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Switzerland 2003

Cycling Through Three Cultures in One Small Country

Part 1: Geneva to Murten
Trip Itinerary
Tour Map
More EuroBike Travels

Geneva youth hostel The Geneva (HI) youth hostel is a good one and in a good location. One of the few urban hostels not located next to a noisy train line. This hostel had storage lockers where we left suitcases and items not needed during the trip. They also provided locked garage storage for the bikes when not in use. It was 99 degrees the day we arrived in Geneva. Hey, they forgot the A/C in this place!
Bike Path in Morges
Morges, CH
We had made lodging reservations well in advance for the entire trip since we were a party of eight traveling in August. When the airlines provided a significant price break by leaving a day later we knew changing lodging reservations at the 11th hour would be a monumental task. We decided to take the train to cover the first riding day from Geneva to Morges to make up for the lost day. The first cycling day began along Lake Geneva at Morges. Unfortunately, we had only a short distance along the beautiful lake before we headed inland.
Shortcut through the fields
Taking a Shortcut
Riding north from Morges on Cycle Route #5 we encountered some hills that seemed somewhat more arduous in the 95 degree heat. We did a bit of single track when we deviated from the bike route to avoid an unnecessary hill. On our maps we noted a dashed line along a river circumventing a steep hill. The back road eventually ended at a small farmyard with a gate. The barking dogs brought out a delightful curmudgeon of a man who greeted us with a big smile and a flurry of French phrases. Our limited French wasn't much help but he was talking a universal language of facial expressions and hand gestures.

We understood what he was saying despite the language barrier. He seemed to be whispering: "Yes, yes you can take this path, but go quietly so the old lady doesn't hear you sneaking through the farm!" We thanked him with a big handshake and we headed off down a dirt path that got narrower until it became only a footpath through high grasses before reuniting with the cycle path.

Yverdon-les-Bain The terrain leveled out after the village of La Sarraz and we arrived for lunch in Yverdon-les-Bains on Lac de Neuchâtel. We contributed a few ducats to the local street musician performing for afternoon passers-by.
Golden Arches
Golden Arches Hotel
Estavayer-le-Lac, CH

Beam me up
Our first riding day ends in Estavayer-le-Lac on Lac de Neuchâtel, and what's this? A McDonald's Hotel? - In the middle of a freeway median reached by riding down the access ramp. Yes, a Golden Arches Hotel by McDonald's! Whose idea of a joke was this? But wait a minute, there's A/C, lots of towels, and exposed Star Trek "beam me up" showers as part of the futuristic décor. Finding out how the room lights were activated was entertaining; a drunk would never find the little unmarked slot in the wall where one needs to insert their key card. Besides a McDee's restaurant, the hotel also included a second fast-food eatery, gift shop and small grocery store.
Golden Arch Lobby Beginning the second riding day making bike adjustments in the McDonald's Hotel lobby. From the parking lot we found a bike path that tunneled under the freeway. We left Cycle Route #5 at Estavayer-le-Lac and headed east on a pleasant alternate bike route to Payerne. This route is shown on the Veloland Schweiz maps.
Payerne Abbey
Abbey Church, Payerne, CH
While we were visiting the beautifully restored 11th c Abbey Church in Payerne we were approached by Peter and Hans, two Swiss gentlemen who were vacationing near Murten. They must have overheard us talking and asked if we were English. They found it curious to find Americans biking in the region and they invited us to stop for drinks at their summer cottage on our way to Bern. We accepted but we had a lot to see in the 13 miles between Payerne and Murten.
inline skate route? The alternate route we chose was pretty flat until we ran into a stray hill near Dompierre. Oddly enough this section was designated as an inline skate route on a regional tourist map.
Avenches, CH
Avenches turned out to be an interesting lunch stop. It was at one time the capital of the Helvetii Celtic tribe. The Romans transformed it into Aventicum and their legacy is still visible in the 12,000-seat amphitheatre, city wall, gates, and a watchtower. Avenches is situated on a small hill but it's well worth the climb.
Ramparts, Murten, CH
Murten is a picturesque town on the shore of the Murtensee. German is the predominant language here. The medieval ramparts surrounding much of the old town are said to be the finest in Switzerland. The Battle of Murten saw the Swiss Confederate army drive off and massacre the Burgundians led by Charles the Bold in 1476. There's no charge to explore the ramparts with great views of the town and the lake.
Murten main square
Murten, CH
Hans and Peter
A Picnic With Peter & Hans
It was late afternoon and we still had quite a ways to go to reach Bern. We thought we would make a quick stop to see Peter and Hans at their beach front cottage on the lake as they insisted we should. As it turned out their genial hospitality completely sidetracked us. It started out with lively conversation, a good Swiss wine, cheese, crackers, fruit, and more wine.
Murtensee swim
Then we found ourselves digging through our panniers for the bathing suits, and all of us walking across the lane to the lakeshore, and going for a swim in the 80 degree water of the Murtensee. A perfect end to a great day but now it was evening. We'd never make it to Bern by bike. We bid our hosts goodbye and rode a few miles north to Kerzers and caught a train. It was dark as we arrived in Bern.

Part 2: Bern to Interlaken

Part 3: Berner Oberland

Part 4: Interlaken, St Gotthard Pass to Bellinzona

Part 5: Locarno, Centovalli & Rhône Valley to Montreux

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