Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Can I really be in this beautiful place?

September 19 - We packed our bags and made our way to the Bern bahnhof to catch a train to Lucerne.  As usual, we saw many busses during our short walk - one of them had seven sections!   I love watching the sectioned busses turn corners.  The transportation systems in The Netherlands and in Switzerland are superb.  In the cities, the busses and trolleys run on electricity so they are very quiet and clean.

I finally had my first clear view of the Alps - gorgeous!  Once again, I noticed the garden sheds next to each of the many roadside gardens.  The Swiss must love their gardens.  Lots of donkeys today, too.  I wonder what they are used for on the farms.

Hotel des Alpes overlooking the river
Our room was not yet ready at the Hotel des Alpes so we left our bags in the locked storage room and headed out in search of a place for lunch.  The weather was the nicest we have had, so an outdoor lunch at the Meisterkonditorei (Old Town store) was in order.  Calzone and beer - don’t they go together just like ham and cheese?  And, there is a Starbucks two doors down from our hotel!

DH contemplating lunch!
I’m hearing more American accents here than anywhere else.  More English in general.  Today is Sunday, so Lucerne is full of tourists from out of town as well as out of country.  So many couples holding hands! Lucerne is absolutely gorgeous and very romantic with its swans, flowers, and medieval bridges.

After lunch, we walked along the waterfront admiring Lake Lucerne and the many sailboats and tour boats on the lake. DH noticed a group of men playing a game similar to petanque or bocce ball. They were speaking German, so perhaps it is the German equivalent of bocce.

View from  our balcony!
We got back to the hotel and checked into our room. The Hotel des Alpes is on the River Reuss with views of the Chapel Bridge and the Water Tower -- an incredibly beautiful sight.  We have a balcony on the first floor, which we Americans would call the second floor.  I can see the entire downtown area, four bridges, swans galore, and the Alps!  Doug splurged on this one, but it is worth it.  This is classified in the tour books as a “middle class” hotel.  Whew!  It’s costing us more than any B&B we’ve ever been to in the US!

Our room is small, but the balcony certainly makes up for it.  I decided to live out of the suitcase since I’ve lost track of clean vs. dirty clothes.  While DH unpacked in his usual leisurely fashion, I sat on our balcony listening to a violin player, watching people enjoying their lunch in the outdoor cafes along the River Reuss, and taking in the views of Lake Lucerne and the snowcapped Alps in the distance.  I am a very lucky gal! Am I really here in this beautiful place?

Chapel Bridge at sunset
We are closest to the flower-adorned Chapel Bridge, one of five pedestrian bridges crossing the river, so I can watch people strolling across and stopping to take pictures.  The river is very clean; swans, mallards, seagulls, and coots enjoy the water as well as the bread tossed into the river by visitors.

I kept thinking that this is my reward for all that "budgeting by envelope" that I've done over the years.  My second thought was that I want my children and grandchildren to enjoy this beautiful, beautiful city.

We spent the afternoon walking and walking and walking.  If the scale is not my friend when I get home, I’ll be pretty miffed.  We stumbled on a restaurant that has a reasonable menu for fondue and decided that it would be the place for our special dinner at the end of the trip: The Hotel zum Schlussel, Schlukelftube.

DH wanted to check out the river cruises so we explored the lakefront.  Our Eurorail pass allows us to take a lake cruise for free.  We’ll do a 2-hour roundtrip tour on the lake tomorrow.  We had another one of those unexpected surprises while on the lakefront.  A group of 20 costumed revelers on bicycles were riding round and round a large fountain in front of the art museum adjacent to the lake.  They did not have signs, so we don’t know what the occasion was -- but they were certainly having a wonderful time.  They looked a lot like circus clowns, blowing horns, etc.  Fun, fun, fun …

We had a great dinner of fish and chips at Gracie Kelly’s Irish Pub while watching the Bears vs. Dallas on tv!  A small taste of home ....

More pictures of this beautiful city:

One of the towers at the medieval wall

Flowers everywhere

Looking across Lake Lucerne

Fondue restaurant perhaps?

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