Day 18 – Luzern and Zurich

Lake Luzern, swans, mountains

Lake Luzern, swans, mountains

Luzern is a lovely city. I’d been there before, around twenty-five years ago. I suppose it must have changed, but not in the bits we saw in a brief stopover. The mountains tower over the lake, the white swans fight for bragging rights and food, and the neat houses along the foreshore of the old town still reflect nicely in the water.

The view from the covered bridge

The view from the covered bridge

The old bridge

The old bridge

One of the panels set in the roof rafters of the covered bridge

One of the panels set in the roof rafters of the covered bridge

The old covered bridge across the river burnt down a year or so after I was there before. Luckily not all the lovely medieval illustrations in the rafters were destroyed and they were put back when the bridge was rebuilt.

Our charming wait person

Our charming wait person

You already know about the old town – cobble-stoned squares, outdoor furniture, people, coffee, food. We picked a small café for lunch and enjoyed a bit of back and forth with one of the girls who worked there. She said she didn’t mind if her photo was on Facebook.

The fabulous lion monument

The fabulous lion monument

Of course we visited the lion monument. It brought me to tears the first time I saw it, and did so again this time. The dying lion is a tribute to the Swiss mercenaries who died trying to defend Louis XVI and his wife, Marie Antoinette, against the mob who came for them at the Tuileries Palace in 1792. That’s why there’s a fleur de lys on the shield under the lion’s paw. Here’s the Wiki version of the story.

There comes in point in every tour where your mind knows it’s going home. That’s what happened here. We bought a few souvenirs for friends back home. Then on to Zurich.

The Zurich railway station from our hotel room

The Zurich railway station from our hotel room

Detail of paintwork above the window arches in the museum

Detail of paintwork above the window arches in the museum

We stayed in another Schweizerhof hotel in Zurich.  The restaurant manager welcomed the whole group with a glass of champagne or orange juice if that took your fancy. Once again, the hotel was in the heart of town, opposite the railway station. Once again, we elected to meander around on our own. You guessed it – cobble-stoned squares, chairs and tables out on the pavement, food, coffee, wine. Of course there are a number of historic buildings. One which attracted our notice was the Swiss national museum. It’s not specially old, dating back to 1898, but it is rather splendid. We took special note of the art work under the eaves.

Taking note of our success in finding a reasonably priced meal in the railway station at Bern, we went across to the railway station to see what was on offer there. We found a shop which was part of the Nordsee chain, offering fish for sale, as well as a cafeteria style eatery. Yes, we could buy alcohol. So we came back at the appropriate hour. Pete had a swordfish steak with new potatoes, and I ordered fish (species unknown) with white asparagus and new potatoes. It was certainly our cheapest dinner in Switzerland and one of the nicest.

Breakfast turned out to be more along the lines we expected – buffet style, with options such as poached eggs available by order. And they made the toast for you! The restaurant manager, a little man who reminded me a bit of Hercule Poirot with a sense of humour, entertained everybody with a bit of lively repartee.

And that was that. We were off to Zurich airport, and on our way home.