Switzerland is a tiny country, but it has more extensive networks for cycling, hiking and skating than you could try in your lifetime.
On a recent weekend, I packed my bags and ventured east to the canton of Thurgau. The goal: To recharge my batteries and return home all relaxed. My friend and I would spend two days of bicycling through the green meadows, enjoying unspoilt nature and organic food along the way.
And let me tell you: What an amazing countryside - and just one hour from Zürich! For a city slicker like me, Thurgau was uncharted territory. It is a cyclist’s paradise, perfectly nestled between the (still snowcapped) Alps and Lake Constance.
Day 1: Weinfelden - Kreuzlingen – Reichenau - Weinfelden
Weinfelden was recommended by several friends and pro cyclists as an ideal base to explore the heart of Thurgau all the way tot he shores of the lake. This town is truly picturesque thanks to its beautiful reformed church and an enchanted castle. And those views overlooking kilometers of vineyards...
The Federal Inventory of Swiss Heritage Sites has recognized Weinfelden's beauty long ago, and I am glad to have stumbled upon it, too.
Gasthof Eisenbahn is our first stop on our journey. There, we are welcomed by the couple who runs this beautifully renovated guesthouse. The USP, in my own words: Gasthof Eisenbahn is accommodating bikers who wish to stay near the train station, enjoy the silence of a charming bedroom and indulge in original Swiss cuisine.
Following a short rest, we picked up our rental mountain bikes from Velo Schwarz, only a five minute walk from the guesthouse. This specialty shop carries a range of bikes for every terrain, height/weight and fitness level. We almost decided to go for an electric bike...
Given that we only had an afternoon left, we decided on an easy ride from Weinfelden to Kreuzlingen (30 km, one way). Following the yellow way markers, we crossed mostly rural terrain in the very heart of Thurgau. Easy peasy for most any biker.
My senses were struck by the scent and the colors of spring: Blue skies, endless green meadows, black and brown cows and wide open fields of yellow rapeseed that remind me more than once of the Yellow Brick Road of the Wonderful Wizard of OZ!
Along the way, we stopped to indulge in some fresh eggs bought from one the many farms nestled in this region. With every minute that passed, I felt more relaxed. I also realized that I would return home with a great suntan...
Once we had passed the last original Swiss chalet past Kreuzlingen, we hit the German border. Who knew you could pass a border by bicycle?
On the other side, we had a quick peek at Reichenau Island. Thanks to its historic abbey and the churches of St. Georg and Sts. Peter and Paul, it is considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
At this point, we felt regenerated and amazed of the beauty of Thurgau. But to avoid over-exhaustion and to save our energy for the following day, we loaded our biked onto a train from Kreuzlingen back to Weinfelden.
Day 2: Weinfelden - Rorschach – Weinfelden
Following a rich breakfast, we decided to follow one of the most beautiful Swiss routes for cycling enthusiasts: The Geo Route.
This natural path runs from Rorschach to Schaffhausen, from Lake Constance to the Rhine Falls. From Weinfelden to Rorschach, we cycled on the main road for about 30 kilometers. Our intention was to enjoy the natural sights along this highly recommended route on the way back to the guesthouse.
In total, the trail encompasses 45 kilometers from the village of Rorschach to Horn, Salmsach, Steinebrunn, Hagenwil, Sulgen, Bürglen and back to Weinfelden.
For most of the ride, we enjoyed blossoming apple trees and memorable views of the Alps or the lake. (There were some steep hills, too.)
But why is it called "Geo Route"? It was educational to discover how sand and pebbles have reached this area above the lake despite gravitational forces. We learned about geology and the many interesting interactions of ice and rocks through different eras.
It was the perfect bicycle tour for us as we were able to enjoy nature, learn about geology and meet very friendly, original Swissies! And as a bonus, we were lucky enough to enjoy a vintage car parade and some airplane acrobatics.
Once back in Weinfelden, even though knackered, we treated ourselves with a delicious Wurst-Käse-Salat directly from Metzgerei Levi – a local celebrity. This is the same butchery that supplies fresh meats to Gasthof Eisenbahn, making it not only a great guesthouse but also a delicious restaurant.
My advice: Do not forget to say "Grüezi" to every biker or hiker on the way. It is a matter of courtesy in Switzerland.