Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Switzerland Travels

Procrastination, once again, has teamed up with lack of time and now I find myself three months later ready (able) to write about our fantastic trip to Lake Lucerne, Switzerland.  I'm not sure where to even begin so I will start with a picture.....

Sail boats on Lake Lucerne with the Alps in the background

In May we traveled to Switzerland and the vistas were breathtaking.  My amateur photography skills do not do reality justice.  I smile just thinking about our time in Lucerne.  Although Switzerland is expensive (Swiss francs not euros) it is well worth the journey and the money.  The architecture is grand, the weather perfect, the water incredibly blue, the people friendly and the food - the cheese absolutely delectable - one can not go wrong with a steam bowl of fondue served with fresh bread.    
Chapel Bridge - 14th Century
Chapel Bridge

The covered Chapel Bridge crosses the Reuss River, it's highlight of the city because of the historical importance and age alone.  Views from the bridge are one of a kind.  Definitely recommend walking through this relic.  Be transported back in time as you admire the paintings on the wooden beams.  The water rushes past below you - the clarity, force and intensely blue color of the river is amazing.  Can you tell I love water?

There are many cultural, historical and natural outdoor sights to see in Lucerne and the Lake Lucerne area.  We spent three days walking around the whole city taking in as much as possible.  I must mention that Hannah was super well behaved the whole time with the exception of Saturday evening, but the explosive poo that ensued on Sunday morning lent complete credit to the previous evenings torments.  All-in-all, she did really well.

Beautiful buildings along the Reuss River

Highly Recommended Things To Do In Lucerne:

-Walk around the lake and enjoy the vistas from Lucerne
-Visit the Lion Monument (truly beautiful and peaceful)
-The Glacier Museum (right next to the Lion Monument)
-Admire the murals on the buildings (including the one below)
-Eat Fondue, Eat Any Cheese
-Venture up Mount Pilatus - We took the boat from Lucerne to the base of the Mount Pilatus, then the cog wheel train up the mountain, had lunch, took the gondolas down the other side of the mountain, stopped to check out the summer terrain park, then took a bus back to Lucerne.
-Walk through the Chapel Bridge
-Take the ferry even if you do not want to go up Pilatus - the views are awesome with the  crystalline water against the Alps.

Life is not cheap in Switzerland.  One of our cheapest meals - sharing a pizza & salad, one beer, and one tonic water - was around 60 francs if my memory serves me correctly.  Actually, the meal at the top of the Pilatus was surprisingly cheap in the cafeteria I believe it was around 40 francs.  I can not express enough how wonderfully delicious the cheeses are - a must taste.
If you drive to Switzerland, I recommend buying the vignette (sticker) before hand so you are not stopped at the board and stuck waiting.  I purchased the Swiss vignette at the ADAC (similar to US's AAA) here in Frankfurt just off the Ziel near the Hauptwache station.  Buying it in advance cost 33euros where as at the border it would have been 40 francs.So, save yourself time and money if you are driving and buy it in advance.  Good for one year.  In case you are wondering what this is for - it is how Switzerland collects taxes/fees, but in other countries the fees are added into the petrol prices.
World's Steeptest Cog Wheel Train

The steepest cog wheel train in the world goes up & down the side of Mount Pilatus and is one of the modes of transportation used in getting to the top.  We figured this would be a great test for Hannah to see how she did with the elevation changes - she slept most of the way as I sat ready to nurse, bottle feed, or offer a pacifier.  From the train the views were steep & stunning - over looking part of Lake Lucerne and the Alps.  I highly recommend making this trek.  We saw a couple people hiking, which looked like fun, but maybe when Hannah is older.
Almost to the top of Mount Pilatus
This was the most snow we saw all year.  The views from the top of Mount Pilatus - 2132 meters - were amazing panoramas.  Lots of people, surprisingly decent and inexpensive cafeteria, a hotel and trails.  The May weather was pleasant and comfortable in long sleeves.  We opted for the Golden Round trip and were able to hop on a gondola down whenever we were ready.  In all we spent the better part of the day on this excursion and it was well worth it.

Alpine Horns

And of course, the trip would not have been complete without hearing and seeing Alpine horns.  From my (small town girl) perspective it is pretty awesome that my 5 month old daughter has been on boats, up mountains, in air planes crossing oceans and time zones all before she is even one year old.  Compared to me - I was 24 years old before I ever left the country (Canada doesn't really count as we say in Michigan).  I have lots of hopes and wishes for her and one of them is to be a competent traveler, open to other peoples and cultures with an adventurous spirit.

Water, boats, mountains, architecture and fresh air - life does not get much better than this really.