Tuesday, August 28, 2012 (Day 11)
weather: sunny, gorgeous, beautiful day
It’s another glorious day as we wake up to views of the surrounding mountains, sun and clear skies. Today we are going to go for a bike ride around parts of Lake Lucerne. We aren’t in any rush, though, so we spent the morning in the apartment getting things done like blogging, laundry, and breakfast. When we were ready, we headed out and grabbed a train to Lucerne.
It’s about a 45 minute train ride to Lucerne from Brunnen which isn’t so bad at all. We love the Swiss transportation system. They really have it down. I love being able to take a train everywhere. Also, the smartphone app from SBB (the Swiss transit authority) had made train travel ridiculously easy. We can use the app on our phones to not only get all the times for our trains, but it also shows you which platform we need to get to. This has made travel inside the train stations easy since we don’t need to find a timetable display board. Also, you can click on your particular train in the app and it will show you exactly where the train is. So, very cool!
Anyway, we got to Lucerne where I had read about their public rent-a-bike system called Publibike. It’s relatively new, introduced in 2011, and allows people in transit to rent a bike from a bike rack machine at all the major train stations and return it to any other bike rack. Unfortunately, we found out that they are still in phase one of the project where a person needs a membership card in order to rent. Phase two will include use for spontaneous users. So, we headed back inside to tourist information who was very helpful. They gave us a map of the route we were planning to take and then pointed us to the Rent-a-bike booth down in the basement of the station.
I’ve heard of rent-a-bike, though their website is all in German, so I couldn’t read about it beforehand. It was easy to rent a couple bikes here and we even got a discount with our Swiss Rail pass. With our tickets to rent bikes, we were directed over to the Velostation (the bike rental station) around the corner. I was impressed by the size of the operation. It was totally streamlined, too. We gave them our ticket, and they rolled out a couple bikes for us. Several guys were working here, so they must get plenty of business.
Our rented bikes are city bikes, so they are heavy, but really cool. The bikes were similar to our German touring bikes in that the headlight and taillight was powered by the pedaling motion. There was a nice rack on the back with a neat little removable panel to find the pump. (which we didn’t need to use). The fenders were great to have and we had plenty of gears to make a couple climbs as we biked. Oh, and they had a rear wheel locking device installed on the back tire so that we could easily lock up our bikes when we stopped.
Off we went in the direction of Winkel. We are traveling south and west of Lucerne, an area we haven’t yet visited at all. Our out and back ride totaled about 26km and was a very pleasant little ride. The weather was warm and sunny, so we pedaled gently through several parks on the edge of the lake just outside Lucerne. People were out on the tiny strips of sand to sunbathe or swim in the water. Dogs were playing, children were giggling, and everyone was just out to have fun.
Outside of Lucerne, we had a couple gentle, rolling hills, but it was mostly flat and mostly just a great ride around the lake. We were on roads with very little traffic and were able to stop and take photos now and again. We ended up in a tiny town of Winkel where we found a restaurant on the lake shore to eat lunch. We were amused by the umbrellas that seemed to be made of the plastic strands you might find on a costume luau skirt.
We sat and watched the lake boat and duck traffic while eating and also saw the afternoon clouds roll in. By the time we got back our our bikes to go back it had started sprinkling. Luckily, it was light and stopped once we really got moving, but we pretty much just went straight back to Lucerne. We had our bikes rented until 9pm and were hoping to do another ride, however, the rain was really threatening now, so we waited on the docks of Lucerne deciding what to do.
The weather decided for us and soon it was pouring. We dashed over to the bike rental return and then just sat under the cover of the train station. We figured tonight might be a good night to go to a movie or something since there’s not much we had planned to do that would work in rainy weather or in the evening hours. The tourist information desk was once again very helpful and even had a list of the movies playing at the nearby cinema. Too bad none of them were showing in English. Oh well.
An evening at home sounds pretty great too. We took the train back to Brunnen and found a lake-side restaurant to eat dinner. We were very happy with our schnitzel and cordon blu for dinner. Plus the rain stopped while we ate and afterwards we walked around the pier to the beautiful setting sun. I missed my DSLR and tripod which were back in the room, but instead we just enjoyed the pink skies reflecting in the lake and even turning the surrounding mountains pink.
Back at the apartment, we relaxed for the evening. Tomorrow we are all set to go canoe-ing on the lake.