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Europe » Switzerland » North-West » Lucerne
March 13th 2016
Published: March 14th 2016
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Lucerne at nightLucerne at nightLucerne at night

Great shades of light
Now, we’ll grant you that most people living in the Northern Hemisphere like to find somewhere nice and warm about his time of year. They tire of perhaps being trapped in doors, looking at gray skies that produce rain or even snow (not to mention bone-chilling winds). We on the other hand were looking forward to cooling off after a month in the Middle East, where the temperatures were running some 10 to 20 degrees F hotter than the norm. When it gets to be that warm and you didn’t bring your shorts and flip flops because it wasn’t supposed to be that warm and that type of dress is sort of frowned upon in some countries, you are not as comfortable as you would like to be. This can make a traveler kind of fussy at times.

As our plane began to descend we could see some amazing mountains out the window and we were giddy with happiness, plus we were looking forward to weather a bit cooler. We had been toting along the requisite warm jackets, scarves and gloves for this part of the trip and it was time to put them to good use.

This trip
More cheese, please!More cheese, please!More cheese, please!

No shortage here.....
is special in that we are here to celebrate Dave’s 55th birthday (yes 2013 passed him by, but life can be like that). Work and life delayed us from taking this trip in a timely fashion but he’s finally here and for the next two weeks he will be “the birthday boy” and we are pretending he is 2+ years younger. Even more important to know is that the Binkley family immigrated to North Carolina from Guggisberg, Switzerland in the late 1700’s so we will be searching out a small church where Peter Binkley was baptized many years ago. There is a nice Binkley Yahoo page if you have any Binkley friends or family.

Because of scheduling challenges, our visit to Zurich was only for one night. We made the most of it though, wandering about the area of our hotel in central Zurich walking the cobbled streets, looking in shop windows and stopping in a pub for a decent beer. Dave had had enough of the lagers of the Middle East. He even stated that he had been a prisoner of the lagers and was now set free!

What made our brief visit even more fun is
MJ on Lake LucerneMJ on Lake LucerneMJ on Lake Lucerne

Cold...but happy
that we got together for dinner with a fellow TravelBlogger zweiindians. We love meeting the people who write on our favorite web site, Travel Blog. In each case we have found that we have so much to discuss with our shared interest in travel. Tonight was no different. Our conversation with Tulika was enhanced by the fact that she lived in Seattle for several years just as we had so we had plenty to discuss. We shared a wonderful meal in a small Italian restaurant and then we walked the waterfront together. We have had the great fortune to meet over 25 fellow TravelBloggers and have enjoyed their company each and every time. When kindred souls gather, there is much warmth in the room.

After seeing Zurich we found it held some appeal for us and we decided that we will come back in the future for a few days. This being our first visit to Switzerland we decided to spend our time in small towns, enjoying mountains, rivers and lakes. We don’t ski, but that does not mean that we cannot enjoy all that this tiny mountainous country has to offer. In the winter they have fondue trolley’s that looked like a hoot. You ride around town eating fondue as the trolley moves around the city. Certainly this is a party waiting to happen.

After being in the Middle East, it is a welcome change to see how incredibly clean everything is. We understand the challenges that countries have around garbage and trash, but the Swiss have apparently conquered this quite nicely. All the streets and sidewalks are clear of debris and we find this quite refreshing. The absence of hawkers on the streets is equally nice as well.

From Zurich we took a one hour train ride to Lucerne, which is surrounded by water and mountains and as you can imagine this creates a lovely setting. Visiting in the winter we expected we would have a variety of weather and so far that seems to be true. The wind is whipping around pretty good in this mountain, river and lake front town and our days were cloudy. They sky was a variety of whites, grays and soft blues and it felt as if the town was blanketed in the muted shades and made us feel like we might be in some spy movie. We decided
Concert on the concreteConcert on the concreteConcert on the concrete

Two musicians plying their trade.
to get out and explore and embrace the ambiance. We often travel in off-season and the reward is being able to walk the town streets with few visitors. As you might expect, there is an endless number of shops selling famous watches, clocks, chocolates, cheeses and anything else you want to buy that would take more than a few Swiss Francs from your wallet.

We were surprised at the number of beauty salons and barbershops. It seemed way out of proportion for the population of the town. Dave needed to get his hair trimmed so we stopped in a shop to inquire about pricing, we know things are expensive but our eyebrows raised a bit when we were told that a wash, trim and blow dry would cost $57 and a dry cut was $47. Dave doesn’t have long hair (actually it is thinning by the year) and a trim back home cost about $12. The next shop we stopped in wanted $70. Seriously? What were they, magicians? We continued our quest. We walked into a small shop and the twenty something guy was playing on his cell phone. He said he would trim Dave’s hair for $20. ….
Brutus on the trainBrutus on the trainBrutus on the train

Yeah....he can travel with the best of them
he was in the chair before the guy could change his mind. This guy did an excellent job!

Lucerne kept us busy for three days. We took a boat cruise on the Lake Lucerne while enjoying the surrounding mountains peaking out from time to time. We planned to go to the top of Mt. Pilates but the nice lady at the information center suggested that we not waste the time. She showed us her web cam and there was not much to see. Socked in by the clouds, it was. We walked the old city, along the waterfront, and took a funicular up to an old castle that is now a top end hotel. The views of the city were delightful even on a cloudy day. We enjoyed a drink in The National Hotel, which was your typical dark wood and high-ceiling kind of place high-end hotel and a couple of pubs. We walked along the stone wall which surrounded the old city looking at the clock tower and other city views. We strolled the Saturday market with all the locals doing the marketing for the weekend meals. We do love traveling off-season.

One night we went out
Street musicianStreet musicianStreet musician

Not sure of the name of his instrument, but it made sweet sounds....
for fondue dinner and ended up seated at a table next to some Americans. They were from Nebraska. Mom, Dad, the two girls and their son had a nice day at Mt. Rigga where they went tobogganing. The two daughters are in Ireland for a semester and the rest of the family came to visit and thought they spend a few days in Switzerland. It turns out the girls are finishing nursing school soon so we spent a hour talking with them about their chosen profession. They were full of questions and we enjoyed the conversation. We hope to hear from them at some point in the future. Whether we do or not it was a fun evening.

Remember we are in Switzerland now but we found ourselves relaxed and wanted to do a bit of nothing one afternoon. We had explored the town and just wanted to beg out a bit so we headed to a British Pub where we drank Irish beer and ate nachos while watching skiing, soccer and rugby. We were laughing at our diversity. After all, taking the afternoon off from all this touring was a nice reward, eh?

Sunday night we decided to go to St. Peter’s Catholic Church to listen to the chorale vespers. It was lovely. MJ decided we should stay for mass because it was two weeks before Easter. We’ve attended mass in NZ and Belfast. Dave was in an appeasing mood, but warned it might be long and we agreed that when it was time to go, we would leave, even if the service had not ended. Dave was not happy sitting close to the front but gave in as the view of the singers was better.

Before the actual mass started, one of the mass celebrants lighted the incense. This gives off quite an odor, especially if you did not grow up smelling it at special Catholic services. MJ had quite the olfactory experience and “tapped out” early in the proceedings as nausea paid a visit. We got up from our fourth row pew and made our way amongst the church-goers all the way out the door, where MJ took some deep breaths and got better rather quickly.

After a small supper, we retired to our quaint hotel, tired from yet another day of fun in a great little city…..ready to get up early and head to Lichtenstein……where’s that??? Stay tuned….


Additional photos below
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They brew some pretty good beer here.
Our hotelOur hotel
Our hotel

Good digs for our stay
The famous wooden bridge of LucerneThe famous wooden bridge of Lucerne
The famous wooden bridge of Lucerne

Burned down in the 1990's, but rebuilt.
Inside St. Peter's CathedralInside St. Peter's Cathedral
Inside St. Peter's Cathedral

Lucerne, Switzerland
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Lucerne, Switzerland

St. Peter's Cathedral
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Tulika

A fellow travel blogger


14th March 2016
Swiss Fondue

Oh yes
Now you are just teasing us with food that looks so darn good. I licked my computer screen, but it didn't taste cheesy at all. Glad you are having a nice time. And happy early, but 2 year belated birthday Mr. Binkley!
15th March 2016
Swiss Fondue

Getting younger?
Thanks for the BD wishes, my friend! Having a great time.....have to wear layers of clothing now....might snow this afternoon!
15th March 2016

Better late than never...
Happy belated birthday trip Dave! Glad you made finally made it to Switzerland. I giggled at MJ's olfactory reaction to the incense...I personally love the smell, but as you said, I grew up with it. On reflection, I think I like it because it also signals the end of a usually very long Mass ;)
15th March 2016

Better late than never....
Dave is enjoying his two week birthday and the homeland. They used the incense at the very beginning and it was blowing right for us. It was an over whelming smell and the fresh air was welcome. Sorry we missed the mass but that's the way it goes.
15th March 2016

Belated BD
Dave here....thanks for the BD wishes...having a grand time here. Might even snow today!
15th March 2016

Agreed
As much as I love the Middle East there's also a sense of comfort sliding back into the efficiency of the Western World and you can't much more precise, neat and rational than Switzerland. Enjoy.
15th March 2016

Agreed Western World
Always good to have both experiences but we do like the ease and efficiency of the Western World. We certainly loved the Middle East but were ready to move on. Thanks for commenting.
15th March 2016
Street musician

Drums and Bells
This is a Hang...the brilliant Swiss percussion instrument that beats like a drum, rings like a bell and rhythm that flows like the wind through trees when it is stroked. Does that remind you of the music it played? Dangerously brilliant when played by a Master!
15th March 2016
Street musician

Hanging out
We enjoyed the wonderful sounds that this instrument makes. We should have "hung" around longer to listen.....
15th March 2016

55th
Happy belated 55th, Dave. It looks like this visit to Switzerland is going to be all you hoped it would be. Party hearty!
15th March 2016

55th
Thanks Billie....it's been a grand voyage!
15th March 2016

$20 haircut?, you were ripped off.
Just got myself a $6 haircut in Bishkek, and I bet I look better than you. Happy belated birthday. Isn't it a great feeling when you change country and it is dramatically different, we are doing it now and it is sort of exhilarating, or is just the cheap beer talking.
15th March 2016

$20
MJ here.... Dave got a haircut in Burma for $4 ...but the Swiss expect more and $20 ended up being a bargain....certainly better than $70. On our extended trips we try to go to a dramatically different culture so we feel the changes. Yes it is exhilarating.
15th March 2016

All change!
There can be no greater contrast than your transition from the mayhem of the Middle East to the highly disciplined and almost clinical life of Switzerland. What a fabulous journey! Best wishes for the rest of your trip. david and Janice
15th March 2016

Hello David and Janice,
Thank you for following along and commenting. Yes it is a change but a nice one. It is amazing how prompt and clean everything is. A nice transition....
15th March 2016

Another Blogger
Nice to see you met another fellow blogger, you guys are still the only two I've met from TB. Btw an average haircut in the UK will cost you $15 so you didn't get too ripped off.
16th March 2016

Another blogger
You'll have to make an effort to meet a few more bloggers. Always fun. Things in Switzerland are a bit higher priced so we think it was ok.
16th March 2016
Attractive Architecture in Lucerne

Switzerland - a hidden gem
I guess Switzerland is a bit of a hidden gem in the middle of Europe. I have very few friends who have gone there for sightseeing, probably because it is very expensive. But it sure is a country well worth visiting. It is a rich country with a long history and since they stayed clear of the WWII much of the cultural heritage was spared from destruction. I went to Geneva a few years ago and I absolutely loved it. I would love to travel around and see a bit more. /Ake
16th March 2016
Attractive Architecture in Lucerne

Switzerland - a hidden gem
It is expensive so does not lend itself to the backpacker group but is well worth visiting. As you say the history is fascinating. We hope you get a chance to come back as we are really enjoying our time here.
16th March 2016
Concert on the concrete

Happy Birthday in the Homeland
How great to fulfill a dream of visiting the land of Binkley ancestors and to do so for your birthday, Dave--well done! I was in France when I turned 55 and was thrilled to receive my first senior discount for a museum--woo hoo! Brilliant being there in the off-season, and how lovely to meet a sister TBer who could show you a charming Italian restaurant! Loved your fondue dinner with the future nurses, listening to lovely chorale music for vespers (always the best service--more music, less preaching), walking Lucerne's wall and your holiday from your holiday. Cheeses look delish!
17th March 2016
Concert on the concrete

55 again!
Hi Tara...Dave here. Thanks for the message. We're having a great time here. On to Zermatt today!
10th January 2018
Dusk in Lucerne

Need guide
Can you recommend a guide to give a half day tour of Lucrene. Thanks
10th January 2018
Dusk in Lucerne

Switzerland
Bill, no I don't have a guide recommendation. We explored on our own. A fantastic trip.

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