Meggen and LucerneOctober 24, 2019 in Switzerland ⋅ ⛅ 15 °C
Here at Meggen, monochrome outlines of the Alps watch over Lake Lucerne, as its clear waters gently lap against the shore. It's a soothing sound and welcome contrast to the hustle and bustle during our visit to Lucerne city centre.
Located at the tip of the lake's north western finger, Lucerne straddles the River Reuss and among other things, is famous for its medieval covered bridges. For some reason we'd got the impression it was a lot smaller than in reality. We were soon disabused of this idea as we entered the built up area that stretched a long way from the core, plunging in and out of multiple tunnels.
We'd planned to stay a couple of nights in the large gravel marina car park, which sold tickets for up to 72 hours, but signs very clearly prohibited motorhomes and caravans from being in the area between 6pm and 8am. Oh well. We quickly changed our plans and Will looked up a new spot on Park4Night while Vicky bought a ticket for 5 hours.
It was a short walk along the water's edge to the compact old town. A fleet of long, white, double decker paddle boats boats were resting in dock, each with a shining golden emblem embossed on its prow and a time worn copper bell on deck.
As we drew closer, we were able to see more detail in the stately and colourful old buildings lining the lake shore. They flowed onto the bank of the River Reuss as the water flowed into its channel. Early afternoon sun showed them off in their best light.
The southern promenade was backed by financial establishments, high-end eateries and stylish shops selling fashion, watches and Swiss Army Knives. Dodging selfie snappers, we passed by four bridges before coming to Spreuerbrücke, a 16th century, covered wooden footbridge. In excellent condition, the structure uses its triangular roof pediments to display images of a Macarbe Dance, painted in the early 1600s.
A short distance uphill from the Reuss, we entered a park and climbed steep stone steps leading to the 15th century Zeitturm, a clock tower on the ramparts. In the majority of other cities something like this would have a cashier sitting behind a desk charging a €5 entry. Instead we were welcomed by a giant black and gold clock face and low key signs asking visitors to take care. Our legs becoming increasingly wobbly, we spiralled up past a working pendulum spanning three floors and various other antique time contraptions, reaching the top nearly 30m above the ramparts and a little out of breath. A large bell took centre stage but stood little chance of holding our attention when there were small windows to look out of. From here we could best appreciate Lucerne's magnificent setting beneath the snow covered Alps.
The Zeitturm was one of several towers, but we stuck to strolling the ramparts, as the next stop on our itinerary was also uphill. We were glad to have conserved our energy because Maps.Me led us the wrong way. We eventually arrived at the Lion of Lucerne, a larger than life relief carved into a grey rockface. The big cat is portrayed as downcast and was sculpted as a tribute to the Swiss Guard who lost their lives defending their King in 1792. Unfortunately the small park surrounding this eye-catching piece of art was filled with earth moving machinery and workers giving it a facelift.
Making our way back to the oldtown we were waylaid by the tempting window displays of chocolate and cheese shops. Max Chocolatiers displayed their beautifully crafted truffles in glass cabinets like they were diamond rings (with prices to match!)
For our final bit of sightseeing we crossed back over the Begonia and Geranium decked Kapellbrücke. Taking a diagonal path over the river, it holds the title of oldest wooden covered bridge in Europe, as well as the world's oldest surviving truss bridge. It certainly had character and at this time of year it wasn't so busy that we couldn't take time to appreciate it.
We didn't quite escape with our wallet intact; on the way back to the van we passed a camera shop which was able to provide us with the replacement UV filter we'd been in need of!
We enjoyed our afternoon in Lucerne and were really impressed at how many free attractions we found in this attractive lakeside city. It wasn't crowded but we were happy to spend the evening in the gravel car park of the more low key town of Meggen. We weren't allowed to stay overnight, but there was quiet on street parking nearby so we shuffled back and forth.
Our first few weeks in Switzerland was plagued by rain but the weather is making amends now, with 20°C+ and sunshine. After picking up some groceries, Vicky donned her wetsuit and swam a little way along the shoreline. Will, being braver, joined her in just trunks, then spent the rest of the day fishing and soaking in the view.Read more