Switzerland Day 5 – to the Schloss!
After a rather dreary previous day, the weather was once more in our favour as we woke up and dragged our suitcases off to reception. Today we’d be cycling to our next hotel in the town of Thun, and the weather was looking good and no mistake!
Leaving Wilderswil behind us, we headed to down a cycle path alongside the railway line, and gradually got closer to the first town of the day, regional tourist capital Interlaken.
Cycling through town, we hit perhaps one of the most nerve racking cycles as we joined a painted on cycle lane alongside the busy main road around the lake. After cycling along quiet roads, to suddenly be putting the foot to the pedal on a dual carriageway was a bit of a shock, and there’s no doubting the relief when the cycle lane eventually became its own lane, protected by barriers.
As ever though, there was no real cause for alarm – everywhere you go in Switzerland, there’s bikes which means a huge proportion of the population cycles regularly. As such, the Swiss are incredibly courteous to cyclists, giving them plenty of room and never trying to rush them.
The cycle route kept to the lake edge, going through towns which the main road took a detour to avoid. Then the towns would be gone, and the main road would appear, with the railway line also weaving alongside us. Swiss trains zoomed by, occasionally interspersed with trains from Germany and Italy.
Before long, we arrived in the town of Spiez, which sticks out into the lake. The main road took a detour up hill, as we cycled downhill to the lake edge for a rest in the peaceful and attractive surroundings.
Having initially settled near the quay, we cycled back towards a cafe in a lakeside park in order to slurp down an ice cream.
Magnums munched, we started the climb uphill, past the town’s vineyard and into the shopping precinct. The cycle path followed the main road for a bit longer, before diverting off away from the lake and towards some forests.
Every now and then we’d cycle past a group of army soldiers, out on exercises, carrying radios and guns. But even that couldn’t detract from the amazing views and tall trees which lined our route.
The forests didn’t last long however and soon we were back in civilisation in the hugely attractive town of Thun, at the end of the lake.
We parked up on a central island that sits in the middle of the Aare river, and perched ourselves on a riverside pathway to eat our lunch of bread and cheese under the watchful eye of the local sparrow population. Switzerland doesn’t seem to have been infested with the pigeon, and their place is taken by the hoards of small birds. Which, and lets be honest here, are much cuter.
Thun is a lovely little town, full of narrow, windy streets which great big whopping dockoff bendy buses effortlessly glide round. London streets are too small for bendy buses? Pah. London’s streets are HUGE compared to this place. And hey, if the Swiss can do it… well obviously London can’t…
Er. Anyway. Let’s not get too political here. Because there’s more to Thun than bendy buses. For starters, it’s pronounced “Toon”…
We took a trip up to the Obere Hauptgasse – a split level street , with shops on the street level, and a second layer on top of them along with a raised pavement. and found ourselves outside the simple but attractive town hall, admiring the dominant-but-fairytale-like Schloss Thun, which towers over the town.
Picking up the bikes again, we cycled up hill towards the castle.
This 12th century castle was once owned by Duke Berchtold V, of the Zähringen family, with whom I’m sure you’re all aware of. These days, it forms a historical museum, nestling in its hilltop location of incredibly picturesque surroundings.
Inside there’s a variety of exhibits about the town’s history, and in the main hall the army seemed to be setting up for some event. But without doubt, the best part of the castle was to be found in the roof space.
Nope. Not the exhibition about Faust, which was unfortunately not translated into English. But the views.
And such views they were. The old town near the castle, with the new town below, and the mighty Thunersee stretching out into the distance.
Photographed out, we finished off the remaining exhibits, which included toys, clothes and a self playing organ taken from a cruise ship, which for about 5p, you could subject the other visitors to a recording of it playing. Amongst its repertoire was, for reasons best known to itself, the tune for God Save The King/Queen.
Back on the bikes, we joined a cycle path on the edge of the lake towards the village of H¨negg, which transpired to be more of a suburb of Thun.
Feeling it to be too early to check in, we cycled further down the road down the lake, looking for another castle, but busy traffic saw us turn back and take in a stroll at the Schloss H¨negg instead.
Inside is another small museum, but instead we opted for a cup of tea in the outdoor cafe, basking in the afternoon sun.
Tea drunk and paid for, we took a stroll through the grounds, enjoying the views from the area which included the sight of the mountains we’d left behind, before cycling back to our hotel – the Hotel Chartreuse.
Sitting out on its terrace, we supped a refreshing glass of Feldschlösschen Hopfenperle, and pondered the important questions of the day. Like, why in Britain do we have to have a CE mark (or previously the crown stamp) on our glasses, whilst the rest of the world just makes do with a little painted on line…
Such things were important to discuss after a long days cycling of around 50km – our longest day. Our reward, besides some fantastic food, came in the form of an evening stroll along the lake edge, watching the lights flicker on the other side of the river… Ah, happy times. Happy times indeed.