Lake Konstanz to Waldshut

Lake Konstanz – WaldShut

There are so many amazing places to swim. The water looks so inviting being crystal clear. Apparently it has been unusually hot, hottest summer on record for Switzerland. Nothing like North East Vic heat waves, but bloody hot when you’re pedalling all day. Thankfully now it has cooled down a little. Andy keeps hoping that every castle we see is a beer castle with icy cold beer for cycle tourists. Unfortunately, every time he is very disappointed to learn that it is a plain old castle with no beer.



Andy's Beer Castle!

Andy’s Beer Castle!

We have dumped a few of our possessions gradually along the way, trying to lighten our load. As we are becoming more accustomed to the heat, bikes and the heavy load, our riding has improved a lot. We have done a couple of days of riding 80 or so km’s and not feeling overly tired at the end of the day. So we are getting fitter.


The further out of the mountains we get, the worse the camp grounds seem to get. They are all full of permanent campervan set ups. They leave a tiny space for tents and cram people in tightly there is not even enough room to have your bikes on the site and we have to stand them up and tie them together. We have slept with snorers next door for many nights. We will avoid camp grounds like the plague from now on if we can help it and free camp in the woods from now on.


We arrived in Konstanz which is a beautiful city with an incredibly interesting history. We were lucky enough to stay with Peter who was probably the best person to stay with in all of Europe as he is a professional bike tourer/businessman. Peter’s apartment was amazing. He lives in the best part of town and has a large 5 star luxury apartment, the building is over 400 years old! Andy met Peter on Mt Buller about 6 months ago during summer while mountain biking. Peter over-heard Andy talking about riding the Rhine River and started talking to him and said we should stay at his place in Konstanz. What are the chances of that!!!

Peter's place is the Red building. Luxurious

Peter’s place is the Red building. Luxurious

We emailed him and it all worked out well. We had been sleeping in a tent for over a week so the thought of a bed was very appealing (plus it was rainy) originally we thought we would stay for one night but after going out for a few beers with Peter and his friend we were convinced to stay for 2 nights. Peter has numerous businesses that all mainly involve bikes in some way or another. He has cycled all over the world and has designed, planned and made maps of many of the cycle routes in Europe. So now we have a plan based on his advice on where we should go.


We aren’t going to ride the whole Rhine River. We think it gets pretty boring and industrial which we thought it might (based on our research). We are going to ride as far as Basel (Germany/France) then ride through the Black Forest and ride down the Donau (Danube) River to Vienna (Austria). We are also wanting to head west into France before the Black Forest hopefully. Not too sure yet though.


It was lovely to ditch the bikes somewhere secure for a while and have some time to be a tourist in a nice city. Andy and I don’t really love cities but Konstanz was nice to spend a day in. We also were able to do some repairs/ maintenance on our bikes, buy maps a proper bike lock etc. It was really weird staying in a complete stranger’s house. We were out for most of the day as he runs his 4 or more businesses from home (the room we were staying in). He was very welcoming and made us amazing espressos in the morning. We also got a gift for staying at his place of bicycle shaped sunglasses, we’ll have to put up a photo. Way better than waking up in a tent and making our coffee on a beer can on the ground.


It is so much cheaper in Germany about half that of Switzerland. The last camp ground we stayed at cost us about 60 AUD for a patch of dirt. So after staying right next door to some poms, the following night we tried our luck at ‘wild camping’ which is illegal technically but Peter said he does it all the time and it is fine as long as you don’t get caught. Haha.


We pedalled a short distance the next day due to 70km/h head winds. We had to pedal flat out down hills. If we stopped pedalling down the hill, we pretty much came to a standstill. It was the pits!!!!! So we stopped early at lunch time and decided we would ‘wild camp’ We went down these non-existent tracks to the river, through corn fields and pushed our biked through the scrub and stumbled across the most amazing place that looked as though it was made for sneaky camping. It was right on the water, had a fire pit and had a nice sized clearing. We fell asleep on the edge of the river for a few hours and went swimming. There was no one around so we thought no one would find us. However, in the late arvo, all the locals appeared. We wanted to set up the tent and go to bed but had to wait for the last local to stop fishing and leave at about 9:30pm. Our sneaky spot was not so sneaky. It was the locals hang out and we had stolen the prime hang out spot. Oops. We woke up at 6am like every morning and packed up quickly before the first boat went past, made a coffee, had breaky, had a swim and left. We are getting much faster at packing up everything. From waking up to having the tent packed up, panniers packed and on the bikes, we can now do in 20 mins.

Sunrise wild camping

Sunrise wild camping

Mum, you will be pleased to know that I now have to eat breakfast every morning or else I get hangry buy about 9am after a few hours of pedalling and ‘Andy the poor bastard’ (as you would say) cops it. So, I have come to the conclusion that breakfast is a good idea for everyone’s sake. Plus, I can actually feel the lack of energy if I don’t.



After 2 weeks or whatever it has been, I now feel like I really know my bike. We have worked out that slow and steady is the go with the large amount of time on the bike and the loads we are carrying. Some days we are on the bikes for 8 or more hours. We think we are carrying a lot of gear but the truth is we have 2 less bags than most pairs of cycle tourists we see. We have seen twice now, people pulling a hammer out of there pannier bags to hammer in the tent pegs to the lush, soft Swiss ground!!! There have been no crashes from us yet. The drivers are very kind to cyclists which is great. We have only been beeped at once! We go the wrong way at least 4 times every day .Our maps are all in German, so that’s to be expected I spose.


Peter’s apartment.

There are so many decisions that need to be made every day.

‘Should we try this backroad?’ ‘How much further should we ride?’ Should we wild camp tonight?’ Where are we on the map’? ‘What should we have for dinner?’ Should we buy food here or wait and see if there is another supermarket closer to camp?’ What if there isn’t’?

Some days we are buggered and every decision is so much effort and we both suffer from the old Chronic Indecisiveness ‘Too Hard Basketitis’ AKA (CITHB) an annoying sickness that can arrive in the afternoon and last a few hours. When this happens worse to one of us than the other, the other person becomes ‘trip leader’ and makes the decisions. It’s great sometimes just following when you have CITHB.


View from the top of the church. Konstanz.

We are now in a lovely town called Waldshut, we have booked into a hotel for 2 nights. I am currently listening to a guitar and saxophone player playing just outside our window and there has been a variety of great buskers right outside. Pretty luxurious. Andy injured his knee the day before we arrived in Konstanz and it has got significantly worse. It is painful for him to ride, sleep, and walk (he doesn’t have a great track record). So we are resting for a few days. I am keen to get on the road again but am certainly enjoying this hotel and town. Andy is going to the physio tomorrow morning, which will hopefully help. We are lucky that we have 3 months and can take our time. It is the way that we prefer to travel anyway.


Cheers !



On the Bikes

Our stay at Glutentargs was lovely. It was nice to get some rest before getting on the bikes and we enjoyed exploring the lovely town of Andermat. We got up early and had the most awkward breakfast ever with another man staying at Glutentargs place. The language barrier was a key factor in that awkwardness. We rolled out of glutentargs and boarded the train in our usual highly strung way. Is this the right train? How are we going to get all of our stuff on and off this train in time before it leaves? Turns out that there is heaps of time, still its not that easy with so much gear.


It seems to take us so much time to get everything ready and on the bikes, which I’m sure we will improve on. Having finally got all our stuff loaded we found ourselves in the heart of the Swiss Alps above 2000m looking down and the most amazing road we’ve ever seen, with about a dozen hairpin corners to coast around. Surrounded by mountain peaks, enourmous cliffs glaciers and stunning alpine views we wobbled our trusty steeds, Wally (amy’s) and Whaley(andy’s cos it’s overoaded) into the first steep descent and loved it.




Since then we have seen a lot of people on bikes, but only a few like us with all the camping gear on board. We have descended 1400m and just finished climbing 300m up. The total distance we are covering is about half of what we thought we would do, as we have to stop all the time an marvel, film and photograph so many amazing things we see along the way. On the first day of riding after taking a wrong turn that led us to a really great part of the ride we found ourselves in a huge hail storm and happened upon a tiny little wood shed to shelter in for about half an hour until the hail had eased enough to get out and ride again.



So it turns out the first few days were mountain biking, not really ideal on our touring bikes. Amazing trails through the bush. The other thing that didn’t quite go to plan was using lamp oil for cooking in a home made beer can stove. Due to the language barrier we ended up with the wrong fuel, a near bushfire when I tipped it over, and the blackest pot you could imagine. I was ready to give up on the beer can stove after the most stressful cooking experience ever. Glad to say that we got the right fuel now, and the beer can is cooking like a dream. Overall, my year 9 German is coming in very handy though. Turns out I was listening to the German teacher after all. I just ordered 2 large beers in full German with no mistakes.


After a very slow start to the distance we are covering, we are managing 50km + days. We are currently sitting at a bar overlooking a marina and Lake Konstanz. It has been well above 32 Degrees and way to bloody hot to be riding all day with a head wind! Most people in Switzerland are athletes, the old nana B&B host in Andermatt goes mountain biking, paragliding, skiing and we thought she was old and frail. We think that there might be a fat tax in Switzerland on fatty foods that we crave after 8 hours of packing up/riding/getting lost/checking the map/shopping for food that will survive 30+ deg heat and eating like a vegetarian for dinner. We are leaving camp on average at about 7am and getting to camp between 2 and 4pm. Unfortunately, ‘wild camping’ is not the go in Switzerland so we are in caravan parks with a million other people, but the showers are nice for sure. Looking forward to some “wild camping’ in Germany.

Travelling by bike is really quite nice. Bike touring is amazing! We are not hard core bike tourers, but are loving the life on the road. After a few shitty camp sites, there is nothing better than getting on the road again at the crack of dawn. We have improved signifiacantly to the first day. It took us 3 hours by the time we got up, packed up, made coffee and breaky and being on the road, Now we are doing it in an hour. This morning we couldn’t do it fast enough, we could wait to leave Buchs, due to the bells from the church that rang every 15 mins all throughout the night. We have been swimming in the Rhine River along the way to cool off.


We are carrying all together including the bikes about 85 kilos everyday. Even though this is a summit to sea, there is still a lot of uphills that we weren’t expecting. We have probably climbed 700 vertical metres all up over the last 5 days. But have descended a lot more than that.

We are sad to be leaving the Alps and the most amazing mountain scenery I could have ever imagined. We are looking forward to the adventures that lay ahead, swimming in the blue lake Konstance for the next few days, and whatever is around the next corner. We had our first conversation with an English speaking person today who was looking at our bikes outside a supermarket today. He thought that he would like to do this kind of trip.


Things that kinda suck but are all part of an amazing adventure

-head winds

-sore arses

-being overtaken by old nannas or kids

-getting spiked / scared everday by my mountain biking pedal spikes

-the sunburn in weird places (ankles, feet, calves)

-not speaking german

-church bells we originally thought these were quaint and end up being awful. We camped next to a church where they went off every 15 mins all night long, I wanted to pack up, and night ride at midnight but Amy was not so keen.

P.S we are 4 giant Austrian Beers in, after going to 3 different countries so far today. Cheers

From Home to the Swiss Alps

We have made it. It is Thursday morning. I have been up since 5am not being able to sleep so thought I would try out if I would be any good at this blog stuff.

If we do blog entries, there are probably a few things that you SHOULD definitely expect from them:

  1. They will probably sound like a 10 year olds recount of their holiday. “and then we did…. And then we”
  2. True to our style, there will be spelling and grammar mistakes and it probably won’t be proof read. (Time is short)
  3. They will not be regular and they will probably cease all together at some point.


Now, here is an update of our journey getting here starting from the point when we left the front door of home. (Just kidding).

Packing the bikes into the bike boxes took way longer than we thought. 4 hours to be precise. I was not much use really, although I did do some very technical bike holding while Andy did pretty much the rest. But he was a bike mechanic after all, which makes him way more qualified than me.

On the way to the airport, I was busy stressing out about all the things out of my control (What if they are too heavy? What if they lose the bikes? What if they get damaged? How are we going to get all these boxes from the airport – Airport train station – Zurich Train station – Gloshenberg Station – Andermatt Station) while Andy was kicking back in comfort in the back seat.


Planes really are boring. Here are my thoughts and comments:

  1. I shoulda packed my toothbrush!
  2. When you order a drink, don’t just order 1 like everyone else, order 7 at a time. (It’s the only way to staty hydrated)
  3. My personal space was very invaded constantly by strangers
  4. The people watching is good in such a populated space
  5. Dubai airport is amazingly grand
  6. Turns out that getting to Europe takes waaaayyyy longer than getting to Asia
  7. Dragging bike boxes plus other stuff at 75 kg total around really does suck and is extremely awkward
  8. Most other countries in the world are amazingly educated in language (from cleaning staff to baggage handlers, everyone speaks English) English speaking countries (me) are really slack only knowing 1 language
  9. It was the longest night ever!!! We took off from Melbourne in the dark and didn’t see daylight for an unnaturally long time as we were chasing the night time around the world. (Shoulda gone the other way round the earth)!
  10. Emerites airlines are amazingly strict. There will never be any danger of someone getting on the plane who shouldn’t be there as they check your passport and boarding pass 5 times in a 30m section. Seriously!


Surprisingly, everything worked out pretty well (even with all the bike boxes). The bikes and other boxes arrived at Zurich airport. My bike box was all bent up and out of shape though. I am still yet to see if there is any damage. We went up and down a few incorrect lifts to get to the train station below the airport and rolled up to the correct platform eventually and man-handled our bikes onto the train. Arrived in Zurich HB station and had to wait a short time for the change over. We got lots of weird looks from passers-by, probably wondering ‘why on earth have they got these bikes in a massive awkward box? Why aren’t they assembling their bikes and using the wheels that they so conveniently come with to get around?’ I was wondering the same thing! If we assembled our bikes at the airport, we wouldn’t have arrived in Andermatt last night as we just got the last train from Gossenen to Andermat that allow bikes on the train. We also saved ourselves a lot of money as assembled bikes cost a lot more than a cardboard box. The view from the train window was amazingly spectacular. We were like 2 excited kids not quite believing what we were seeing.


To be a spectator watching the 2 of us get these bike boxes on to the train and off again, would have been comical if not slightly concerning. The changeover at Glossenen was the worst! The absolute pits really. I felt so sorry for Andy carrying/dragging so much more than me. I had my bike box, handbag and a pannier bag. Andy had his bike box, laptop bag, pannier bag and a super heavy and awkward cardboard box with the additional 4 pannier bags in it. We had apparently 6 mins to get from one platform, down some stairs, up some stairs, down a busy platform and on to another train. Turns out we didn’t have 6 mins though, it was more like 3.5mins. We were running full pelt (as fast as we could go) to get this last train to Andermat. I was in front and was accidently / not really caring bashing in to people to get on the train. I looked back and saw Andy taking up about 3 meters(across ways) on the platform as he was dragging his bike box on one corner as it had tipped almost completely on its side. We made it though, just in time, Phew!



Got off at Andermatt and there was Glutentarg our host who is really called Welgar (nothing like Glutentarg except that’s what I have been calling her for the last few days as I couldn’t remember Welgar). I straight away got scalded for not calling her and telling her what train we were on. She had apparently come to the station 3 times looking for us that day. OOPS! With everything that has been going on and being so busy at home before we left, we forgot to write her phone number down and forgot to get my travel sim working properly. We loaded our bikes very precariously on the roof of Glutentargs car. Andy was bust ensuring that they were secured properly doing truckies hitches etc and Glutentarg was impatiently saying ‘Ok, that is OK. Will be fine, we go slow” Well we didn’t really go slow up the hill but they got here without falling off the back of the car. Had a massive Kebab down the road and went to bed. I think we were both asleep before our heads hit the pillow.



From the time we left Mum and Dads to arriving at Andermat Station, we had been on the move for 37 hours with maybe 2 hours sleep each in that time. Today will involve exploring Andermat and getting gear, bikes etc to go tomorrow.