The first thing you look for when arriving from Zürich into the Swiss resort of Lucerne are the views of the mountains. While the backdrop of the Alps was not disappointing, the beauty of the setting along the river in historic Old Town was enchanting.
We stayed in the Hotel Flora in Lucerne. We checked into our room and quickly unpacked a few things and went for a walking tour. Since we had not eaten since dinner the previous day, we decided to try to get a meal. At first trip around the area, no one was serving food mid-afternoon. Instead we had a nice glass of wine at the Rossini Pasta and Pizza Restaurant. Actually we were still really hungry by later afternoon so we went to the Hotel Alps for a very local meal, several courses with matched wines. It was tasteful and relaxing with an option for outdoor seating, café style.
We enjoyed beer brewed in the Rathaus Brauerei Restaurant in Lucerne, with a locally delightful menu, having a Swiss version of mac and cheese that had potatoes in it and a local soup black salsify.
We enjoyed walking over the Medieval Chapel Bridge, the famous wooden bridge, admiring its tranquil appearance and unique history. It is one of the oldest covered bridges in Europe, with original hand-painted joists. It was built in 1333, it has an octagon water tower that served as a watchtower n the 13th century and was later used as a jail with a legendary torture chamber. Although portions of the bridge burned several years ago, these portions were rebuilt but some of the paintings were lost forever.
As with any tourist attraction there is the occasional heartbreaking needing child performing for money in their case.
A special highlight of our walk-about was the variety of sidewalk vendors, including cheese options and many flower and herbal vendors. We were able to explore the Bridge (where the Reuss River leaves Lake Lucerne) and admire its paintings of old battles and wandered through the adjacent quaint quarters with their maze of narrow, winding streets. We saw the Town Hall, built from 1602 to 1606, its ornate style influenced by Florentine Renaissance designs, and Lucerne’s 17th-century cathedral.
The afternoon was cool and windy but fun. Traveling abroad during the spring can be unpredictable, some trips too hot for the clothing you brought, some trips way too cold. There were chilly days, some rain, and lots of wind so all-weather clothing is important in late March/early April.
Many of the highlights of the area include the churches and related historical references to the occupation of Switzerland by many religious denominations which dominated the culture. Local guides are available to provide guided tours and all of the anecdotes which might be missed on your own. We were there during the Easter period so many options for religious services were available. Swiss German is the local language and the Stations of the Cross, the Angeles, and the Good Friday services, while interesting, were not understandable.
A unique and unexpected visit was to the local contemporary museum of art, designed by Paris architect Jean Nouvel, the Kunstmuseum Luzern.
Another wonderful gem was the Sammlung Rosengart Museum featuring 32 original Picassos from his later years. The paintings were donated by longtime friends of his, Siegfried and Angela Rosengart. There are an additional collection of over 100 of his drawings with photographs of Picasso and his everyday life with his grandchildren. In addition for fans of Paul Klee, there are over 125 paintings and watercolors throughout the lowest level of the museum. There are some additional works of Chagall and Matisse.
Access to the Alpine village of Rigi Kaltbad was not available by the aerial cable car due to heavy snow and wind in the area. We took a bus ride up to the boarding area and enjoyed the cogwheel train ride up to the top of Rigi Mountain. The view covers 13 lakes and many jagged peaks of the Alps.
We enjoyed a fun evening of fondue dip, wine, and lots of locally inspired music, including Alp Horns and yodeling spoons.
The next day we enjoyed an adventure to the Kleine Scheidegg on the Jungfrau Railway.
Eating at the ski resort was a rather chilly event but the potatoes served with the sausage were delicate and the shaved radish (European) were delicious. We had hoped to see the Eiger Mountain and enjoy a gondola ride up to the higher mountains but the weather allowed us only the slightest of views through the heavy snow. The ride on the Lauterbrunnen Grindelwald Grund was panoramic with skiers climbing aboard at various stops to go to higher runs.
Returning to the beauty of Lucerne was special with the sun finally shining on the beautiful river.