A drizzly Saturday morning with the promise of a sunny and warm Sunday found us scouring the internet for what to do with that good weather. Pair that up with wanting to visit the remaining seven cantons on our list, we came across the SBB Top Offer for riding the train to Murten (on Lake Neuchâtel) and renting e-bikes for 50% off. If we played our cards right, we could stop in Neuchâtel (in the canton of the same name) and in Solothurn (also in it’s canton of the same name) and bring our list down to five.
Everything was going swimmingly (it’s always a good day when we get on a train) until we changed trains in Biel-Bienne and the conductor looked at our tickets and said that we might have a problem. It seems that when you buy a special ticket with the SBB, they dictate which route to take. We were supposed to change in Olten and go through Bern. Whoops. We were in the French part of the country, but the conductor supposed we spoke German since we had come from Zürich. He sat down next to me and asked if we were from Holland (based on our last name). I said, “Nein, aus America.” “Oh, you speak English!”
Apparently all he had to do was to print out another ticket for each of us basically just rerouted us through our chosen way, and he said we needed to spend no more money. He punched in information on his hand-held device, and two tickets came out, and by that time we had to change to our final train to Murten.
Those Swiss, they love their own ways of doing things!
At the Murten station we passed a group of people playing the bagpipes (are they in a club, I wonder?) and found the bike rental place next door. Those Swiss – so efficient!
However, we walked right by the sign that said we were supposed to confirm our bike rentals in the train station before we could pick up our bikes, so we had to wait to be told that by a nice young man. We walked back over to the station, exchanged our printed tickets for a different set of tickets. Again with those Swiss ways of doing things!
Now we could start. After a five-minute lesson on how to use the electrical assist on the bikes, a good look at the map, and another five minutes to adjust the height of the seats and handlebars, we headed off for our circular loop.
With most things closed down on Sundays in Switzerland (and I’m sure this is true of most European countries), this is the day that everyone is out and about relaxing and having fun.
We knew we were in Switzerland:
Straight paths through the woods
Sweet signs saying to be tolerant of all modes of transportation
Boardwalk through the marsh
People eating outdoors in restaurants
Winter preparedness or Forest maintenance
Cows! We haven’t seen much livestock until recently when everyone has come out of the barns.
After we ate our picnic lunch we decided to take the shortcut back since we knew it would be longer than the 50 km we had thought it would be. One great thing about our bikes was this attachment that told us how far we had gone, how fast we were going, and how much charge was left on the battery.
Even though you still must pedal the bike, going up hills is such a breeze with the electric assist. There weren’t very many hills on our trip, but for the few we rode up, we appreciated the help. We rode 64 km. So, glampers, quick – how many miles was that? *
I was ready to be done by the time we pulled into the bike shop, but we still had 40 minutes until our train came, so we wandered Murten. ANOTHER cute Swiss town. Really, how many can there be?
Our whole journey had us straddling the Röstigraben and riding through the cantons of Fribourg, Neuchâtel and Bern, hearing French and German (plus one family speaking Spanish), so we knew we were definitely in Switzerland.
We probably could have gone back the way we did and had another conversation with the Kontrol about our tickets so we could stop in Solothurn, but I was so tired that we decided we should just save that canton for another trip.
Six to go!
* 39.76 miles – I think this is the farthest I have ever ridden in one trip.