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THE RIDE - Zürich

I had made contact with a Zürich resident, Patrick Schleppi, via Eurobike. He very kindly delayed his Easter break so that he could meet us at the airport and guide us through the maze of cycle paths between the airport and the youth hostel, on the other side of town. There was a problem however, Patrick's bike was off the road, and the weather that morning had been lousy, so Patrick met us at the airport sans bike. While we were putting our bikes back together the weather cleared a little, so Patrick went on ahead to hire a bike from the nearest possible railway station, after giving us a map and instructions on how to get there. Well, we were either jetlagged, or the map was hard to follow - it took us 1 1/2 hours to find the station. The fact that the weather reverted to rain and hail within the first 15 minutes didn't help matters. Luckily Patrick was very patient and was still waiting when we finally reached the rendezvous. We tourists all had wet weather gear, but Patrick's jeans and leather jacket took a bit of a caning that afternoon. We arrived at the youth hostel without mishap, and Patrick stayed for a chat and a cup of coffee. Thanks Patrick, we really appreciated your assistance and generosity. We went to bed early, relieved to be at the real beginning of our excellent adventure, but two impressions kept spinning around my head - the fan pattern of the cobblestoned streets makes you giddy as you ride by, and how on earth does anyone get used to riding on the right (i.e. wrong) side of the road? Right hand corners were fine, but left handers were a nightmare!

Next morning was overcast, but Elaine and Louise insisted on trying to ride around Lake Zürich - you know, bike holiday, and all that - the rest of us went to the Hauptbahnhof (central station) to arrange our Swiss passes. We had decided months before that some of our Swiss experience would be via the train, viz.- Zürich to Interlaken via Bern; sightseeing at Interlaken; then Luzern to Disentis, to catch the Rhine close to its very source. The clerk at the Zürich Hauptbahnhof was very helpful, but our hearts sank when he told us we couldn't take our bikes on the train from Luzern to Disentis the way we had intended, via a private line. No problem, we would travel straight to Chur via the State railway and arrange a shorter ride with my internet contact there. We spent the rest of the day walking around the Alt Stadt (old town), climbing the cathedral tower, and checking out the supermarket prices. Here in Canberra lamb chops are between AUD$8.99 and $12.99 per kilo, depending on the cut. Lamb chops in Zürich were Sfr 5.50 per 100 g ( i.e. close to AUD$55.00 per kilo - yikes!). Lamb is never on the menu at Swiss youth hostels :-) By the same token, we saw packs of 10x 500ml bottles of beer for Sfr 7.50 - Denis thinks the Swiss have their priorities right.

Elaine and Louise were at the hostel when we arrived back. They had had a cold but exhilarating ride half way round the lake and had done some sightseeing themselves in the afternoon.

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