What you see above is not just fireworks but a legitimate fireworks battle, over our heads last night at the campground in Andermatt run by the world’s most prickly fraulein. August 1 is Switzerland’s Independence Day, and it was a mild affair (with flags and sausage and traditional music) until it got dark and, strangely, the gondola we were camping next to went halfway up the hill before proceeding to hang there while partygoers inside shot fireworks out and – this seems insane but it’s true – screamed in delight as revelers below shot off pretty large fireworks that exploded right next to the gondola. This frightening affair (captured in the cell-phone image above) went on for hours, as the hills around Andermatt also went wild with fireworks and bonfires.
This morning we rose early to conquer Furkapass on the way to Visp, where we took a train to Zermatt, the Matterhorn growing larger and more menacingly beautiful with each kilometer. It was a 64-mile day on the bikes, including the switchback-heavy climb of Furkapass, giant beers in Reckingen and a sketchy forest detour that was like something out of “the Princess Bride,” only steep as hell, featuring several surprise turns that would’ve been fatal without confidence.
For now, we listen to a British cover band playing Billie Jean and wonder what tomorrow will bring besides, of course, tired legs and expensive food. Even a trip to McDonalds for a look at the menu was fateful: $11.50 for a two-cheeseburger value meal. But all the free glacier water available at fountains in every hillside town we stop in is something I’ll never take for granted…along with the mountain views….