June 26, 2004: Zürich - Meieringen
After having spent a few wonderful days with my grandmother in Zürich, I set out to Bahnhof Enge to meet my friend Florian who I knew from MIT. It was cool, but not cold. We set out south under a hazy, yet cloudless sky. Within 40 minutes we were climbing the Albispass, immediately south of Zürich. It is a friendly climb of almost 400 meters which offers a very pretty view over Lake Zürich.
We continued our way to Luzern over a hilly, but not mountainous landscape. Far away, the impending doom made its presence known (see the right photo below). Because it was such a clear day, we could see the Alps towering in front of us in the south. I was very excited and couldn't wait to get closer.
Florian is always in good spirits and ready for a cheerful, cynical laugh. Preferably about Americans. We had fun. Route 26 brought us straight into Luzern where we found ourselves in a frivolous city festival that was accompanied by lots of balloons, bratwurst, and bad music. Florian convinced me to buy maps made by swisstopo; one of the most superior acquisitions I made that vacation. These maps show details down to individual buildings on a 1:200000 scale. We bought some sandwiches and enjoyed each other's company at the waterside under the cool sun.
After meeting Florian's girlfriend, and (then future) mother of his firstborn, I continued alone towards Meieringen. I followed "Velo route" 9 south. Switzerland, bike friendly nation as it is, has several bike routes throughout the country, ranging from easy to outright insane. For every route, the enthusiast can buy a little booklet and/or map that describe the route and tourist attractions in meticulous detail. Route 9 goes through Hergiswil, along the Vierwaldstättersee, to Stans, Alpnach, Sarnen, along the Sarnersee.
Around Lungern I managed to lose Velo Route 9, despite the clear markings, but I got back onto it right before the ascent of the Brünigpass---the first real, and only pass that day. I had very bad memories of the Brünigpass. It treated me on a rain-soaked and cold first-day experience on my tour in 2002. This time the ascent seemed easy and friendly, though steeper than I remembered. Brünigpass is a 500+m climb to 1007m from Giswil at the Sarnersee, which is at 485m.
The descent to Meieringen (back down to 595m) was steep, fast, but short. In Meieringen I checked into Hotel Rebstock, washed my clothes, and waited for Max and Hans to arrive.