TBTravel: Lucerne.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

A few years ago when I was studying abroad, we were making our way from Paris to Venice via bus and trains, which landed us a less than 48 hour pit stop in the beautiful Lucerne. Practically smack dab in the middle of Switzerland, Lucerne is the German-speaking portion of the country and is surrounded by postcard-worthy mountains, lakes, and architecture.

I guess I haven't really mentioned it much on here, so just to fill you in, I did a multi-country European art history and architecture program. As a group of 50 students, 1 professor, and 1 manager (bless them), we stayed in 7 different cities while traveling through 6 different countries. Being a bunch of rowdy college kids, we pumped the brakes a bit when we arrived in Switzerland. Mostly because it is expensive. So don't be fooled if you look at the exchange rate for the Swiss franc and see that it's nearly on par with the US dollar. These are NYC/London prices and then some! To make up for our shallow pockets, we spent our day moseying around the quaint alleys, exploring tiny shops with wooden clocks, and hiking up the waterside towers. 

Mark Twain called this "the most beautiful and moving piece of stone in the world" - a monument to commemorate the Swiss troops who were massacred during the French Revolution. The engraving reads "To the loyalty and bravery of the Swiss."

Jesuit Church, the first baroque church built north of the Alps.

It was pretty grey and drizzly during our visit, but it was still incredibly gorgeous so I can only imagine Switzerland when bathed by sunshine!

I had a few travel fails from my visit to Lucerne, #1 of which being I did not take near enough photos. I think I was simply distracted and not feeling my best - unfortunately on my last day in Paris I woke up with a horrendous case of pink eye along with a subconjunctival hemorrhage, neither of which I had before so it really freaked me out. If you don't know what that long medical-sounding thing is I wouldn't recommend looking it up, just know that it looked like my eyeball was...bleeding.

I didn't want to miss out on anything (#YOLO) so I loaded up on the hand sanitiser and sported sunglasses for the day. The first chunk of my day in Switzerland was spent at the pharmacy, as it had already closed the night we arrived. I walked up to the kind-face lady behind the counter who didn't speak English and me no German, so we spent the next few minutes communicating with hand waving and me pointing to my eye, and I was off with some eyedrops....with the German instructions. 

But my major travel fail/regret is not making the trek up Mount Pilatus. We had gone on a walking tour of the city to kick off our day, and our guide was pretty uncertain if we would be able to see anything from the top with all the fog and rain. Not wanting to waste our time and money, we skipped it. Another group within our program did end up making the trip, and they said it was wonderful. *Bangs head on table*

The riverside/lakeside towers certainly made up for it though.

In America, land of the lawsuits, this probably would have had a thick fence or window shielding you from plunging hundreds of feet down in case you wobbled. On the other side of the pond, you are expected to use common sense and take responsibility for your own stupidity. My friend was less than confident about my balancing capabilities, I think.


We didn't really go to restaurants while in Lucerne, because money. We opted for market food, grab-and-go type of meals. 

Our program gave us breakfast every morning that was traditional of the country we were in at the moment. I remember having a hearty spread of meats, cheeses, eggs, fruit, and bread which was a welcomed departure from Paris. I just can't eat a hard boiled egg or a croissant and be full, thank goodness I live in England - home of the artery-crushing breakfasts.

Most importantly, when in Switzerland eat CHOCOLATE + CHEESE and you will be sorted. I've had my fair share of chocolate in my life and I can vouch that a simple bar from a side alley shop was the best chocolate I've ever had. Upon my first bite I realised it is what chocolate is meant to taste like. 

GETTING AROUNDLucerne has trains, buses, and boats. I'm afraid I'm no help for manoeuvring these, because we actually walked everywhere! Being such a short visit, I know we didn't see everything, but our feet took us plenty of places in this quaint city.


Go up Mount Pilatus, for me please.

Visit the Lion of Lucerne

Eat chocolate and cheese, you're in the holy land!

Wander around the town and pop into the quaint shops. You'll find wooden clocks, Christmas stores (because why not), and Swatch shops galore. 

Walk along the river and lake, go up the towers that are dotted along them. They're free and give you an incredible view. You'll even feel less guilty about all that chocolate and cheese.

Marvel at the baroque architecture, it really is dreamy.


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