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  • Jamie Shannon

Maastricht to Munich -Schwarzwald and crossing the Alps

French border - the Alps

The Black Forest, Germany
The Black Forest, Germany

Cycle touring through The Black Forest

Having cycled through France, I came to the Rhine where I crossed the border into Germany. From Rheinau, I made my way through the stunning Black Forest and onto Switzerland.

I had read many times how beautiful this part of Germany was but nothing could have prepared me for the reality of it. It was simply breathtaking and a little bit of paradise. True, it was all very kept and manicured by humans but it was so utterly drop dead gorgeous that I could easily look past that.

I even enjoyed the endless streams of motorcyclists speeding along.

As I neared Switzerland and the city of Basel, I came across a park of sorts that sat along the Rhine. Having asked a few people if they thought it okay to camp there, I decided it was perfect. I really didn't want to sleep in a forest again if I could help it.

Camping by the Rhine
Camping by the Rhine

I had been led to believe that Switzerland would be an easy place to cycle, what with the fact that the roads generally tend to follow the many rivers that dot the landscape.

Now this is actually true, but this being the first trip where I actually had a smartphone and thus access to GoogleMaps, this was also the first time I'd follow its directions.

This generally led me over such challenging terrain, gradiently speaking, that it became the toughest few days of the trip thus far.

As I descended into the city of Neuchatel, I got my first glimpse of the Alps in the distance across Lac de Neuchatel. They looked immense and awe-inspiring. It was 35 degrees and I wasn't sure I could actually cycle over them.

I followed the lake along its northern edge and then carried on towards the city of Lausanne where I turned south east along Lake Geneva.

Most of the time, I found great places to camp in Germany and Switzerland, but I would never have found this spot if a local guy I had met in the town of Brig hadn't told me about it.

Stealth camping Switzerland
Stealth camping Switzerland

It seemed to me that there was a clear correlation between how wealthy a country was and how reckless its drivers were. In Luxembourg, there was a lot left to be desired. Here in Switzerland, they drove as if their life depended on it and in Liechtenstein, well that reminded me of my time in Romania.

I was enjoying Switzerland though. The air was fresh, the nature amazing and the weather glorious. There was even fresh water available in every village I visited. Life was very good indeed.

As I made my way through the Rhone valley, the detritus of civilisation gradually crept into view. Every second building was either a car dealership, garage or superstore. It looked terrible to be quite honest, what with the grandiose backdrop.

As I exited the valley, the Switzerland I remember seeing on television and film came into view. The road wound its way through the forested valleys. Mist clung to the tree tops dropping away now and then to reveal another mountain peak or yet another layer of the valley above. Swiss chalets would cling to impossible to reach outcrops high up above the tree-line.

By this point, even the rain that pummelled down so consistently couldn't dampen my mood.

Next - tackling the Alps

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