Border hopping

After waving goodbye to our friends in cosy Cusy, our legs soon remembered their task of pedaling us and our heavy bicycles around. A week of plenty of picnics and being more or less stationery was just enough time for us to be rested, but happy to be once again rolling free.

The landscape continued to be distinctly alpine as we climbed up into the Jura mountains; rolling grassy green hills, acres of pine tree forests and dozens of very Swiss looking houses. Each house had stacks of neatly chopped wood piled along the walls and up to the windows, preparing for the snowy winters that the roofs suggested was in store.

We pedalled through villages of practically deserted ski resorts which clearly survived on winter tourism with chalet apartment blocks and stationary ski lifts stretching up the grassy green hillsides. The infrastructure gave a strange contrast to the surrounding fields of Milka cows.

The landscape in this region meant that we ended up spending a lot of our nights camping in the forest, given that rolling grassy green hills tend to be neither flat nor providing of many hiding places for our tent… As well as being generally quite full of cows. To the forest we went – secluded we were for sure, from humans atleast, surrounded by trees and with a soft(ish) bed of leaves. We weren’t however so secluded from the wildlife whose home we were sharing for the night. Invariably, Pedro would sleep soundly whereas I was treated to a chorus of forest activity – the snuffling of a wild pig, delicate footsteps of a deer or the squeaking of some unidentified smaller being. It’s quite amazing how loud even a leaf falling on a tightly stretched tent can sound.

But as the falling leaves confirmed, autumn was definitely in the air – the mornings fresh and crisp, and leaves turning to shades of yellow and orange that I’d missed while living in Lisbon. Leggings and warmer coats were out, at either end of the day atleast, and hours of daylight becoming noticeably shorter.

Our route through Jura was to take us in and out of France, hopping the border into Switzerland and back again a few times. As we crossed for the first time (hiking not included), there was a definite feeling that we had hit the rush-hour of French people, who worked in Switzerland but lived in France, coming back home; there were no cars on our side of the road, but a steady stream of shiny audis coming the opposite way.

We thought it would be rude to go into Switzerland and to not sample their famed chocolate, so we put it upon ourselves to buy a bar during our brief visit. Shortly after purchasing the said chocolatey treat, the heavens opened and we dived for the closest shelter. The chocolate kept us entertained as we let the rain clouds pass. Pedro gave it 4/5 stars.

Delayed by the rain and chocolate eating, we ended up finding a place to camp still on the Swiss side of the border, we cooked dinner to the clinking of cow bells wondering if and when cows go to sleep. Our restless night suggested that perhaps they don’t, or atleast not with a giant bell attached to their neck. It seems a bit unfair to essentially inflict tinnitus on every cow in the region, I can’t imagine any of us would be very happy or sleep very well if a bell rang every time we turned over. Has cow tracking not advanced beyond bells to GPS yet?

We continued pedalling up and down the rolling alpine hills and took one final shortcut through Switzerland before apples became more plentiful and the land flattened and became more pastural as we approached Basel, the Rhine and country number 5: Germany.

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