09/26/2011

A great day out (for next year!)

Many forms of publc transport were involved in my three lakes cruise last Sunday. It is still possible, but only Fridays and weekends, until 16 October: some hints!


The lake cruise from Morat to Bienne goes on three lakes: Morat, Neuchatel and Bienne, using canal waterways to go between them. Last Sunday,25 September, I took advantage of our current glorious Indian Summer to do this in the Morat-Bienne direction, leaving Morat at 10 am and arriving at Bienne at 2h10 pm. The lake steamer then returns to Morat, arriving back there at 6h30 pm.

This trip can be done with a Swiss Railways day ticket, available at a reasonable price if you have the half-fare travel card. If you don't then your best bet is to go to the local Town Hall and ask for one of the day tickets that Swiss Railways provide to them. The price that they may charge you will vary from zero to about 35 Swiss Francs: a great deal (!), but they have to be obtained in advance well before you know what the weather will be like.

My own day started with my early morning wake-up call from the Swiss early flight to Zurich, which flew over Versoix just after 6am. I did note that subsequently, all flights took off in the other direction, over Vernier, but this morning flight is often allowed to fly over us (to save time and fuel).

The rail trip to Fribourg is relatively easy, but to get from Fribourg to Morat in time to get the boat is slightly more complex. Going by train involves a longish walk from the Morat train station, but there is fortunately the alternative of going by train to Düdingen and then taking a bus. On the Sunday this was a mini-bus with a friendly driver and few passengers. In between discussing football with him I was advised to get off at 9h49, one stop before the terminus, and then walk down to the quay (5 minutes).

The boat was VERY full, as was the on-board restaurant, so I advise anyone wanting to eat (filets de perches?) on board to reserve in advance. This is also a way to avoid the hot sun, as there was no shady place which was not being used to serve lunches, and has the additional advantage that the on-board Wi-Fi works more rapidly there than on the open decks..

The two canals used to go between lakes are delightful but different. From Morat to Neuchatel is narrowish, passing some very attractive week-end residences and lots of people fishing: very relaxing (and the boat slows down). That from Neuchatel to Bienne is wider and with a few  industries on the sides, but I particularly liked the station at the entrance to lake Bienne.

Three lakes trip 009.JPG

At Bienne, they just happen to have the Knie circus there: it was in Geneva in early September, so the place seemed quite animated. There are many different itineraries to get back to Geneva from Bienne: I came back via the Golden Pass Spiez-Zweisimmen-Montreux.

If you happen to want to go next Sunday, remember that it is the day for the Morat-Fribourg race. There is actually a special train from Fribourg to Morat (8h47 at Fribourg, 9h14 at Morat) which you can take. Be warned, however, that because of all the runners on it, this train gets heavily impregnated with the smell of Fortalis and other muscle creams: I am sure that it must then go straight back to be cleaned and fumigated!

Have a nice day.

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