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Tuesday, September 30, 2008


Having ridden the France, Switzerland, Austria, Germany, and Italy, I have to say that the food in France is better, but you do pay a price for it --- you sacrifice 2 hours a day of riding time at least for the food if you go for the fixed price menus that are the best value --- if you just order a plat it can take much less time. Grocery store lunches are fine, but it can be tough to find a grocery store at times.

The scenery in Switzerland and Austria is definitely better. If I were to advise a first time tourist in Europe who was reasonably fit, I would recommend that they start in Switzerland --- the food is good if you know where to go, and with Jobst's Tourof the Alps collection on-line there's no excuse for not knowing where to eat and where to stay in Switzerland. (Some day, I'll go through his logs and extract all the good places to stay and put it up in a wiki) The scenery is spectacular and the drivers very very polite. Plus the Swiss aren't too snotty to speak English to you. French drivers aren't nearly as polite and frequently drive a bit fast for the conditions, though not as badly as the Italians do.

The big problem with riding in France is the trains --- long distance trains are a nightmare as far as bringing a bike is concerned, and the German speaking countries definitely are far more accommodating of bikes on trains. I don't think there's a serious price difference between the countries.

All in all, I'm not surprised that Jobst can tour the Alps year after year for 40 years --- the Pyrenees was fun once, but my next mountain tour in Europe will definitely be in the Alps. Though Mike, Roberto and I are contemplating Japan or Taiwan. It would be nice to tour in a country where I speak the local language for a change.

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