As we get away from the central Alps the landscape gets more mellow and greener. But from above there will be numerous avalanches during winter and spring as to be seen from the aisles at the slopes and the barriers high above. I want to finish for today, there is still no feeling in the fingers. The next town is Disentis and I get my accommodation in a Hotel Furka again - this time on the other side of the pass. At the check-in I am requested to fill in my birth date. "Oh I am somewhat selfish in this point" I say. But I must fill it in to avoid reclamations. Immediately the hotel-lady cries out: "Your date is just one day next to my own!". "We then had to celebrate this year" I say. OK, so I am not the "anonymous" as usual.
Benediktinerkloster St. Martin
I walk to the little church which is quite nice inside. On the other
side there is the big Benedictine-monastery St. Martin. The church
there shall be the most beautiful sacral building at Graubünden.
But I don't make it to there, enjoy the cevapcici instead (19 CHF). A
telephone call is not possible today, the paycard (E.plus) of the
mobile has run out.
15. Day, Th
16.6. Disentis - Buchs, 120 km
The decision of yesterday to stop early was right, because we have a fine day again with sun and colours. After the start the progress is blocked at first by a herd of cows. Afterwards the surface of the path is somewhat problematic. We then pass a higher village but finally have downhills mostly and come to the larger town Ilanz. There is no chance to get a new paycard for the mobile anywhere, they only have the Suisse providers.
Eventually we approach a great attraction. Let us have a rest before, the best place is Valendas with the greatest wooden fountain of Europe. Looks fine, this place.
Holzbrunnen in Valendas
Now let us enter the attraction and this is the biggest landslide of the Alps which occurred 14.000 years ago: the landslide of Flims. The debris blocked the Rhine valley and the river had to dig a deep curved gorge into it. It is recommended to hike through this gorge. But frome the cycle route we have wonderful views from above to the limestone walls. The material of the slide is not compact rock because all of it had once been in motion.
Der Flimser Bergsturz
After this fascinating section we come to Chur. Outside there are some military areas and the Suisse army exercises the inconspicuous recumbency in the shade of trees to disturb the adversarial aerial reconnaissance (puh - I eagerly used the dictionary for this statement). In the center of Chur you get the usual shock by the roaring traffic, let us call it Chur-Shock this time. But I find a silent place named Regierungsplatz (place of government) and under lime trees and maples we can calm down.
Valley of the Hinterrhein
Regierungsplatz in Chur
Upside of Chur the Hinterrhein has conneted with the Vorderrhein, so meanwhile we have a respectable river and can ride on comfortable surfaces on its dams. To offer some alternate experience the route leads through villages and along castles for a while. Some hills and a t last the "Heididorf", the home of Johanna Spyri's Heidi. But the real name is Maienfeld.
We finally continue straight ahead. I had planned to end at Sargans but
the pace is so fascinating that I ride on and on. On the slopes to the
right we see the villages Triesen
and Triesenberg colorful in
the evening sun. Then there is the Principaltiy
of Liechtenstein. Not
far away is the castle of Vaduz
and I can zoom it in.
I end at Buchs. This is an industrial town and not so romantic. The busy Bahnhofsstrasse is the main shopping center. That's all. I find the Hotel Hirschen at the St. Gallener Str. and this is not so quiet. On the opposite side of the road there is a horse-butcher and there are posters to advertise the assets of horsemeat. But we heard about it already. Near by there is the village Werdenberg with wooden houses. At the guestroom of the hotel there are two huge horns: one of an ibex (Steinbock) more than 1 m long and the other from a mighty deer. May be the name of the hotel corresponds with this exhibit.
16. Day, Fr 17.6. Buchs - Stein am Rhein, 145 km
I get off before 8 am. In the morning there is not so much wind, and today we will have a headwind. We have a look to the ancient town Altstätten. For I had read about it I ask a woman for the access balcony near the Marktgasse. The Marktgasse is the access balcony" she says. May be I have overseen it because there are so many automobiles in front of it.
Restaurant im NSG
Then we are in the mouth-delta of the Rhine to the Lake of Constance (Bodensee). The last village is Fussach and then it is all nature conservation. But I never see the Curlew and neither hear him. At the lake they really have managed to run a campsite and a restaurant. We ride back to the Old Rhine, all this was a detour of 15 km and not really worth the matter. After we have twisted between all these highways, roads and rails we nearly end on the platforms of the railway station at Rorschach.
We have been here in 1997 already. Today I am not so enthusiastic about this section of the Bodensee-Tour. May be it is too much cycle traffic, so it is not so individual. Long distances lead along the railway. Finally I am happy to reach Kreuzlingen and Konstanz. I get some Euros from the bankomat and then - back at Germany - can purchase a new pay card for the mobile. Then to the Obermarkt to take a photo of Hotel Barbarossa where I once was during a business trip. Aside there is a guided tour group and the guide tells about gallows, pillories and tortures and the people feel spooky.
Stein am Rhein
We leave Konstanz and at the bordercrossing Tägerwilen we come back to
Switzerland. This part of the Bodensee-Tour is more picturesque.
Villages like Ermatingen, Berlingen
or Steckborn have nice
streets and houses. At the lake, the Untersee,
wind-surfers are busy and
use the strong wind. They fly above the waters as drawn by a line. Some
are really drawn by a kite and this sport is named kite-surfing.
While I make my way against the wind I have figured out, that I should have a rest-day at Stein am Rhein. We have been there and I know that this is one of the nicest towns at all. So I choose Hotel Grenzstein and check in for two nights. The clerk asks me, if I need an adapter for a hair blower or so but I can only say no, there is no hair blower in my luggage. On the other hand it would be useful to dry the clothes at laundry. I get a room with balcony and a nice outlook except the petrol station just in front. Nothing is perfect...
At dinner I get a tree feller's dish and consume it accompanied by the sounds of a sob stuff (...down at the creek there is a house with a wooden roof...). Thereafter I feel very well.
17. Day, Sa
18.6. Stein am Rhein - Radolfzell - Singen, 95 km
At first we must go to Stein to take some photos, but we have no sun yet. Today they will have a festival here and a lot of booths are at work. So let us turn in another direction and so we head for the town Radolfzell. All the way along the sea-shore, a nice path., many one-day-riders. Near Radolfzell there is the mouth of the river Aach into the Bodensee and an information board. At once I know my next target today. At Radolfzell the tourist information is at the rail station and I get a nice map for cycle-tours. A short walk around, market day and some photos.
Then I start again and old readers may guess where I want to go. Do you
remember the story (1995) of the Donauversickerung (Danube Sink)? OK,
so I want to go to the source of the Aach, the Aachtopf, and this the
place where the waters of the Danube reappear after they have decided
to run to the English Channel instead to the Black Sea.
On the route we pass the Friedinger Schlössle, 543 m. No one should say I do not look to the left or right - so I push my bike up there. It was in vain, for it is close today, they will have a knights meal or something like that and I got no invitation. We have a nice view to the Hohentwiel above Singen. I ride down to Volkertshausen (with an open supermaket) and end at Aach. There are signs at every corner to show how to find the Aachtopf. But there is not so much to be seen. The waters do not tell their story, how they found their underneath way from the Danube to this place. The most interesting thing are the information boards giving assistance to learn about the matter. I come to the conclusion that the most beautiful fountain place in Germany will be the Blautopf at Blaubeuren.
On the way back we pass Schloss Langenstein. You can visit a
carnival-museum there. On the other hand there are big golf course
areas (18 holes). The club is named Country
Club Schloss Langenstein. One of it's members desperately look
for his golf-ball near the street. There must have been a disastrous
shot before. What is a golf-player due to do in this case - if he
doesn't find the ball after all? Harakiri?
I must ask someone lateron (Information of a collegue, who is even
master of his club: "He must do a provisoric shot and gets a penalty
point"). The next village is Wiechs,
another golf-course just aside the little church.
We ride in the botany and see fine signs with the symbol of a bike and numbers. But this is not so fine if you have no corresponding map with the routes and numbers. So once I do not know where I am and must ask a man with a dog. "There and there and there you come to Beuren" he says. So I continue and the only place where I not come along is Beuren. But I find myself at Friedingen again. There is a big wedding, hundreds of people on the street in front of the church. The bridal couple is placed in the basket of a turntable ladder and then wound up to the highest possible point. Higher than the steeple of the church. As the people bend down their heads again and realize, that they have spilled their beer on their clothes I disappear around the next corner.
Down to Singen, the final town for today, there is a brand new cycle path in the wood. It must be said, that everywhere in this region they have done a lot to support cycling and this is fine. The main attraction of Singen is the Hohentwiel, 686 m. Don't be angry that I resign for today to go up there. At the pedestrian area I get my favourite Red Sausage from the barbecue. Then I head for my "home". At the road towards the Rhine they have nearly built a second one for the unmotorized traffic, not a cycle path but a cycle road. At the outskirts of Stein I detect a pizzeria. But first back the the Hotel Grenzstein to regenerate.
In the evening I cycle to the pizzeria. There I enjoy a Pizza Marinara and the soccer game Germany - Latvia which is presented on a large screen. Unfortunately there are two trembling balls, trembling twin players and two goals all the time. In spite of this fact there is no real goal and the Germans disgrace theirselves. On the way back I get rather wet for I have no rain suit with me. And the garage of the hotel is stuffed by bikes. So my "sykkel" must sleep under a roof.
18. Day, Su
19.6. Stein am Rhein - Säckingen, 115 km
The rest of the Rhine-Route promisses some attractions yet. A nice motif is the wooden roof-bridge at Gailingen/Diessenhofen. Some time later we reach Schaffhausen. It is possible that someone awaiting the big Rheinefall forgets to visit the may be remarkable old town-center. He will find his target at Schloss Laufen after a steep ascend. And this may be the most prominent sightseeing place of the Rhine (aside Deutsches Eck or Lorely). If one wants to observe the Rhinefall he must pay 1 € at Schloss Laufen, but the views are worth the money. They have built platforms, stairs and even tunnels down to the falling water-masses. May be you get a hook on your chin if you pass a tunnel together with a spirited group of Italian ladies and their gesticulating declarations. And everyone takes photos in all directions - the sun has come out at this moment. Shall I tell you something about the Rhinefall at last? Yes, it is impressive for you can get quite near to the current. Some take a boat and enter the rock in the middle of the fall. May be they get somewhat wet over there.
At the entrance there is an elder gentleman who earns his money with a violin. He has realized the nationality of the most visitors and now monotonically fiddles: Mi sono innamorato di Marina... If you sit there and listen it's quite romantic. Some time later we let all the trouble behind but then must flee from the pouring rain into a rest place built especially for cyclists. This is at Rheinau with a Benedictine monastery. May be we had descended to see it at good weather. Then there is a muddy gravel path and the rain continues. So shoes, legs, panniers and bike get their souvernirs from this section. The tarmack road leads parallel some hundred meters aside. We do something wrong sometimes...
We then cross the bridge over a tributary stream. A woman comes up from the shore "What is the name of this river?" I ask. "This is the Thur" she says. I now understand why I have been at the Thurgau all the time. The woman recommends other natural trails which would be much better than the main route. But I better resign.
Stern von Laufenburg
Some hills follow or lowland forests. At the town Kaiserstuhl we have
another incident. There is an old tower named Römerturm though it's origin
is the middle age. They just open it for visitors (costfree). Other
cyclists are waiting already - these are tandem couples from the
States. They have funny rearview mirrors clipped to the bows of their
sunglasses. They want to visit "The Old Europe" - that's what I say all
the time. We all climb up the tower. At the top storage there is a
weird wheel up at the ceiling. One woman asks what's the purpose of
this wheel. I can only suppose that this is a wheel where one or more
persons run inside to let it spin. May be they drove a crane or
elevator or something like that. I forgot to ask the woman at the
entrance, then this information would have been mor accurate.
Some of the tandem-people go to the nearby inn, others walk down to the romantic town. I sit under a tree and - clacks! - I feel some bird-shit on the top of my head. So I had to ride nearly 2000 km for this? May be this is a sign of luck as it is said. The valley of the Rhine gets wide and at the town Koblenz the big connection takes place: the river Aare comes in. The Rhine must be happy, that he doesn't loose it's name because the Aare is bigger than the Rhine. We have been near the origins of the Aare at Gletsch and the Grimselpass, there begins another Suisse Veloroute, the Aare-Route (Route 8).
The naxt town after the mouth of the Aare is the German Waldshut. One of the next night there will be a litle earthquake here (3.8 Richter Scale). But we do not know anything about this now. Some time later we pass a technical attraction named "Stern von Laufenburg", an electric delivery hun, which supports the European power market. A forest of transformators and isolators - the camera can only show a small part of it. Let us hope that the experts keep to look through...
I am happy to reach Säckingen for today. Moreover to cross the longest wooden roof-bridge of Europe, additionally crossing the border back to Germany. At the railway station there is an information board and I choose a cheap hotel. Of course one could reside at the "Goldener Knopf" (Golden Button) at the Dome-place but this would be twice as expensive. I find my way to the Hotel Schneider but erverywhere it is deserted there. Eventually I find a door with a bell. And really, a friendly woman opens and I get my room. For dinner I end - guess - at the Gasthaus Hongkong. Back from the Suisse price categories I think it is cheap here and for today order something with duck-meat. And really it is a heap and I feel very well.
The walk around presents: St. Fridolinsmünster, gotic style with baroque touch, painted marbel etc., just now there is a Sunday-mass and we must stay outside. Diebsturm, part of the medieval fortification, Gallusturm: restaurated by the carnival club of Säckingen. And what's about the "Trompeter von Säckingen" (trumpet player)? This is a famous poem of Joeseph Scheffel (1864). One of it's figures is an "epic character of a cat" and this is named Kater Hiddigeigei.