Spring is just beginning to warm the hard Earth, bringing the birds back to their perches with cheerful sound, and it’s just in time for some exploring up North. From Italy to Switzerland is where I was headed this past weekend. What was my motivation for traveling you ask?
I ended up in Luzern because of a Swiss boy I met in Greece last October. While in Greece for TBEX Athens I stayed at one of the hostels because it was cheap and because I was going to be able to meet people. Mario Swiss just happened to be traveling through and we stayed in the same hostel room.
We bonded over “The Honey Badger Don’t Give a Shit” video in which he probably was thinking “What is wrong with this crazy American?!” Needless to say I dragged him out to the nightly TBEX parties and we introduced him and his blog as Mario Swiss, using another friends TBEX pass to get in. We laughed so hard throughout the night being the only ones in on the secret (he has no blog and was not there for the conference).
Keeping in touch since that week, I asked him recently if he would be available in the spring and if he had time for a visitor? He said yes and the planning commenced.
It was decided that I would visit at the end of March. Mario was unfortunately tied down with work on Saturday so he gave me a map and pointed out all of the things I should do while exploring the city of Lucerne spelled Luzern by the Germans. He left early for work and I woke shortly after, got dressed, and headed out to explore!
Walking down the road Mario Swiss told me that I could walk up to Luzern’s castle if I wanted. I ended up taking a wrong turn and back tracked back down to the road deciding I wanted breakfast more than I wanted to walk to the castle and settled for a picture of her perched up on the hill.
Chateau Gutsch was built in 1888 by Emil Vogt originally as a private home but now is a 5 star hotel with restaurant.
It was only about a 15 minute walk into town from Mario Swiss’s apartment and that’s at a snails pace, I probably could have made in 5 if I was in a real hurry.
From the first picture above ^ I could see the peaks of the rampart walls which stretch out behind the city and Mario had told me that you can go to the center tower and climb to the top for a very good view of the city.
One of the first sites I saw was the beginning of these ramparts as I walked into the town. Making note of exactly where it was, I continued on down the street in search of cafe and breakfast.
It was quite chilly outside but most restaurants had blankets on the chairs and it was such a lovely morning to sit outside and enjoy the town, the people, and their coffee. Flowers are blooming and even the dogs seemed more chiper being able to sit out and enjoy the sunshine with their owners.
Just down the road I found a clock shop and had to dip in for a look and a very particular present for a very particular someone. When I was growing up, my grandfather was in love with old and extravagant ticking clocks. One of the highlights of our visit to my grandma and grandpa’s house was walking around and winding them all up and listening to them all chime on the hour. In Germany and Switzerland they are very big on these coo-coo-clocks you see on the walls.
Which gave me my first encounter with the swans. A very majestic species but also a memory from my past. There was one road we would drive on in my hometown when I was younger and there were about 6 swans that patrolled the area and would get right in front of your car and start biting at the tires when you slowed down so as not to hurt them. If its one thing I’ve learned, never get too close to a swan!
I decided to continue the trail down to the other side of the city, my sights set on a lion.
These are Mark Twains words on seeing the statue in Luzern for the first time:
The Lion lies in his lair in the perpendicular face of a low cliff — for he is carved from the living rock of the cliff. His size is colossal, his attitude is noble. His head is bowed, the broken spear is sticking in his shoulder, his protecting paw rests upon the lilies of France. Vines hang down the cliff and wave in the wind, and a clear stream trickles from above and empties into a pond at the base, and in the smooth surface of the pond the lion is mirrored, among the water-lilies. Around about are green trees and grass. The place is a sheltered, reposeful woodland nook, remote from noise and stir and confusion — and all this is fitting, for lions do die in such places, and not on granite pedestals in public squares fenced with fancy iron railings. The Lion of Lucerne would be impressive anywhere, but nowhere so impressive as where he is. — Mark Twain, A Tramp Abroad, 1880
Just down the road from the Lion is a this establishment called “Old Swiss House”. Built in 1858 the Old Swiss House is being preserved as a site of historic interest. It was named Old Swiss House in honour of Queen Victoria 1868 when she declared Luzern to be the most charming city she had ever visited. During WWII, Henri Guisan- the only general neutral Switzerland ever had, frequently convened secret strategy meetings at the Old Swiss House.
In 1951, Mr. August (Gussie) A. Busch Jr., owner of the world’s largest brewery Anheuser-Busch, met Trudy Buholzer, the daughter of the house while dining at the restaurant. They got married a year later and had 7 children. The links between the Busch and Buholzer families remain strong and you are always able to enjoy a fresh Budweiser at the Old Swiss House (a michelin star restaurant).
There are also many famous people who have visited the Old Swiss House. Celebrities like Frank Sinatra, Neil Armstrong, former president’s Jimmy Carter, Richard Nixon, Lyndon B. Johnson. Can’t forget Roger Moore (Mr. James Bond)!
Although the sun was shining it was still a bit nippy and I was excited to sit outside and enjoy prosecco so I opted for some soup. After lunch was finished and a few more flutes of prosecco were consumed, I was off again this time taking the road that led straight down to the port area.
Where I came upon this boat restaurant. It is significant because it has the Switzerland famous fondue onboard and it is where we ended up going that night for dinner choosing the Beer-Whiskey & regular fondue which were both so scrumptious. You must try fondue while in Switzerland!
Wasserturm, or “Water Tower” is the name of the tower but not because it is actually a water tower, but because it is a tower standing in the water. The tower predated the bridge by 30 years and throughout the centuries was used as a prison, torture chamber, and later a municipal archive.
The bridge itself was built in the year 1330, originally at a length of 200 meters but because of the water receding, it is now a length of 170 meters. It connects the old town (right side) to the new town (left side) of Luzern.
Finally crossing the rest of the way I saw quite a bit of socializing going on down by the water and decided to weave my way down the street, stopping for glasses of wine here and there, sitting in chairs right next to the water, and easily getting lost in the peaceful atmosphere and of course my Nook.
Snapped a picture from across the way. By this time it was growing late and Mario Swiss was finishing work. I wanted to head back and meet him at his apartment so we could make our plans for the evening so I started heading back up the hill.
What happened next you ask? Well there was excellent fondue, drinking, bars, fooseball, crashing a house party, and dancing till about 6 in the morning.
The next morning we woke early (okay, made our best effort to wake up by noon) had a proper Swiss breakfast and headed over to Zurich where Luigi, Mario’s Friend promised us a world class tour of the city.
And finally as we walked around the city we climbed the church tower to see out of Zurich, something I’ve done once before with 2 of my favorite people. Who would have thought I’d have a second opportunity?! What a world.
While climbing down our tour guide stopped for a quick rest. He gives tours for practically nothing! Very intelligent, funny, and the best tour guide in all the land. Step right up ladies, he’s giving out tours by the handful these days 😉 Here’s a short clip of his skills.
This article appeared first on The Cassey Excursion.