25.09.2014 - 26.09.2014
ON TO LUCERNE
Enjoyed travelling through the French countryside, through Burgundy and after crossing the Jura Mts we crossed into Switzerland at Basel and arrived in Lucerne late afternoon. But not before the Swiss Watch talk about where to buy and what deals and where to avoid.......went on way too long. Enjoyed seeing the Swiss style houses as we got close to Lucerne and the different hills. Stopped at the Lion Monument carved into the cliff. Very moving but so beautifully done.....depicting a agony of the lion in death from a spear. There was a man in traditional clothing playing/blowing an Alpenhorn which was about 4mtrs long here also. It sounded lovely and a bit like a cornet....clear and not overly loud.
Then aboard a ferry boat for evening lake cruise with local beers and wine plus nibbles. Saw composer Wagner's home on an island and gorgeous lakeside houses and mountains. No snow on them apart from the very high peaks. Mt Pilatus in cloud, hopefully clear for our visit in the morn. Saw a statue of Jesus(like the one in Rio) standing on a rock on the lake edge, very nice and I had one of those 'I've seen this before' moments. The accent of the boat driver made it sound like it was "cheeses on a Rock" which cracked up some with a warped sense of humour so they laughed till they almost cried. NO DISRESPECT INTENDED!
Dinner was a Local Dine Around from a choice of 4 Restaurants. Ralph enjoyed his, I had fish but it was way tooo salty even for me and I like salty as opposed to sweet. Would have liked to do the Fondu one but a bit far for Ralph to walk with the sore foot.
Sept 26th Lucerne still
Coach ride along Lake shore to a small village. Absolutely gorgeous......most houses with apple and other fruit trees still with the fruit on them.....they pick them as needed for juice and making apple wine, not to mention Strudel. A cool clear morning with a little mist on the hills. We all spread ourselves between 3 horse-drawn carriages .... 2 horses pulling each. Through the local forest, and meadows around the village. Just beautiful seeing the people about their business. Were supposed to stop at an old Church on the way around but there was a funeral happening for a local old 90+ lady. I sat up the front with Emily and the old local 'driver'. He was so lovely and what a sense of humour! Then we pulled up at one of the farmhouses (at least 600 years old) and had morning tea......homemade cheeses, apple juice, apple wine, schnapps, cakes and slices and tea or coffee. So delicious and a special outing. Very enjoyable and memorable.....even saw the cows wearing bells......they do to this day. The hills look all manicured and lush green interspersed with pines and alpine furs or aspens. Looks like they are mown each day. Apparently they do mow aboit 4-6 crops of hay or silage grass per year. Whatever they do it looks stunning.
Back on coach to journey up Mt Pilatus, 7000ft, named after Pontius Pilate, to its summit by Cog-wheel train. An amazing piece of engineering, the train and the track. Several tunnels and a gradient of 48deg in some places, making it the steepest in Europe. Through alpine meadows, pine forests and up into high alpine rock where there was only Gentians growing and a bit of grassy creeper. Champagne and nibbles on arrival and oh the view. Ralph and I climbed to the summit to a trig station similar to the ones in New Zealand. Looked out towards the snow-capped Eiger and the Jungfrau. Wonderful to be able to look way back down into the valley at Lucerne/Luzern and across to these alps. (These Mountains were the height above sea level that we were in Sth America - amazing that we were even higher, and without oxygen tanks) Tried to imagine all of them including Pilatus with their full coats of winter snow. But all with a beauty of their own now. Some idea of how Hilary must have felt surveying the view around Everest. Wow......
After returning to Lucerne from Mt Pilatus, we had a nap then explored the town. Beautiful around the Lake edge, nestled beautiful streets. All the famous watch brand shops....kept away from those....looked at the chocolate shops though and brought some with hazelnuts and without the fancy packaging....very yum. Friday evening so sat near the lake and people watched as we nibbled chocolate. A great atmosphere and kept reminding ourselves we were really in Switzerland. Walked back to our Hotel via the 1600yr old covered Chapel Bridge. Red and pink geraniums in boxes each side if it for the full length, sooooo pretty.