Switzerland 6 - we finally got to Luzern

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May 30th 2013
Published: May 30th 2013
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Lake Luzern Lake Luzern Lake Luzern

The medieval bridge
The journey from Lake Garda through Switzerland to Luzern was pretty eventful for Suzy and us her crew. We followed the A2 most of the way. A busy road with traffic heading to and from Italy. The weather was particularly miserable, steady rain, dull dirty looking clouds and snow on the higher peaks. We are always despondent when the weather turns this way and more so when we know we are heading home to what sounded like a rainy, wet and miserable UK.

I took my eyes of the motorway for a moment and when I looked back I saw a car out of the corner of my eye careering down the opposite carriageway on its roof. Its four wheels could just be seen above the crash barriers. It was hard to tell at what speed it was travelling but as it was going downhill it was picking up momentum all the way. Our worry was that it could flip on the barrier over to our side of the carriageway and there would be carnage. Instead it continued on its way and we wondered how long it took to come to a halt. Would it hit the barrier further down? Would it hit the wall on the other side of the road? All possibilities as we had no idea how much traffic was in its way or if the driver was alive or dead. We couldn’t see any other vehicle involved but it all happened so fast and we were glad to be on our way unscathed. Shaken but not stirred. We realised just how lucky we were not have met it on another bit of the road. Life is fickle and this is an example of how frail it all is.

We travelled on until we reached the St Gottard Tunnel which runs from Ticino to Goscheneren and is just over 10 miles long. It is the third longest road tunnel and feels it as you travel through it. The first permission for the tunnel was granted in 1969 but the tunnel wasn’t completed until 1980. It is unusually single bore which means that there is only one lane all the way through in each direction which is always problematic in case of accident. And they do happen as in 2001 11 people were killed and many more injured because of just such an accident. The speed limit in the tunnel is 50 but is largely ignored and there is a minimum distance of 150 metres between vehicles. Again not always enforced. Traffic queues to enter the tunnel and the authorities only allow a certain number of vehicles in the tunnel at any one time. I am always glad to get out if the truth be told.

As we came out we were greeted by a snowfall. Snow falling gently onto the coniferous trees like confetti at a wedding. A pretty site but not one we expected in almost June.

So it was on to Luzern in the lunchtime traffic. It was a hard drive with cars, pedestrians, electric buses, trams and cyclists everywhere. Trains even run at the side of the main street. Hardly a surprise when you consider Switzerlands love of trains that run on time. Security guards stood on street corners and on pedestrian crossings directing traffic in all directions.

The weather was still damp and pretty miserable as we entered Camping Lido at Luzern. We had picked this campsite as it was handier than at Horw last year and was within walking distance of the city. The reception was closed as it was 12.30 and did not re-oen until 3pm. We were told to park up and pick a hardstanding plot due to the incessant rain and come back at 3 to pay. We ate lunch a hamburger which was delicious and purchased from the small shop on site. 8 swiss francs 50 which equate to about 7 euros and 40 cents. Not a lot of choice but a very welcome break before trying out the shower complex. On a scale of 1 to 10 it came out about 6. We sat around a bit and then found out that we could come back any time before 6 and pay then. So of we went in search of the bridge and the town.

We walked along the lake which was the most picturesque and easy way of getting in. The views from the path included the boats which plied their trade on the lake, the gardens full of rhodedendrums, pinks and lilacs, beds of yellow and orange wallflowers and Californian Poppies of every hue. The mountains were covered in snow and there were statues everywhere as far as the eye could see.

Luzern has a population of 76,200 and lies on the shore of Viewaldstrattersee and with extensive views towards Mt Pilatus and Mt Rigi. Our destination was the wooden 14th century bridge the Kappelbrucke which straddles the River Reisse. The bridge is 669 metres long and is one of many along this stretch of water. It was originally the oldest wooden covered bridge built in 1333 but unfortunately most of it was destroyed by fire in 1993. Accidently started by a discarded cigarette the bridge had to be reconstructed. Further down in the Water Tower the Wasserturm a 13th century fortification. Inside the bridge are paintings of 17th century events. A lovely place but what a shame it is not the original.

We stopped for coffee in one of the many busy coffee houses. Coffee is rather expensive here but then the cost of living is high. Good if you are paid in Swiss Francs but not so good for us. Luckily we had loads of francs left over from a previous holiday so this far the trip into Switzerland had cost us nothing . The shops were expensive, the churches over fussy and we didn’t have the opportunity to visit one as there was a wedding in full swing. Cars covered in fussy decorations and guards of honour holding pink and black balloons.

Our camp site cost us 48 swiss francs and this was with a reduction of 4 francs as we were members of a camping club. Electricity was thrown in but you needed an adapter which cost us 10 swiss francs deposit. A bit naughty of us but we had wanted one of these adapters for years and never had the chance to buy one so this gave us the opportunity to forgo our deposit and keep the adapter. A result. WiFi only available in the reception area. We used the computer in reception which cost us 5 francs for 30 minutes. You wouldn’t want to stay long there due to the high cost of living but we enjoyed our brief half day trip in and wouldn’t have missed it for the world.

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31st May 2013

Shaken but not stirred
Glad you didn't get up close and personal with the car as it tumbled downhill. We hope to go to Switzerland in September.
31st May 2013

the car
a bit interesting I must say. You need a deep wallet for Switzerland - the campsites are expensive and the price of the coffee a shock after the cheapness of Croatia . It is a beautiful country and good if you like trains and mountains and of course walking. We tend to use it to get to Italy and a bit of sun if I am honest

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