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Lucerne, Switzerland

Thursday, June 4th, 2009


Ah, yes, what pretty pictures. But Lucerne was like a vain woman – shallow, boring, self-important, and expensive. And if you look again it’s not really that pretty. It gets worse when the lights go off – because (again to my analogy) nothing happens after dark. Then you realize you’ve spent all this time and money and basically got nothing. You got shafted. That’s how we felt about Lucerne.


Sure, there’s a few nice views of the famous wooden bridge and the lake. There’s mountains in the distance. But after that there’s not much. Buildings and architecture are boring. Churches are boring (we’ve seen some nice churches on this trip – Lucerne’s are plain in comparison). The fort walls are not worth the 15 minute walk because they are also boring. Boring, boring, boring.

But what really angers me about Lucerne is the way they so unashameably rip off the tourist. Again, just like some beat down skank trying to squeeze its last bucks out of your pocket because she knows that her looks are fading and you won’t be back again. The ‘tourist stretch’ is on the lake side next to the chapel bridge – the restaurants there all screw you with their prices. 35 Swiss Francs for a plate of pasta? Come on. The thing is that everything in the old city closes down in the evening, by 8 pm there was nothing open except for those lake side restaurants. Except McDonalds. I havn’t eaten McDonalds in 5 years but we did in Lucerne. Screwed up my stomach and I was stuck on the pottie the next morning squeezing out some golden nuggets – that basically sums up what I thought of Lucerne.



Then there was our hotel, Hotel des Alpes. Mini bar: 4.20 SF for a small bottle of Sprite, 5.70 SF for a small bottle of Heineken. Everyone knows they’re going to pay more from a hotel mini bar, but 3 times the price? (we went to the market at the train station and picked up a Sprite for 1.30 SF). They have no shame in shafting you. Then, on top of it all, our hotel was the unfriendliest of any hotel on our travels. They wouln’t even look up when we passed reception. A couple of old ladies at reception were so dour and mean-looking I was afraid to walk by without a cross in my hand and garlic around my kneck. Expensive and unfriendly – 2 out of 5.

Lonely Planet recommends Lucerne. Trip Advisor names it one of the 100 Best destinations in the world in 2008. I just don’t get it…

Statue outside the train station – you know what he’s saying right? (“wait, don’t leave without me…”)

Next: Bacharach, Germany

Lauterbrunnen and the Berner Oberland, Switzerland

Monday, June 1st, 2009


June 1, 2009 – Lauterbrunnen is situated in the Berner Oberland, an area in Central Switzerland containing some of the country’s highest peaks. Lauterbrunnen itself is in a valley full of cascading waterfalls coming down from the surrounding mountains. It is a gorgeous location.


On our first full day we took a hike on Schilthorn side of the valley (Schilthorn is famous for the James Bond movie “On her Majesty’s Secret Service” which was shot here). We didn’t go far up because of iffy weather: cable car from Lauterbrunnen (806 m) to Grutschalp, hike from Grutshalp to Murren (1650 m) and Gimmelwald. It’s a flat walk of 2 hours and is supposed to be really beautiful – but we had a cloudy day and unfortunately didn’t see anything (the down side of being in the mountains).


The next day was beautiful and we went on the other side of the valley, first to Wengen (1350 m – very pretty small town with great views) and then further up (by train) to Kleine Schneidegg (2061 m) which was mostly covered by snow. From Kleine Schneidegg one can take the train further – up to the top of Jungfrau to the highest train station in Europe (3454 m). We didn’t see the need to do that though, first of all it’s really expensive, plus we didn’t really want to see more snow (we see enough in Montreal).


Lauterbrunnen was a great base, a pretty town with easy access to everything. On a cloudy day you can walk the valley floor, passing farms along the way (majority of locals are still farmers) and looking up at the waterfalls (there are 72 in the valley) and the snow covered mountains in the background. Was a really sweet spot.


We passed 2 1/2 days here and we both agree we would be back to this area. The only recommendation is that it’s maybe better to come after mid-June as many of the trails were still snow-bound when we came in late May.



Hotel Staubbach was great. It’s an old hotel but they do everything right. Free coffee/tea, a large tv room with books/movies/games, cheap wifi. It was home away from home. I know one of the owners is American and you can see the influence – all the little perks that we havn’t seen anywhere else on our trip. Americans are the kings of that kind of stuff. The staff was incredibly friendly and helpful. It’s worth paying a little extra for the valley view. We give this hotel 4 1/2 out of 5 which is the best rating I’ve given any hotel on this trip.

So we felt a little sad leaving. Next stop: Lucerne

Geneva, Switzerland

Monday, June 1st, 2009
gen1.jpg Geneva is not a tourist town and doesn't really have to many highlights as such. It is a pleasant city though, situated on Lake Geneva (also called Lac Leman) with the mountains all around. More ... [Continue reading this entry]

Montreux, Switzerland

Monday, June 1st, 2009
mon1.jpg We stopped in Montreux for a quick stop on our way from Venice to Geneva. Highlight: Chateau de Chillon. We didn't see it though - all I have are pictures from our hotel room overlooking ... [Continue reading this entry]