29.06.2009 - 03.07.2009 28 °C
After a fabulous three weeks in Italy, we caught a train from Cinque Terre to Lucerne, via Madrid. Our train from Madrid was late (or "retardo" in Italian), making us miss our connection to Lucerne. This was totally Trenitalia's fault, but never the less, the Swiss rail company looked after us, were very apologetic, and even gave us chilled bottles of water! A very nice thing to do and very Swiss (we were put in a similar situation later on... more below).
We arrived in Lucerne after travelling alongside the stunning mountain ranges, lakes and Swiss towns. The train station in Lucerne is in such a great location - it's right on the lake and in between the old and new towns!
Our hostel, Lucerne Backpackers, was great - it's in a very peaceful location, has a great kitchen and is 1 minute from the lake and 10 minutes from the old town.
We spent our three days in Lucerne...
- getting Thai takeout on our first night that was cooked by a tiny Thai lady - it was delicious and so good to have Thai food after a very long time without it!
- strolling around the city and visiting the monuments. We saw the two main bridges - Chapel Bridge and Mill Bridge - (one of which had medieval paintings on wood of skeletons in Switzerland), the Lion Monument (that was built in honor of the Swiss Guards who died fighting off the French revolutionaries who stormed Versaille in search of Louis XVI and Marie Antionette), the city wall and its many towers, different churhes, and the very quaint old town.
- enjoying the fresh food market, where we bought homemade jam (a concoction of apricot, peach & nectarine) from a nice old lady, vegetable bread (so yum! It was a dark brown roll with carrot, onion and zucchini throughout it) and two massive bratwursts that we cooked later on.
- eating really yummy tuna salads by the river as multiple swans and ducks swam/played around us.
- cooking a massive feast of very random dishes. We made vermicilli and brocolli in a chicken broth, an omelette and also the bratwurst. It was a strange combination, but it was very delicious!!
- playing frisbee in the park opposite our hostel. The Swiss are so active - there were so many bike riders, swimmers, volleyball players, soccer players, rollerbladers in the park (and all over the city).
- being thrifty and figuring out that it would be cheaper to by a Eurail pass for travel in and between Switzerland, Spain and France!
Lucerne is a beautiful city! There's a certain feeling that you experience in Switzerland - it's like everything around you is working effortlessly and perfectly. The Swiss are so friendly and like to help you if they can!!
Our next stop was Grindelwald, a gorgeous town in the Swiss Alps.
We caught a train to Interlaken, then took a Jungfrau Region train to Grindelwald. This train ride was great - the train climbed the mountains steadily, the views were amazing and the fresh air was eagerly welcomed! At one stage our train stopped for about 20 minutes due to a faulty train ahead of us - the attendant was so apologetic and spoke to each passenger! When we arrived at Grindelwald it was too late to catch a minibus to our hostel and we approached the attendant solely for information on how to get to our hostel and she said "We will pay for a taxi for you. Leave it to my company." So nice, generous and caring!!
We stayed at Grindelwald Backpackers, which is a really nice place and is like a chalet. They had the best breakfast too - and because it was all you can eat, we sneaked a few sandwiches out for our lunches when hiking There was homemade yoghurt, nutella, ham, cheese, hot chocolate, orange juice, and rye bread. Yum!
In Gridelwald, we...
- hiked up to First, which is 2168m above sea level. The hike was so fun, but very tiring! We walked past many traditional-looking wooden cabins/houses, through mini-forests, past farm houses and even past a little waterfall. Thankfully, there were fresh water taps along the way where we could fill our water bottles There were many older couples walking who were decked out in hiking gear and even had cool hiking poles... We imitated these and found big sticks along the way - they really helped with the hiking!!
- at the top of First there's a massive flying fox called First Flyer - we did it! It was really fun, fast and we took a video of our ride.
- ate "horny chicken" at a restaurant on the main street True story.
- had really nice polenta and beef stew at our hostel
- enjoyed the magnificent views from our room's balcony and on the hike. The mountain tops are still covered in snow in summer, with blue-ish sections in the valley parts of the mountain showing snow melting
- drinking the nicest, natural spring water at our hostel - they had a direct pipeline to the springs!!! So good!!!!!!!!!!!
Switzerland is a beautiful country and we were so impressed by it and enjoyed every minute of it!
Next up: France! We caught a couple of trains to get to Aix-en-Provence
Until next time...
Hope you're all well!!