Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Swiss View

As previously mentioned, part of my European trip encompassed hut-to-hut hiking above Zermatt. I won't drivel on about the Swiss alpine scenery, but if you must know, traveling by foot was just as grand as cycling around Provence.

To acclimate we spent the first day above a village in the Berner Oberland walking paths between villages and uphill to a ski area. It's civilized hiking - that's what I love about Switzerland. Walks are measured by time and not kilometers, because as I soon discovered: the trails are steep.

I kept eyeing bike signs until several big-wheeled scooters cruised by on the dirt road that intersected our trail. Inspecting these machines revealed fenders, a kickstand, brakes, a rear rack, and a multi-positioned handlebar, suitable for all heights. It looked like fun!

An hour into our walk we stopped at Vorsass, a mid station packed with strudel, dogs, and lots of hikers. It housed a half-dome structure, storing hundreds of these "kick scooters."

Note the white sign advertising kick scooters.
As we meandered part way down the access road until our trail diverged, several scooters went by, some tentative and cautious, others frighteningly fast. We walked single file.

People on scooters, gliding the switchbacks.
A break along our walk.

Waiting at the bus depot the following morning, several kids cycled by carrying backpacks. They were on their way to school. In fact, a few children got on the bus with us, toting small Razor style scooters. Admirably, Swiss children make their way around quite well, even on steep, narrow roads.

Several days later, after rigorous climbs in the alpine air, we parted ways with the guys and took a funicular into the heart of Zermatt to make a train connection. I spied another scooter-for-hire set up. It must be "the" thing to do among a certain crowd. While we descended snow slopes (had 12" fall one night) a hearty mountain biker had ridden up and was taking a break, letting the clumps melt from his wheels.

Celebrating with wine and food on the train.
And we're free, leaving a day earlier than planned for France. We toted Alpenzeller cheese, Swiss wine, and chocolate (plus two heavy duffle bags) for the 3-train journey around Lake Geneva, connecting with a fourth: high-speed train from Lyon to Avignon, France.

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