haven in the Alps, Liechtenstein looked very nice. They also had good bike paths!

Bert cycling in Liechtenstein

After a very short ride through town, we made our way onto the Rhein, where we would mostly remain until Austria.

Riding on the Rhein in Liechtenstein

It was basically a long way of riding at the river and observing the awesome mountains. I think it would be nice, if you lived here or had the time, to go down on the stones and have a picnic or something. I’ve driven a lot on the Rhein between Bonn and Straßburg, so every new kilometre I could add to my Rhein experience was exciting! Bert asked if I ever thought about biking the whole Rhein but I don’t think I’m really into that. I’d rather add it into other trips!

Bert foraging on the Rhein

Grapes, apples, berries – Bert did a lot of foraging in the last few days. In this photo, I think Bert was going for some blackberries.

Bert biking on the Rhein

Cycle path on the Rhein in Liechtenstein

The only time we had to get off really was when some small section was closed by the police. I’m not sure if there was an accident or construction or what but it was a minor diversion, which actually gave Bert the chance to grab an apple off a tree, so I guess it worked out. I joked that he had stolen an apple from the royal orchard and that the Duke was going to have him arrested. Luckily, we escaped without incident.

Covered bridge between Switzerland and Liechtenstein

The cool thing is that the left side is Switzerland and the right side is Liechtenstein. Although we were happy to no longer be in the money-draining country of Switzerland, we couldn’t resist zooming through this old covered bridge and popping back into Switzerland, before returning back to Liechtenstein. It’s always neat to cross the border on your bike.

Bert cycling in Liechtenstein

Actually, this is where we had to go inland shortly. The apple trees are on the left. Ahead is some kind of castle or palace, presumably Vaduz Castle, where the royal family still lives. We lowly peasants may not enter.

Lunch in Switzerland

Eventually, it was time to say goodbye to Liechtenstein, as my Garmin GPS commanded we cross the river. Later, we’d see that we probably could have stayed in Liechtenstein but I guess it didn’t really matter which side we were on, only that the Swiss side was closer to the highway. At any rate, we found a bench on the left side of the Rhein and stopped for a tasty lunch of the usual bread, butter, meat, cheese, and whatever snacks we had (like my dark chocolate).

Entering Austria by bike

Stomachs filled, we hopped back on the bikes and rode through the last bit of Switzerland, before crossing the Rhein again, this time into Austria, the third country of the day (and maybe the 6th border crossing?). We would ride along the Rhein for a short time more but then turn inland and leave it behind. Had we continued, we’d have ended up at Lake Constance (aka the Bodensee), which is where I biked several years ago with Andreas!

We drove through some small towns in Austria for a little bit – not too exciting, compared to the day of mountains and rivers. Since we still wanted to make it to Germany and had around 30km or more to go, we pulled into a cafe for some coffee and cake and a chance to scope out the camping situation.

Tea and cake in Austria

Yep, that’s a Sachertorte. The woman at the cafe / bakery was very nice and filled up our water bottles with tap water. We had a good break and decided on a camp that was literally right across the German border. There was a bit of a ways to go but we knew we could do it. We were determined to add a fourth country and continue clawing back kilometres from that 1 lost day.

Free water in Austria

On the way out of town, we filled up on water again, this time from some free water at the side of the road. The price was right and the Alps are the place for clean water!

Matt hotels

Finally, we made it to our destination – Matt Hotels. We rested for the night at the greatest hotel either of us had ever been to. What an amazing experience. Truly, there is no better hotel in the world. A luxurious heaven, crafted by masters of design and comfort, a place for kings.

OK, we didn’t really stop here…

Austrian countryside

Beautiful green hills and mountains in Austria

We might have left the river but the mountains were still all around us. In addition, we were cycling through rolling green and luscious hills, filled with farms and cows, their bells dinging and with occasional mooing to provide us calming ambient noise. I really liked this region and it reminded me a lot of Allgäu, a southern region of Germany we’d spend most of the next day in. Very peaceful. This region was called the Bregenz Forest and I hope I’ll be back before long.

Crossing into Germany from Austria

Finally, with the sun fast setting, we made it to the fourth country of the day, seventh of the trip, and the last of our journey – Bundesrepublik Deutschland.

After crossing the border, it was a short 5 minutes before we arrived at the camp. We had to search around a bit but we finally found the camp attendant (or owner?) at the far back, in the restaurant. He told us where we could pitch our tent and asked if we wanted to eat at the restaurant. Of course, we said yes! In fact, we were counting on that and had already scoped out the menu. Unfortunately, after talking with the restaurant owner, we found out that only Schnitzel was available – and he told us to return at 8 o’clock sharp. There was no time for a shower – the Germans had demanded speed and punctuality!

Schnitzel at the camp

Actually, the Schnitzel was pretty good. The fries were pretty bad, though. But the Schnitzel made up for it. We enjoyed the meal, a fitting reward for our long journey of 113km.

Chur to Germany

When time came to pay, we discovered they only took cash. Welcome back to Germany. Moreover, the restaurant owner now quoted a different and higher price than we had agreed to when we ordered the Schnitzel. Neither of the two prices matched the menu. Having only 30€, I was unable to pay this new (fake) price and told him simply that I only had 30€ and that we had agreed to a different price. He was displeased but had no other choice. It’s not like he planned to pay tax on that money, so I don’t feel bad for him. We got no receipt. Oh yeah and he served different food (not Schnitzel) to a German woman at another table.

Since the restaurant owner also controlled the breakfast, we cancelled our breakfast order for the morning. The camp owner had insisted we order breakfast. Neither of them wanted us to cancel the breakfast but we told them we had no way to pay for it and didn’t want it anymore. They kept trying to convince us to keep our order but I insisted that we would not. The owner even called somebody to ask advice on how “these two Americans” could pay without cash. We left not really knowing if they were going to try to force the bread on us the next morning.

Otherwise, the camp was pretty decent, with good facilities. We had positioned the tent in a sheltered location but were prepared for another cold night. We had regained some altitude and the area was a bit damp, so we layered up, hunkered down, and got ready for the last two days of our epic journey.

Did you miss a previous day’s tales or are you looking for an easy overview? Then check out the European Biking Tour 2019 page to get a list of all the days and reports from me and Bert!

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4 thoughts on “Day 11: Four countries, one day

  1. Finally, I am caught up. I really enjoyed the cheese – story. You had told me some things about it – but the pictures really make a difference. I loved all the pictures – the food, the scenery, and the one of you and Bert is great! The pictures are just so amazing! I love that Bert helped himself to the fruit – thats our Bert. I would have done the same thing. What an awesome trip! I love all the stories!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I will be so sad when this trip is over! I hope you guys get back safely. Good luck! I’m at the edge of my seat! I can’t wait to see how it turns out!

    Like

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