Day 15: Tuesday, September 19, 2006
Spectacular Mountain Scenery
We started the day with Ken's first German
breakfast which was included at the hotel. It was a cold
breakfast and consisted of cold cuts, cheese, croissants, bread, and
coffee. This was typical of most of the European breakfast
that we had although most also had cereal and yogurt as well.
The picturesque city of Lahr at the mouth
of the Schutter valley consists of seven attractive surrounding
communities unified since the Community Reform of 1972. The
historical town center has about 28,000 inhabitants, the surrounding
communities a good 15,000. Through its incorporations, Lahr has
developed a very diverse character. With the villages of Reichenbach
and Kuhbach, the city clearly stretches into the Schwartzwald
(Black Forest), while the villages of Sulz and Mietersheim are
geologically classified among the rolling foothills.
In 2004, the historic old town was officially granted
the special award “the most blooming shopping mile” in Germany.
Every year at the end of October, the “Chrysanthema” attracts over
two hundred thousands visitors. We went to the
tourist information centre and found one lady who spoke a little
English and she gave us a map. First we walked down
Marketplatz in the middle of Lahr and Kathryn started to
recognize some of the stores. Some things had changed but
the flower market where she bought flowers every Saturday was
We continued down
Marketplatz to the Storchentum (Stork
tower) which is all that remains of a castle of the Lords of
Geroldseck, built around 1220. After devastations in the 17th
and 18th centuries the castle was acquired by the City of Lahr
in the second half of the 18th century and torn down. The Stork
Tower itself served until 1862 as a prison. As we wandered
around downtown, some of Kathryn's German started coming back to
her as she recognized the names on building and signs. We managed to figure out where Lahr
Senior Secondary had been. It was on the Caserne
(home of the garrison administrative offices) at the former
Canadian Forces base which had closed in 1994. The front
gates were locked and there were No Trespassing signs
everywhere. We drove to the road at the back of the
Caserne where the busses dropped the students off and saw the
sorry state of disrepair of the school and the whole Caserne.
Most of the windows were broken and the paint was peeling.
It was a little sad for Kathryn to see it like this but it was
probably better than having it torn down. At least it
brought back lots of memories for her.
One building that looked very new was the old
Officers' Mess, which was just outside the Caserne. Some
company must have purchased it and remodeled it. I don't want
to give you the idea that Kathryn spent a lot of time in the
Officers' Mess while she was in Lahr in the early 80's but the new
building had little signs all over the place saying "Kathryn Lowther
Drank Here" (just kidding). Kathryn still won't tell me "all"
the stories of the good times she and friends Arpi and
Joan had at the Mess.
We then took the
winding back road "over the mountain", as it was known in the
old days (it was really more like a very large hill), to Sulz,
the small village nearby where Kathryn actually lived for 3
years. She and her friends often took this route home when
they had spent too long in the OM. Her apartment building
was on the corner and they had actually changed the street
number from the north-south street to the east-west one.
Kathryn said that even Sulz had grown tremendously since she was last
front of her apartment - the balcony was hers.
It was now time to head to Switzerland. Ken
got to experience "flying" on the Autobahn again. We did not
have to show our passports to enter Switzerland but we were stopped
as we crossed the border at Baden and had to pay a 30 € Swiss road
tax. A few short km into Switzerland and we were in the most
beautiful mountain scenery. We continued on into Luzern
(Lucerne) and checked in at the Hotel Spatz (black
#40 on bottom left corner of map below) Our room was on
the second floor (which is actually three floors up) and there was
no lift. Luckily
the desk clerk carried all our heavy luggage up to our room which saved
some stress on Kenny's knees.
suggested we drive to Interlaken, a Banff-type tourist
town. The one hour drive on winding roads took us through
some of the most spectacular mountain scenery we have ever seen.
(See the slide show below for more photos). Interlaken is
the captivating "capital" of Switzerland's beautiful Bernese
Oberland and a must for every Swiss visit. It is surrounded by
the crystal-clear lakes of Thun and Brienz, sparkling streams,
fantastic falls and by the unique Eiger, Mönch & Jungfrau
Ken and the
spectacular Swiss scenery
The famous "Höheweg" promenade that links the
urban center of Interlaken West with the much more scattered
Interlaken East not only offers superb views of the snow-covered
Jungfrau summit, it is also one of the best locations in
Switzerland for souvenir and watch shopping. The life on the
promenade, lined up with street cafés is no less attractive.
We decided to take the slower road back on the other side of the
lake which passed through several picturesque small villages.
Again the scenery was stupendous.
We ended up back in Lucerne around
rush hour and drove across Seebrucke (Sea Bridge) to the city
centre. We drove
around looking for parking before finally finding a spot at the
blue P next to the red
16 on the map below. After
parking, we spent several hours walking through the Old Town,
crossing back and forth over the bridges (brücke
Two of the "must-see" attractions in Lucerne are
its medieval covered bridges across the Reuss River, one of
which (see photo) has become the unofficial symbol of the city.
The two bridges are: Kapellbrücke: This bridge (red
36 on the map) is located near the
junction of the river and the Vierwaldstättersee, or Lake of the
Four Forest Cantons (also known as Lake Lucerne). The bridge bends
as it leaves the shore, then angles across the river past a stone
Wasserturm (Water Tower) that is believed to have once served as the
lucerna, or lighthouse, after which the town was named. The
Kapellbrücke--"Chapel Bridge" in English--was built in 1333. As you
cross its 200-meter length, you'll see 120 captioned triangular
paintings from the early 1500s that chronicle the city's history.
The paintings feature St. Mauritius and St. Leodegar, the patron
saints of Lucerne. In reality, the bridge isn't as old as it looks.
The Kapellbrücke was nearly destroyed by a 1993 fire, and much of
what stands today is an excellent restoration (or reproduction, if
you're a cynic or uncompromising realist).
35 on the map) Downriver, between
the Kasernenplatz and the Mühlenplatz, the Spreuerbrücke or Mill
Bridge zigzags across the Reuss. This bridge, which was constructed
in 1408, features a series of medieval-style 17th Century plague
paintings by Kaspar Meglinger titled Dance of Death. It has a small
chapel in the middle that was added in 1568.
As we wandered
through the car-free pedestrian zone of old Lucerne (yellow
section on the map), we saw many beautiful sites. Several
of the buildings were fresco painted with lovely murals
depicting Swiss people (see slide show below for more examples).
As the sun started to set, we walked along the Rathausquai,
checking out several restaurants before Italian Mostrose
Restaurant (black 22 on the map)- which turned out to
be a major mistake (see Day 16 for more details). A
little pasta and red wine at a table along the river was a nice
romantic way to end a spectacular day.
building in the Weinmarkt
our way back to the underground parking lot and as we tried to exit,
the machine almost ate my credit card. We couldn't pay by cash
because the machine only took Swiss francs and all we had was euros.
(Switzerland, like the UK and Denmark, is a member of the European
Common Market but does not use the euro). We thought we might
be in the garage for good. Kathryn suggested we should go into
the fancy hotel next to the parking garage to see if we could "buy"
some francs and it turned out that we could pay for the parking in
euros at the reception desk and they validated our ticket. We
went back to the hotel to end what was one of the most wonderful
days of our trip . . . until the middle of the night.
Map of Lucerne. Click on map for larger version.
Click here for a slide show of Day 15 photos.