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Published: June 21st 2017
Geo: 47.0457, 8.30824
We rose fairly early and had a delicious breakfast - the usual continental as well as eggs cooked to order and delicious coffee. We then had reception call two taxis to take us and the boys to the railway station for our train to Lucerne.
We had got a great deal on business class tickets for the Railjet. This gave us our own private compartment which was lovely. The only downside though was that the business class carriages did not have any luggage storage racks and we had four cases that were too large for the overhead racks. We ended up storing them at the end of the carriage, just next to our compartment and all was well. This would put me off business class next time and we would just stick to first class where they had large luggage racks in the carriages.
Apart from the minor luggage inconvenience, the journey via Innsbruck was lovely with spectacular scenery. We could have had meals served at our seat, but as it was around a six hour journey, we decided that a walk to the restaurant car was a good idea. Food was not bad at all, I had pork
loin with beans and gratin potatoes - very nice indeed, with a lovely glass of Austrian wine.
The train arrived at Zurich station and I was a little concerned about making the connection for our reserved seat on the Zurich to Lucerne train. There was no need for concern though, as we pulled into Zurich the screen in our little compartment lit up with all the connection information, including which platform the Lucerne train would be leaving from. It was only two platforms away, so we quickly boarded the next train for the short journey (less than an hour) to Lucerne.
Once we left Lucerne station we could easily see our hotel over the bridge, so simply walked across. It took around five minutes, dragging our suitcases. We walked alongside the river to what we assumed was the entrance, only to find that that was the restaurant entrance only. We then had to back track over cobblestones to a little street where the entrance was at the rear of the hotel. The boys were allotted a city view room, which was fairly large and modern but with no view which didn't worry the boys at all.
We were then taken up in
an ancient lift to the sixth floor where we were allotted a tiny, tiny room that was fairly old fashioned. However we had an equally tiny balcony but it had the most spectacular view of the River Reuss, the Chapel Bridge, the old town and snow covered Mt. Pilatus in the background. It was spectacular. I can have a nice room anywhere, but you don't get views like that very often. Here is my review of Hotel Des Alpes from TripAdvisor: http://www.tripadvisor.com.au/ShowUserReviews-g188064-d239138-r196254641-Hotel_des_Alpes-Lucern.html
Gary and I decided to quickly go to the Tourist Information office, which was just near the river and purchase our Tell Passes so that we were organised for our planned day trip to Mt Titlis the next morning. The Winter Tellpass was very useful for us, it lasts for a week, with two nominated free days and five half price. As we were planning on two day trips, they were obviously our free days. We didn't use any transport on our third day in Lucerne, but we still saved a considerable amount of money by using the Pass.
It had started to get dark and to rain by then, and after getting to the Tourist Office, we were told
that they no longer sold Tell Passes and that we needed to return to the station. Off we went back over the bridge, fighting peak hour pedestrian traffic and rain to join a long queue at the ticket office. We were then told that passports were needed to purchase the Tell Passes! First I had heard of this, so back across the bridge we went, because of course our passports were now safely locked in our hotel safes. We grabbed the passports and headed back over, queued once more and finally got our passes. The man in the ticket office told us that we also had to show our passport each time we used our pass. I wasn't very happy with that as I hate taking passports out and about with us. We decided to pray that the copies we had on our phones would be good enough and no-one ever actually asked to see the passports so all was well.
We were getting pretty tired by then from all the tooing and froing to the station in the rain, so decided to find a riverside bar and have a much deserved glass of wine. We sat down and ordered two
glasses at the very high price of 13 CHF each, to find that a glass of wine in Switzerland was only 100ml - gone in basically one sip. As we would obviously go broke at that rate, we headed to the closeby Coop supermarket, where we got a bottle of delicious chianti for 11 CHF, which we could drink in our room or on the balcony while looking at the stupendous view, much better value.
Gary went to the ATM to get us some Swiss francs. He went through the usual withdrawal process asking for 500 CHF only to get a message stating that the card had a fatal error. This sent me into a little panic, as we had no francs whatsoever. Gary decided to try a different ATM. Same issue except this time instead of saying "fatal error", the machine said that the amount was too large. We later discovered that 200 CHF was the largest withdrawal that we could make, but we could keep going to different ATMs and withdrawing 200 CHF at a time, phew!
We decided to eat in at the hotel for our first night. The restaurant also overlooked the river and I had a traditional
Swiss dish that I had first eaten in Melbourne at a Swiss restaurant many years ago - Emince de Veau Zurichoise mit Roesti, which is sliced veal with mushrooms in a delicious sauce with Roesti potatoes. It was absolutely lovely, although quite expensive, as we soon learned, everything in Switzerland was. We finished off sharing some chocolate mousse and then headed to our rooms for an early night before our big mountain outing the next day.
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