So this was something new for me. My previous cycling tours have started in Margate and the only foreign clime was France - easily accessible from the ferry ports at Dover. This time though, having looked at all possible routes, the only sensible way to get out to Oberalppass and the source of the Rhine was to fly. Despite my trepidation about this, the bike cost the small matter of £35 extra - I was expecting three figures at least. I was slightly disappointed to learn that the bike would not be allocated a seat next to me for the flight but was required to be bagged and put in the hold. So after some initial shock and some googling I ordered myself a new foldable bike bag from these guys in New Zealand - Ground Effect - I would highly recommend it - tough and durable with the main benefit that it folds down into something around the size of an A4 pad so easy to strap to the bike and take it along with you.
So with an early flight booked (7am) on the Saturday morning I decided on a taxi to Gatwick and an overnight in the Hilton - a nice easy stroll over to South Terminal. I left home at 8pm and was at the hotel by 9.30pm - no real traffic problems. So I figured I'd take my Kindle down to the bar and have a quick drink before getting an early night. At the age of 42 I should really know myself better. Within 5 minutes of sitting down, I was chatting to a Canadian guy who was stranded at Gatwick for 48 hours on expenses - dangerous company..... It was getting on for 1 am by the time I dragged myself to bed, having sorted the world out, AGAIN. Needless to say the 4.30am alarm was slept through and I woke naturally, although somewhat hazily, at 5.30am in a bit of a panic to get over to the terminal and deposit my luggage. My panic was unnecessary and the EasyJet staff were very helpful, so I made the flight with plenty of time. 1hr 20 in the air and we landed at Zurich. Now my concerns began. What kind of shape would the bike be in? How many pieces? Again - unnecessary panic. The bike was fine - in exactly the same state as I had handed it over to the guys at Gatwick. So I spent about half an hour reassembling the bike and loading it up before hitting a train to Andermatt where my first overnight guest house was. 3 changes and about 2 1/2 hours later I arrived. This was my view from my room;
It's worth noting for anyone else travelling with a bike by train in Switzerland that Swiss trains are extremely high from the platform. It's a good idea to ensure that you can lift your bike comfortably to shoulder height, otherwise it's a real battle. I know this now.....
Andermatt is a stunning collection of chocolate box buildings set 1400 meters above sea level in the Swiss Alps. In theory the village dates from around the 10th century, although remains have been found dating back to 4000BC.