We have left France finally and also the cold weather. The sun came out as we crossed into Switzerland in Basel.
We are staying with some friends on the Bodensee and it is paradise here. The contrast to France is stark. People are about everywhere, working, playing, boating, cycling, walking, the place feels loved looked after and vital.
Above is a photo of a wet Anja with Reiner. Shortly after meeting this 30 year traveller, recently returned from Spain we took an unadvised footpath to the Rhien waterfall in Shaffhausen. It was a bit narrow and the river deep and strong. Reiner and I were in front and admiring the falls when Anja turned up wet and with waterweed in her hair. She had got caught on a tree stump, thrown off balance on the foot wide path and took a dive. We saw nothing of it, and I cannot understand how the bike didn't fall in too. If it had we would have never seen it again. If Anja had hit her head or something we may never of seen her again either.
Just passed Shaffhausen we stopped for lunch at my favourite swimming spot where we stopped last year on the way to Slovenia. It is interesting to cross the same path for a few miles.
The Rhein is a fast clean mountain blue river and the cyclepath is particularly special and well used. On this bankholiday in May everyone is out on thier bikes. Cycling in Germany and Switzerland is so pleasant an experience I cannot understand why anyone would go anywhere else for a cycling holiday.
It is obvious I have never been a great Frankophile and was once called the 'worst kind of Englishman' when living there (by an Englishwoman I add), but I had hoped my opinion would change by this bike ride of nearly two thousand Km through the country. I guess some countries on this trip are not going to be all that much fun. There is definately something about France I just I don't get and I guess I never will now. Maybe I am so simple and ignorant I just like to be somewhere where I can afford to buy a beer now and then.
We met alot of real friendly and interesting people along the way though, and were always wished 'bon' this and 'bon' that, my long time favorite being 'bon continuation', a wonderful phrase sadly lacking a counterpart in many languages.
In Chalon sur Soane I chatted with an old boy who seemed to have all his wits about him and then adamantly insisted he was six years old, I suggested that though he may be young at heart this was clearly not the case. It turned out he was the proud owner of six donkeys. Simple error on my part! He kindly directed us onto the ever diminishing footpath on the wrong side of the river but we fought our way through and found a great spot to camp by the river. Things always seem to work out.
One night on the loire we were woken by the sound of large animals jumping into the water only meters away and couldn't see or figure out what they were until we found trees cut by beaver in the morning. I know they are big but they sounded huge in the dark.
das war dann frankreich
das wäre mal geschafft.
fast 2000 km bis zur schweizerischen grenze, die deutsche ist auch nicht weit. (wir sind da auch ein bißchen durcheinandergeraten. wo sind wir gleich? schweiz, deutschland? bis zum bodensee hält die verwirrung an.
frankreich: kalt, kälter, a.kalt. doch dieses problem hatte ja wohl fast ganz europa.
nicht immer die spannendste landschaft und wenn man jetzt nicht der große schlößchenfan ist und nicht viel geld für gute weine ausgeben möchte...naja,.....
hat man trotzdem schöne erfahrungen gemacht.
ausdauernde nachtigallen, die gerne direkt über unserem zelt losträllern, agressive schwäne, kellerasseln in der überzahl, totgeglaubte, halbe hirschkäfer erwachen zu neuem leben...(die halbe eidechse auf dem foto ist übrigends nicht mehr lebendig geworden)
die menschen: franzosen sind auch sehr freundlich und hilfsbereit.
selbst die zahlreichen angler (fast so zahlreich wie die kellerasseln, nur eben mehr verteilt) murmeln ein freundlich gemeintes bonjour unter ihren tarnhütchen hervor.
komisch, mit dem grenzübertritt wird alles grüner. und bunter. ein bißchen fröhlicher, die sonne scheint seit langem mal wieder. seufz, endlich ein sandalentag!!!