Lucerne Switzerland

Switzerland the beautiful

It was my first visit to Switzerland and while it might be a cliche, but it’s beautiful and I was completely bowled over by it.  The mountains, the lakes, the stunning green landscapes or the charming old towns.  It’s fresh, clean, picturesque at every turn.

Zurich

I only a few hours to explore Zurich. I was on my way to Geneva from Dubrovnik, with a few hours’ stopover in Zurich, so headed in to the city on the train to have a look around.

It’s a small city so easy to explore on foot.  It was a very grey and cool summer’s day, but I happily wandered the streets of the pretty Old Town.  I tested my very rusty school girl German, although my most used phrase was “Sprechen Sie Englisch?”, to which they mercifully almost always answered yes.

On a walking tour I explored the Niederdorf, a pedestrian shopping zone in the Old City.  I got lost in the maze of cobbled streets and laneways, filled with boutiques, bars and restaurants.  Wandering some more, I found the Grossmunster, a church built in the 16th century, then clmbed up the tower, all 187 steps, to admire the views over the city.  Across the bridge is the Fraumunster, a church famed for the stained glass windows by Marc Chagall.  Then only a few hundred metres away is the Bahnhofstrasse, a luxury shopping street.  I walked on to Lindenhof, a square with magnificent views over the Limmat river and over the Old Town.

There was just time for a late lunch, and I was in Switzerland after all, so I decided to visit the Raclette Factory to try out one of Switzerland’s most famous dishes.  Mashed potatoes with melted cheese.  Odd but tasty!

Zurich Switzerland

Views over the Limmat, Zurich

Zurich Switzerland

Zurich Switzerland

The Old Town, Zurich

Zurich Switzerland

Views from the Grossmunster, on the Karisturm tower

Zurich Switzerland

Zurich Switzerland

Geneva

I arrived on a dreary wet evening after a day of sight seeing in Zurich and was grateful for a quiet night and a luxurious hotel room at the gorgeous Hotel Rotary.  Saturday morning I was up and ready to discover a new city.   This time I was relying on my school girl French, which thankfully is much better than my German!

It was a glorious day for exploring, but the city was strangely deserted, virtually shut down in preparation for the fireworks festival that evening.  I wandered through the Old Town, climbed another church tower, and enjoyed the beautiful views over Lake Geneva.

My favourite spot though was undoubtedly the gorgeous lush green Parc de Bastions, just below the Old Town.  It includes a number of monuments, giant chess sets, a botanic garden, and elegant tree lined avenues.  It also has the famous Reformation Wall, depicting famous personalities of the Reformation.

Geneva Switzerland

Geneva’s Parc Des Bastions

Geneva Switzerland

The Reformation Wall in the Parc Des Bastions

Geneva Switzerland

Parc Des Bastions, the Reformation Wall

Geneva Switzerland

Old Town, Geneva

Geneva Switzerland

Views over the city from Saint Peters Cathedral

Geneva Switzerland

Saint Peters Cathedral

Geneva Switzerland

Beautiful Lake Geneva

Geneva Switzerland

A beautiful summer’s day, Lake Geneva

Lucerne

After finishing the Tour Du Mont Blanc  I had a couple of days up my sleeve so I headed back to Switzerland, to Lucerne.  I may not have seen much in Switzerland, but Lucerne was easily my favourite.  A small city of just over 80,000 people, set on the shores of the scenic Lake Lucerne, it was the perfect place for some quiet time after the rigours of the TMB.

I stayed at the Art Deco Hotel Montana a short walk out of town, set high on the hill above the lake.  I really loved this hotel, which its huge sweeping over the lake and across to the mountains.  It might have been tempting to stay on the balcony, or park myself at the bar and just admire the view, but I managed to drag myself away and explore the city.

Lucerne Switzerland

Views from my balcony over Lake Lucerne

Lucerne is filled with churches and historic houses, some with beautiful painted frescoes, surrounded by the beautiful lake.  Walking through the old town, a highlight is the stunning Kapellbrucke, or Chapel Bridge, a covered wooden bridge built in the 14th century and then adorned with painted panels in the 17th century.

One of the most fascinating things was the Museggmauer, a city wall with a series of nine towers which formed the old city’s fortifications.  Four of the towers are still open to the public and well worth exploring.

Possibly Switzerland’s most famous attractions is the Lion Monument, a statue of a dying lion carved out of rock.  It commemorates the bravery of the Swiss Guards, who in 1792 died while attempting to protect the Tuileries Palace in Paris during the French Revolution.  Surprisingly poignant, it is described by Mark Twain as “the saddest and most moving piece of rock in the world”.

 

Lucerne Switzerland

Lucerne Switzerland

Lucerne Switzerland

Painted panel in the Kapellbrucke

Lucerne Switzerland

Views over Lucerne

Lucerne Switzerland

Lucerne

Lucerne Switzerland

The Musegg Wall

Lucerne Switzerland

The Musegg Wall, Lucerne

Lucerne Switzerland

The Lion Monument

Lucerne Switzerland

Exploring Lake Lucerne

Lucerne Switzerland

Along the shores of Lake Lucerne

Lucerne Switzerland

Along the shores of Lake Lucerne

Lucerne Switzerland

Lake Lucerne

The star turn is of course the lake itself.  I couldn’t leave without enjoying a cruise on Lake Lucerne.  What a beautiful, peaceful place.  If there’d been more time I would have explored the hiking trails up to the mountains, or visited some of the churches or small villages dotted around the shoreline at intermittent intervals. As always, time eluded me.

Lucerne Switzerland

Boat trip on Lake Lucerne

Lucerne Switzerland

Boat trip on Lake Lucerne

Lucerne Switzerland

Looking back to the city of Lucerne.  You can see my hotel, the Hotel Montana on the top left.

Lucerne Switzerland

Lucerne

Lucerne Switzerland

Exploring Lake Lucerne

Lucerne Switzerland

Lake Lucerne

It may have been my first visit to Switzerland, but it won’t be my last.  With so much more to discover, it’s a small country that is well and truly punching above its weight.

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