The view from a bicycle

This Friday evening is the first time in as long as I can remember that I have my apartment here in Grenoble to myself. The silence is lovely. I decided to take advantage of it by going for a swim at the pool and then coming back for some dinner and a movie. But just now I decided to organize all my recent photos, and got inspired to update the blog. So I sad down with a pot of fresh mint tea and some dark chocolate, and am ready to share some photos and memories from our recent cycle trip through Switzerland and Germany.

Seth and I have been wanting to explore the region by bike for awhile, and as ski season finally wrapped up, we decided to take 9 days in April to head out, starting from Winterthur, where Seth lives, and just going as far as we could along the Rhine River. We started from Seth’s front door, and made it all the way to Freiburg, Germany! We were hosted along the way by friends, colleagues, and even a really cool Australian lady who we found through Warmshowers.org, which is a kind of couch surfing for bike tourists. Our route took us northeast to meet up with beautiful Lake Konstanz and one of Seth’s colleagues, Maria, and from there we pretty much followed the Rhine all the way to Freiburg. It was such a wonderful route, almost completely car and hill free. (our biggest hill day was a 100m climb…) We rode through forests, fields, industrial sites, and all kinds of towns and cities, and met interesting people along the way. (thank goodness for Seth’s German!) We liked it so much that we are sure we will be hopping on our bikes again as soon as possible, although it will be hard to measure up to this rainless, flat, gorgeous, beer and sausage filled adventure! What follows is some of the highlights.

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The pictures above show us leaving from Seth’s house, and encountering our first baby animals a few hours later. Against all dire weather forecasts, the sun was shining and we were feeling good. We made sure to keep our energy levels up by frequent stops for coffee, beer, or ice cream, and we soon learned that with all the lovely caf├ęs and sunny terraces, our smushy brown bananas would NEVER win the battle for the most appetizing snack. I think the photo below summarizes the tempting assortments…
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For the next few days we followed the river, crossing the border between Switzerland and Germany frequently. The border doesn’t follow the river exactly, so some days we would end up crossing the border 4 or 5 times. But the picture here shows how relaxed it was!claire-german-boarder.JPG
The scenery was really beautiful, and we really liked all the quaint little German towns that we stopped in.
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We made a 2 night stop in Basel, a really cool town that is actually located in Swizerland, Germany, AND, France. It was here that we met our Australian host Biff – she was so laid-back that she sent us an email, never having met us, giving us her address and telling us where her hidden key was in case we arrived before she did. She hosted both us and another couple at the same time, an american guy and a french girl, and we made dinner together and relaxed in her apartment. The city of Basel was really cool too, and I got the chance to see it from the water, because Biff was, in fact, a champion dragon boater, and invited me to head out with her team for a practice. Unfortunately one of the team members was away, and in order to ‘balance the boat’ they made me paddle. With all the former Olympians and such, it was obviously useless to even have me try, but I did my best!basel-dragon-boat.JPG
The end of the road for us was Freiburg, where we stayed with a friend of mine Franzi, who was also a language assistant with me in Grenoble. We stayed for 2 nights and really liked the feel of the town. With all the university students and the old center, it was a lot like Grenoble, but with cheaper beer!
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One thing about this trip that was really interesting for me, was that it made me realize I had some random prejudices against Germany. I don’t know if it was due to the emphasis on WWII in my history classes, or the rampant stereotypes of beer and sausages being the only consumable items in Germany, but I definitely didn’t think I would love Germany as much as I did. The people were so nice, the food was diverse and delicious, and the scenery was really beautiful. I will just finish with our last photo, which does not in any way summarize our adventure, but more shows all the maturity and wisdom we have acquired so far on our European adventure.
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