by2wingsor2wheels

Another day, another mountain pass, more switchbacks and some rest!

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“Walk” coffee-break overlooking St. Moritz

Switzerland is expensive. Full stop. The price of a private room for two, with its own bathroom, should have been the first indication at 80 Swiss Francs per person/night (that’s around $205/night CDN for both of us!). 4 franc ($5) espresso is the norm. Upon arriving at the hostel, we were informed that our booking for nine people could not be found and negotiations ensued. Bringing the price of our accommodation down to 55 francs a person, we were satisfied and went out to find some dinner.

St. Moritz proved to be our general indicator of tourist crowds for the next weeks. June is shoulder season in the Alps – not quite summer season and definitely not winter season. Several towns we stayed in were quiet with many shops and restaurants closed until July 1. While exploring all of these typically busy mountain towns while they were quiet was fun, it was also a little wearing when seeking some diversity in food choice. But hey – we were in the ALPS and not at our desks!

The small village of Obergoms near the Glacier du Rhone

St. Moritz was our first two night stay in one place. Many of us opted off the bikes rather than a day ride (Tony did saddle up that day) and a small group of us struck out on a “walk”. I’m a Canadian gal with a sister in Whistler and spent significant time as a child in the BC Coastal Range. So I pride myself on knowing mountains and glaciers. I enjoy a good hike. That day, however, I was seeking some activity but was also feeling the effects of several days on the back of a bike, in constant movement. With one of our Australian friends planning a “walking” route, I thought “How difficult could a walk be?”. The 5-hour “walk” kicked my ass and lowered my pace for the next two days. Stunning views of St. Moritz, far below, the glacier across the valley, the alpine flowers, and the stop for a special 8 franc coffee at a high point, made up for the sore hips that would follow me for days. I will never take an Australian “walk” for granted again!

View of Mont Blanc from village of Chamonix

Two nights in St. Moritz took us to the Hotel Grimsel in Obergoms. Not to be confused with the eerie, haunted-looking Hotel Grimsel in Grimsel Pass. The day of riding was beautiful, clear and sunny. Several mountain passes with the typical switchbacks and hairpins. The cheer at the end of the day was somewhat clouded with concern after one of our riders arrived at the wrong hotel in Grimsel Pass. Rider found and now at the correct hotel, the rest of the evening was a loud affair, eating dinner at our hotel.

This small town has very few restaurants or hotels, making our two night stay a quiet one. The best bed and comforter since we arrived in Europe with flower pots on every balcony. Another day off the bike to rest, walk along the river and try to find food that I could eat.  From Obergoms we took a scenic route to Chamonix, France where we were looking forward to having a reasonable understanding of the language and reasonably priced espresso again!

Chamonix is a beautiful mountain town at the foot of Mont Blanc. The village has a Whistler feel with shops like Chanel next to Patagonia next to one of many charcuterie/fromageries. The town, while not busy, was abuzz, offering much to do. Fresh mountain air, morning run along the river and a day at the spa, enjoying a massage and the waters. We stopped in many of the fromageries and charcuteries, collecting a picnic for that night’s dinner on the back deck of our hotel. The next morning, waking up well rested and refreshed, we were well-ready to continue our adventure and headed off – next destination Barcelonnette!

Laura & Tony

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