Saturday, July 16, 2011

One day in Lucerne

After breakfast at the hotel, we hit the streets of Lucerne.  it’s a Sunday morning, so it’s kind of quiet except for the other tourists.  
Random photos along the way.
    Water spigots in the water fountains in the squares

These are some of the pictures that are painted on the headers under the roof of the Kappelle Bridge here in Lucerne.  This is one of the two bridges that spans the River Reuss.  I thought it sent an interesting message one escapes death.
We went first to the main train station to buy lunch items since that is usually where the shops are open on a Sunday.  It was a very crowded location.  This shot is of the large arch that is the sole remainder of the old station before it was remodeled.
As we walked towards the Lion Monument, we encountered a Sunday concert in the park.
This was interesting...not sure what the motive was with this.   If one translates the top of the sign, it informs the reader that in the ground floor of this old building is the company Mixer, providing "full service solutions".  Was there really a desire to aid the hapless, lost tourist?  Or was it more a desire to keep people from walking down their street?  Odd way to advertise your business.

We head across to the lion monument, which is full of Chinese tourists (from the looks and sounds of them) that have just been dumped out of a tour bus.  Dead center in front of the monument is this noisy, gesturing throng trying to take pictures of each other in front of the monument.  We stand off to the side, wait for their rapid departure and take our pictures.  The monument was from Louis XVIII to the Swiss in memory of the Swiss Soldiers that had lost their lives trying to protect the Royal Family at the outbreak of the French Revolution. 
We then headed to the Gletschergarten (glacier garden).  Luckily for us the gardens, which are right behind the lion monument, were not on the tour for the Chinese.  This attraction has been there since the end of the 19th century and has grown over time. Originally, a wealthy wine merchant had bought the land and begun to dig into the sandstone to create caves in which to keep his wine.  While digging they found all sorts of anolmalies in the rock caverns and called in local scientists who confirmed the formations as being the result of glacial activities.  
Rocks with fossils of ancient life forms.  
One of the holes created by the glacier.
The park had remained in the family and over time, each generation added to it.  It had a number of interesting exhibits but also had more “family” oriented items also.   The one that seems to engender the most enthusiasm is the house of mirrors which had a Persian type of feeling in the decorations, but this little vignette shows some of the other "attractions". 
The many Bobs and how many Hayleys do you see?
Will the REAL Hayley raise her hand?
As is usual for us, we spent hours in the museum looking at all the exhibits and sometimes discussing them.  We ate a late lunch in the picnic area of the gardens and then left to explore more of Lucerne.  Bob took the kids to see the old city wall and towers and I walked back through the old city to the hotel.  It was obvious that we were in from some rain as the clouds were darkening and we could hear occasional thunder.  I had left my umbrella with Bob and the kids, but it really didn’t start raining until I had reached the hotel so that worked out fine.  They tumbled into the room not long after I had and we spent the next few hours watching it pour and counting the time intervals between lightning and thunder to determine how fast the storm cells were traveling over us.  By dinner, the weather cleared up again and we headed back out to find a restaurant.  We choose one of the restaurants on the other side of the River Reuss.  We seated ourselves outside as close to the water as we could find and ordered some drinks and then dinner.  Again, the skies started to threaten so just before they were about to serve us, we moved under the building where it wasn’t so scenic, but the chairs were more comfortable.  It’s interesting to sit along the sidewalk and watch people go by.  One middle age couple came semi-staggering along with a big brown glass beer bottle that they had obviously drained.  A short while later, it was obvious that they had been out for a refill as they staggered back with a now full bottle as well as some other full vessel.  I guess they took it to a local bar and had them fill it up since the stores were all closed. 
The name of the restaurant was Der Schiff  (The Ship) and the placemat had instructions in German to make this origami piece.
It was kind of a quiet day today.  Bob thinks that the kids are subdued because of the difference between being out in the beautiful alps vs. being in the city.  I think that we have just all kind of hit a point of being ready to head home.  Three weeks seems like a long time to be on the road and living out of a suitcase.  Two seems too short.  Perhaps three weeks would be good with fewer stops and more time spent at each stop.  
When traveling with the kids, I have always felt a responsibility to make sure that everyone has a good time.  Now that they are older, I tried to engage them by having them make decisions on what they wanted to see and how they wanted to spend their time.  I think it was successful overall, but I still think I heard that the few 4-5 hour drives between some of our stops seemed like long days, no matter how we tried to break them up with activities.  Perhaps the stops actually made the travel part of the day seem longer.  I’m not sure.  I think that some of the drives were planned to be shorter but when you can't find what you're looking for, it means some extra time in the car.
In most of the places we have stayed, there has been TV, but the kids haven’t paid it much attention since the english speaking channels are rare and usually news stations although The Simpsons seems to be watchable even when you don't understand German.  They have been reading or using the laptop to keep themselves entertained in the evenings.   Given the timing of this trip, it will most likely be the last one we take with them and I think that it has provided many memories for us all to look back upon in coming years.

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