Lucerne – Day 1
….. and so the next stage of our journey begins ….. we have never been to Switzerland and look forward to new experiences.
We travelled on the Milan to Basal train (exiting at Lucerne), leaving Milan at 10:15 am …. we are getting better at this form of travel, arriving at the station only 25 minutes before departure. The trip was quite comfortable, stopping 5 times in the 3 and a half hour journey. The countryside is quite green, reminding us of the Rocky mountains in Canada, with the possible exception that a lot of houses seem to have some sort of small or large vineyard around them. The BC Okanagan valley certainly has a lot of vineyards but the surrounding countryside is much drier, not as green.
When we arrived in Lucerne, we took a cab to the hotel. A slow drive with so many tourists out and about. After we registered and moved all our luggage into our room, the first thing we needed was to get the safe reset. Whoever used it before had not unlocked it when they left. Regardless, the room is very nice – lots of space in the main room; however the bathroom is probably the smallest so far – and the first without a bidet.
Afterwards, we went for a short walk and quickly realized we hadn’t needed a taxi, as the hotel is just across the bridge from the train station ….. bummer.
Oh well …. live and learn!
The temperature is the coldest so far on the trip (9° C /45° F) ….. so we head back to the hotel for Gerda to warm up ….. besides I’m a little cold too. We try to contact family and friends on the cell phone, but it takes a while before I realize the numbers are being routed by the GPS to our location in Switzerland …… so I finally figure out how to route them to Canada. It works! …. but I only get in touch with a few as they are out and about doing their Saturday routines (they are after all 8 hours behind us). The one loss in taking a long holiday is missing our little buddies. Missing their chatter, hugs and smooches! Harlow just finished her baton twirling class and they were enroute to Taylan’s football game. Good luck Tay!
Dinner time …. and we chose to try an “Alpes” restaurant ….. even though it serves similar meals to Italian, Spanish, French and Canadian restaurants. Gerda tried the fish dish, I tried the tagalini shrimp. We wait and chat and chat and wait ….. finally they bring it – but it’s for the couple beside us …… again a bummer! Shortly afterwards they bring ours.
After the meal we struck up a conversation with the young couple (Juan and Tanya) and found out they are from Mexico. Juan is a surgeon and Tanya a trader. They travelled from Barcelona to Nice then Milan and now Lucerne by car (a lot of the same places we have enjoyed) …. much more adventurous then we are this trip. After a pleasurable discussion on destinations, food and travel we wished them safe journey. It’s always great to connect with interesting travellers ……. there’s nothing better than sharing and perhaps understanding another’s traditions and culture a little closer.
Final activity, go for a walk to burn off some of the food we have been enjoying too much!
…………… and one footnote …………… for Carol
Guess I have to start looking for a “Gerda” shop …… maybe one that says “Gouda” changing the ‘ou’ to ‘er’ ……. hmmmmmm – Gouda wouldn’t be pleased with that nor would Gerda.
Lucerne – Day 2
The first shower can change your impressions of a hotel …… this one is mixed ….. hearing Gerda giggling and then finding out it’s because she’s having trouble shaving her legs and that the temperature is flipping between hot and cold …… raises the expectations of potential disaster.
All okay ….. little problem with the shower, other than it is small.
We decided to do the lake cruise and mountain view tour ….. leaving from pier 2, take an hour to cross the length of the lake, disembarking at Alpnachstad and take the world’s steepest cogwheel railway (5.3km at 48°) to Pilatus Kulm. Unfortunately it clouded over and about 45 minutes later it started to snow.
We went up to Operhaupt peak (6913 ft), came back to do the “Dragon Path” a neat tunnel around the mountain.
We decided it was getting slippery and too dangerous, so we came back to the Aerial cableway (Dragon Ride on the other side of the mountain) and rode down to the gondolas.
Even with it being completely overcast, the feeling was spectacular …… there were glimpses of the valleys below …… you had a sense of the height.
Some views from Pilatus peak:
When the gondola got to the bottom, we walked to the stop for Lucerne bus #1. Once we boarded, it took 15 minutes to get into Lucerne central station. The bus was clean, quiet and environmental friendly ….. if it can be done here, why is it so hard to achieve at home?
It rained on the gondola all the way down the mountain, on walk to the bus stop, on the ride back to the station, walking back to the cafe, walking back to hotel ……. needless to say we were tired, cold, wet but exhilarated.
Gerda had a hot chocolate to warm her ….. we then rested in our room before having a meal in the hotel restaurant, the oldest in Lucerne (dating from the 1700’s).
Since it continued to rain, we skipped our usual late night walk-about and retired to our room ….. Gerda to sleep, Brian to blog ……
I couldn’t end this without another footnote …… as mentioned before you frequently find “love locks” fastened to anything that will allow the lock to fit …. no exception here ….. We found them on a window wire in the “Dragon Path” tunnel !
Many local authorities try to discourage love locks because they can become a safety issue, as in Paris, where so many were added to the ‘Pont des Arts’ bridge, it became unstable – with over one million locks adding 45 tons to the structure. They were all removed in 2015 to preserve the historical bridge and ensure the safety of pedestrians.
The conflict of romance and safety!
Lucerne – Day 3
Today is animal day …… well not really, it’s more about loyalty and bravery …… we decided to check the “Wounded Lion” monument of Lucerne to the Swiss guards who lost their lives trying to protect King Louis XVI in 1791. It turns out to be about half a kilometre from our hotel ……. it is simply stunning – a beautiful monument to the 760 soldiers who died. The monument was opened almost 200 years ago in 1821.
After visiting the monument, we created our own tour to walk along the river and crossing over to follow the old city fortress rampart ….. yes ….. walking on top! Half way around the rampart we came across an opening …… upon entering, we find it’s the entrance to the clock tower …. where there is a real, ancient working clock with a massive pendulum.
The rampart, tower and clock shows the resourcefulness and ingenuity of people during the middle ages. It’s a collective showing of the history and charm of the region.
Ironically, we had to walk up a hill through a pasture of Highland Cattle to get to the rampart. Gerda enjoyed meeting the cattle as much as the rampart. They are interesting looking animals but watch out for that fence as it will give you a shock!
Overall an interesting and worthwhile afternoon. Although it was tiring, all the up and down of stairs, we thoroughly enjoyed it.
To finish the evening and celebrate Brian’s British heritage we stopped in the “Pickwick” pub for a pint and some chips (fries). The beer was excellent and the grub better than I thought it would be.
We left and heard some music (sounded like horns) on the historic wooden bridge, so we went to see what was going on …. it was a group playing the traditional Alpenhorn. Nice to see cultures being reinforced and handed down to the next generation.
As with the past couple of days, it started to rain again, so we retired to pack and prepare for the last leg of our trip ……. move onto Paris on Tuesday.
………….. more to follow ………