Kathryn and Ken's European Vacation
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Day 15: Lucerne
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Day 14: Lahr
Day 15: Lucerne
Day 16: Munich
Day 17: Munich
Day 18: Nurnberg
Day 19: Dresden
Day 20: Berlin
Day 21: Berlin




Hotel Garni Spatz, Luzern


Beautiful sunny day with a high of 25°C

Day 15: Tuesday, September 19, 2006     Lucerne, Switzerland

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 still there.


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

Stork Tower

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.

Lahr Senior
Secondary School

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 there.

Kathryn in 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.

Kathryn then 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 mountain range.

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. 

Jungfrau Summit

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 in German). 

Kapellbrücke with Wasserturm

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).

Spreuerbrücke: (red 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.

Frescoed building in the Weinmarkt

We made 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.

Day 16

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