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  • Day21

    Oct 10 - Luzern/Lucerne

    October 10, 2019 in Switzerland ⋅ ⛅ 17 °C

    The weather was cool, but with no rain. A good day in the making! With Luzern as our destination, we drove through more of the flat part of Switzerland. We were able to see two of the big peaks of the Alps - Jungfrau and Eiger - in the distance. We drove along with a brilliant blue lake on one side and a soaring mountain on the other side.

    Our first stop was in Brienz. The sun was shining brightly, so there was not one word of complaint about the cool temperatures. William had a morning surprise for us - Linzertort - the same dessert I had tried the day before. William’s father is German, so having Linzertort is a fond memory from William’s childhood. Two beautiful white swans graced us with their presence at the water’s edge.

    We did a quick photo stop at Lungern. What a glorious view of a valley tucked between two mountains and a little village built on the shore of the lake. Picture postcard - again. This is what of the advantages of a formal tour - the tour guide knows all the most panoramic stops.

    Before we went into the downtown of Luzern, we stopped first at the The Lion Monument, or the Lion of Lucerne, a rock relief of a giant dying lion that commemorates the Swiss Guards who were massacred in 1792 during the French Revolution, when revolutionaries stormed the Tuileries Palace in Paris.

    Luzern, also known as Lucerne, is located in the German-speaking portion of Switzerland. It sits on the shores of Lake Lucerne and the river Reuss. William gave us a walking tour of this beautiful city. Since the city straddles the Reuss where it drains the lake, it has a number of bridges. The most famous is the Chapel Bridge (Kapellbrücke), a 204 m (669 ft) long wooden covered bridge originally built in 1333, the oldest covered bridge in Europe, although much of it had to be replaced after a fire on 18 August 1993, allegedly caused by a discarded cigarette. Part way across, the bridge runs by the octagonal Water Tower (Wasserturm), a fortification from the 13th century. Inside the bridge are a series of paintings from the 17th century depicting events from Lucerne's history. The Bridge with its Tower is the city's most famous landmark. (Thank you, Wikipedia.)

    Downriver, the Spreuer Bridge (Mill Bridge) zigzags across the Reuss. Constructed in 1408, it features a series of medieval-style 17th-century plague paintings titled Dance of Death. The bridge has a small chapel in the middle that was added in 1568.

    The Lucerne Jesuit Church with its distinctive onion-topped domes was the first large baroque church built in Switzerland north of the Alps. The inside is beautiful - it’s very light and bright with a lot of gold gilding and red marble. The Jesuit order, founded by Ignatius of Loyola in 1534, were active participants in the Counter-Reformation, the Catholic fight against the birth of Protestantism.

    At lunchtime, we found the local grocery store. We picked up a sandwich which we split, yogurt, milk and a fat pretzel. We travel with a set of cutlery so we can always find something to eat in a grocery store. (Restaurant meals in Switzerland are very, very expensive.) We ate by the water’s edge as we soaked up the sunshine. Afterwards, we strolled around and admired the old-style architecture.

    We had a good giggle as we window-shopped on a street lined with exclusive shops (some guarded by beefy guys with tasers) selling high-end watches. We each picked out a watch that we liked. Each had a 5-figure price tag and that’s in Swiss francs - add another 30% to convert to Canadian dollars! Then we found a store that has a wall of flowing liquid chocolate. They get you from every direction in this city!

    Bus parking is very tightly controlled in the centre of Luzern, so promptly at our appointed rendezvous time, Ivan pulled up, we piled on the bus in record time, and off we went. Our next destination was Zürich, the final stop on this part of our trip.

    I estimate that we went through at least 20 of Switzerland’s almost 500 tunnels during our driving today. Switzerland spends a lot of money on its infrastructure because roads, tunnels, trains and bridges are integral to keeping Switzerland moving.
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