Luzern and Zurich, Switzerland

Itinerary: 

Dates: September 18-October 5, 2015

Our Odyssey: 

From Murren we ventured back
into the more urbanized side of Swizterland – Luzern, the long-time tourism
capital of Switzerland. Admittedly, coming from the serenity of the Alps, we
found Lucerne overwhleming and overcrowded. Frankly, we didn’t really like being
out and about in the city that much – among the heat, the people everywhere,
and the many bugs in the air, we were really much more content to sit in the
hostel room we’d rented and drink a few bottles of wine together over card
games than to venture out to experience any nightlife or restaurants. So that
is exactly what we did, and we had a fantastic time doing it.

We didn’t hole ourselves up
entirely, though. We spent a few hours the afternoon we got in walking around
the downtown area and through a little fair going on along Lake Luzern. It was
a lot like any county fair – rides, sweets, food, and games galore.

Walking along the Reuss
River, heading into the city center, we passed the Chapel Bridge, the city’s
most famous landmark. Built in the 14th century, this bridge once
connected the town’s medieval fortifications, which sat an angle from one
another. Thus the bridge runs diagonaly across the river. The water tower on
the bridge was buit around 1300. In the 1600s, paintings were hung from the
roof cover of the bridge. Sadly, in 1993, a small ship caught fire near the
bridge and burned down the center portion of the bridge. It’s been carefully
restored, but many of the paintings were lost. The city’s other wooden bridge,
the Mill Bridge, is still the original from the 1500s, and its paintings are
still intact.

Chapel Bridge, Luzern, Switzerland

Having heard so many people
rave about Luzern before, we were both surprised by how unimpressed we were. It’s
a completely nice city, but we were not up for battling the crowds much more
than we had to in order to do some light sightseeing. Many tourists stay in
Luzern and use it as their home base for exploring other places in Switzerland
since it is very central in the country, and we can attest it was definitely
the most touristy city we visited in Switzerland.

The next morning, a little
hungover from the three bottles of wine we drank the night before, we drove to
our last stop on our grand central Europe tour through Germany, Austria and
Swizterland – Zurich. We used Marriott points from our business trips to stay
in a nice hotel right on the river, with a concierge lounge providing free food
and drinks, a bottle of champagne and some Swiss chocolates.

The view of Zurich from our hotel room

We were very happy
to be there. We checked in early enough to get breakfast in the lounge and a
leisurely nap before heading out to expore the city. Zurich is a very pretty,
clean and pleasant city, and we loved strolling around. We visited the Swiss
National Museum, located just across the river from our hotel, in hopes of
checking out their exhibit on Swiss history. One of the first rooms of the
museum featured artifacts from the medieval ages, including one small exhibit
featuring a tapestry. We had seen a lot of tapestries in museums and castles
during our trip last year (such as the Bayeux tapestry in northern France), but this exhibit was especially cool because it used an audio guide to
explain the meaning of the imagery in the tapestry while lights behind the
cloth lit up the pieces being described. The effect was listening to a story
while a tapestry was animated in front of us. It was really well done and Tim
and I were both impressed.

We never did find the Swiss
history exhibit, though, and when we finally asked a staff member, we learned
it was currently closed for renovations. Since we had only been in the museum
for less than a half hour, and the exhibit we came to see was closed, the staff
graciously offered us a refund on our entrance fee. This also impressed us,
because there was really no reason for them to do that aside from just being
nice. We were grateful.

Fall in Zurich, Switzerland

Back out in the city, we
visited two fasinating churches. One has a statue from the 1400s of Charlemagne
in the crypt, and the other beautiful stained glass in cubism style from the
1970s. With so many churches in Europe resembling one another, it was really
cool to see those two so near each other that both offered really different glimpses
into art, history and religion.

That night was the last of
our vacation, so we relaxed and reminisced on the adventures of the past two
weeks, grateful to have been able to come back to Europe just a little over a
year since we’d last been, and this time exploring places we hadn’t had the
time or budget to previously. We definitely have a lot more of Switzerland to
visit in the future, and Austria is now one of my favorite countries filled
with some of my favorite meals ever. The next morning, we made our way to the
Zurich International Airport, traveling home once again.

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