Yay, finally holidays again! After we experienced great ebike holidays in Tuscany last year and the travel options were still unclear at the time of booking, we decided to ride the heartroute (Herzroute) of Switzerland. The route leads across Switzerland in 13 stages. It starts at Lake Geneva and ends at Lake Constance (or vice versa, of course). You cycle over 700 km, overcome a total of 15,000 metres in altitude, countless hills, beautiful landscapes, see 22 lakes and pass 17 historic old towns and met more cows than people :-) We booked the trip with Eurotrek. This meant that the accommodation with breakfast were organised as well as the luggage transport to the respective next destination stage and the rented bikes which made the whole trip very comfortable - after all, we don't just want to have an active holiday, we also want to be able to enjoy it :-). Check-in was always super easy, depending on the accommodation and how touristy the destination was, you had to pay the tourist taxes.
About the route: It is very easy, you can always follow the signs with the 99 sign, the paths are very well described. In addition, we also used the map from "SchweizMobil" with the route as GPS on the mobile - which was especially helpful when there was a diversion due to road works.
You can see what we experienced and saw on each stage in this post - enjoy the reading!
By the way there was no accommodation which was really bad, all of them were clean. I decided to mention or highlight only the once which were exceptionally good, friendly and respected the given Covid restrictions and rules accordingly.
We decided to book an overnight stay already in Lausanne. The day before I had my second Covid vaccination and as I didn't know how I would react, we chose the more relaxed version.So we travelled comfortably by train to Lausanne in the afternoon, checked into the Hotel Agora, which is super centrally located and has nice rooms, and enjoyed the beautiful weather by the lake with a delicious ice cream.
We still remembered well the restaurant "The Manhattan" from last year's Grand Tour and went there again. We had only forgotten how big the portions were :-) and - somewhat embarrassingly - we only managed to pay with the third card. If you haven't been out for a while, you can forget your credit card code easily :-) After an evening walk to the hotel and the last preparations, we were ready for the tour start the next day....
We began with a good breakfast on the rooftops of Lausanne. The view from the breakfast room would be fantastic - but since thunderstorms had rolled in during the night, it was still cloudy. After picking up our eBikes at Lausanne station, we immediately set off.
We cycled through the vineyards via Lavaux - with a great view of the lake - towards Romont. It was a beautiful stage with great scenery, fields and forests despite the Sahahra dust which was up in the air. We also raced against the thunderstorm - and we won! (Spoiler: It won't always be like this). We used the first rain break to take a shower and then went for a walk through Romont. Romont is pretty sleepy and there is not much going on (especially if you started in Lausanne before), so we watched the last preliminary round match of Switzerland against Turkey of this year's EURO2020 in the hotel room where they qualified for the next round. Unfortunately, I was also plagued by a hay fever attack that day - so after the Indian dinner, we briefly marvelled at the sunset and then went to bed early. First stage over - we are looking forward to everything that is still to come!
New day, new tour! We continued through forests and fields to Avenches, a historic town, also known for its Roman amphitheatre, which can be admired there. On the way we stopped briefly in Murten on the lake and stopped at a café for a fine cream (Nidel) cake. Laupen is also rather sleepy ;-). Also important to know: On Monday, almost all restaurants are closed - even the hotel can be full of guests (we stayed in a small - perhaps only - hotel in Laupen, the hosts were also very friendly). Luckily, there was a kebab & pizza shop right next door, and we had a nice pizza there and watched a football match in the breakfast room before going to bed.
In Laupen we were warmly welcomed for breakfast and enjoyed a big breakfast with ingredients from the region (a farmer nearby makes cheddar cheese). We took our time because it was still raining outside. When there was no improvement in sight, we put on our rain gear and when we were leaving, it stopped raining. There was quite a bit of ascent on this route - however, the landscape of the Bernese Oberland is magnificent and we were able to really enjoy the ride. After a forest section, we stopped at the Restaurant Bütschelegg - I must say the restaurant has the coolest menu I have seen in a long time. The service was very friendly and the view was great. We ordered the "henne geili Rösti & Bratwurst" which means like fu**ing awesome rosti & sausage - and I must say, this was not only culinary, but also visually what you got :-) Take a look at the picture in the gallery, then you'll know what I mean.
As clouds came up again, we unfortunately didn't get to enjoy the beautiful mountain panorama completely, but it was still wonderful. The descent towards Thun was again a race against the thunderstorm - just as we checked into the hotel and I was in the shower, the thunderstorm started, including hail. It was perfect timing - we shouldn't have arrived 10 minutes later.
We stayed at the Hotel Krone, which is centrally located and has beautiful rooms - in ours we could also catch a glimpse of Thun Castle. Last year we were already allowed to stay at the partner hotel in Steffisburg, which was also great. At check-in we got a voucher for a welcome drink at the Atelier Bar, which we also got to know last year on the Grand Tour. Since we knew beforehand that we absolutely had to go there again, we extended the aperitif - the drinks here are simply unbeatable :-).
We were also really lucky with the dinner. Without a reservation, we got a place at Parada30 - a location that offers delicious contemporary Mexican food and the staff is super friendly and helpful here (not sure if you can experience something different in Thun, people just seem to super relaxed here! We took our good-night Gin Tonic there and learned something about the wrestling culture in Mexico....
For me, Thun is a super relaxed city with cool places to spend your free time - I definitely need to go there more often for deceleration and enjoyment!
This tour is also called the kings stage of the Heart Route! After a delicious breakfast and a sunny start into the day, we were ready. It was a stunning tour with panoramic views over Lake Thun and the Alps. Hilly landscapes, forests, the stage had it all again. Maybe our planning wasn't so good after all, because now on this stage everyone had their rest day on Wednesday and restaurants along the route were closed :-) Because it was a longer tour with some uphill, we decided to charge the batteries briefly at one of the charging stations so that we wouldn't run out of power on the way. We then stopped for cake in the last third of the section towards Emmental. As we turned into a sharp bend, we were suddenly surprised by two deer standing in our path! They jumped away faster than I could pull out the camera and was glad that we were able to brake in time and were not travelling by car and at a different speed.
A little tired, we arrived at the Hotel Emmental in Langnau and enjoyed a very tasty dinner at the Hirschen restaurant. Only the dessert we had to eat inside due to another thunderstorm - but we got through the day dry without having to activate the racing gear in order to arrive before the rain sets in - this is what counts :-).
We were in no hurry today either - we looked at the weather forecast and decided to start when the rain stopped and then ride through the beautiful hilly landscape of the Emmental. We made many photo stops, I can never get enough of this view (the gallery below is the proof for it).
On the way we passed many farms and of course stopped at one or the other farm shop to buy local specialities and could watch the motorbike boys coming home from school and roaring over the hills on their pimped motorbikes. For coffee and cake we stopped at Rüttihubelbad, which also seems to be a popular destination for old people's homes - the view there is beautiful!
On one hand I was warned that Burgdorf was probably the least beautiful stop of the whole tour, on the other hand I heard it was beautiful. It then turned out that the negative side had never been to the old town centre, which of course is definitely more charming than the area around the train station :-).
I got a tip from my sister to definitely go to the Franz Gertsch Museum, she loves his paintings. But since we arrived later in the afternoon and picked up my mother from work there, it was not possible to go there. While strolling through the town, we came across a studio with cool paintings and the artist Gertsch was also there. He told us a lot about his paintings and we are still thinking about buying one. I didn't think twice and thought it was the Gertsch about whom there is also a museum. A few WhatsApps later with my sister, I was wiser. There is Franz Gertsch (museum) and there is Fredi Gertsch (studio). Apart from the style, they also differ somewhat in the price range :-) What a fun conversation it was :-)
What I would also like to highlight at our stop in Burgdorf is the Hotel Stadthaus. We got a super great room with a free-standing bathtub - after so many kilometres in my legs, I couldn't resist. We also ate in the restaurant with my mother and it was very tasty with a great touch of gourmet. Who would have thought that a coriander sorbet would taste fantastic in a Papaya salad? I am not the biggest coriander fan, but this was super delicious and tasty :-) And of course it was nice to spend the evening together with my mum.
After an evening walk to the castle and my bath, we fell contentedly to sleep.
Welcome to the classic and the original stage of the Heart Route! This route stands out because it is super hilly and also captivates you with its scenery - usually. As we had a light drizzle, we could still enjoy the surroundings, but we made fewer photo stops. We stopped at the Emmental cheese dairy in Affoltern i.E., where we had already passed last year on the Grand Tour. Even though this is not my favourite cheese, the restaurant is nice and invites for a break. Only the dessert was a bit too much so soon after breakfast - although of course delicious :-).
The rest of the journey continued over the beautiful hilly landscapes and through forests. A cat proudly presented its catch between my teeth - but I was too slow for the photo.
We bypassed the next possible stop in Madiswil, passing curious alpacas and goats before arriving in Willisau. After refreshing drinks in the town and a tasty dinner at the Italian restaurant, we had a cosy TV evening at the hotel.
For me it was already clear at the start - I would like to do this stage again in better weather to enjoy these landscapes even more!
Today, the journey towards Zug was on the agenda. For breakfast we had a "Dubler" - which is special in this respect because our accommodation also has a reference to it in its name - which surprised me to find a hotel with this name, especially after the racism debates about this expression. The hotel itself was ok, but I don't mention the name anyway, also because the Corona measures were not taken seriously by the staff.
The more important thing: the sun was shining! Yes! So we soon set off - the warmer it is outside, the more I like to kick the pedals! We made a first stop at the Hofbeiz Chuerüti - one of my favourite stops. It's a self-service place, has a few tables and sun chairs outside and you can only get there by bike. The peace and quiet and the view - terrific! We were accompanied by a baby cat that made a loud meowing noise as it applied for adoption. Although it followed heartbreakingly at every turn, we left it with its companions and continued on our way. Passing the Sempachersee, we moved on towards Zug. In Cham, we briefly considered jumping into the lake - after the temperatures had finally become really summer-like. But then we cycled on towards Zug, checked in and then settled down by the lake for ice cream and an aperitif at Quai Pasa. The location of Quai Pasa is unbeatable and therefore very popular on the lakeside - the drinks are good - but our experience with the service was average but maybe worth to give it a second chance somewhen.
For dinner we decided to visit Freiruum - what a good decision! The Freiruum is an old factory hall with fixed food and drink stands in street food style and can also be used as an event hall. After a long break, it was time for sushi and momos again :-) After, we went back to the lake to watch a beautiful sunset, followed by a football match in the evening at the Freiruum.
The next morning started a little later, but was sunny again. Through the old town of Zug, the route led towards Zugerberg, past beautiful appartments and views of the lake, towards Unterägeri with Einsiedeln as our destination. Due to a construction site on this route, we were required to make a major loop around the route, which was, however, well signalised. The panorama was again beautiful, partly we were rather on mountain bike routes, but we had a perfect view of the mountains and the lake almost the whole time. In Unterägeri, we briefly recharged the batteries of our bikes at naturnoech.ch to be prepared for the loop. The farm looks after rare, endangoured farm animals in Switzerland, has a nice shop and so we stopped there briefly. On the way, we stopped in the Rothenturm region at the Steinstoos Stübli for a delicious afternoon snack. After arriving in Einsiedeln, we took a walk around and into the famous monastery of the Black Madonna - the monastery is very impressive not only from the outside, but also from the inside. We had an aperitif on the roof terrace of the restaurant Sonne and decided to have dinner in the Greek restaurant Faros. The food was very good, even if the plates were not very hot (but I think that's often the case at the Greek restaurant :-), and the service was very friendly. What shocked us was that a bottle of still water (Knutwiler) was sold there for CHF 11! It's clearly stated on the menu, but we didn't take a closer look when ordering. And who knows, maybe we drank blessed water there :-). As it was raining in the evening, I thought I go out for a snapshot of the monastery which - I thought must be illuminated by night - but I got disappointed. Nothing but rain was the only thing I could see :-).
All in all, Einsiedeln itself didn't excite me that much, but the route to get there was beautiful!
The sun is shining again, the legs are heavy - on to the fourth last stage! First we cycled around the beautiful Sihlsee for a bit. Over another hill we headed towards Rapperswil. On the downhill we could already see our destination, it was 5km within reach, but the heart route has other plans and doesn't want to go over the lake-road to the destination, but around the other side along the lake :-). Due to a construction site, we unfortunately had to make a small diversions via Altdorf & Lachen, which then led us back on the right path along the lake and through the forest. This is where it happened - we missed the turnoff in the forest and had to backtrack a bit - oops.
In Schmerikon, where you can also stop to cool off on the lake (we skipped it because we wanted to arrive in Rapperswil in time for dinner and the Switzerland - France game), we stopped at the beautiful Restaurant zum Hof in Bollingen. On the way to Rapperswil, we did not drive directly by the lake, as much of the land is privately owned and not accessible, and arrived at the Hotel Speer. Also here the hotel was very friendly and from the room we could also catch a glimpse of the castle in Rapperswil. The restaurant would also have been very tempting - the hotel restaurant is run by Sayori - Sayori is my favourite sushi restaurant in Baden and has another branch there. But we had other plans :-) After ice cream and a walk through the town, we met Patricia, whom I met in Australia, at the Lennox in the evening. I use to travel to the end of the world to meet other Swiss people when I'm on holiday in Switzerland :-) The Lennox is a super cool restaurant that has implemented a tapas concept with an international street food style. Soon we had to flee inside because a black thunder front was in front of us and the downpour soon started. Next door was also the public viewing area, but we didn't really stand a chance - people had been queuing since 6pm and couldn't get in. Fortunately, the Lennox also had TVs available and so we could watch this football and nerve thriller directly there without changing location. Since the second TV in the restaurant had a delay of about 1 minute, we were able to cheer twice :-). The "SOMMER" fairy tale and the great joy was celebrated extensively in Rapperswil with a parade of cars (I swore to do the same with the bicycle bell the next day), and so we happily went to bed and to sleep.
This day was again a race against the Thunderstorm. It started out beautiful and sunny until we arrived at around Atzmännig. The clouds thickened and when we checked the rain radar it was clear - today it would be impossible to arrive dry at the destination. We will get wet - the only question was when. According to the radar, the thunderstorm was still about 1 hour away and we decided to continue - after all, we had rain gear with us and a little rain was not a big deal. After the sometimes heavy thunderstorms in the last few days in various places in Switzerland (where we were spared on the trip), there was the respect of being on a section where you can't easily find somewhere to stay if the thunderstorm should be heavy. So in the end it wasn't so bad, the last 15km we got wet - and when the thunderstorm-cell was at its strongest, we waited 15 minutes at a tunnel. The rain was already over when we arrived in Lichtensteig and so we took a little walk through the village with a few cool shops (also a self-service shop for alcohol with entry through an ID scan) and bought a honey gin in a honey shop. For a proper Asian dinner we went to the Pfauen restaurant and looked out for more weather luck for the next days.
After a hearty breakfast, we started the day with slightly cooler temperatures, but also sunny. Over the hills of Toggenburg with a stop at the beautiful Gasthof Rössli in Tufertschwil with friendly service - I warmed up a bit with a fine lemongrass soup - we continued towards Herisau. The laugh of the day was caused by Beat, who mistook me for another cyclist on the way and spoke to him merrily until he noticed his mistake. I had to laugh heartily about it for days afterwards. After arriving in Herisau, we took a walk through the town and had an aperitif at the "am Obstmarkt" Focacceria - a great place for aperitifs with antipasti and the focaccias also looked very delicious. For dinner we decided on the Italian "Made in Italy", a small restaurant - absolutely recommendable, the boss runs it with heart and soul and the food was wonderful!
It rained lightly in the morning and we set off when the weather improved a bit. But as light showers came up again, we left our bikes under the shelter at the church in Stein and had coffee and tea at the next guesthouse. We chatted with other cyclists who were doing the route the other way and also waited for the rain to pass. The Appenzell cheese exhibition was on the way. We decided to visit it and were not disappointed. It is very informative and child-friendly - and there was cheese to taste at every station. Only the short film shown we had to watch with subtitles - such a pure Appenzell dialect is not understandable for us either :-). We left the secret of the cheese there and continued our journey towards Appenzell and when the rain started, we took another break and browsed in the Flauderei - a really cool shop and stopped for coffee and cake in the local chocolaterie. It is very nicely done and as a souvenir we bought broken chocolate pieces with Biberli flavour - a local speciality, mhhhhmm! Another highlight in Appenzell for me was a stop at the Löwendrogerie. I needed some hay fever tablets and when I went to pay for them I was asked: "Do you want a schnapps? :-)" The homemade herbal liqueur was right next to the cash desk. Of course I accepted the offer - the druggist said that was the secret that customers like to come back. When I'm in Appenzell again, I'll come back! It's also worth to check out the painting of the house as it shows various medical plants.
The sky cleared up, but we were still caught by a light shower in the last section. After check-in, we enjoyed a super, super, super good Thai meal at the Alpenthai Gämsli restaurant - the wine cellar alone is worth a visit and the staff is friendly too!
And then it was already time for the last and final stage - whoop! After a cloudy start and a last, very steep ascent, we made our first stop in St. Anton. Unfortunately, the clouds had not yet completely cleared and so we did not get to enjoy the super panorama that one enjoys from there. But the descent was still fun and after various road closures and detours, which we partly ignored and became pedestrians :-), we arrived at the Hotel Mozart in Rorschach via Rheineck. The hotel is very conveniently located directly on the lake and is specialized in welcoming cycling guests: I have definitely never read in a restaurant that you can order spaghetti for breakfast to have enough carbohydrates for the day :-). It was then also time to return the bikes to the station and find a place to watch the next match Switzerland - Spain. We found a great place at Stars & Stripes and met Christian, who awarded us with some prizes for the completion our own Tour-de-Suisse :-) There was a mountain prize, the "Maillout Jaune" and Swiss flags for the car, but of course also to support our national team during the game. Thank you Christian for the warm welcome and the fun evening! Again, it was a thriller of nerves - unfortunately with the better end for Spain. We then made our way to the lake to enjoy one last sunset on our trip, because the weather forecast could not promise another one for the next day.
We then enjoyed the next day doing nothing at all but lying lazily by the lake. Since we never jumped into the lake on our tour, it was about time at Lake
Constance and it was hm...refreshing :-) But Nemo, my cute, loyal little bicycle bell was also happy about the cool water. The the dinner at the
"Hafenbuffet" with an extremely tasty dinner and very attentive and
friendly staff - I can highly recommend it, was the end of a perfect day .
And then the day of departure arrived, a little sad of course, but we were also looking forward to seeing the family again at the Restaurant Delphin to celebrate my little sisters first wedding day.
Would I recommend this trip? Answer: YES! Of course, two weeks in Switzerland, sleeping in hotels, eating in restaurants, the service of transferring the luggage to the next destination, the rental of the bikes has its price but it was definitively worth and I would do it anytime again!