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Published: March 14th 2016
Lucerne 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.
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
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 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 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
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….
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