Monday, June 21, 2010

Day 5: Meiringen to Hotel Zwirgi

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The next morning saw us leaving the hotel bright and early to hop onto the train to Zurich. Unlike previous years where we managed to snag a direct train, this took us no less than 4 transfers, some of which required carrying the bike down and up a flight of stairs on 3 minute connections, which was somewhat stressful but nevertheless doable. On the leg from Sargans to Zurich, inspectors boarded the train and informed us that the tandem counted as 2 bikes in Switzerland, but they made the mistake of asking Cynthia, who shrugged her shoulders and pretended that she didn't understand either English or German, so they let us without attempting to fine us. We shouldn't have been fined anyway, since we had bought the tickets in Austria for the entire leg to Switzerland.
From Tour of the German Speaking Alps 2010

At the Zurich train station, we bought train tickets to Meiringen. I asked about buying the half tax card then, but the ticket counter service person was not being very helpful, saying that I'd have to have bought the half tax cards the day before. I would later find out that there's a special tourist half-tax card for 99CHF which lasted only for a month, but did not need any of the extensive paper work needed for the regular half tax card. This is one of those cases where a more rural train station with a friendly ticket counter agent would have saved us a lot of money over the course of the trip, but we had no idea how many more train transfers we would later have.

Upon arrival in Meiringen, as we rode out of the train station, I spotted an informational "I" sign and rode over to it. Upon discovering that was a map of the train station, the last few days of frustration led me to say (quite loudly), "What the f*k is this totally useless information sign?!" A woman nearby replied to me in English, "It's a map of the train station. What do you need?" Everyone around me laughed at my embarrassment as I turned a bright red. In Switzerland, you definitely shouldn't curse in English. She turned out to be a local, and pointed us at the tourist information center, and then told me to watch my language.

We went to the tourist information center, and it took quite a long time to manage all the things that had piled up over the last few days, buying SIM cards for the phones, activating them, and then getting lodging turned out to be a problem. My hope was that it being a Monday, Rosenlaui would be available, but upon calling them it turned out that they were full up until Thursday! After searching in vain in town for lodging, I realized that Hotel Zwirgi might be available. I checked out other alternatives, and it turned out that not only was the B&B behind Restaurant Lammi not free, but restaurant itself was also closed on Mondays. The last time I checked, Hotel Zwirgi was priced too high for me, but the information center told us that they were 59CHF/person/night, and had availability.
From Tour of the German Speaking Alps 2010

We rode up the Grosse Scheidegg road from the Lammi restaurant, and while the ride was short it was somewhat steep, though much less steep than I remembered. Upon arrival, we were informed that the tourist information person had transposed the numbers on our quote, and it was 95CHF/person/night. After some wrangling, we settled for what would normally be a 4 person family room by putting an extra bed (which would be at a cheaper price of 70CHF) in it. We then explored Reichenbach falls, and had a nice dinner, hoping that the weather tomorrow would be more conducive to riding.

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