May 14: Swiss Camino Day 5

Well, the final day has come and gone, and my right butt cheek is pretty happy it’s ended, but the rest of me wishes we were walking for longer.

Today we did a shorter stretch of 16km from Rapperswil to Einsiedeln, to finish the first third of the Swiss Camino, but because there was a fair bit of uphill it took us about six hours (with stops). See here if you want a detailed description of our whole journey, written by people from the Camino.

When we walked the middle section of the Swiss Camino in 2012 we started in Einsiedeln, so it was a logical end point for this trip. We can now say we’ve walked across two-thirds of Switzerland.

Leaving Rapperswil, you walk through the city, past the marina and onto a wooden footbridge which crosses the Lake of Zürich. What a great way to start the final day, listening to all the birds nesting on the lake, which is a nature reserve. Once across, we walked along a train line for a while, and then headed up, up, up to St Meinrad, where we stopped for a quick sugary drink and then started, for me, the highlight of the trip.

This section, between St Meinrad and Einsiedeln, is the postcard vision we have in our head of what Switzerland looks like – snow capped mountains, lakes, fields, cows, little wooden houses and glorious greenery. I kept taking photos of the same section of landscape, hoping to properly capture its beauty, but, alas, no picture can portray just how awe inspiring it is. You’ll have to come see for yourself!

Another highlight was being charged by a little cow. Unfortunately I didn’t get any photos of that, but I would have loved a video of him bouncing in front of me, being all threatening, and me running away flailing my walking sticks in the air.

When we arrived in Einsiedeln, home of a very huge monastery, we were shocked by how many people were there, but it is a religious public holiday in Switzerland today, so maybe we shouldn’t have been too surprised! Because of this we didn’t go into the church, as we’d seen it on our previous trip.

We stopped for a much-needed late lunch and then caught the train to Bern and then the bus to Wohlen. It took just over two and a half hours to get home. While walking that 10 minute path from the bus, we felt the first spits of rain, and as I type this, at 10.30pm, it’s raining heavily. Our decision to compress the five-day walk into four days was a good one, because the weather has quickly turned from amazing to miserable.

Signing off for now. The photos once again will tell a better story than me. I think I might start a new section on this blog about walking, with the various hikes we’ve done, but need to work out if the time it takes to set it all up is worth it. Would you like to see more photos of other walks around the UK and Europe?

We haven’t slept well the previous two nights, so hopefully being in our own bed will put everything right again, including that strained butt cheek??

Wishing you a wonderful day.

May 13: Swiss Camino Day 4

Today was tougher than I care to admit, and it was the shortest of the three days we’ve walked so far. Why so tough? Because so much if it – I’m thinking about three quarters of it – was on asphalt. That stuff is a killer, especially when you can see green grass so close by. Walking on a street/sidewalk/footpath is so much tougher on the feet than a natural path and we’re both suffering because of it.

I had my phone interview at 8am which I think was ok (please be good!) and then we left the Hörnli at about 8.45am. Lots of downhill to start the day and then into Steg … and then a very long straight footpath next to a busy road for about an hour. Ugh! Reprieve came in a short grassy path but then it was back onto a narrow road which serviced some smaller villages.

We chatted with another walker in a lovely field of wildflowers and she cracked us up. The first thing she said was the Canton of Zürich, being Protestant, had terrible signs for the Jakobsweg, or Swiss Camino, which is a Catholic pilgrimage. We laughed at first but then we had to agree with her. Not only was this 24km stretch between Hörnli and Rapperswil tough (yes that is the real name of this lovely village on Lake Zürich – I always joke about it being full of rappers), but the signs were pretty non-existent. The woman we spoke with in the field had been on a very long detour thanks to bad signposting, which involved going a long way down only to have to come a long way back up again. She was livid!

Later we spoke with an old woman who ran a little cafe for walkers/pilgrims and she said a few years ago, the canton had ordered all the Jakobsweg signs to be taken down, and because they live on the path, her husband had bought a few of them at the markets and put them up again! They were very helpful, so hats off to him for his foresight!

We struggled slowly into town just after 4pm and I’d lost my sense of humor by the time we found an overpriced hotel. I had a pain shooting from my right butt cheek down my thigh and Leo was also struggling. Why do we do this? Oh that’s right, it’s fun!

We did see amazing snow-covered Alps (the photos don’t really show them so well) and an incredible storm rolling in which thankfully bypassed us, but we were both very happy for the day to hurry up and end.

Even though it’s a lovely city, Rapperswil goes on the ‘must-see next time’ list for when we have more energy. We had a quick drink on the waterfront and then pizza near the hotel, where Leo cracked me up. I took a photo of him at the table and he was surprised that the man who refuses to wear sunscreen could be so sunburnt!

It was warm again today, and our decision to make the five day trip into a four day trip seems to be a good one, because bad weather is forecast for Friday, which would have been our last day of walking. Thankfully, tomorrow is our last day and we’ll be home and comfy on the couch when the bad weather kicks in.

Hope you enjoy the photos. No surprises that I didn’t take many photos of walking along the roads and on the footpaths etc. Hardly inspiring stuff!

I’ll post descriptions when I’m home.

Wishing you a wonderful day.