As we're all well aware, my life has been fairly rife with complaint-worthy events of late, but once upon a time before air conditioners started dying and my car began to crumble beneath me, the world was a lovely place full of plump savings accounts and international adventures. One such adventure abroad took place about three weeks ago, when we spent a 3-day weekend in Switzerland.
We spent two days in Luzern, and did a day trip to the capitol city of Bern on our drive back home. Switzerland is a stunningly beautiful country full of friendly people and jaw-dropping vistas. We arrived in Luzern on Friday, and kicked things off with our trusty tour guide, Rick Steves. We did his walking tour of the city, hitting most of the highlights. Our favorites were the Kapellbrücke (Chapel Bridge) and the light and airy baroque Jesuitenkirche (Jesuit Church), both pictured above. We spent about two hours wandering through the streets and alleys, then stopped for a delicious dinner at a little cafe on the Reuss River, overlooking the Spreuerbrücke (Mill Bridge).
The next morning, we were up bright and early for our trip out to Mt. Pilatus. We took advantage of a transport ticket called the Golden Pass which consisted of an hour long boat tour of Lake Luzern, then a 40 minute ride on the steepest railway in the world to get to the top of the mountain--it maxed out at a 48% grade--and then a 30 minute ride in a gondola back down to Luzern. The scenery was magnificent, it was really fun experiencing each of the different modes of transportation, and I only hyperventilated one or two times in the train and gondola.
We spent about an hour and a half at the top of the mountain, checking out the various viewpoints, eating lunch in the cafeteria, and we even got a couple of musical interludes! On the way back down in the gondola, we caught sight of a number of Swiss folk working out in their fields, but one fine gentleman in his black leather briefs really caught our attention!
When we arrived back in Luzern, we headed back to the hotel for a quick rest, then saddled up the pups and headed out for another walk through the city, this time to the part of town that holds the famed Löwendenkmal (Lion Monument). This relief was carved into a rock wall in 1821 to commemorate the lives lost by the Swiss Guards in the French Revolution of 1792. Mark Twain described the monument as "the most mournful and moving piece of stone in the world", and I have to admit it was probably the saddest bit of rock I've ever seen. I sort of rolled my eyes at the thought of going to the monument just because it seemed a bit tourist trappy, but I'm really glad we saw it. The lion lays over a pool of still water in a garden, and somehow, even amongst a huge tour group from India, it still felt tranquil and somewhat melancholy. The lion has a beautifully carved face, and you really get the sense that he is in excruciating pain as he takes his final breaths.
We had a really wonderful time in Luzern, and while Switzerland was every bit as expensive as all of the tour books warned us, it was so worth it to experience the beauty of the country. Our time in Bern was much shorter, but it was also a charming city, and I can't wait to share it with you in my next post.