In Switzerland I had arranged to see an old friend Norman Kraus, whom I’d met while cycling in Spain in 2014. A day later we met Rênas and spent a couple of weeks cycling together. We followed the Spanish coast together, rode up to Granada and headed toward Gibraltar before going our own separate ways.
Norman had said when we were touring that he would possibly like to live in Switzerland, the money was better in Germany and it would be easier to save and then travel.
After we parted company, Norman went onto travel to the far east and Australia and along the way he met Melanie who is originally from France, shared Normans passion for travelling and they had set up home in Biel / Bienne and were planning future trips. When I said to Norman I would be coming through he and Melanie offered me a room and as much time as I wanted to rest.
Although I had not seen Norman since 2014, just like when I saw Renas in Bremen, it was like no time had passed. It was so good to see him again. I had a 70 mile ride to get to Biel / Bienne, it rained quite hard but I had somewhere to stay. I arrived just after 6pm and Melanie answered the door and helped me with my stuff, to their flat.
Norman had cooked a curry earlier and after showering, Melanie and I had a beer, some crisps (They got salt and vinegar especially for me) and then had some curry. It was delicious!
Norman arrived home from his work at just gone 9pm and we chatted through to the early hours. We caught up on much of what happened in the intervening years, drank much German beer and generally had a very good laugh.
The following day Melanie had to leave early for her work and Norman didnt need to go until around Midday. We cycled to the lake.
After we went into town where Norman switched to guide mode and took me through the old town.
We also went to a kebab shop and had a nice falafel wrap and bottle of Swiss drink, Rivella, made from Milk Serum.
The afternoon I spent updating my blog, sorting out my kit and messing around with the guitar, doing some washing etc. until Melanie came home. We chatted again and I found out that Melanie had travelled to Australia from France, much to the amazement of her family as at the time didn’t speak a word of English. Her English now was very good.
The following day Norman and I went to look at the view of Biel /Bienne from higher up.
This time taking scooters. I hadn’t ridden a scooter since I was about 7 or 8. We whizzed down the streets. I much of europe scoooters, either manual or electric are used all the time as a form of transport.
For Electric there are regulations and rules, but the European governments have not dragged their heels in adapting to new forms of transport. The use of scooters, e-bikes and s-pedelecs (E-Bikes that do 45kmph) are widespread in europe and remove many cars from the road.
One part of town had one of the Rolex factories behind it, I think you can see the crown.
The next day I offered to make dinner, Norman had made a nice Quiche for lunch. He likes cooking as do I.
So off I went to Lidl, not too far away from the flat. I always like looking in Lidl and seeing the differences.
In Switzerland, they like coloured eggs. Norman and Melanie told me these were sometimes pre-cooked.
I had noticed in Germany and in Switzerland, there are a lot more options for vegetarians or vegans. Lots of the food in Switzerland is Bio Food. They seem ahead of the UK in this area.
For Friday night, we decided to go out to a local bar. Their fries were really nice and they sold lots of beer.
Another thing I had noticed a lot were many food places gave you a beeper. You didn’t need to wait for your food. The kebab shop earlier used this. After ordering you get a beeper and you can take your drink and go and sit down. When it beeps, off you go to collect your food.
When we arrived it was pretty busy and we of course sampled the fries and plenty of the beer
On our way to the bar we had walked past a mini festival and decided to stop by on the way back. Several bands played, one playing in German, French and Irish folk, all from the same band.
There was also an African drum section, they were awesome and I think had the best participation from the crowd. The guy on the main drums setting the beat and tempo, the instructor doing a lot of fast up tempo drumming, filling in the main beat and the rest adding to the wonderful rhythm
We also took this opportunity to try out some more beer!
We made our way home later than we thought we would, having had a wonderful evening of beer, food, music and most importantly, company.
Norman woke early to make pancakes, we all enjoyed breakfast and then I loaded the bike and set off. I was sad to be saying goodbye, but we have promised that it wont be 9 years again and I am hoping Norman and Melanie can come to the UK soon. They have another adventure in the making coming soon. They have been preparing a Mercedes to go the distance and you can follow them on their YouTube channel and Instagram accounts below.
I made my way toward Geneva, following the lakes. Heading toward France again.
Two days later and I arrived in Geneva, seeing the Rolex assembly factory.
And finding my way back into France, where I could once again use my phone properly.