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Published: June 23rd 2016
All in all, this was one of the most unforgettable travel days we have had, not for action, but for simple beauty of the environment. Our course took us first to Lucerne to see the Kapellbrucke, then on through the Jungfrau/Eiger region of the Swiss Alps, and finally on to Montreux on the "Swiss Riviera".
Lucerne is on the shore of Lake Lucerne, at the point where the river Reuss empties into that lake, and the object of our visit was to see the famous Kapellbrücke (Chapel Bridge) which crosses the Reuss at a diagonal (never have found an explanation for that). It was built in 1333 originally, and is the oldest covered bridge in Europe. Since it is wooden, I am sure that much, if not all, has been replaced over time, and certainly major sections required replacement following a disastrous fire in 1993. It is widely reported as one of the 20 most beautiful sights of Europe. I found it enchanting in some ways, but I am not sure its beauty stacks up with many other places I have seen in Europe. Lucerne itself is a pretty city, with hills arising all around and beautiful lakescapes.
have traveled the length of the US Rockies and seen much of the Sierra Nevada and the Cascade Range. All are beautiful. But I am not sure that any can really match the Alps. These massive mountains, many snow-covered, simply rise above us like giant citadels, and we could barely tear ourselves away from gazing at them as small clouds danced among the peaks, playing a stratospheric game of peek-a-boo, now revealing this detail, now hiding that and revealing another. Although the Eiger gets the press because of the very difficult climb up its north face, its neighbors are much more commanding of attention. We had originally planned to take the railroad trip to the Jungfraujoch, but decided the expense was not justified.
We first saw these mountains at Grindelwald, and that turned out to be out best view, but we also took the opposite road fork up to Lauterbrunnen, where we looked at the mountains from the other side. In Lauterbrunnen, we were spellbound by a huge waterfall catapulting itself several hundred feet down a cliff.
But our scenic feast was not yet over. We were relying on GPS to guide us, and "Betty" took us over
a narrow track that went through the Jaun Pass. At every turn we had new vistas of the long chain of snow-covered mountains. We wound upward in first or second gear, giving us time to see the glorious meadows with blooming wildflowers, and then the mountains in the distance. I would probably not have chosen this road just looking at the map, but it was wonderfully (if slowly) drivable, and gave vistas that were unbelievable. Topping out at 1509m, this is one of the higher passes in Europe.
Coming down from th pass, we proceeded on to Maison du Gruyere to watch the cheese making process, from heating the milk and mixing it with rennet, to cooking the curds and why, to pressing out the whey, then submerging the cheese in a salt bath, then smearing bacteria on the surface and placing it in special caves to age, where robots turn the cheese regularly. Pretty interesting to watch.
Our day ended in the pleasant town of Montreux on the "Swiss Riviers". A "boardwalk" of asphalt ran directly behind our hotel next to the lake and people walked, watched after their children, skated, and bicycled. The lake is, of
course, beautiful, and the high mountains on the other side of the lake add to the natural beauty. All in all, a nice place to spend a late afternoon and evening. In about two weeks, the world-famous Montreux jazz festival will start.
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