We took the train down to Zurich and settled into our nice "cheap" (if you can call $30 a night in a dorm bed cheap) hostel. Our first day was a cold, wet day so we spent time inside at the Schweizerisches Landesmuseum which took us through the history of the area from prehistoric times to the present. We also got a nice introduction to just how expensive the city is with a nice simple dinner that only cost us $80 or so.
The next day we walked around the city checking out the sites on the banks of the Limmat River. We saw the Rathaus, Grossmunster, Wasserkirche, Fraumunster, St. Peters-Kirche, and the Lindenhof. In the afternoon we met our friend Roger whom we had first met in Australia and who lives in Zurich. Roger took us up to an area that sits above the city and gives you a great view of the Zurich area called Utielburg. We enjoyed the fresh snow at the top and a great view over the city and Lake Zurich. That evening Roger took us around the financial district of the city and then to a great local restaurant for some local food.
We headed southwest the next day down to the town of Luzern which is only about 40 minutes away. When we got to Luzern we headed out on a little adventure to check out some of my family history. Our little adventure took us to the small, near-by village of Sempach where, based on the great research my dad has done on our family history, we believe that one of my ancestors fought for the Austrians in the Battle of Sempach on July 9,1386. In this battle Leopold III the Duke of Austria and his knights, of which one was my ancestor Gusebius Hanser, were beaten by the Old Swiss Confederacy.
It took a train from Luzern, a bus into Sempach, and then a 30 min. walk out to the site to find the area, but the small chapel that is dedicated to the battle finally broke through the thick fog. Although I was unable to find any evidence of the Austrian knights that died at the battle (which would have included my ancestor) there was a list of the Swiss troops and a monument to the hero of the day, Arnold von Winkelried. Once the fog cleared we
also saw some of the most beautiful scenery we've seen in all of Europe.
After our little field trip we headed back to Luzern to check out the city. First we walked down to the Kapellbrucke which is now a replica of the original wooden bridge built in the 1300's. Thanks to a careless smoker the bridge burned down in 1993. Oops! We then walked to the Hofkirche, the town cathedral, and then up to the Lowendenkmal which is a large lion carved into the side of a rock wall and dedicated to the members of the Swiss Guard who died in 1792 in the French Revolution. The sculpture is really amazing. From there we wandered back through the old town, walking past the old city walls, and back to the train station for our ride down to Interlaken. The ride down to Interlaken on the train gave us some amazing views of the mountains and the small villages tucked in the valleys and beside the lakes of Switzerland.
We went down to Interlaken for one thing and one thing only and that was to see the amazing views of the Swiss Alps from the "Top of Europe"
at Jungfraujoch. Billed as the highest train station in Europe and sitting close to the top of 3 of some of the highest mountains in Europe, the Eiger, Monch, and Jungfrau, the views are supposed to be amazing. I say supposed to be because all we saw was 40-50mph winds and whiteout conditions. The trip up was amazing and we had great views just below the top, but at the top we couldn't see 20 ft. And of course right after we got down from the top, the clouds cleared and you could see the Jungfraujoch clearly. I am of course not bitter about this at all.
We did have a great time checking out the top and the little ski area of Kleine Scheidegg where the last train heads to the top. We also got some great views from the viewing platforms cut into the mountain as the train went up to the top. An absolutely amazingly beautiful place.
We got our last view of the Swiss Alps on our ride out of Switzerland down back into Italy. We rode through the snow that was falling that day in and out of valleys, along rivers, and through
the mountains and some more great scenery and on to our next destination.
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