21 November 2008

He who falls in lake gets wet.

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

European Adventure Travel Day 5
Part 2: Luzern to Lugano to Zurich, Switzerland

To help you get the idea of the ridiculousness of our travel, I made a map detailing our journey on August the sixth. Practicality? Pssssh, who needs it? Although we did feel a bit like we were leaving a trail like the kids in the Family Circus cartoons...

We made it to Lugano, so far south that the only thing distinguishing it from Actual Italy is paying with francs. And the uniforms of the police. Anyway, I think everything sounds prettier in the language it's meant to be said in, so I present to you Città di Lugano, the city of Lugano.

Lago di Lugano through some trees and a pointy thing

Italian Switzerland is very hot. The sun beats down on the lakes, and since I'm sure most of you had high school chemistry, you can imagine the humidity. So, the pictures are a little hazy. Sorry.

Inside the Cattedrale di San Lorenzo, Lugano, Switzerland

This church is high on the hill above the city. It's decorated inside with red and black marble, and there are old frescoes on the walls that are partially rubbed away by time. The ceilings and pillars look like they are inlaid, the wood is old, and all the grates are wrought-iron. There are all sorts of other delights hiding away in the dim recesses of the alcoves. It's absolutely beautiful.

Prayer Candles

Some things are newer than others. Some things don't change.

Steep streets in Lugano

After leaving the cathedral, we headed for the lake. The streets in Lugano are steep, as evidenced by the shallow steps in the 'sidewalk' in the above photo, but they're home to loads of sidewalk cafés, full of customers all day long. The tables don't tip. The physics defy me.

We stopped by a gelato stand on the lakeshore. J didn't want any, but I love the stuff. I hope they serve stracciatella gelato in heaven. Because greed does not apply to gelato, I also had the Fruita Esotica. :)


For those of you who have never had the pleasure, gelato is Italian ice cream, but denser and lower in fat (but not in flavor!) than American ice cream. Stracciatella, also known as Romeo & Juliet, means 'torn apart' in Italian. Makes sense, right? Anyway, it's made of amazing vanilla with shaved chocolate. But if you're not into that, gelati comes in zillions of other flavors. Not even kidding.

The church bells were ringing, but I didn't go to service. Please don't tell my mother.

We continued around the lake for awhile, before facing the flight of several hundred stairs that took us back to the road the train station was on. We noticed an old trolley track next to the steps as we dragged ourselves up, but we figured that it had died of exhaustion long ago.

When we climbed, gasping, to the top of the hill where the train station was located (naturally), who did we see walking toward us but Sabit, the Turkish boy we got to know in Interlaken? His face was absolutely priceless as it morphed from recognition to shock to glee in just a few seconds. We told him where to go for good gelato, then hopped a train back to Zurich.

03 November 2008

Lucerne is for Lovers

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

European Adventure Travel Day 5
Part 1: Interlaken to Lucerne, Switzerland

A commentary on some pictures for you all. Lucerne was one of my favorite places in Switzerland.

This photograph was our last look at Interlaken, as the train rolled out around the eastern lake.


Lucerne/Luzern is absolutely breathtaking. The city is built on the shores of Lake Lucerne, straddling the Reuss River. It has a medieval town center, two medieval bridges, and an old city wall, not to mention the awesome lion monument in my last post. We literally walked out of the train station and saw this:

Kapellbrücke - Chapel Bridge

J and I followed a map up to the top of this hill so we could check out the view from the city walls, which now divide the old city from the modern city. Hills get steeper when you take your 20kg backpack with you. And, the towers actually being quite old, the staircases inside them are steep and narrow, and sometimes the steps are really tall. We had shaky-leg syndrome by the time we reached the top.

City walls and watchtower of Lucerne

This man was on the roof of the watchtower. I may have been guilty of making a "manskirt" comment. Or two. He took them stoically.

Friend of the Roof Squirrels

The view is worth the climb, shaky legs and all. Idyllic. The lake, the mountains, all the beautiful old churches and bridges. Gorgeous.

Land of Yoghurt and other Dairy Delicacies

This fellow and some friends were grazing at the base of the wall. I love his horns. And the look on his face. My brothers give me that look sometimes. I'm sure I don't deserve it.


We had to return to the train station eventually. We went to the grocery store inside the station for lunch, and I found a rack of rolls shaped like animals for children. Let me tell you, if you've never had European bread, you are missing out. J and I ate a lot of bread and cheese on our trip, mostly because we didn't want anything else. Soooooo good.

Turtles can be bread, too!

If you don't know already, I am a soccer/football/footy fanatic. Thus, I was excited to see this sign hanging in the train station. If you sound out all the vowels in the word, it sounds just like the commentators say it on television (Gooooooooaaaaaaal, not abfahrten). The same in any language. :)

Train station sign with priorities

Just as Mark Twain found true of the city over a hundred years ago, there are still myriads of trinket shops. I bought Swiss Army knives for some of the men in my family.
I do wish that we'd had more time in Lucerne. We visited Hofkirche, a 16th-century church with huge, heavy doors that is just beautiful inside. There was an old man praying alone in a pew, and I felt sorry for him because a large group came in after us and weren't very respectful. He lit a candle and returned to the sunshine. We had to get back on a train to go south to Lugano (between Bellinzona and the Swiss-Italian border), and it's a three-hour ride.