Lucerne is in the center of Switzerland and is located on Lake Lucerne. Arrived here on Saturday, September 3rd, after a two hour drive from Thun.Last half hour, traffic was crawling, think everyone going to Lucerne for the weekend . Nice hotel with only a bridge crossing to get into the old town, which is a pedestrian only area. Lots of tourists here and a country fair happening. The farmers are showing off their machinery as well as livestock in the old town. One can even try fresh Swiss milk, but they are also selling Swiss beer, we pass on both. Also local fresh fruit/vegetable market stalls along the river.
The famous Chapel Bridge is unique because it contains a number of interior paintings dating back to the 17th century, although many of them were destroyed along with most of the centuries-old bridge in a 1993 fire. It has restored, and is now probably one of the most photographed places here in Lucerne.
I think everone knows that the Swiss are known as watchmakers. Those of you who know Robin well, will know that he has a love of watches. Well of course…he is now the proud owner of yet another watch!
After discovering the old town, we stroll along the beautiful lakeside promenade. We then decide to take a boat ride along the lake which passes many of the sights of the area. Beautifuls views of Lucerne and other towns surrounding the lake from the boat. A nice relaxing way to spend our first afternoon here in Lucerne. The old town is simply humming in the evening, so many tourists enjoying the outdoor dining along the lake.
On day two in Lucerne, we decide to do the “golden round trip”, which includes a boat ride, a cog railway, two gondolas and a bus ride to take in Mount Pilatus, which sits 7,000 feet above Lake Lucerne. The symbol of Mt. Pilatus is a dragon. People in the middle ages believed that a dragon with healing powers lived in the crevaces of the mountain….we did not see the dragon on our trip today. It was also believed that the spirit of Pontius Pilate rested in peace on the mountain, so for a very long time ascents up Mt. Pilatus were forbidden. The saying went”Cursed be they who disturb the Pilatus!”.
The boat made several stops prior to our first destination of Alpnachstad. Many people on the boat disembarked at the small village stops along the way, that seem to cater to hikers. A pity we didn’t have more time here to do some hiking. Oh well, maybe another time! The boat trip took about one hour. The next leg was a cog railway, said to be the steepest in the world.
The cog railway was built in the 19th century . The line is 4.6 km long, climbs a vertical distance of 1,629 m (5,344 ft). The line still uses original rack rails that are now over 100 years old. While they have worn down, it was discovered that this can be fixed by simply turning the rails over, providing a new wearing surface that would be sufficient for the next century.
O.K, really glad I read this after the trip. It was hair raising to look back down the valley from the railway, really steep.
It took us thirty minutes on the cog railway to reach the top of Mt. Pilatus. A hotel and observation tower sit at the top. We took a walk along a path cut into the rock and climbed stairs perched on the mountain. Very windy up here, but views of the valley and lake below are incredible.
Our next leg of the circle tour is a gondola part way down the mountain. There are two stops on this section…one being a children’s playground, the other a toboggan run.
Then get off the large gondola and transfer to a much smaller gondola for the remaining trip down the mountain. Once off the gondola, we hop on a local bus to take us back into central Lucerne. A fun way to spend the day.
There is lots more to see in Lucerne, but unfortunately not enough time on our agenda.
I always get a kick out of hotels and their “environmental practices”. They always have signs in the bathroom about conserving water by not having your towels replaced everyday. Robin and I agree with this practice, but I swear no matter what we do, they replace our towels….gee whiz!
Off to Namur in Belgium tomorrow, about a 6 hour drive.