Train to Mulhouse

The former city hall, dating from 1552.

I’ve not slept well in Vienna, the room was too warm and the aircon wasn’t working. It didn’t help that I was aware we needed to be up early for the 07:28 to Zurich, a journey of almost eight hours. Six bikes were lined up to board, and there were only five hooks. One couple hadn’t made and paid for a reservation but still expected to be able to travel. To add to the chaos, a cyclist who’d boarded at Bratislava had parked his bike across the area below the hooks and had to remove and stow his bags and camping gear and hang his bike before the rest of us could drag ours up the steps to load. To complete the picture, a family with massive suitcases were trying to board via the bike end rather than the uncontested door at the other end of the coach.

All seven bikes were eventually loaded, luckily the train waits ten minutes here. The conductor was unconcerned and didn’t check the bike tickets, unlike in Eastern Europe where they were also much cheaper. The scenery through western Austria and into Switzerland was spectacular. A similar scenario predictably played out on arrival, when most of the passengers competed with the unloading of bikes rather than use the other door.

We had just the right amount of time to change platforms for an IC3 train to Basel, again up steep steps. At Basel we had to leave the main station for the adjacent SNCF terminus for the 22 minute ride to Mulhouse-Ville. Our hotel was close to the station and easy to find, they locked our bikes in an outbuilding and we showered and made the short walk into the old town.

First we ate at Pokawa, which was a strange experience. You order your food by a touch screen and then pay by card. It took longer than the traditional way of ordering and we both chose the same to make it quicker. The falafel, quinoa and salad arrived quickly and was nice and fresh, but served in a paper bowl with thin wooden cutlery so not good for the environment even if they recycle it.

The old town is compact with a large square dominated by the spectacular Hotel de Ville but with a supporting cast of fine buildings. It also hosts Europe’s largest railway museum which unfortunately we didn’t have time to visit, this being simply a convenient stopover on the way to Paris. I was glad we’d had time to view its main sights though.

Train to Paris