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One Lap Around Switzerland
Concluding Thoughts

Let me start by saying that Switzerland is a bike touring haven. Bike routes are well posted, usually car-free paths, and easy to follow (once you get the hang of it). Here are some other observations:

1) Besides restaurants, everything is closed on Sundays. The only stores open will be ones at the train station in large towns and cities. Make sure you have whatever you need for Sunday by Saturday night.

2) The only thing "reasonably" priced in Switzerland was lodging. Virtually everything else was more than its equivalent in the U.S. Restaurants, in particular, were very expensive. It wasn't unusual to spend more on two restaurant meals then on overnight lodging.

3) The bread in Switzerland is great! The loaves are dark, made from different kinds of flour, and often full of seeds. Fresh baked loaves of bread can be found in all grocery stores, every day (but Sunday).

4) People smoke everywhere in Switzerland. While there are some places listed as no smoking, everywhere else is fair game. Expect to have people smoking in restaurants and don't be surprised if someone lights up a cigar.

5) Every turn on a National Cycle Route is marked by a red biking sign with the number of the route on it. They are easy to follow and usually very scenic routes.

6) There are lots of marked biking routes but not all of them are numbered. The unnumbered routes can be hard to follow as it isn't always clear which red arrows identify which route.

7) If you are trying to follow a regional cycle route, make sure you know its (two digit) number. This number will appear on bike routing signs, which makes regional routes easy to follow. Be sure you know where the regional routes end.

8) Get the biking map of Switzerland published by Kummerly+Frey. While I had other, more detailed maps, I only referred to the biking map to find my way and it is the only one you need. I saw this map at every Tourist Information office and at many bookstores. It costs about 20 CF.

9) Consider taking a train up hard climbs. In my opinion, not all climbs in Switzerland are worth doing. What's more, they can be steep and very difficult. Often, there will be train stations at both the bottom and top of a climb so riding to the bottom, catching a short train ride, and then continuing on the bike is easy to do.

10) Swiss trains usually take bikes. To take a train on a bike, you need a separate day ticket for it. Trains often have special bike cars with hooks for hanging the bike. These cars are marked with a bike symbol on the outside. Sometimes, the bike has to go in the baggage car. Check the train schedules to insure that the train you plan to take accommodates bikes.

11) Most people in the Swiss/German speaking part of Switzerland also speak some English. Many speak excellent English. You should be able to get by in this part of Switzerland only speaking English. However, don't expect people in the French speaking part of Switzerland to speak any English.

12) There were a large number of ethnic restaurants in Switzerland. In all larger towns and cities, I saw many Chinese and Indian places. I also saw a fair number of Thai and Felafel/Kebab places.

13) Most reasonably sized towns have a Tourist Information office. These offices are full of useful information and can find you a place to stay in the area and direct you to local bike routes.

14) Large, metal and detailed maps are posted at major bike route intersections. These maps show local, regional, and national routes. One guy I met didn't have a map and, instead, took high resolution pictures of these maps and used these pictures for guidance whenever he help.

15) Most non-restaurant places of business close between noon and 2pm or later. This often includes train station ticket windows (they have ticketing machines) and other government offices.

16) I was usually able to find unlocked wifi network connections by simply walking around with my iTouch.

17) Try using to find places to stay. I was hosted 4 times while there.

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