Nature Shop Ambassadors Julie & Lyn Manning describe Leg 1 of their epic 1233km Cycle ride on the Eurovelo 15 cycle route.
We're off! Checking out of the Zurich Youth Hostel, we caught four different trains to go from Zurich to Oberalppass (translation = Over the Alps Pass) which is over 2,000m above sea level. It was so high up it was misty near the top in the train, but the side we were going down was clear with great views.
When we first started our cycling we had to cycle on the road but luckily there was little traffic. Eventually we got onto the cycle trail where there was fantastic scenery with snow here and there and lots of ski lifts.
After 42km we reached Trun where we set up the tent for the night. Next to us were two young Americans who had borrowed a tent but they hadn't checked it and had no poles! They ended up cutting a stick to erect the tent and managed to sleep outside. Through the night we had thunderstorms and rain.
The following day we journeyed the 54km to Chur. Cycling down a valley that 10,000 years ago was a massive glacier, and through a spectacular gorge which included 250 metres of climbing to get around the gorge. This has been the only serious uphill so far in the trip.
More thunderstorms at night, which can make it an interesting night in a 2 man tent, but luckily not too much rain.
The following day we cycled 45 km to Buchs. Unfortunately that night we had to endure a tremendous thunderstorm that went on for hours, plus church bells that chimed every 15 minutes ALL night meaning we hardly got any sleep at all. The scenery in Switzerland is absolutely stunning and you can really take it all on when on a bike.
We passed through Bregenz, Austria and camped the night before carrying onto Germany where we suddenly found ourselves on the island of Lindau (we were not lost, the cycle trail deliberately goes onto and off the island). The weather here was forecast to be colder and wetter but luckily we managed to get the last available room at a hotel just as the rain started in earnest. It was definitely a welcome treat to be able to spend a night in a hotel to forgo the rain.
The next day the weather was not letting up, so we cycled off to Meersburg where for €90 a night, we got a hotel room for two nights. That gives us a rest day, a day of avoiding cycling in the rain and a chance to be tourists in the pretty town of Meersburg.
Highlights of the trip so far has to be the kindness of the Swiss people. One day cycling past a house a Swiss couple invited us into their house for a chat and to show us how they lived and the sculptures he had carved from timber. Another time in a campsite the Swiss couple next to us shared their wine and food with us.
In Zurich when our gas cylinder was getting low we couldn't find a replacement, the local shops either had the wrong type of none at all. On our way back from town with no luck we were stopped by another cyclist who said he might have some spares at his home only 50 metres away. He had three at his home that he gave us and rejected all offers of payment."
Check back shortly for more updates on Julie & Lyn's adventure!