Saturday, September 23, 2017

Western Europe: Switzerland - Luzern in a day


I paid for my room in Colmar, picked up a bottle of Riesling and walked to the nearest bus stop (Vauban) to catch a bus to Gare (€1.30). The bottle of Riesling resided in my backpack for the remaining days and followed me throughout Switzerland. There was a change of train in Basel but surprisingly no passport check. All I did was get off the train, followed the sign to the Swiss side station, get on another train and I was on my way to Luzern.

By the time I reached Luzern, it was mid morning. I walked from Luzern train station to the Backpackers Lucerne where I stayed for a night, no breakfast. It was said to be a 15-20 minutes walk, I probably took longer with my fat backpack on my bag, walking under the noon sun.

Where the hostel is located
Switzerland is beautiful but also awfully expensive. I had 5 nights in Swiss but 4 of them I stayed in a dorm. I treated myself for a single room for the last night of the holiday before flying out from Zurich, and the room wasn't in Zurich city center. Meals were food from Coop or Migros except for my last dinner in Zurich. I had the 4 persons dorm in Backpackers Lucerne and 2 of them were Korean. I notice there were many tourists from Korea and India.

My bed was ready and after deposit my backpack, I retraced my steps back to the train station for supermarket and to get my Swiss Travel Pass. It is not always cheaper to get a pass (whether the Swiss Travel Pass or Swiss Half Fare Card) and they are expensive, so it is worth to spend some time to calculate your usage before getting one. As I would be doing a whole lot of train rides, it was cheaper to get one so I got a 4 day pass. I would only start using it the next day, so I was walking everywhere on day one.


I also picked up the Luzern official city guide book and did the self-guided walking tour, starting from the Wasserturm (Water Tower) and Kapellbrücke (Chapel Bridge), continuing counter clockwise from there.


Both are Luzern's trademark attraction and probably one of the most photographed monument. Wasserturm is an octagonal tower built around 1300 as part of the city's fortifications. The Kapellbrücke next to it was first constructed in the first half of the 14th century. I didn't realised until crossing it that there were painted panels portraying scenes of Swiss and local history. These were added in the 17th century.



Hofkirche (Hof Church) was next along the self guided circuit. Today it is Luzern's parish church.

Continuing on is the famous lion, Löwendenkmal (Lion Monument). I overheard a little girl asked her father, "Why is the lion sleeping?" Well, it could be. It could be but it wasn't. The "Dying Lion of Luzerne" is one probably one of the most famous monument in Luzern. Carved out of rock, it commemorates the heroes in 1792 of Swiss soldiers who died attempting to protect King Louis XVI during the French Revolution. It was described by Mark Twain as the "saddest and most moving piece of rock in the world".


Then it is time to head uphill to the Museggmauer (Musegg Wall). There are nine towers in total forming part of Luzern's historic fortifications. The clock on Zyt Tower dates from 1535 and is the town's oldest clock. It has the privilege of chiming the hours one minute before all the other clocks in the town. Four of the towers are open to the public from April to November.


I started from the one nearest to the lion (Schirmerturm), and almost skipped going up the last one (Männliturm) because I was getting really dried out from the heat. My sheer stubbornness and hint of obsessive streak made me climbed up the steps. I was glad I didn't miss it as it was the only tower with view that wasn't blocked. The ones before either had plastic or wired barrier covering the window opening.




After Museggmauer (Musegg Wall), I crossed back to the other side of the city via Spreuerbrücke (Spreuer Bridge).


Spreuerbrücke is the oldest timber bridge in Switzerland and was completed in 1408 as aprt of the city's fortification. This bridge also features paintings and was the only place that chaff from cereals (spreu) and foliage could be dumped into the river, hence the name.


Standing on the bridge, it gives a good view of Nadelwehr (Needle Dam). This dam was installed in 1859-1860 and controls the water level of Lake Luzern by removing or inserting its timber "needles". After walking passed two churches, Franziskanerkirche (Franciscan Church) and Jesuitenkirche (Jesuit Church), I was back to Kapellbrücke.

Franziskanerkirche
Jesuitenkirche


Side note: What do you do to feed your grey cells?

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