Thursday, June 2, 2016

Wilderswil - 46° 39' 54" N 07° 52' 02" E

Lots of cool street art in Bern
From Aarau we rode to Bern, where we would staying in a youth hostel.  Gord and I have taken up the task of navigating and we are getting much better.  There is still the occasional time where we find ourselves 400m past the intersection we should have turned at but that is part of the adventure.  Getting out of town is always the biggest challenge, but that is always in the mornings when we have the most patience and enthusiasm.  Once out of the major centres, we easily make our way from one red bike sign to the next. Getting into the endpoint town is usually a gradual but welcome progression - it means time off the saddle and beer will soon be at hand.

Switzerland is very metropolitan, making their towns feel quite a bit more substantial than they are. Street tram systems and large, iconic buildings exist in towns with 35,000 people. I guess that is what can happen when you have 80 or 90 generations to work on the spot where you are living. In our countries, we are lucky if we've had 20 generations in one spot. It seems everyone is highly educated and polite - a drunk that wandered up to us at the train station while we were repairing bikes seemed quite fluent in at least three languages. Shop owners can easily switch between German, French and English. The whole of their houses, cars, and towns and villages look built to last, are in good repair and are sensibly designed. They do seem to be obsessed with chopping and stacking firewood, though.

A snack beside the canals
As we left the hostel in Bern, we hoped to beat the threatening rain.  We had a bit of fun to begin our ride by taking a funicular out of a river valley, gaining us our first 30 metres of vertical climbing without effort.  We suddenly found ourselves out of Bern and on the pathways along the canals. As we rode, the rain became less and less of a worry.  The anxiety around leaving Bern and finding the bike path washed away and we found ourselves under cloudy but not unpleasant skies.

Making our way through the forests and meadows and thinking we were hundreds of kilometres from anyone, we would often 'round a corner to find a huge hydroelectric dam, nuclear power plant (yes, seriously) or some other engineering marvel, tucked away in the hinterlands.

Gord had planned a stop in Murten - famous for its original, 16th century town walls.  By this time, the overcast had turned to fluffy clouds.  We ate lunch by the nearby lake, then rode up the hill to the "altstadt" to have a look at it.  We locked up our bikes and then toured the old cobble streets and even climbed up the 10 metres of stairs to walk along the fortifications.  Gord was very impressed and would have traded his bike for a pot of boiling oil to pour on marauders.

After lunch, we carried on to Fribourg, stopping a few times for mechanical issues.  I had a broken brake cable and a front wheel skewer that needed adjustments - everyone else's bikes seemed to be behaving.  Now that these few, normal "old bike" issues have been taken care of, we should be good for a while.

Sometimes the uphills are so steep, they have stairs
... and suddenly, we cross a hydroelectric dam
magic views
even beautiful in the rain
horse has right-of-way
bike path along water supply pipe
yahoo for flat riding along the canal!
group portrait
happy sheep
stopped for a train
stunning farm
look for the steeple, find the village fountain
poppies
Bern, 14 km

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