The weather gods have smiled on us again today for our one opportunity to visit Lucerne before we move onto an overnighter in Austria on our way back to Italy.
There was even a rainbow in the sky as we pulled back the curtains and although that means there is some moisture around somewhere it also means there is sunshine. And we should really get out there and find the pot of gold because visiting Switzerland is expensive in comparison to the rest of Europe we have been in. The €73 per night for our studio apartment is way beyond the usual price we are paying but that is the going rate here and we aren’t even in a city.
There is a rail line through Rorhbach but the Swiss Rail Company website doesn’t make it easy to find the easiest route to Lucerne from Rorhbach or to find out the cost of a return ticket.
So we opted for the simpler plan and headed to Sursee where it appeared that the line was direct to Lucerne and should be a cheaper option.
The Park n’ Ride was fairly full at Sursee station so we found what
appeared to be a legal place to park Peggy, and it was free! Just as long as she was there when we came home.
If we had had trouble reading the rail website we had even more trouble trying to work out the best fare option from the station ticket machine. As there was an office we went and joined the queue to ask a real person the ticket price options.
However the wait was getting too long so it was back to the ticket machine again. Surely we could work this simple process out. But no it just seemed either too difficult or too expensive from the prices we were getting back as we tried each option.
The train we had set out to catch had left and it was half an hour to the next so it was back to Peggy and we would drive to Lucerne and spend the train fare we had worked out at €24 each on some car park building, if we had to.
Lucerne is not a big city with a population of around 80,000 and we found the traffic flow, once we got through very major roadworks at
an inner suburb, quite easy to manage.
We found a car park that looked ‘legal’ and free but then decided that perhaps it might be better to pay something and then we would be sure we could be there and it wasn’t just for the locals of the inner city street who have no garages attached to their house.
One street over we found a parking system we haven’t encountered before and it looked very simple.
The car parks were numbered and you put your money into a machine for the period you wanted and pushed the numbered button for the car park you had taken. Very easy and no paper! We guess that any parking warden just has to push the buttons to see if a car has used up its time and do what they have to do, usually a parking ticket fine!
We paid for 2 hours which we thought would be enough to have a walk around the compact old city area at the edge of Lake Lucerne.
After a short time of walking in the wrong direction (my guidance!)Gretchen got her trusty mobile phone out, found the lakeside and we
turned around and went back from where we had come from and took a right hand turn into one of the main streets down to the lake.
Crossing over the bridge where Lake Lucerne empties out and becomes a river we entered the old city which dates back to around 750AD and has many very well preserved buildings.
It is a bit of a tourist trap too as along with the sights there are a multitude of tourist type shops.
What wasn’t noticeable here were loads of people from bus group tours. Perhaps it is too expensive to spend any time in Switzerland and making the trip through here too costly. Whatever was the reason it made for a more relaxed walk.
The outflow of the lake draws you in as the speed of the water passing by is amazing and it was no wonder there are signs everywhere not to enter the water.
Our walk took us uphill to where a good portion of the Musegg Wall built in 1386 is still intact. The climb up inside one of the towers was steep and on what looked like the original wooden stairs. From the
ramparts there was a good view down to the outflow of the lake and over to the modern part of the city.
We couldn’t come to Switzerland and not buy some Swiss chocolate to have with our nightly coffee. Of course we can buy Lindt, a well known Swiss brand at home and the price has become quite competitive with good old Cadburys.
But we were looking for something a bit more exotic and not too expensive, even though we had saved money on not taking the train to the city, and we found a shop selling cakes of Swiss chocolate with flavours such as passion fruit and raspberry that fitted our desires just nicely. At €5.20 each and 200grams, we thought they were a fair price given that this is Switzerland.
We ended our walk at the twin towered Church of St Leodegar which was originally around the time the city was founded. The present structure is from 1633 and is built in the Renaissance style and is quite striking being clearly visible from the lakeside. The interior is richly decorated and like the rest of Switzerland has a ‘clean’ look about it as if the
authorities wouldn’t let the grime that has been the appearance of many of the other churches we have visited over the years. An interesting feature of the seating was the rows of high backed pews made just wide enough for two people with arm rests separating the next little seat enclosure. Our take on this section was that they were reserved for the wealthy as the rest of the pews were of a standard plain design.
We finished our walk strolling along the water’s edge and then crossed back to the new city over probably the most famous sight in the city, the Chapel Bridge.
The Chapel Bridge looks nothing like any modern bridge does and has been faithfully restored after a fire in 1993.It was built in 1333 and is the longest covered wooden bridge in Europe at 204 metres. The fire had damaged a substantial amount of the wooden bridge which runs at an angle to the flow of the lake outlet but from a distance it is hard to tell what had to be replaced as it looks pretty much the same for the whole length of the bridge.
It was now mid afternoon
and we hadn’t had any lunch.
We have only had one Burger King meal on the BBA V3 so far.
And although they weren't in line for us, we had seen adverts for McD’s and their pulled pork burger which seemed very tempting at this stage of the day.
Now the only thing we had to do was to find a McD’s were we could park the car.
Peggy was waiting for us with a few minutes left on the paperless car parking meter and with the help again of the mobile phone we tracked down a drive through McD’s not too far away. Drive thru should mean park too.
McD’s was located on the other side of a huge temporary roundabout that we had driven through on the way in earlier and all we had to do was switch lanes a couple of times to be in the right place to exit to the restaurant.
We thought we were up with it by ordering our burger meal, pulled pork for Grahame and Big Mac for Gretchen by using the ‘Build Your Own Burger ‘computer that had also been a recent introduction back home.
By the time we had gone through all the screens and paid and then walked to the counter the serving person was waiting with our trays minus the chips for which she threw in an apple pie for having to make us wait.
Now if you like the occasional McD’s and do not have any religious reason as to why you can’t eat pork, then I whole heartedly recommend the pulled pork burger, it was delicious.
Clearly we had been very hungry as we didn’t take too much notice of the cost of today’s meal as we were putting it together on the computer screen at just on NZ$40 for the two of us! And we didn’t even upsize!
We had saved on train tickets by driving into Lucerne and our car park had been cheap at €3.50 but we had splurged on the two bars of chocolate and our burgers from McD’s.
Driving out from the car park should have been a breeze had not the exit been blocked off by some workmen and there was no left turn from the only other exit. So we rejoined the huge temporary roundabout again and after a
second try we got ourselves back on the road home to Rorhbach.
Gina had a different route planned for our return journey primarily because we had gone in a slightly different direction to Sursee to catch the train and then when it all turned out too complicated and expensive we drove into Lucerne.
The countryside was however the same, rolling green pastures almost always empty of any animal life, a rail line and small village after small village with everything so neat and tidy!
It had been a successful day out and we can now tick off Lucerne as of our places on the planet that we had yet to see.
Tomorrow we head into Austria for a night to break the drive back to Italy and 4 nights in the Dolomites which we are also very much looking forward to.
PS:now OK the title of this blog might sound a bit confusing and when you see and hear the video on YouTube you might think it is a bit 'twee'but it is all about Lucerne.Or so I am told.So sit back and enjoy some Swiss music and lovely boy sopranos as you read the
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