The easier way of life
Soon after leaving, we started to detox from our busy urban lives. The days began passing more slowly and life got its natural rhythm back. Sunlight wakes us up, around half past six. Around nine o'clock in the evening, we start yawning, our eyes tangled with sleep. The time in between waking up and going to sleep is filled without artificialities. We drive about 150 to 200 kilometers a day. And when we feel like it, or when the surroundings are beautiful, we stop. Preferably on top of a hill or at the banks of a lake. There, we park the bikes on the side of the road and peacefully we dig up the gear to make coffee. Heads of passersby turn. Two bikes fully packed and saddled up seem impressive. Drivers slow down and ask if everything's okay. We nod and point to the mokkapot: it was about time to have a coffee.
During one of those breaks, an old little tractor stopped next to us. An equally old man glanced at us. He seemed in doubt whether to speak to us. Slowly, he began to talk. A thick Southern German dialect rolled off his tongue. While talking he stepped out of the old Ford and slowly stepped around the bikes. 'Guzzi, gut!' he said, 'how fast do they go?' Not really listening to the answer, he told us about a terrible accident he had with a biker, many years ago. Shivers went down his spine he hears a motorcycle rev. Luckily, nobody got hurt. But he wanted to urge us to ride slowly.
We do. Slowly we let the road take us to wherever. Some roads seem to go on forever, new asphalt looming after each turn. And sometimes, we find the end of the road, like in Juf, Switzerland. One type of road we promised ourselves to avoid is highways. That promise still holds. We are crossing Europe on a 40 km/h average.
It's not about the number of kilometers or reaching a destination: we ride to taste, smell and hear.
Local foods and farm-stays
Around four o'clock in the afternoon, it’s time to gather dinner. We try to buy our food from farmers selling their products in shops along the road. Those hofläden are widespread in the German and Swiss countryside. Thanks to those farmers, we eat local and super fresh. Even during a hike on the Pilatus mountain, we bought local Alp cheese, while the cows who provided the milk for the cheese were grazing right in front of us.
After collecting dinner, the time has come to find a place to sleep. Here too we are helped by casual encounters and welcoming locals. Farmers are often happy to open their fields to our little tent. We may stay over in the garden, the orchard or there is even a room free in the house. For a night. Because they are as interested in us as we are in them. The stories people tell give us a glimpse into their lives.
One farmer told us about his cows in the Alp meadows. Slowly, the cattle would start making its way down to the valley and stay inside for the winter. 100 days of shade would soon come, because the farm stood at the foot of the Glarner Alps. But for now, while it was not too cold, he had room to spare for us in his fields.
All around were protest signs about the Factory Farming Referendum. on September 25th, the Swiss people vote about intensive livestock farming. We wonder how intensive farming in the Alps could be... 'Our' farmer has 60 cows in total and they have plenty of outdoor space most of the year. In comparison, Dutch farmers have on average 160 cows (source: Federal Statistic Office).
We live in a natural flow. We get up with the sunlight and go to sleep when it disappears. We spend our days without haste, as open as possible to other people and new experiences. It's not about the number of kilometers or reaching a destination: we ride to taste, smell and hear.