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Published: October 5th 2013
Switzerland & Lucerne
We just made the train in Paris and were a bit stressed. The train seems to understand, because it whisks us at 320kph (indicated speed on the electronic panel) to Basel in complete comfort and de-stresses us.
Make the change at Basel for a local Swiss train to Lucerne no problem, but cannot find the right carriage number; this doesn’t matter. The countryside from the train does not look that “Swiss” initially; urban areas, industrial back-yards and even graffiti. This changes as we leave the outskirts of Basel. Rolling green countryside becomes more picturesque and mountainous. Cattle grazing beside the tracks are indeed wearing cow bells. Where is Heidi? A lake appears beside the tracks. As the train draws into Lucerne station we realise we are rather fatigued. Can we get a taxi? “Don’t be silly says Ron”. The hotel is very close and we can walk it easily.
This turns out to be true and with a little help from Google maps, the intrepid explorers walk the 500m to Hotel De La Paix. Very tired nevertheless.
A warm friendly receptionist called Stephanie; is so helpful Ron wants to marry her right away; and we finally make it to the biggest, most comfortable room that we have had so far with a massive shower and a bathtub. Crash. Relax. Fall asleep. Wake up. It’s dinner time! Dinner in the hotel restaurant is just fabulous. It turns out to be a serious restaurant, not just an add-on to the hotel and it specializes in traditional Swiss cuisine. Most of the clientele were not from the hotel. An ancient Swiss couple next to us struck up a conversation, curious to know if we had enjoyed the traditional food. Yes! Very chatty and friendly as are all the Swiss we met. Later there was a guy in bib & brace shorts, a leather cap and some community singing. Ron wants to buy some leather shorts and lederhosen. Over Judy’s dead body.
We were so stuffed on our initial arrival, that had not even noticed the city on our walk from the station. Now on leaving the hotel we see a delightful, clean beautiful city with a sweeping waterfront,
pretty cruise boats with funnels and white swans cruising up and down the lake edge. Easily the prettiest so far. We were expecting fairy tale figures to leap out from the picturesque architecture at any moment.
Chocolate shops, chocolate shops, chocolate shops, and did you know that Switzerland makes watches; watch shops, watch shops and then there were some more chocolate shops. Lunch was soup served in hollowed out black bread bun. Everyone is so helpful. If you bought a post card, you could also buy a stamp in the same shop, and where were you sending it to; Australia, ok you need this stamp then. A bit different from the blank stare this question received in France.
Quiet wander around the streets; spires everywhere, hotels in the hills that look like fairy tale castles, covered bridges with picture panels in the ceilings and Geraniums hanging from the sides and fountains. A weir to control the level of Lake Lucerne is made up of slats like thick fence palings that workmen would lay in place with a loud snap. A water tower that is the most photographed item in Switzerland – so
we took a photo.
Saw the sad old Dying Lion of Lucerne carved in to a rock wall. Carved in 1792; Mark Twain described the Lion of Lucerne as the saddest and most moving piece of rock in the world. Judge for yourself from the attached photo.
Lucerne was a walled City and the original wall remains in parts. Ron had to climb this of course. Inside one of the towers is a clock mechanism, providing endless fascination for methodical engineers, while Judy waited patiently below before actually venturing up the stairs to have a look. Not out onto the battlements though!
- Off to Interlaken.
Lots of low cloud, so we did not arrange a mountain journey only to get part way and see nothing. Fabulous scenery from the train. Cattle with cow bells and vista after vista of fairy tale scenery. Interlaken is very touristy but still so picturesque. There’s that word “picturesque” again! Yes and you can buy watches and chocolate surprisingly. The view from the central park is (I have run out of superlatives - insert your own) of the snow capped mountain.
Backpackers everywhere, paragliders in the air and the smell of big money, with Bentleys, Ferraris and Maseratis idling past; Mercs, Porches, Audis and BMWs are just so passé.
The clouds lifted for the return journey to Lucerne. Limpid lakes, quaint villages, geraniums in window boxes, church spires and a Subaru dealer in the middle of nowhere. This was in fact the first time Ron had seen a Subaru Liberty on the whole trip to this point. He was so excited.
Train to Como via Arth Goldau. We picked up the fast train from Zurich to Como (and beyond) at Arth Goldau. 95%!o(MISSING)f the journey was in Switzerland through dramatic alpine scenery. Unfortunately, very misty so we did not bother with photography, as it would not have done it justice. Absolutely magnificent stuff. The Autobahns would criss-cross our train line regularly with sweeping loops disappearing into tunnels. In one location there was however a traffic jam that went for several kilometres beside the train and we felt quite smug in our fast moving cocoon.
Next; Como. . . . . .
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