4 June 2015

Suitcase. Lucerne, Switzerland - Travel Guide

Well Lucerne, you stole my heart. From the moment I arrived in this beautiful place I thought to myself that I couldn’t have picked a nicer spot to spend my birthday. From the clear blue waters of the river and the lake, to the seriously tall mountains (still snow capped in May!), it was time to explore, indulge in plenty of Swiss chocolate and sweets, and turn another year older (and perhaps a little wiser too!).

 Top by River Island, Sunglasses by Dolce & Gabbana (similar here)

With just over 48 hours to explore I felt like a kid in a candy store when I arrived… Where to start!? It had to be a walk across the iconic Chapel Bridge which is the oldest wooden bridge in Europe!

Then since the sun was shining and it was 20 degrees it seemed the perfect time for an ice-cream [I definitely had my priorities straight!]. This one from Bachmann was the best I’ve ever had, but more on them later…

A walk along the lake reminded me a lot of my time in Annecy, what with the clear water, mountains and waterfront properties. I found the architecture to be quite Austrian with lots of wooden cottages and quaint designs. Alongside the water is quite a hill with residences that could surely boast some of the best views in the world, I enjoyed looking at all the houses like this very Victorian one…

For my actual birthday I’d planned quite a day: a cruise on the lake before heading up the steepest cogwheel railway in the world to the summit of Mount Pilatus. Wow. What a day. The boat ride on the lake was stunning where I met two lovely American girls who became buddies for my birthday outing.

Then it was up the railway we went, and it sure was steep! Within 5mins we were already so high, yet the trip goes for 30mins!

As we neared the top I was thrilled to see snow!

And on the summit we were literally in the clouds. Honestly they would blow over and you couldn’t see 3 metres in front of you for the greyness and then they’d clear again. Quite magical!

Down below was a beautiful view of the valleys, lakes and Lucerne, but after snapping some pictures I had only one thing on my mind… To make my first ever [miniature] snowman! My supplies were a little limited but I think I did well with only grass!

Isn’t he the cutest? You can tell it was the most exciting thing of the day!

Then it was time to leave the land of clouds and head back down to earth… and what a beautiful way we did it! A giant cable car was our chariot; I loved it although it would have made anyone with a fear of heights squeamish! See that little red capsule, that was us... To give you an idea, Mount Pilatus is 7,000 feet high. That's 2 kilometres up! Lucky I love heights - Mum it wouldn't be for you...

Next it was a transfer to smaller cable cars that took us all the way down with the most beautiful views. What a birthday it was, followed up by a fabulous dinner, also more on that later...

Tuesday was my last day and as usual I made it a priority to do the Free Walking Tour. Simon was a great guide who took us around the city. I saw the Musegg Wall of Lucerne with its nine towers, as well as the Lion Monument which Mark Twain called “the saddest and most moving piece of rock in the world”. Who knew such a little place had so much to see?...

Reaching Lucerne is easy from most centres in Switzerland. The train network in this country is so fantastic. I came from Zurich in just over 45mins, arriving into the central station which is a short walk from everything. You don’t really need to use the local buses because Lucerne itself is very small but if you want to check out the outskirts and other villages around the place, Switzerland prides itself on the fact that it has transport networks EVERYWHERE. Even tiny buses that go to tiny villages at the top of huge mountains.

My food highlight in Lucerne would have to be my birthday dinner. I splurged and treated myself to dinner at Hotel Montana’s Scala Terrace with a view overlooking the lake, city and mountains. The food was divine and I was totally spoiled by the staff with a decorated table, birthday cake and singing, and little gifts from the kitchen to take home with me. A lovely couple also sent over a glass of wine. Cheers.

I had the seafood and spring vegetable risotto, it was so so good.

Also, as I mentioned, you can’t visit without a trip [or three or four] to Bachmann. This place is like a more authentic version of Lindt but, as well as the best chocolate, they also have ice-cream, baked goods, sandwiches and hot drinks. Yum. Yum. Yum.

So for my first solo birthday it certainly was a grand one. Thank you Lucerne, 25 will be one to remember…

Photos by Krissie.