Leg 4: Chur – Dornbirn (97km)
We started off our trip in the rain, but we were so excited about our vacation it did not affect our mood. It actually gave us a chance to test the “rain gear” which worked out okay besides Renz’ mud guard which does not really deserve that name as he got sprayed with dirt big times.
The trail took us from Chur through Heidiland – the home of the legendary and world famous Heidi story from Johanna Spyri, which still charms today despite being 134 years old (the novel was written in 1880). The Heidi motif unites the region thematically with a Heidi House in Maienfeld, a Heidi Trail on the Pizol mountain as well as a Heidi Path and a Heidi House in the neighbouring Bündner Herrschaften. Lately even a musical was performed with the plot from the Heidi story.
Besides Heidi the region is also known for its wine being Graubünden’s most important wine-growing region. The Bündner Herrschaft, the warmest wine-growing region in German-speaking Switzerland, includes the villages Fläsch, Maienfeld, Jenins and Malans; 45 varieties of grapes grow here (Blauburgunder predominates with 78%), over 50 different wines are produced, many vineyards and wine cellars (regionally called Torkel) can be visited or guests can hike the vineyard trail where they learn about the production of the fine local wine.
As we still had quite a way to go we did not indulge in a wine tasting and continued cycling on the Rheindamm. It is quite easy to gain some kilometres here as the terrain is flat and dead straight. Encircled by high mountains the Rhine makes its way towards lake Constance and marks the Swiss-Liechtenstein border.
We actually crossed the bridge just to touch ground in Liechtenstein, one of the smallest countries in the world with 160 square kilometres and an estimated population of 35’000. It is known as a principality as it is a constitutional monarchy headed by a prince. We could see the castle of Vaduz in the distance when continuing our way.
Around midday we decided to have once again a picnic at the banks of the Rhine river. Thankfully it stopped raining, the view was still obstructed by many clouds, which were hanging like cotton candy around the mountains. It is good we know how the panorama looks on a sunny day!
We realized that there were many stone islands in the river, the pebble stones are carved perfectly round, each one with a different design made by watercraft. Sitting on the stones was quite comfortable due to their round shape.
The afternoon stretch led us a bit away from the river, exploring the Rheintal. Towards the evening we were looking for a hotel and found Harry’s Home in Dornbirn (Austria), which we really liked. We decided to take the detour (it is a few kilometres off our actual route) in order to visit that place. We crossed the border, entered Austria and made our way towards Dornbirn.
We had no regrets making the extra kilometres, as we truly liked the concept of the Harry’s Home Hotel. The rooms come in a sleek design with many cool details (e.g. special “do not disturb” signs, a small walk-in wardrobe, special banners in the shower), you have a lot of flexibility (you can choose between small and big breakfast). There is also a very handy room with washing machines, dryers and vending machines where you can find everything you possibly need.
The common areas are also designed in a very modern way, sporting a Harry’s living room where you can meet fellow travellers or just chill out, the Atrium is also a spot where you feel like spending some time. One of our highlights was the aquarium with a big-brained goldfish, which Renz named Einstein – the same fish is part of the logo and will accompany you throughout the stay.
The hotel’s credo is “Harry’s Home – the first designer hotel that thinks the way you think” and one of their visions is to be the desired target for “modern nomads”. Well, we can say we are in and can highly recommend it!
For dinner we went to a local Bierlokal where we had some authentic food (goulash with spaetzle and fillet of pork with croquette), which tasted extremely good and fresh! A beer and a glass of wine were also in stock. We wondered whether the local beer was politically correct – but it tasted good!
In one day we managed to be in three countries by bike. Quite a cool feeling and with that we fell asleep and had a really good night sleep!