My Cycle Trip Through Four Countries

Cycle Trips Europe can be booked with a company called Radreisen they are very well planned. Provide you with excellent bikes at your arrival. Organise the transport of your luggage each day to the next destination and booking good hotels for you. With many informations and a map you will be prepared to make your way on your own for an unforgettable journey.

Since my last cycle trip was already 3 years ago it was time for another one. Back then my husband was convinced that holidays like this are amazing. He was right! We loved our first experience when we cycled from Passau to Vienna along the river Danube. We couldn’t wait for our next adventure. Being active and outside plus arriving every day at another destination. It sounded great and so it was!

This time the choice for cycle trips Europe was a Three Lake Tour which started and finished in Konstanz, Germany through Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Austria.

 

We flew into Zurich as this seemed the best connection from Dublin and had to get the train from there directly to Konstanz. Between collecting our luggage and train departure was only 8 minutes left. We sprinted like crazy to our platform and somehow made it in time. As the next one was an hour later we just didn’t wanted to wait. We felt already the warm breeze in the train and us being exhausted from the running made it not very pleasant. But I was happy our cycle trip would start the next day and finally a proper summer. Which was rare in Ireland.

 

Arrival in Konstanz

Late on a Saturday afternoon we arrived in Konstanz and pulled our trolleys on the cobblestone path through the old town. An amazing German town with bavarian style buildings and nicely decorated architecture. We checked in at our first accommodation Hotel Barbarossa

I swapped my boots for flip flops and we went to a supermarket to buy snacks and drinks for the trip.

The rest of the day we chilled out in a lovely beergarden Constanzer Wirtshaus on the river Rhine.

Day 1: Konstanz To Schaffhausen (50.83 km)

We could hear the rain all night and it didn’t stop in the morning. For some reason we slept terrible and woke up with googly eyes. Not the best start. The forecast looked horrible but we had no choice. Our bikes waited in the hotel garage and after a big breakfast with strong coffee it was time to manage the first day. Our destination was Schaffhausen.

Covered in our rain gear we struggled to get out of Konstanz and finding the correct cycle path. We got lost and frustrated. The rain didn’t make it easy to stop and check the map. Then finally we crossed a highway and found our cycle route 2.

A few kilometers on the bike and we crossed already the border to Switzerland. I was surprised that nobody checked passports. Even it was Europe but since we entered an independent country I was expecting it to be a little bit more strict.

Rain continued for the next 20 km until it finally cleared for another 10 km. And there was wind. My average speed was between 10-12 km/h.

We drove through rich villages with huge impressive houses and wondered why they can afford all this but unable to provide proper cycle lanes. Mostly we cycled on gravel path.

The road got eventually better but rain started again. Sometimes so heavy that we had to look for shelter. Focused to reach our destination we passed Stein am Rhein. My husband seen pictures of this town before our cycle trip and really wanted to see it. So we turned around. With 40 km already behind us it was time for a longer break.

I am glad we decided to go back. The town was just so unreal. Every house was a piece of art. Every house looked better than the other. We stopped for lunch. Some rolls and salami from the supermarket for 10 CHF plus a coke and cappuccino for 8 CHF. We quickly realised how expensive Switzerland was.

Back on the bikes the rain started again and didn’t stop until Schaffhausen. It was peaceful though. Most of the time it was just us. Passing huge fruit and wine plantations.

The last kilometres were gravel path again through the forest. We had enough. Cold and exhausted we arrived after 6 hours. Our Hotel Park Villa where we stayed the night made us feel like kings. They gave us the suite and we rested the muscles in a full bath. Snuggled up in our bathrobes and fell asleep for a few hours. Pure exhaustions but we made the first day.

In the early evening we woke up again and strolled through the town. Another lovely one. As it was Sunday and everything was closed we only found a tiny Kebab Take-Away and chilled the rest of the night on our balcony.

cycle trips europe

Day 2: Schaffhausen To Zurich (68.77 km)

We woke up early and were treated so well at breakfast with everything we could ask for. With a happy and stuffed tummy we started a very sunny day. Finally! The rainy day forgotten and off to the next challenge. It would be a long and tough one.

Our first stop was Rhine Falls which we meant to see the day before but because of the rain we left it out. As it is a famous attraction being early was important. For 5 CHF we managed to be there before 9:30am and were the only once on the boat. The waterfall was impressive. Listening to the power of the water pouring down. The boat let us out at the rock in the middle of the river and we had a great view. At some stage a rainbow appeared and it was such an amazing picture. Great start of the day.

Back on the road I felt much better and cycling was easier. My average speed was between 15-17km/h.

After the Rhine Falls we cycled downhill on the main road. No cars and once again just us surrounded by nature. Eventually we ended up in the forest again with gravel path. We found a hidden beergarden directly at the Rhine. It was unbelievable how crystal clear the river was. For another 10 CHF just for a coke & cappuccino we went back on the road. Cycled through little villages. So peaceful as if the time stood still and felt like a world out of trouble. Everyone had a big house and huge cornfields everywhere. We could only hear cowbells and birds chirping.

The heat was at a highest peak. Over 30 degrees and we run out of our water supplies. It was lunchtime on a Monday and most of the restaurants closed. I was exhausted and afraid to dehydrate. Suddenly we found a little kiosk and the owner stopped her lunch break to sell us a bottle of water. What a relief. She also informed us that every fountain in Switzerland has really good drinking water.

Off to the next fountain we filled up all our bottles and dunked our heads in the cold water. A few minutes later everything was dry again and we repeated this process at every fountain we could find. After this was sorted we ran out of snacks. We passed by several restaurants only to read the RUHETAG – CLOSED sign. It was frustrating and we were annoyed how reckless we planned our day.

We kept on going. Cycled in a valley and eventually found the lovely Restaurant Tössegg at the river. Full of people enjoying their lunch. What a weird feeling. Along the road we barely met a soul and here they all are. I took off my shoes and felt the pain on my feet. We decided to rest a while. The meal was great (55 CHF) but after we felt so heavy even cycling downhill was difficult. Roads were also terrible again.

About 20 km from our destination Zurich my ankle started to hurt badly. I was close to give up. Just wanted to throw the bike in the river and take the train. My limit was reached. It was enough!

Well if I learned something in life, that it is good to push yourself sometimes. Getting out of our comfort zone. Even I was in so much pain and every move nearly put tears in my eyes. I kept going. I had to make it.

We did more breaks and at one coffee shop we met a Swiss couple who were on their way to Stein am Rhein. I couldn’t believe they still had around 40 km to cycle and it was already late in the afternoon.

Big relief when we finally reached the city but it was impossible to find the hotel. Thank god to the free roaming. I took my phone out switched on Google maps, entered the address and cycled with one hand. It was end of working day and main roads were full of traffic. I didn’t care I just wanted to reach the hotel. Followed the navigation on my phone broke probably a few traffic rules and so happy when we arrived at Sorell Hotel Rex

My ankle was swollen and I was worried how I would continue the rest of our trip. Even we had no energy left we still decided to check out Zurich. Walking for me was nearly impossible and luckily a tram nearby brought us directly in the city centre. I found a bandage in a supermarket and things got a little better.

Zurich was a weird but beautiful city. You have all the rich once dining in the restaurants and a mix of people sitting around the lake enjoying the atmosphere. Not sure if I could live here.

We joined the people who were sitting on the steps close to the water. Listening to a guy who was playing the guitar and watched the sun go down while sipping on our drinks. My exhaustion didn’t handle alcohol so well and I felt drunk after a few glasses. In the arms of my husband I lurched back to the hotel. Ate the snacks we bought in the supermarket before I fell into a deep sleep. I think I never was in so much pain but I felt proud again. Another day completed. Still unsure how I would manage the next one.

cycle trips europe

Day 3: Zurich to Lachen (40.70 km)

The night felt like we were both in a coma. I woke up in a terrible stage and looked at my husband who didn’t feel any better. I suggested to take the train and he agreed.

My ankle was still painfull but thanks to the bandage walking was possible again.

We decided to start the day slowly and rethink our decision since it was a short cycle. After breakfast we agreed to keep going and planned to stop every 5 km. I put lots of Voltaren on my foot and fixed my bandage.

The sun was out and after 9 am we pushed our bikes into the city centre. We spent 30 CHF in a souvenir shop for a baseball cap and fridge magnet before we started cycling again.

Even I was in pain I still enjoyed being outside and the map showed a road along the Zurich lake which I was looking forward too.

We got disappointed. The lake was mostly private areas and we cycled only along the main road. At least it was smoothly and we were able to rest our bones a little. I was glad cycling was possible for me at all with my injury. For lunch we bought rolls, quark, salami and salad to eat at the lake. While my husband had a nap after I dunked my feet in the lake and enjoyed the view. It was just so beautiful and all the pain forgotten. I felt happy and so peaceful. My head was clear. I didn’t think of anything from back home. I was in this amazing country and only had to worry how to reach our hotels each day.

With temperature rising over 30 degrees again I was so eager to go for a swim. Along the way we seen already a few spots. Mostly full of old people who seemed to enjoy their retirement. Whatelse to do in this heat? The water was so clear and refreshing. While swimming along I realised how much I missed that feeling. It was normal for me to swim in a lake during summer in Germany but in Ireland not so much. We barely get over 25 degrees and the wind still makes it too chilly for a swim in the sea. Even we live so close to a nice beach I only managed once to actually go into the water after living there nearly 8 years.

After 5.5 hours cycle we crossed a bridge into Lachen and checked into Hotel Bären

This little town was lovely with a harbour. We rested at the lake and finished the day with Sushi & Cocktails. It was so important to recharge our batteries. The next day was an even shorter cycle which we still needed.

cycle trips europe

Day 4: Lachen To Walenstadt (32.70 km)

This was my favourite day of the whole cycle trip. We started along fields and met locals walking their dogs. I taught my husband how they say “Hello” in Switzerland and every person we passed he shouted “Grüezi”. They smiled at us and greeted back.

The cycle path was perfect and we enjoyed the scenery around us. So disturbed by the mountains in front of us that we got lost badly. Our map was a bit misleading too. Eventually we reached Weesen where we had to wait 2 hours for the boat to Walenstadt.

We bought lunch in the supermarket and chilled at Walensee lake. The water had this turquoise colour and with the mountains in the back it reminded me a little of pictures from Canada.

Feeding the ducks and going for another swim the boat arrived. Unfortunately the whole upstairs was reserved for a christening party but we found a good spot at the front. For 1.5 hours we cruised between the mountains. It was breathtaking.

In Walenstadt we checked in at Hotel Restaurant Seehof and went straight to the lake where we stayed until sunset.

Day 5: Walenstadt To Feldkirch (53.50 km)

I was looking forward to this day because we would cross two borders and cycle through my country number 32, Liechtenstein before we would arrive in Austria.

We left Walenstadt with the mountains in our back and drove shortly after along river Rhine again.

It didn’t take long until we reached Liechtenstein but we seen nothing. No sign or border. Just our map was telling us.

I miss the time where every country had a proper border, passports had to be stamped and money to be exchanged. Now you barely feel when you enter another country in Europe. Of course it makes things easier.

Cars were passing us with black license plates and white numbers / letters. It started with FL which stands for Free List. I had to google it since I wondered why Liechtenstein is marked with FL.

We made our way to the capital Vaduz and were able to get our passports stamped at the tourist information centre for 3 CHF. The heat was unbearable with temperatures over 33 degrees. A little walk around the city and some interesting meal at a restaurant (rösti pizza made out of a hash brown), we were back on our bikes.

What to say about Liechtenstein? Well it is very tiny it took us not even 2 hours to cycle through it. The landscapes is similar to Austria. They seem to be very proud of their country and you can find many postcards of the prince with his family. Once a year he invites all resident to the castle for a party. Oh and there was no murder since 1997.

We continued direction Feldkirch in Austria. Had a few more gravel path to survive and struggled a lot with the heat. Sweaty and a little exhausted we arrived after a 5.5 hours cycle at Gutwinski Hotel which was the best one I ever stayed.

They gave us one of their luxurious room with a huge private terrace. It was the first trip where being a travel blogger paid off. Before our holiday I asked every hotel we stayed in if they would offer us a free upgrade and in return I would write a review on my website. Some of them did and this was one of them.

Feldkirch is famous. A few scenes of the James Bond movie Quantum Of Solace were shot here in 2008. It turned out they also had a huge Weinfest that night with life bands and different wine tastings.

A cold shower later and off we went to explore the town. I ate the biggest banana split ice-cream ever. We could finally enjoy the decent € prices again. We did a crazy shopping in the supermarket, bought our favourite coffee Julius Meinl and a lot of other goodies. After a walk around the town and a few drinks at the festival we decided to chill on our terrace.

 

Day 6: Feldkirch To Saint Gallen (53.87 km)

The day started cloudy and temperatures were enjoyable. We left Austria shortly after and crossed the border into Switzerland again. This time we could see it clearly. River Rhine was the border line and on each side was a little house with a Swiss flag on the left side and an Austrian flag on the right side.

We made our way to a town called Altstätten which was 30 km away. There we boarded a little train to Gais which brought us up in the mountains. Another great panoramic view.

After a little break we cycled all the way downhill to Appenzell. I loved the feeling and at some stage my bicycle computer showed me 45 km/h. I was flying down the hill. In the town I was looking for the famous Appenzeller Cheese. It turned out to be quite a challenge to find a store who would sell some. It was more known for their beer. Eventually we found one which closed right after us.

With some crackers we sat down and enjoyed the cheese. It stank so bad but tasted even better. Appenzell looked great every house was special. Like little gingerbread houses.

The cycle to our next stop in Stein was tough and mostly uphill. Even pushing the bike was a challenge. When we finally reached it we sat down in a beergarden with a huge ice tea and beer. Temperature rised again and we dunked our heads again in several fountains to survive.

Our last kilometres to Saint Gallen were better. Downhill! We crossed a huge bridge and seen the valley below us only to realise how high up we were.

Another 5.5 hour cycle day and we arrived at Hotel Einstein

Saint Gallen was great and I had been here 20 years ago with my family but couln’t remember anything. We strolled through the old town. Had some pizza with wine and arrived just in time back in the hotel when a big thunderstorm hit the town. While I watched the news about the G20 in Hamburg, my husband was sitting at the window to look at the lightning. We were both lost in our thoughts as the end of our trip was near.

 

Day 7: Saint Gallen To Konstanz (48.24 km)

This was our last day on the bike. We both felt very emotional about it. The time we had was great and we loved it every day a bit more. Our plan was to have a cycle trip from now on every year.

We left Saint Gallen and drove a while along the main road until we cycled through little villages. The weather was hot again and we decided to take it slow. As soon we reached the Bodensee lake we stopped for lunch at a harbour restaurant and stayed a while for a swim. We didn’t even bother changing clothes after and got back on the bike with our wet swimwear. It only took a few minutes and it was dry again.

Several times we stopped, jumped in the lake and laid in the sun. The cycle path was very busy and we met groups from old peoples to families.

After 6 hours we reached Konstanz and checked in at Hotel Barbarossa where we stayed already our first night. We made it 7 days on the bike and around 350 km. What a trip!

The heat was unbearable again. We went to a beergarden for some ice cream and beer. Had another swim at the Konstanzer Rheinstrandbad before we celebrated our success with steak and wine in a lovely place called Hexenküche

We bought some snacks in the supermarket and made our way back to the hotel in the heavy rain. It was still warm and we were the only once running around while everyone else got shelter. They smiled at us but we enjoyed the shower. Soaking wet we took full baths to avoid getting a cold and rested on our last night.

 

Goodbye – Cycle Trip!

We still had half day in Konstanz before our flight home from Zurich. Walked around the city, did a little boat tour on the lake and chilled the rest of the time in a beergarden to chat about our week. Still in pain but we were proud and couldn’t wait for our next cycle trips Europe adventure…

Cycle Trips Europe Advice

What we learned from this trip? We need much more practise on the bike. Even we walk and hike a lot but cycling is a different kind of activity which uses other parts of muscles. Just the pain you will get on your butt. We haven’t been on a bike since our last trip in summer 2014.

For our next one we will definitely train a bit more and plan longer days better.

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2 Comments on "My Cycle Trip Through Four Countries"

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Saint Facetious
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Woah, what an incredible trip. Though I can’t imagine all the mountains you guys must have had to pedal up. I don’t know if I could have lasted that long. A route I’ve been pondering is going through the wine country in Alsace. Really beautiful villages everywhere there. Though I think it might be better for backpacking.

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