Two weeks in Switzerland – Lucerne

Lucerne (Luzern in German), is situated on the western tip of Lake Lucerne, which lies at the geographical and spiritual heart of Switzerland, where the tops of the mountains are covered with snow and their sides flanked with glaciers. Standing at the foothills of the St. Gotthard Pass, the lake winds deep into the Alpine Ranges of Central Switzerland, Lucerne, thus is a fabulous starting point for many rewarding excursions to the scenic places of this most beautiful part of the world.

The river Reuss splits the town and flows rapidly to the northwest, where the lake ends. The Lake Lucerne also known as Lake of four cantons – Uri, Schwyz, Nidwalden and Obwalden, is also popularly known as the William Tell Country, the legendary figure from Uri countryside who supposedly paved way for formation of the Swiss Confederation.


On a Wednesday morning, October 5th, sitting in 5.28 morning bus, I and my wife were heading for Gare Cornavin to board the 6.14 train for Lucerne. Train which arrives from Geneva Airport came dot on time and we boarded it immediately on its arrival. While we were settling down, an announcement first in French and then in German made us to realize that owing to some technical problems, the train wasn’t going any farther. Like other passengers, we also de-boarded and not knowing what to do, we thought of going to the “information counter”. Seeing our perplexed faces, a young lady came forward and after wishing “ bonjour” (good morning in French) asked hesitantly if we were heading for Lucerne and told us that the train stationed at the opposite platform would go to Olten, from where we could change a train for Lucerne. We took the chance and boarded the train. Having subscribed to the 6 days Swiss Pass, which entitled us to unlimited travel for 6 days in a month, we were the least worried about shifting of trains.

When told about the technical problems with the direct train to Lucerne, the ticket checker, polite as most of the Swiss are, asked us to give him 5 minutes. He came back with a piece of paper in his hand which advised us that this train would reach Olten at 7.58 A.M. on platform no. 4. The train for Lucerne would arrive at 8.01 at Platform no. 1. So immediately after getting down at Olten, we would need to rush to the other platform. We were amazed at the courtesies and precision with which the gentleman helped us.

We reached Lucerne around nine, took a cup of coffee and headed for the Tourist office, which was hardly 50 meters from the station. The good looking lady at the counter asked us if it was our first visit to Lucerne. When I nodded my head in affirmation she said “if I was in your place, I would take a walking tour of the town” and gave us a road map and told us in detail the places to be visited.

The Lake Lucerne is almost a stone’s throw from the station and within minutes we were at the quay. Lake Luzern Navigation Company operates large and comfortable steamers, with a wide selection of packages. The next boat, which took passengers for a 2 hours trip of the lake, was ready to leave within couple of minutes. The boat was big enough to have a dining hall and bar. Most of the passengers sat in the front portion of the boat with a guide explaining the history of the town and the dignitaries who visited Lucerne. This included amongst others H H Queen Victoria. Lucerne being the connecting point for Mount Pilatus, Rigi and Vitznau, over 5 million tourists are reported to pass through Lucerne every year.

The boat zigzagged its way through the 39 Km long and 3 km wide lake throwing open the beautiful sights of snow peaked mountains stopping at places on both shores – Weggis and Vitznau give access to Mount Riggi. If one has time at disposal, it is highly advisable to get down at one of these places and see the lush green country side, taste the home made cheese, gulp a beer and board the next boat arriving there and go back to the tour.

Having thoroughly enjoyed the boat trip, we decided to take the suggested walking tour and reached Swan Square on the north bank of River Reuss, by crossing the bridge from Bahnofplatz and headed for Kapellbrucke (Chapel Bridge), oldest road bridge in Europe, which has come to be known as the symbol of Lucerne. The bridge built in 1333 is over 550 feet long and crosses the river diagonally. This fourteenth century covered bridge contributed immensely to the development of Lucerne. As a matter of fact, thinking about Lucerne, one invariably is reminded of this age old bridge.

Wasserturm (Water Tower) is a massif stone tower that was added to the Chapel Bridge during the 14th century. The 34 m high octagonal tower is said to have been used as a prison, a watch tower and now is being used as Guild Hall for some of the municipal meetings.

The major historical interest of the bridge lay in its collection of double-sided triangular roof panels, reportedly painted in the seventeenth century with scenes from the city’s past. One of the panels depicted William Tell shooting the apple from his son’s head (that was perhaps, the condition of releasing the father and son). There were over 100 panels, depicting the foundation of Lucerne’s monastery, the 16th century town, the Franciscan church and killing of the giant by a brave Lucerner, the great fire, etc.

In August 1993, a small boat moored alongside the bridge caught fire and in one of the most unfortunate incidences in the recent history of the town, the flames spread to engulf virtually the whole structure. The municipal authorities swung into action immediately to complete an identical replacement. However, it is easy to identify where the old wood meets the new.

Very close to the Chapel Bridge, stands the St. Peterskapelle, one of the ancient churches. This eighteenth century church was built over an old church dating from 1178.

Walking through the old town of Lucerne, we passed through many flower bedecked houses, especially close to the riverside.

Just off the Kornmarkt, at Furrengasse 21, an old Renaissance style building from the 17th century was restored, which houses the fascinating Picasso Museum. Late works of Picasso are on view in this small museum. If Picasso’s works interest you, this could be a pleasant place to visit.

Since we were advised to visit Engelberg before coming back to Geneva, where we were stationed, we took the mountain train “Luzern-Stans-Engelberg (LSE)” and headed for this picturesque village. The station is located in the middle of the village. The major attraction of the village is the huge Benedictine Monastery. Besides the monastery, Engelberg’s attractions are in the hills, the main excursion well worth a visit is the journey to Titlis, which is the highest point from which one can get a view of Central Switzerland. The summit is always covered by snow and there is an “ice cave” in addition to a glacier trail. It would only be fair to cover this beautiful resort through a separate post.

Zurich, the most exciting city of Switzerland, is less than an hour’s drive from Lucerne (30 Kms). I will Endeavour to write something about this historical city in my next post.

Thanks for visiting.

34 Comments

  • smitadhall says:

    This is a great “good-morning” gift. very nice description and great pictures. i particularly like the lake pic. great going!

  • Nandan says:

    Either it would increase the traffic to swiss or it might become the poor-man’s travel-alternative. At this rate, i ams sure that you are going to beat Capt Gopi , rather then in-expensive travel, its a free travel.

    Wow !!

  • Terence says:

    Ram, chuck up the present job! You are tailor-made for Travel Reviews! Very lucid style and easy to relate to prose.
    Ever thought of writing a book on your travels in India and abroad?
    Make that two books… one for India & one for travels abroad. Both would sell like hot cakes!
    & since the idea is mine, — I get a free copy with the compliments of and autograph of Ram Dhall!

    Thanks for a very pleasant and informative read. Look forward to more & more.

  • Cuckoo says:

    Nice recount of Switzerland. You stayed for two weeks and I spent close to 18 months in that heavenly country !! And I can more than agree with you on politeness, punctuality of trains, scenic natural beauty and richness of Switzerland.

    Thanks for sharing. I could relive my days in that country.

  • Kulpreet says:

    Ram Sir,

    Very nice article with nice discriptions. Feeling like going to Switzerland.

    Keep it up.

  • Harry Anthony says:

    Respected Ram Sir,

    Great Going! Keep it up may all your journeys full fill with all wishes.Written very nice and ofcourse you have done a very good photographies.

    What you have mentioned is very nice very touch-ful.

    Regards,

    Harry Malcolm Anthony

  • Ram Dhall says:

    Thanks everyone.

    Terence : I am already on cloud 9.

    In the unlikely event of my writing a book, rest assured you would be the first person to receive the basic cut of the draft for your viewing / editing.

    Thanks nevertheless for your kind encouraging words.

    Nandan : I do not know about the traffic in Suisse, but one thing is certain that the moment our grand daughter is comfortable enough to join us for a trip, we would go to Switzerland and visit the places we missed on our previous trip, especially Heidiland (a small village near Bad Ragaz developed by Swiss Tourism for the benefit of the lovers of the adorable child, Heidi of Johanna Spyri’s book), St. Moritz, Locarno and the areas close to the Italian border.

    Cukoo: Thanks. During your 18 months stay in Switzerland, I am sure you must have taken some inter city tours on Euro Trains. I believe one can go to Milan from Geneva on a day return. Please do share your experiences.

  • Manish khamesra says:

    Ram Sir,

    Beautiful account and pictures too. The best way to know any city is to roam around it. I am happy that you took the walking trip. Reading your account is like re-visiting the Europe. I have not been to this part of Switzerland, but my wife is so keen to visit Switzerland that I am sure one day we would have an exclusive trip of this country.

    It also reminded of the polite people and also the dot accuracies at which trains in Europe operate, you reached at :58 and next train was at :01 (Still one has not to worry, if he knows in which direction he has to proceed). Sometimes the only reason to panic is the problem in understanding and conveying in French or German.

    I feel that if you could also write a little about the stories of Tully and Heidi, along with your travel account, that would be great (Though I know that it would be too much). I remember reading the story of Father who had to break the apple on his Son’s head, but was not aware that he was from Switzerland.

    Heidi – I read her story only recently when I was narrating stories to my son.

    Thanks for the nice read your posts are :)

  • Krishnadev Mishra says:

    Very good article, while I was reading through it felt like I am there. The politeness of the people and the courtesy extended by TTE can be a good learning to Indian people and Indian Railways.

    Pl let me know how you were communicating with the people there, did you learned French or German or the people there could speak english.

  • Ram Dhall says:

    Mishra ji: Communicating in english was no problem. Most of the educated Swiss speak a fairly good english. I believe english is taught in Switzerland as a “third language”- first and second being German, French / Italian. Moreover being a great tourist destination, it makes a commercial sense for Swiss to know english.

    Manish : Thanks for your comment. I would definitely write about Heidi and William Tell (both are my favourite Swiss characters) in one of my posts shortly.

  • Celine says:

    When I read that part on “nodded my head in affirmation” I couldn’t help smiling. Typical Indian style. :)

    The train journey to Lucerne must have been equally good, with beautiful scenery all along.

    A delightful series of posts Ram, waiting for next. Lovely photographs – the last one is the best.

  • Ram Dhall says:

    Thanks Celine. Reading your comment on “nodded my head”, I am also equally amused.

    Yes, the journey to Lucerne was a sheer beauty. I think the scenic beauty on trains, Golden Pass Panoramic from Interlaken to Montreaux and Glacier Express from Zermatt to Chur (the train zig zags with Zermatt (1600M), Brig 670M, Andermatt 1400M, Oberalp 2200M and Chur 600M) is equally beautiful.

  • Dear Ram Sir,

    I am completely agreed with Terence that you are tailor- made for Travel Reviews, it is a hidden talent which I wasn’t anticipated even after our so long association. I really depicted Lucerne in your’s review. The geographical or historical overview, photograph and the precision of time recalled me many of my travelling memories.

    Great going sir, continue this as I am forwarding this link to many of my friends, who had been to Switzerland many time. Now I had registered myself with this site.

    IN APPROXIMATE 1400 WORDS YOU EXPLAINED THE LUCERNE. YOU ARE REALLY BLESSED.

  • Ram Dhall says:

    Dinesh ji,

    Thanks for your kind words of encouragement.

    Lucerne (and for that purpose the entire Switzerland) creates a spell on you, which blissfully, you enjoy.

    I will endeavour to write a post on Zurich shortly.

    Thanks for recommending this site to your friends.

  • Gaurav says:

    Dear Ram saheb,
    Very lucid style. I felt I was there in Lucerne. I too would like to have a copy of the travel book when you write one. Tussi te chaa gaye.
    Cheerio

  • Ram Dhall says:

    Thanks Gaurav for your kind words.

    I will ensure that your name is added to the subscribers’ list and you will get to know of each and every new post on this site, immediately on publication.

  • Nandan says:

    Here’s the link which you can click to subscribe for new stories on ghumakkar vial e-mail.

    http://www.feedburner.com/fb/a/emailverifySubmit?feedId=1082454&loc=en_US

    Once you put in your e-mail address, you would receive an e-mail with a link. Click that link to confirm your request to get new stories.

    Happy reading

  • Bindiya says:

    Hello there!

    Was expecting your writeup to be good but this is really great!
    Amazingly well drafted, one can actually experience your tour, with the kind of description that you have provided.

    Way to go Ram Sir!

  • Subhash Gupta says:

    Dear Ram Bhai,

    I am really amazed, as to how could you hide your “this” talent (among other so many which I happen to know) for almost four decades of our friendship.

    The description of the places matching with splendid photographs takes one to the site and creates immense desire to visit the places.

    Keep writing for the benefit of everyone.

    Warm regards

  • Ram Dhall says:

    Subhash Bhai,

    What a joy seeing your comment.

    Getting such an adulation from a person, who has himself been a well known TV star and a highly respected Delhi Theater personality, could be a great honour for any one.

    Not that there is a need to thank you for the wonderful time we had together at Delhi, the fact remains that Delhi is no more the same after your moving to Hyderabad. Yes, we all miss you immensely.

    Ram

  • Deepak says:

    Ram Saab,
    Fantastic !! It was as though I have toured Lucerne, couldn’t have been described better !!
    Regards
    Deepak

  • Ami Shah says:

    Dear Sir,

    This is a beautiful description with graphics. In ‘one liner’ I would say

    “Thanks for the virtual trip”

    Cheers
    Ami

  • Anupam Kansal says:

    Dear Sir,

    I was on a students exchange program to France and visited Switzerland for 4-5 days along with 5 friends, we stayed in the Youth Hostel at Interlaken and visited Mount jungfrau, Mount Titlis, Lucern, Geneva, Bern etc. Reading your review I was transported back in time those wild and wonderful days.

    I just relieved that trip once again. Thanks.

  • Ram Dhall says:

    Thanks Anupam for your kind words.

    Please do keep on posting your comments.

  • Kedar says:

    Nice artical

    Can you just brief me about the expenses for tour to Switzerland (per head)

    Thanks
    Kedar

  • Ram Dhall says:

    Dear Kedar,

    Thanks for visiting.

    The expense for the trip depends entirely on the duration and timing of the trip. However, some of the travel companies are offering very attractive packages, e.g.:

    TUIs offer for six nights / seven days trip to Switzerland and Paris includes:

    Return fare
    Accommodation with breakfast
    Excursion to Mt. Jungfraujoch and Mt. Pilatus
    Half day city tour in Paris
    Second class Swiss Rail transfers
    Excursions and city tours, sightseeing and transfers
    All return transfers

    This will cost you around Rs. 56 K, but the airport taxes and visa fees are in addition to this.

    I suggest that you call them at 011- 41513311 or 42658467 9 and take all the details. It would be advisable to check their detailed itinerary. And mind you all these things are negotiable. You can always walk away with better deals.

    You may also check up with:

    Dewanholidays .com Tel No. 011-3048 6600, 9818 12 3312
    D. Pauls Tel No. 011- 662 11 140
    Kuoni Holidays, Mohan Dev House, Tolstoy Marg, New Delhi.
    Cox & Kings

    Please do feel free to contact me in case you need any further assistance. ghumakkar.com carries a lot of information about Switzerland, which could be of help to you.

    Have a great trip.

    Ram

  • JATINDER SETHI says:

    Well , everybody has praised yourwriting skills,I wouldnt do it. What I would like to re-emphasise the point is about the politeness of swiss people is ok, but more than that i(like Nandan and Times of India, i am goind small i) would like to mention the Precision and safe keeping of peoples valuables by the Swiss. You wouldnt believe this story. A friend of mine-Surinder Nath(67years) with his wife went on a weeks SOTC tour of Switizerland ,(Rs One lakh each) and casme back begining of this month. I had given him an address of a watchmaker, with whom I had left my Rolex for repair in December 1964 while returning from London,and asked him to cvheck if he could find the watch after all these years.Now this unbelievable, my watch was traced AND RETURNED but unrepaired as it couldnt be repaied, BUT the safe keepin of my propert for almost 40 years is the thing onlw Swiss can do. I now need to go back to thank him , because of your mail. I hope your readers dont mind my bla-bla.

  • Ram Dhall says:

    Dear Jatinder,

    I am indeed very grateful to you for your very kind remarks. Its amazing to note that you were able to retrieve your Rolex watch after a span of 40 years. This speaks highly of the honesty and care the Swiss citizens take about the goods and services placed in their custody. No wonder people all across the world don’t hesitate in handing over their funds and valuables to the custody of the Swiss Banks.

    Thanks for sharing your rare experience.

  • Ankit Kapoor says:

    An amazing destination gets the perfect description that it deserves!

  • Hansini says:

    namaste taayaji!..
    read the article,it was amazing!…i really enjoyed reading it
    aise lag raha tha jaise mai switzerland mein hi hoon!!….

  • Ram Dhall says:

    Dear Hansini,

    I am very happy to note that the post was to your liking.

    Please do keep on visiting ghumakkar and share your views on the various posts.

    Thanks and God’s blessings.

    • Hansini says:

      namaste taayaji,
      i know i have read this article before too…and i commented…
      but today when i had opened the others as well …i felt like reading this one once again..
      and once more i would just like say one thing….that this post is just fabulous..:)

  • naturally like your web site however you have to take a look at the spelling on quite a few of your posts. Many of them are rife with spelling problems and I to find it very troublesome to inform the truth however I will certainly come back again.

  • ?????? ?????? says:

    Id have to examine with you here. Which isn’t one thing I normally do! I take pleasure in studying a post that can make individuals think. Additionally, thanks for allowing me to remark!

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