Day 4: Lucerne
This morning we tore ourselves away from the cuteness of Strasbourg and headed to Lucerne. Fortunately our train departed at the decent hour of 10.47am (they are very precise!) so I was able to nip out for one more photo sesh before our little party carrying the ever-strategically packed luggage assembled in the hotel lobby.
We took the TGV Lyria train to Basel where a rep named Monica Hug joined us to give us some facts and stats. (I couldn’t look as one audacious journo decided to deliver a hug to Ms Hug so as she busily explained the pros of this train, he walked up and wrapped his arms around her!) Fortunately it was a quick trip, we arrived in Basel in just over an hour then a 9-minute wait for the train to Lucerne arriving 62 minutes later.
I love training through Europe. The views are brilliant, it’s quick and easy with no airport check-ins or taxis required and we arrive smack in the heart of each city.
Dropping our luggage off at the groovy Best Western Hotel Flora we lunch then set off on a walk around yet another very cute, historic city. I guess ‘historic’ is a silly word cos compared to NZ and Australia, everywhere you place your feet in Europe is historic!
2 highlights of Lucerne for me: Chapel Bridge and Lion Monument
Chapel Bridge reaches 204m (670 ft) right across Lake Lucerne. It’s wooden and was built in 1333 and in the 1700s paintings depicting Lucerne’s history were added under its ceiling. Tragically a fire in 1993 destroyed about half of it – including many of the paintings. But today, with bright red geraniums and begonia lining its sides, it is one of the most photographed and picturesque parts of the city.
Lion Monument is the other most photographed. This will make you cry. The dying Lion of Lucerne is an amazing sculpture hewn out of the stone wall. Mark Twain described it as the “saddest and most moving piece of rock in the world.” It is in Glacier Garden and was carved in memory of the heroic death of 600 Swiss Guard at the Tuileries in 1792 who were there to protect Louis XVI. That was the last time the Switzerland took sides in a war. There are, however, 110 Swiss Guard protecting the Pope today at the Vatican.
Lucerne is full of cute (and old) churches, a lake to play on and in, waterfront bars to drink and eat at, shopping in the historic quarter and newer parts of the city. I’d recommend 2 days here before chugging off to the next station.
Check out Rail Europe here for these huge network of options.
For my previous post on Strasbourg (the cutest city in all of Europe in my humble opinion) click here.