Mon 15th July.
Leaving Rikon and leaving Switzerland.
Judith and Simon left for work before I woke up. I helped myself to food and coffee (the wonderdrug), took in the views around their apartment, wrote a note of thanks and left.
It took a while to find a rhythm on the bike after a day of cycling luggage-free. Naturally I was sad to be leaving the comfort of new friends and the luxuries of an apartment, uncertain when I would be staying within four walls again.
I headed north, knowing that if I had a good day I might leave Switzerland today, but if it wasn’t so good, I would at least be close to the German boarder.
Simon had told me about the beautiful small town of Stein am Rhein. A traditional Swiss town that hadn’t changed much over the years and was situated on the Rhein river before it joins the Lake Constance (Bodensee in German). He insisted I see the town if I was going that way.
The road there didn’t have much to offer, there were a lot of hills leaving the Rikon, which made progress slow and destroyed any momentum. It was hot which also kept progress down and it was quite dry, which made things uncomfortable.
I kept my head down, stayed hydrated and made it to the touristic hotspot for around 6 o’clock. I looked around, got some snacks and spent the last of my Swiss Francs on some tourist tat.
I sent a postcard to friends and made for Germany, knowing I wouldn’t make it by the end of the night, but enjoyed the fruitless gamble of potentially making it.
I had a nice detour through a brief forrest and joined the Rhein river along a few small Swiss towns. I’d really enjoyed my time in Switzerland. The mountains and lakes had brought great comfort and beauty to the trip and I felt a kind of safety under the bond I had with Switzerland.
However I was looking forward to being back on the Euro and not having to worry about the price of food. Being in Switzerland for two weeks had added a few hundred pounds to the trip tab and although the food was always an excellent quality and consistency, (crisp delicious apples, perfect bananas, chocolate made with Alpine milk), I was looking forward to more basic costs and supplies.
I stopped at a shop in one of the towns on the river to get some bread. Still not having grasped any Swiss-German, I asked (in German) for white bread. “Weiss brot bitte” The lady didn’t understand. I said it again and she looked confused. I said “Weiss, brun” gesturing with my hands at a loaf. Finally it clicked “Aaah, weiss brot!” She said, pronouncing the ‘w’ correctly as a ‘v’ to make ‘Vice Brot’. Turns out she didn’t have any, but she pointed me towards a bakery (bäckerei) nearby.
I picked up another unique type of Swiss bread there, Chrustenkanz (crust wreath), which is six balls of dough connected together that make a circle. It was particularly soft and I soon realised the Swiss had a passion for bread that I had missed while I was here. Another favourite loaf was ‘Tessiener Brot’.
I went through one last Swiss city before I got onto the road that would lead me to Germany. I picked up some budget Ritter Sport chocolate bars from a shop for truckers (the only budget thing I found in Switzerland). I ate a whole bar as soon as I was outside.
I passed through another small town with some kids playing outside. “Hoi” one of the girls said, while smiling and waving. I returned the gesture, then she said something else I wasn’t sure of.
From all time I’d spent here, this was the only Swiss-German I’d picked up, “Hoi” for hello and ‘Schüle’ for ‘School’ after seeing it in white paint on the roads.
I cycled towards a pink sunset searching for a spot. Knowing that finally in this rural part of Switzerland the land would soon join with Germany and camping should be much easier.
I went uphill and found the perfect spot in a little ditch that hid me from any noise from the road or being seen.