A Travellerspoint blog

Switzerland

Lucerne

– a picturesque medieval Swiss town

sunny 12 °C

Stepping out of the train station, the first very sight Lucerne awards is almost picture perfect - with the Swiss Alps in the background, the Reuss flowing beneath your feet, the swan filled impossibly blue Lake Luzern and the ancient wooden bridge adorned with flowers.

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The Chapel Bridge (called Kappelbruke by the Swiss) is a beautiful covered wooden footbridge built during the Middle Ages right in the centre of the town diagonally across the Reuss River. It is decorated with pretty flowers at its side and is the oldest surviving wooden bridge. The whole area seems to be very popular with tourists who seem to spend most of their time enjoying the view, sipping wine and tucking into delicious fare at any of the numerous lake-side restaurants. Enjoyed taking a walk across the Chapel bridge and found out a great deal about the history of this town.

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Another unique feature of the Chapel Bridge are the paintings under its roof that depict scenes from Lucerne's history and date back to the 17th century. Apparently many of the paintings were destroyed along with most of the bridge in a fire in 1993 post which the bridge was re-built. Apparently people from around the world sent pictures they had taken of the Chapel Bridge during their visit so that it could be re-built to the most minute detail.

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A little way away, up the river is a second covered wooden bridge called the Spreuer Bridge which is smaller and less adorned than the Chapel Bridge, but what sets this seemingly normal bridge apart are the paintings that adorn the roof of this bridge. There are a series of 17th century plague paintings titled "The Dance of Death" which depict skeletons and soul reapers in great detail and is intended to highlight that there's no place on land or at sea where death isn't present and that that every second brings us one step closer to death.

The old town (as is with the Old Town part of most European cities) has a rich historic feel to it. There is enough to engage your interest and pique your curiosity including the architecture, great cafes, clock stores that house thousands of those beautiful cuckoo clocks that are synonymous with Switzerland and some quaint shopping outlets. The town square is a very pretty compete with the town hall tower, a pretty fountain, tiny lane-ways, old buildings, cobblestone streets and houses with beautiful painted façades.

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One of the most interesting sights during my walking tour was the Needle Dam that was constructed in the 1850's to govern the level of Lake Luzern. This dam consists of a series of long narrow paddle boards (known as “needles”) that are inserted vertically side-by-side to form a wall. These needles are increased and decreased in number to control the level of the lake and I was lucky enough to have been around to see them add a few needles to this ancient machine.

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Lucerne according to me was perfect for wandering about even though I didn’t step inside a single landmark.

Until next time.
Safe Travels

Posted by Ceej 05:12 Archived in Switzerland Comments (0)

Geneva

Home to the gorgeous Lac Leman

sunny 15 °C

Lake Geneva has got to be one of the most happy places in all of Europe.

The Jet d'Eau is the focal point of the lake but the setting of the lake flanked by picturesque hills makes the entire scene breathtaking. It looks like a postcard when the sun is shining with Mont Blanc in the background and swans and ducks glide about providing constant entertainment.

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Interesting bit of information - apparently the Germans and the English call it Lake Geneva and the Swiss and French people are very protective about the lake’s name and insist on it being called Lac Leman.

Please Note : Most of the hotels in Geneva offer you a transport card for the duration of stay with them. Using which you can get around the city for free using the trams, buses and even the yellow ferries to see the Jet d'eau up close. Switzerland is easily one of the most expensive countries to travel to and staying in Geneva is not exactly friendly on the pocket, so a free travel pass goes a long way.

The first time I crossed the Mont Blanc bridge I remembered a long forgotten fact about this bustling city - Geneva is headquarters to the largest number of international organisations because of its central position on the European map and more importantly due to its neutral standpoint on global issues. I almost passed out when I stood in front of the the United Nations office and saw the office of Red Cross. Countless banks, luxury watch makers and even the WTO and CERN are headquartered in this city!

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There are Dragon Boat races that are organised at the Lac de Joux in August and September and is a perfectly lovely way to spend the weekend with some friends while barbecuing and lazing on the grass by the lake. Another brilliant way to spend time if you find yourself in Geneva on a sunny weekend, is by paying a visit any of the flea markets along the lake-shore, because I don't know a better way to soak up some fresh air, encounter the locals and indulge my eyes on thousands of bits and baubles. Some seem to sell just food and produce(I've seen one such in the heart of Athens), others sell second hand baby clothes or used jewellery or antique photo frames, or other unique finds. I brought back a gorgeous swan and 3 little ducks for 2 euros and they occupy prime space on my desk today and a pretty necklace for 1 Euro sold by an elderly lady who was clearing out her daughters closet since she got married and moved to the US.

One of my favourite places to spend the evening in this city is around the Place du Molard , just walking in this street felt like I was walking on the star strewn sky. There are hundreds of glass cobblestones ingrained with greetings in various different languages that are lit from below. I heard from a friend that there was a NAMASTE in there somewhere and search as much as I did on two occasions, I couldn't find it.

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But the absolute perfect place to hang out with friends and enjoy some fun conversations around a fondue pot are one of those lovely restaurants along the shoreline of the lake, watching the water ebb and flow with enough strength to generate that beautiful relaxing sound that can only be produced by a large body of water.

Until next time,
Safe Travels.

Posted by Ceej 23:23 Archived in Switzerland Comments (0)

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