For those who would like to start discovering the Swiss Alps without leaving the city, Lucerne is a ‘must-visit’ place.  It is often called a pearl of Switzerland for its mediaeval charm. The eater of the Lake, the snow-capped peaks of Pilatus and the old urban elements are combined here so well that once you start taking pictures after leaving the Central Bahnhof building, you will not be able to stop. SUISSEPIC decided to visit Lucerne during the Christmas period and have a unique chance to enjoy the street decorations. To get to Lucerne I chose the best way to travel across Switzerland – by train. Earlier I wrote that Swiss railroad transportation was very famous for its precision, comfort and beautiful landscapes passing by. With a cup of warm cappuccino in my hand, I took an early direct train from Geneva’s Cornavin station. Turning on the Beatles on my headphones, I prepared to admire panoramas of Lake Geneva and the lands of Vevey, Lavaux, Bern and the mountain chains of Lucerne.

Direct trains from Geneva to Lucerne leave every hour and reach the destination within 3 hours. There are also some trains that follow the route with stops and changes in Bern, Olten, etc. The most comfortable way to buy a ticket is through the Internet. If you know the precise time of your departure, it might help you to book a ticket (billet degriffe) with a 50% discount.

I arrived to discover some fantastic weather. The air was as transparent as pure ice or glass might be. No fog or mist. The lines and colors of Mount Pilatus, towering above the city and the lake, were clear and saturated. Considering the fact that the winter weather in Switzerland changes very fast, I started to explore immediately. Of course I made my way through the city to stop at the main sightseeing places and take beautiful pictures in front of them, closing these tasks like small projects.

My encounter with the city began with the Chapel Bridge (Kapellbrücke), the oldest wooden bridge in Europe. Wearing a new warm woolen sweater, I wanted to fix some new looks with pictures of this medieval monument.

The Kapellbrücke was built in 1333. In the 17th century it got its unique decorations – the interior paintings which were partly burned down in 1993, 660 years after its construction, but restored in 1994.

These tips I put on my to-do-in-Lucerne list

Kappelbrucke (The Chapel Bridge)

The Lion Monument 

Lucerne Lake & pictures with a swan 
Lucerne from above 

Shopping in Lucerne 

Real Swiss food, not a fondue 

A great Apperitivo 

Pilatus mount 

The Hammetschwand elevator

My meeting with the city began with the Chapel Bridge (Kapellbrücke), the oldest wooden bridge in Europe. Wearing a new warm woolen sweater, I wanted to fix new looks at pictures with this medieval monument.

Kappellbrucke was built in 1333. In 17 century it got its unique decorations – the interior paintings which were partly burned down 660 years after in 1993, but rebuilt in 1994.

I crossed 204 meters of the Chapel Bridge and set the next point on my GPS: the Lion Monument, which turned out to be just one kilometer away. I crossed central streets, enjoying German-style small houses with painted walls, and made a stop beside Lake Lucerne, where a huge crowd of Chinese tourists were taking pictures. Every one of them was trying to include the gorgeous swans of Lucerne in a shot. So did I, and I suddenly found out that I had become an object of sightseeing too. Remembering the curious Asian tradition of taking pictures with white people (which brings happiness), I decided to make this process be more comfortable and made several funny poses with these guys. However it was funny considering the fact that we were in the very center of Europe.

The Lion Monument is a rock relief in the center of Lucerne. Praised by Mark Twain as “the most mournful piece of stone in the world” it reflects the sorrow about victims of the Swiss guards defending the Tuileries Palace in the 18th century. Silence was covering the Lion’s tomb with its wings, so even schoolkids were talking in a low voice or whispering, respecting the atmosphere.

My way back to Kapellbrücke went through various watch boutiques. Some Lucerners proudly told me that their city could easily compete with Geneva in terms of mastery in watchmaking.

Entering the bridge, I noticed a castle-like building above the hill. It reminded me of a castle and was obviously a perfect spot to take pictures of the city from above.

The architecture of the Gütsch castle was inspired by Bavaria’s Neuschwanstein. It was constructed in 1888, and for a long time served as a private residence. Later, this Disney-style castle was turned into a luxury boutique hotel with an outstanding panoramic view. There is a restaurant at the ground floor with a terrace looking at the mountains – the perfect place for an Aperitivo!  Making your way to Gütsch from the city center takes 20 minutes walking up the hill (~50meters height). You can cut your way there by taking the No. 12, No. 18 & No. 2 buses to the Gütsch bus stop from the main station and using the electric lifts to get to the top.

The beauty of Lucerne made me walk for 8 hours without stopping. Sipping my glass of Chardonnay and admiring the fading sun at the top confirmed my desire to have a marvellous dinner. Pfistern restaurant was recommended at the reception of the hotel as one of the best places in Lucerne to have a Swiss dinner. Being a desperate lover of cheese, I immediately discovered dozens of fondues in the menu card (from moitié-moitié to champagne and truffle varieties), but the choice was made with rösti and veal. Sometimes people make jokes saying that Swiss cows are the happiest in the world (maybe they take into account the UN’s world happiness report) and my home-made veal obviously confirmed that.

And then followed the night. It was colored with the lights of Christmas decorations, spreading magic and filling my heart with sincere happiness.

TO BE CONTINUED…

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