Sunday, February 7, 2010


On my 3rd to last day in
Switzerland, we drove from Basel to Lucerne, which is about 1 hour away (it seems everything in Switzerland is 1 hour away, kind of like Rhode Island or Delaware).

Lucerne, which is in central Switzerland, is what you think of when you think of Switzerland--rolling hills, cow bells and quaint mountain cottages. Picture Swiss Family Robinson here and you'll get an idea about how cute it is.

Below is the Chapel Bridge (Kapellbrücke) which is the symbol of the city and was originally built in 1333. The bridge managed to last 660 years until some jackass in 1993 dropped a lit cigarette on it and burnt almost the whole thing down. There actually is a little chapel in the middle of the bridge. I know the name of the bridge is Chapel Bridge but I just thought it had connected to a chapel at one time in its history.

Since the city is divided by the Ruess River, there are several bridges including the Mill Bridge (Spreuerbrücke) which zig-zags its way across the water. Inside are a set of 17th century plague paintings, entitled "The Dance of Death". Sounds morbid but I love these type of paintings. They're intended, in part, to show the equality of man in that we all will die. Rich, young, poor, old, handsome, hunch-backed, etc.

This is also the oldest covered bridge in Europe, having been built in 1408.

I swear, tell an American that it's the oldest anything in Europe and we'll love it.

"Oh, this is the oldest stapler in all of Europe? Wow, this is so great!"

"What's that you say? This fire hydrant has been here since 1722? Oh my God! I have to get a picture with it!"

"I can't believe this garbage can has been here for over 900 years! Do you think they'll let me buy it as a souvenir?"

But I digress.

One tourist thing that I didn't think I would be that into, but was really pleasantly surprised is The Dying Lion Sculpture which is dedicated to the Swiss Guards who were killed during the French Revolution when a mob of the great unwashed rushed The Toileries Palace (where the unfortunate King Louis XVI and his family had fled for refuge) and massacred them. Over 600 Swiss guards died that day and another 200 or so died later in prison.

I wanted to see it because Mark Twain (one of the few American authors I actually like, although not the Huck Finn/Tom Sawyer crap everyone has to read in school) called the monument, "the most mournful and moving piece of stone in the world." I liked the idea of actually seeing something a famous author did way back in 1880. It's kind of like my own mini-Grand Tour.

(I tried to post the pic down here, but for some reason Blogger hates me and is stubbornly refusing to format the pictures how I want them). sigh.

We also saw the Church of St. Leodegar which I guess must not have been that interesting because I don't remember much about it. Sorry.

We tried to walk along the city walls but they were closed for the season. I would highly recommend doing this though. We could only walk along them at the bottom and we got fabulous views so the view at the top must be stunning.

I really wanted to hit The Rosengart Collection but, alas, we didn't have time. This private collection boasts Picasso's, Miro's, Cezanne's, Klee's and many other "modern" artists.

Anyway, if you only visit one Swiss city, I think it just might have to be Lucerne. Nestled in the foothills of the Swiss Alps, it's very touristy (no shortage of shops selling cuckoo clocks, Swiss Army knives and cow bells), but it's also so beautiful.

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